The Lighthouse | Vol. 1, Issue 2

•February 18, 2015 • Leave a Comment
The second issue of The Lighthouse focuses on women in politics, violence and moving forward. Cover art done by Sirita Render.

The second issue of The Lighthouse focuses on women in politics, violence and moving forward. Cover art done by Sirita Render.

It’s not always easy talking about violence; it’s even more difficult to discuss when it’s a first-person account. Read the voices of one brave young woman who overcame a violent relationship and has learned to love herself. Also, Dalit woman, Noel Didla, explains that “There’s No Word for Brown.” Click here to read all about it.

And for every time there’s another Lighthouse that you want to receive,click HERE.

The Lighthouse | Vol. 1, Issue 1

•November 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment
end of week-11

A young woman participants in the closing ceremony of the 2014 Unita Blackwell Young Women’s Leadership Institute in Woodworth Chapel, Tougaloo College. Photo by Martin Imaging.

Click here to read the first issue of The Lighthouse, an electronic publication for and about issues related to southern rural black women through the Unita Blackwell Young Women’s Leadership Institute (a part of the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for Social and Economic Justice).

Ugly Shells

•September 20, 2014 • Leave a Comment

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No one picks up ugly shells. I spent a good portion of one Sunday afternoon on a beach in Jacksonville, Florida. People lounged, sunbathed, played frisbee, surfed, frolicked in the water, and all the other beach things people do when they’re on the white sand and kind-of blue water of the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

The young women I took to the beach with me, two of whom had never been to a beach before, decided they’d make sand castles. It didn’t even cross their minds right away to feel the rush of waves from the ocean. They wanted to build a castle, so they began. Their efforts didn’t take them very far. With no buckets, expertise or enough interest, it seems, they quit and decided to pick up shells.

“Happy Birthday,” one of them jokingly said as she opened her fist for me to see the shells she’d picked up.

The ocean’s natural litter was beautiful. Most of the shells she’d picked up looked about the same. Scalloped at the edge, the perfectly ribbed back of the shells gathered at a central point that sloped upward on top and scooped like a shallow, smooth spoon on bottom. They were shades of tan and pink, reminiscent of pearls and black like the rubber of the thong sandals some beach visitors wore.

“They’re pretty,” I said.

She walked off pleased with herself and the ocean’s gifts and put them in her bag.

I got up from the beach mat to get in the water. The nearer I got, the sand became less yielding underneath my feet. It didn’t give, but stood against my weight, and there were bits of broken shells hiding for protection. Water covered my feet, washed over my ankles, rose to my knees and creeped closer to my shoulders with every step I took.

“Wonder if I can find a pearl,” I said to no one, as I’d ventured out much farther in the water than any of my other beach buddies were willing to go.

The big toe of my right foot became a shovel, and the others assisted, as I bore my feet into the sand. With each wave, big or small, it was difficult to remain squarely at my excavation site. The waves ushered me left and right, so when I could, I burrowed deeper until I hit something. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it was expansive–at least two toes width.

A wave rushed me, and my finding was gone. With my weight in my left foot, I moved my right one around the Atlantic Ocean floor. Nothing. No shell and worse yet, no hole.

“I don’t know how you were going to get it anyway,” I said to myself.

At this point, ocean level rested at my neck, and I’d already decided I didn’t want to get the sarong I’d tied fashionably on my head wet. Plus, I’d done up my eyes with shades of shimmery brown eyeshadow, mascara then perfected my pout with the help of some red lipstick. (My intentions were never to actually get in the water.)

I moved inland a few feet and began again. Dig, dig deeper, find yourself a pearl.

My foot burying itself deeper into the sand, another wave, this time rather small, rushed. This time, however, though my body swayed some, my right foot was still squarely in the place it had dug. My foot was serving as an anchor, and I panicked a bit.

The decision was easy: Stop digging. It’s not worth it.

I waded in the water a while longer before I walked even farther inland and grabbed fists full of sand to see what I’d end up with. They were mostly broken, ugly shells. I moved in farther and did the same thing. More broken, ugly shells.

Defeated, I sat down on the beach, like a disappointed child whose toy had been taken away. My long legs stretched out to the water as remnants of waves occasionally rushed up to the backs of my legs which rested in the sand then recessed. There were hardly any shells worth picking up as souvenirs, though there were millions of pieces as far as my eyes would let me see.

“Just like people,” I thought.

There are millions of people who have been stepped on, are broken, too small, obtuse, misshapen, pearly on one side and rough on the other, who are overlooked, as suitors search for pretty shells. The pretty ones are rare, but they’re all made the same way. Mollusks excrete sodium bicarbonate which forms a shell that protects them from predators under sea. When the creature dies, the exoskeleton is set free. Those same broken shells have been shelter and camouflage, just like their counterparts who end up sitting in bowls and on bookshelves. The difference is, people don’t seem to appreciate their sacrifice.

So I began picking up unique-looking shells–ones with holes in them and jagged edges–as a reminder to myself of all the people I may have overlooked, looking for the ones who seemed to be dressed sharply without the pompous air, spoke intelligently with not too much slickness.

“Why’d you get those?” one of the young women asked about the shells I was holding in my hands.

“I think I like the ugly ones better,” I said. “They’re cooler.”

“And there a lot more of them, she said. Then she picked up an ugly one that happens to be roughly the shape of Wisconsin and handed it to me. I put it in my bag with the others.

“Lost & Found,” Lianne La Havas

•September 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Me, too, girl. Me, to.

Oh, the Places You Will Go | Toronto, pt. IV Double Deckers

•August 29, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Shorty Do-Op suggested we take a hop-on/hop-off tour. We climbed atop that double decker bus and took in the sights of the city. These shots are of CN Tower, Yonge-Dundas Square and the bottom of a traffic light. We got stuck in traffic under a bridge, and the light was almost close enough to touch.

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Ms. Delta on Black and White

•August 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

My conversation with a dear friend, Ms. Delta, started off about a colleague of ours–a black man–who dates white women. Whatev. Date who you want to date. But the thing about his self-identification as a black nationalist is that it doesn’t make sense. To me, at least. Turns out, it doesn’t make much sense to her either.

Here, only in part, is our conversation that quickly turned macro. It ended up being the most important part of the conversation and merely brushed the surface of a rather large area.

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MsInklination: That’s what’s most disappointing to me. I know he dates white girls. And a lot of that I think has to do with him irresponsibly exerting his black masculinity (just as I believe it’s the case for a lot of the types like him). If I were a white woman, I couldn’t reconcile dating a guy who espouses the ideologies he does. But then again, I imagine a part of that has to do with said white woman’s brokenness too.

Ms. Delta: This brother is tripping! He could lose everything, [this game he’s playing].

MsInklination: Maybe he wants to lose it all. Keep playing the system until he loses. Is crushed then respond “I was set up to fail!”

Ms. Delta: Seems he has a problematic or skewed definition of black masculinity. Why he feel he need that kind of power or control over a woman? I don’t respect no grown ass man that goes there.

MsInklination: His view of black masculinity is so skewed I’m not sure what it is, actually. I’ve never known a black militant man who’s almost dismissive of black women. They may date white women but just don’t see black women at all? That’s new to me.

Ms. Delta: I know many smart, militant brothers who date white girls. The thing is, the way he talks about his lived experience as a black man and his supposed close relationships and respect for black women (mom and grandma) isn’t adding up. That is whimsical, not his reality.

Fairly though, many militant men wouldn’t dare date a white woman. The ones I know who do are smart, critical race theory kind if brothers.

MsInklination: But those are the only black women I’ve ever heard him talk about. Otherwise, it’s the LGBTQ community. I can’t help but wonder now if some of his stories and recollections are–and I can’t believe I’m about to say this–exaggerated. Revisionist history filled with a bit more salaciousness that is sexier for who you’re looking to be known as now.

Ms. Delta: That’s the only ones I have heard him talk about. As in most privileged men, we black women are still invisible. All I know is that I see him differently and even ponder if he creates some of his own issues to keep up with his notion of black masculinity. I don’t know.

MsInklination: Hmph. Ain’t that the truth. And yes, I think you’re exactly right.

Ms. Delta: When this creepy shit blows up (trust me, it will), I don’t wanna see no [commentary] about how he is being screwed over as a black man. Some black men don’t even have the opportunity to do that dumb crap. They would never do that. I’ve obviously gotten a little angry.

MsInklination: That’s fine. I like you angry. It affirms my emotional responses about this.

Makes me think of the groups of men that came out to challenge My Brother’s Keeper. It seemed a bit disingenuous to me—the concern for girls and young women of color. [And when they] made sure to point out in a statement that the collective of men were straight, queer and transgender. I don’t have an issue with that, but how is it immediately relevant?

Ms. Delta: They know not much of the plight of women of color obviously, or they wouldn’t have gone there. And I, actually, don’t remember him specifically talking about black women much at all, outside of his mom

MsInklination: Here’s the thing: He often talks about white supremacy and white folks as though that excludes white women.

Ms. Delta: Does he EVER implicate white women in the racist system?

MsInklination: You know I’ve never realized how, largely, people never acknowledge (at minimum) white women’s complicity in supremacy. That’s at minimum.

Ms. Delta: … They fall into that idea of the innocence of freakin’ white women.

MsInklination: Just like a white man …

Ms. Delta: They could never be racist. Give me a break! In my research, many, many racist accounts are perpetrated by white women! Yep, just like a white man. And that is why it really, really scares me.

MsInklination: Shux, yes. White women can be far more manipulative than their imbecile male counterparts. I suppose just how we women, in general, can be.

Ms. Delta: Absolutely.

MsInklination: There’s no way systems of oppression could have been built and maintained without white women’s buy in and assistance proselytizing it. That further causes issues in our interactions with them. That’s why they, in general, don’t like and are distrustful of us. Because I see you, heifer. I know you. I know what you’re capable of because I know what I’m capable of!

Ms. Delta: But they are victims of the system (says most everyone). That is why I often have problems with them. I don’t trust the tramps as far as I can throw them.

MsInklination: They’re as much victims as we are all victims of any type of oppressive situation, though.

Ms. Delta: They play blind way too much–can only talk about sexism from a white perspective.

MsInklination: But they win. A lot. They’re self-focused. They’ve been taught to be that way. That’s what their feminism allows. A focus on white women who have money. Whose ancestors owned land. We don’t have the privilege of only focusing on those who are just like us.

Ms. Delta: Its something … I see men have the privilege, even black ones, of talking about gender but only from a male centered perspective… You rarely see that when looking at women of color

MsInklination: Black men say they don’t have privilege. And it frustrates me. I hate to do too much arguing because no one else is getting lynched in the middle of the street like black men are. I don’t want to seem insensitive to press the issue, but there’s privilege in patriarchy.

Ms. Delta: Well, in many cases they don’t have privilege. But it is definitely contextual. I often think I cannot argue on who is most oppressed; we both are, but in very different and profound ways. I acknowledge theirs, but I need black men to acknowledge mine so we can work on ours.

Ms. Delta: Yep. I’m angry. I better go walk the dog

What about you? Do you ever consider women in your conversations about dominant culture? When you talk about white supremacy, is there space for white women in that conversation? Brothers, how often do women come to mind when you discuss the challenges facing us all?

I’ll post more of my thoughts on this conversation in the next couple days.

Oh, the Places You Will Go | Toronto, pt. III Single in the City

•August 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

While Shorty Do-Op and I explored the city and noticed the number of couples throwing their public displays of affection in our faces, I asked her if this was a better girlfriend trip or couple’s trip. I don’t remember her answer at the time, and I don’t remember my response. I do remember, though, that by the end of the trip, we decided it was a perfect girlfriend trip.

Before we hopped back on the train to get to the hotel to delight in our confection delicacies from Bakerbots Baking, we decided to explore the neighborhood around it. There was some interesting window shopping, lots of cool street art and plenty street harassers.

You must know that Shorty is a tough chick. She’s unfazed by a lot, and she’s who you want on your team if a fight goes down. I talk about feelings, cry a lot and have only been in one fight in my life, but I look tough, so that’s a plus in situations when a menace presents. After seeing a man angrily yell at a woman who refused to acknowledge his sexual advances, two other men’s eyes undress and have sex with a woman who walked by quickly, and a group of young guys slow down their steady pace to a near halt as we approached, our best sense told us our exploring was about over. We looked at each other knowingly. I asked, “You ready to go?” To which Shorty replied quickly “Yep.” And we headed back toward Ossington Station.

The top two images are from our exploration; the latter is of Yonge-Dundas Square, which never seemed to not be popping. You might be curious about the treatment of that image. I have no idea how that happened, but I thought it was cool.

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