#WhitePeopleEquivalents Is The Hashtag That You Need To See Right Now

Thought Catalog

Writer and founder of Black Girl Dangerous, Mia McKenzie unleashed an incredibly insightful and brutally honest hashtag last night — #WhitePeopleEquivalents. Instead of me explaining the origins of it, read it straight from Mia and then check out the hashtag for yourself. I’ve also included some of my favorites here (along with my own).
It’s a good step in the direction of an important discussion about perception and experience, especially in terms of culture, race, and the problematic stereotypes that lie within. Honestly, I never want this hashtag to end.
(Compiled with Ella Ceron.)

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Black Publications at Penn

Reflections: The UPenn Black History Project

Black publications at the University of Pennsylvania have had a long, rewarding, and at times, tumultuous history.  Black Pride ’79: Black Student News Anthology was the University’s first black publication.  Released in 1979, Black Pride ’79 was a black student yearbook that offered a glimpse into black Penn students’ experiences, accomplishments, and extracurricular activities.  Although the publication received administrative support, only one issue was produced.

Shortly thereafter, The Voice, a multicultural newspaper was founded.  Established in March 1982, The Voice had a more political overtone to its writing and articles than its 1979 predecessor.  This newspaper featured interviews with then United Minorities Council Chairman Marc Rodriguez, several articles about former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo, and U.S. Representative Chaka Fattah.  The newspaper also highlighted campus events such as Black Student League and Chinese Cultural Society meetings.  The Voice printed consistently until 1987.

Former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr. (C’92)…

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Black Fascination

While waiting at an intersection on my way to class, I was struck. There was a girl walking towards me that captured my attention. Being in Philly for awhile now, seeing the “unusual” on the streets has become nothing more than common to me; however, this girl was different. She was dark. Not milk chocolate dark, or coffee with a little bit of cream dark, but black. Her skin blended in with the color of her charcoal-colored North Face jacket, and her hair camouflaged within her brows. I was mesmerized as she walked past me with poise and determination; I thought she was beautiful. After this brief experience, I brought it up with a friend. Yet, before I could give my opinion on what I thought about it all, my friend remarked with great sorrow, “Oh, that’s unfortunate. That must really suck for her.” For some reason, this comment took me by surprise. Being a darker girl myself, I always found immense beauty in black skin; and, I was primarily astonished because I had never seen a skin tone that dark before due to my upbringing in a predominately white town. Somehow I had forgotten the “lighter is better” rule that seemed to permeate through society—a rule that never made sense to me. Abiding by a system that forces blacks to measure up against white standards of beauty is pointless in its innate outcome of failure. Blacks will not be whites, and I do not understand the celebration of characteristics that are not intrinsically based in our culture. We need to stop saying “how sad” or feeling pity for darker-skinned Blacks. In dark skin you can see the history of our people—the struggle, the disaster, the survival. Anyone with darker skin knows the burden that is placed on us to hate our skin. However, the strength that fosters from the rejection of that notion and the love of one’s color is more beautiful than any fair-skinned myth society can hold. Like thick lips and wide noses, dark skin is a part of our heritage, and it is yet another part of us to celebrate. There is no shame in any of the shades of our black skin: accept it, love it, live it.

**A great poem that shows the beauty of black skin from Black Skinned Beauty Tumblr page**

11:59 (For those who’re various shades of purest black)

11:59

That is me. Not midnight, no

That’s the axis, the turning point wherein lies the promise of the coming dawn

11:59

I’m that one minute before twelve am

Those 60 seconds where noir colors the earth

When nighttime swallows all remnants of light

When even the moon bleeds black

I wear midnight on my skin

With skin as dark as the shadows on sunny days

And tones as warm as the center of the earth

I am 11:59

I am draped with night

Clothed in dusk

I am what God must see when He closes His eyelids

I am 11:59

Society tries to tell me

That we who’re bountiful in melanin, also lack beauty

That dark-skinned girls stay losing

That dark-skinned girls ain’t shit

There’s a reason darkness restores,

Why it is in darkness that you find peace

And rest for the weary

Why black soothes headaches

And mourners alike

11:59

Parents checking in on sleeping babes

Lovers falling fast asleep, nestled safe in each other’s arms

Teenagers slipping in, barely making curfew

Old folks peacefully reliving their glory days

The threshold between tonight’s calm and tomorrow’s worries

11:59

Peace. Still. Quiet.

On the heels of midnight

The last beautiful seconds

Before the disturbances of the morrow

I’m that dark-skinned girl

With nappy hair in braided twists

Borne on big bones and an even bigger heart

I am 11:59

– Joy Pickens, C’17

Why I Won’t be Celebrating Black History Month

28 Reasons – SNL Skit

As this SNL skit shows, Black History Month has become somewhat of a joke—merely reasons to “hug a black guy.” Growing up, I became accustom to the expected reverence I was supposed to have towards this month; it aimed to empower me, give me pride, and make me feel accepted. As of lately, however, my reverence has become mild apathy, at best. I have five main problems with Black History Month that make it impossible for me to bring myself to celebrate or even support it.

SNL - 28 Reasons

SNL – 28 Reasons

1. Actual Black history is ignored. In 1619 the first slaves stepped foot onto Virginia plantations, beginning the tumultuous story of Black History. From Africa to Virginia, freedom to oppression, human beings to property, value to inadequacy, life to death: we have suffered it all. The pages that encompass the book of the Black Narrative are filled with horror, injustice, violence, and suppression. In spite of this, when celebrating Black History Month, these truths—these tragedies—are hardly ever mentioned. We turn a blind eye to the factors that actually shaped what it means to be Black in America and we focus on what’s easiest for our culture to handle: slavery. We speak about in ceremonious ways, mentioning how it happened and how it was “such a shame.” Yet, past the plantation there is no depth. Where’s the real history—the discussion on Reconstruction, disenfranchisement, the Great migration, race riots, and Black Nationalism? Talking about slavery, and even arts and food, is a crucial part of our culture; but, by focusing on these aspects it undermines the importance of other vital parts of Black history.

2. Public celebration primarily focuses on great leaders of the past. During Black History Month we often only want to revere the individuals whom society has deemed honorable and extraordinary. We decide to concentrate on George Washington Carver for his innovation, W.E. B. Du Bois for his brilliance, Booker T. Washington for his education, and Martin Luther King Jr. for his leadership. It is the “greats” of the Black race that receive celebration and acclaim. However, by doing this we overlook the everyday black role models. We commonly jump to the renowned Blacks of the past for glorification while disregarding the distinguished Blacks of today. Our societal impact—our positive influence—did not die with the late greats. The 3 million Blacks enrolled in college and the 1.9 million Black business entrepreneurs have just as much competence and potential to be equally as influential and effective. Habitually we find ourselves asking, “ Who is important? Who is worthy of recognition?” Becoming so brainwashed to the idea of blacks being inferior, we are hesitant to expect, and even to recognize, any of ourselves actually progressing and being praiseworthy.

3. Black History Month does not foster understanding of the Black race. To understand our heroes is not to understand us all as a race. Understanding our race is about acknowledging the past and comprehending how it has morphed us into the beings we are today. When we celebrate honorable leaders, does it explain why our black community has constantly fallen into subservient positions in society, becoming nothing more than followers? When we praise Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks for being prominent women in high fashion, does it detail why many Blacks have problems with self-love, self-worth, and self-acceptance? Or when we cook “Black History” lunches and dinners, does that explain why so many Blacks are dying from heart diseases, strokes, and diabetes? These forms of celebration do nothing to elucidate the idiosyncrasies of the Black race.

A recent instagram upload from a Drexel University student

A recent instagram upload from a Drexel University student

4. Black History Month increases segregation and denies Black citizenship. By separating Blacks and acknowledging “Black History,” it separates us from all American history. It points us out as different from the rest. In a 20/20 interview, Morgan Freeman is quoted as saying, “I don’t want black history month. Black History is American History.” Precisely. That is not to say that blacks are essentially the same as white Americans. That is simply not true. Yes, we are biologically and physically equal as human beings, but we are unique, evolved, and mentally restructured by our past. As the phrase Tom Burrell coined states, “Black people are not dark-skinned white people.” We have our own black stories, our own black struggles, and our own black catastrophes—but as Black Americans. The color of our skin does not eliminate our citizenship. Solely because our history conflicts with that of the “friendly white” story does not mean that it is any less American. In fact, these are both complementary stories that help make a truthful, overarching metanarrative of American history.

5. Celebration of Black history should not be contained to a month. Confining black history to a mere 28 (or 29) days and then never mentioning it again does not cultivate racial acceptance; it only thickens the divide. We do not need society to give Blacks a pat on the back and a podium earned from pity to display our excellence. Especially if it is then to be taken away, and we are to be put “back in our place” at the bottom of the social order after the month is over. A true celebration of Black History should be continuous, joyous, and life-long. We have conquered bondage, slavery, massacre, social deprivation, isolation—all horrors imaginable—and we prevailed over it all. We’re survivors. Warriors. And warriors are not meant to be timid or meek about expressing their power. Thus, I am not restricting my pride in my strong, surviving, beautiful, warrior race to a single month. My Black History month is every minute of every day of every year for the rest of my life. My pride—my celebration—will not cease on March 1st.

“The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.”

–Marcus Garvey

Joy Pickens C’17

Justice for Jordan Davis

Note: Society has a habit of notarizing the accused. Their names, backgrounds, and details of their crimes are splashed on every breaking news headline. We become obsessed with the new face evil. They live in infamy for their atrocious crimes, but their victims…the victims are slowly forgotten. We distance ourselves from the victims by using nouns like “the student” or “the seventeen year old” rather than using their proper names.What does it mean to live in a society when the names George Zimmerman, Ted Bundy, and Jack the Ripper hold more weight than Trayvon Martin, Carol DeRonch, or Mary Ann Nichols? Maybe if headlines focused on the unfulfilled lives and the devastated families, we would breed a much more empathetic and kind society. 

On November 23, 2012, Jordan Davis was murdered. Jordan, along with three of his friends, was waiting in a parking lot of a gas station. According to the defendant, Michael Dunn, their SUV was playing music so “ridiculously” loud his “ear drum[s] [were] vibrating.” After asking the teens to lower their music, the defendant claims Davis grew restless muttering threats and obscenities in the back seat. Despite being scared for his life, the defendant asks, “Are you talking to me?”

Pause. I don’t know about y’all, but when I ask, “are you talking to me” I’m not being literal. I’m slightly daring the other party to say it to my face. I’m asking to be tested, so I can pop off…

The defendant then claims Davis got out the backseat and says, “This shit is going down now.” Fearing for his life, after claiming to see the barrel of a gun, the defendant reaches into his glove compartment and fires at the SUV 10 times. The defendant even gets out of his car to continue shooting as the teens drive away.

When his fiancée comes out of the gas station, the defendant drives away from the scene of the crime, goes back to his hotel, and orders a pizza.

Now, let’s break down some of the details:

1) Frame of mind? The defendant just attended his son’s wedding. A son he’s seen three times in the past fifteen years. Everyone claims the defendant was happy after celebrating their union. The teens were returning from the mall.

2) Plea? The defendant is pleading not guilty under Florida’s stand your ground, which makes the alleged gun Davis had in his possession a huuuge component. Without that gun, the defendant could not have reasonably felt threatened for his life since there was no other altercation.

3) The fiancée claims the defendant never mentioned a gun to her when explaining the situation. The defendant, however, says he mentioned it numerous times to her.

4) The defendant never called 911 after the shooting (if you’re afraid there are a bunch of teens riding around threatening citizens, wouldn’t you call the police?)

5) The defendant never called 911 the next day after hearing Davis died. He claims to have called a friend in law enforcement, but his phone records show no phone calls. In fact, police had to track him down.

6) No gun was ever found. Although the crime scene was never properly secured (because no one called the police, ahem, Dunn) and there was adequate time for the gun to have been dumped.

7) As for the jury there are 4 white men, 1 Hispanic man, 4 white women, 2 black women, and 1 Asian-American woman.

What is crazy about this trial is that the defendant and his fiancée both took the stand, but  everything the fiancée said contradicted everything the defendant said! What’s the end game? And, frankly, the facts don’t line up. If you fear for your life, ’till the point you have to continually fire, you should have called the police after the shooting or at least after you realized Davis died.

Now regardless of race, I believe the defendant is guilty of third degree murder and three counts of attempted murder. However, I can’t help but wonder how the outcome would change if there were three 17 year old white boys blasting rap music; or three 17 year old females blasting music? What if the music was Macklemore’s The Heist versus Kendrick Lamar’s good kid, m.A.A.d city? Would the defendant still feel intimidated? Annoyed? Disrespected? Would he still use a deadly weapon? Would he nonchalantly ask for a magazine and refreshments while waiting to be questioned about murder in the police station?

Our black boys are being forced to grow up too quickly. While the bodies of our black girls are hyper-sexualized, the bodies of our black boys are hyper-masculinized to immediately be seen as a threat and danger.

Do you believe the defendant felt threatened and genuinely fearful of his life when he fired 10 shot at the SUV? Or do you believe the loud rap music, disrespected this 47 year old white man to such extremes that in order to reassert his masculinity he fired 10 shots?

Image

The late Jordan Davis

UPDATE: Dunn has been found guilty on 4 out 5 counts, with the manslaughter count being mistried with a hung jury. Dunn is facing at least 60 years for the 4 counts.

UPDATE: A new jury found Dunn guilty of manslaughter in early October.

xxLBB

#WCW India.Arie

India Arie 2

Where to begin, where to begin… Falling in love with India.Arie was one of my defining moments as a black feminist. I listened to her album Acoustic Soul on repeat for months and despite the subtle, poetic beauty of her voice and her inspiring, relatable  lyrics she never really received the credit or appreciation her creations deserved. 

India Arie 4
The best way to explain is India.Arie is that her music always has a quiet power to it which is best illustrated by her newest album recently “SongVersation with India.Arie.” This album comes on the heels of a four year hiatus. Her soulful music provides the kindness and peace of Buddhism with all the soul of, well, soul music.

Listen to some of our favorites “Get it Together,” “I Am Not My Hair,” “Brown Skin,” “I Am Light,” “Little Things,” and “Video.”

xx LBB

India Arie 3