Remember this song from Ludacris and Mary J. Blige? “Runaway Love” came to my mind last week when the stories of the Missing DC girls started to spread throughout media. One particular story highlighted a young girl who ran away because she felt mistreated in foster family.
Much too often the mistreatment of young black girls are ignored and neglected. Black girls stories go untold. Society, including black culture does not see them as being as much in harm’s way as young black boys. But young black girls are in danger too, including suffering from the risk of sexual assault committed by grown men, boys and even authority figures, abusive and neglectful families, and also receiving higher rates of suspension, expulsion and harsher punishment from schools and police than their white counterparts. For example, this story of Ashlynn Avery, who was attacked by her suspension supervisor for falling asleep in class and then violently arrested.
After watching their Colored Girls Hustle videos, I wanted to give special highlight to these two women and artists, Taja Lindley and Jessica Valoris and their Colored Girls Hustle artistic creations, including jewelry, poetry and music. I am definitely attracted to their positive message and mission of self-affirmation and self-expression for women of color, whether through physical adornment of jewelry, through their creative and world-building passions or uplifting other women.
Currently they are fundraising on Indiegogo for their Colored Girls Hustle Hard mixtape. Also, on Wednesday at the Caribbean (yay!) restaurant, Dee and Ricky’s, in Brooklyn, they will premiere the first single video for “Afro Aliens” (some of the behind the scenes you can see at the end of the campaign video). Here is their headline for the event:
“Afro Aliens call us weird. Traveled through the galaxy and we landed here. Xigga.
Renina Jarmon is a writer, cultural critic, blogger and educator whose work centers on Black women’s sexuality and pop culture, as well as race, technology and the concept of self. She recently released her book, Black Girls Are From the Future, a collection of essays based on her popular posts from her blog New Model Minority. Here is part one of my interview with Jarmon in which she talks about her inspiration for her book, what to look forward to in it, its appeal to a variety of people, her documentary, and social media and women of color. Part two will be up tomorrow.
1) What or who was your main inspiration for the putting together the book?
First let me say thank you for creating the space for the #Blackgirlsarefromthefuture online book tour (#thetour), I really appreciate it. I remember that you reached out to me way back in February so I just wanted to state my gratitude. Having folks check for me earlier this year means a lot.
So to answer your question. Well, I’ve written over 963 blog posts. About 100 of those are essays, full out essays with citations. My friend Garland McLaurin was the first person to say that my blog was like a book back in 2007. I have had two explicit conversations on my blog with blog readers about what they would pay for and the readers were very clear in that they would pay for a book, a magazine or any other kind of printed item. But they wouldn’t pay for blog posts. It was really important to have this information. In fact I wrote about how significant having this information was in the essay “A Mini Social Media/MBA Boot Camp For Your Brand: 7 Key Steps.” I recognize that it is rare to be able to connect directly with your community and ask them exactly what they would pay for, especially as an independent media producer.
Also, I know that there were plenty of bloggers, Black women bloggers who were using their platforms to move on to do other kinds of work, Britni Danielle (Clutch Mag Online), Jamilah Lemieux (Ebony Magazine), Luvvie Ajayi (The Red Pump Project and Social Media Trainings), Latoya Peterson (Al Jazeera) are just a few. It was helpful for me to help me to see these Black women making digital moves, 2013 – 2014 is #blackgirltime. What I mean by #Blackgirltime is that the barriers to entry are only going to get higher so it is important to make your move now, if you so desire.
Where was Black Girls Code when I was younger?! Event today, black women make up less than 3% of the STEM industries and other women of color is lower, less than 1%.
Last Thursday, I attended the showing of the Black Girls Code short documentary and fundraising event. Already having taught over 1500 girls across the country, the organization wants to change those statistics above and hope to reach one million all over the world by 2040, maybe earlier, 2020.
The organization’s founder, Kimberly Bryant, an electrical engineer, created the non-profit after noticing the lack of women, specifically women of color in these fields, and recognizing that her daughter, Kai, was using the technology, but not creating it. Besides that, with computer classes costing thousands of dollars and lack of computer science in grade schools, it is difficult for younger children from lower class backgrounds to obtain that knowledge. Through summer camps, one-day.one-topic class, 6-7 week Saturday classes, mobile labs, and working with other organizations and schools, they want to open the doors of opportunity for them.
Janelle Monae’s “Q.U.E.E.N.” featuring Erykah Badu. This song is a much better anthem than, dare I say, “Run the World (Girls).” It is funky and fierce with thoughtful commentary about those who judge and put others down. Check out Monae interview yesterday on 106 and Park.
Black Girls Code Trailer — the short film about the Kimberly Bryant’s San Francisco organization, and directed by Shanice Johnson will be shown at the Cannes Film festival this month. The organization is also developing a web-series and a feature.”
My Black is Beautiful trailer for Imagine A Future documentary, which will be released in July on BET (it showed with the Tribeca Film Festival last month), is part of the Imagine a Future initiative that began last year with Black Girls Rock and United Negro College Fund to open up a dialogue with young black girls about self-acceptance, beauty and empowerment. The film follows Janet Goldsboro trip to South Africa as she learns to accept herself as a beautiful. However, although I think this is a nice effort and I want to see it, I find it problematic that Procter and Gamble supports the film and My Black is Beautiful, but also sells “skin lightening” creams all over the world (read all the articles here). Hmmm? Some people say that these are only skin tone evening creams, but is that how they are marketed or used? I imagine a future where companies actually do make a legitimate effort not to make money off our low self-esteem, not seem to support something to assuage their guilt (but should I expect companies not to be hypocritical in their actions?)
As you may have heard, Rick Ross came out with the controversial line from his latest song, “U.O.E.N.O.” : “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.” A few days later, he addressed the lyrics with an “apology” that made me give him one of the biggest side-eyes ever. The kind of side-eye equal to smacking him (hey Ross rapping about murder, it is always clear that it is about murder. however when you rap about rape, you tend to excuse it like you are doing now). This incident with Ross comes on top of others like Lil’ Wayne‘s lyrics about beating a woman’s vagina like Emmett Till was beaten, reactions to the Steubenville Case, tech developer Adria Richards receiving death and rape threats and was fired after reporting sexual harassment, and the countless rapes of people all over the world. The war against women and control over their bodies continues, even in Women’s History Month, and so I am giving a loud and clear message to all out there:
You do not have the right to give me any substances especially if they may be harmful to my body without me knowing it. You do not have the right to do anything to my body without my permission. You do not have a right to do what you want with my body because of my own personal choices with my body. You do not have the right to disrespect my body and my mind, and call me out by a name or a statement that I do want addressed to me. You do not have the right to patronize me when I call you out on your bullshit. You do not have the right to define rape for me. Rape is when I do not give you absolute consent. It does not need to be said as rape for it to a disgusting action in which you take advantage and use your power over someone’s body. If I say no, if I am unconscious and cannot consent, or if I look scared or uncomfortable, do not touch me; do not enter my body with force! If you really think I am a queen and the greatest gift to man, you would know that. So here is a message from the future (and not the rapper Future who decided to cosign that mess); now you know it.
For more information on how to respect Black women, their minds, their bodies and their bodies, take a look at Black Girls Are From The Future website.