Tag Archives: feminism

That Guy: Kevin Powell on Domestic Violence Awareness

3 Oct
Kevin Powell Image: The Brooklyn Paper

Kevin Powell Image: The Brooklyn Paper

You know that anti-sexist guy who we happen to come across in some off-beat progressive feminist magazine, or read about in a Women’s Studies class, or see in an independently produced documentary, yet he still seems mythical in our distant consciousness like faint familiarity? Upon coming across *that guy* we (i.e. the self-proclaimed feminists, womanists, or simply “pro-woman folk”) celebrate and lament all at once, as if to say; “Ah, yes, I’m sure that guy really does exist . . . somewhere.”

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When Things Go Too Far: Caster Semenya Suicide Watch

17 Sep

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From YouthNoise.com

The Associated Press is reporting that 18-year-old South African runner, Caster Semenya is on suicide watch after recent tests revealed (in front of the entire world no less) that she is intersex.

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Drake’s ‘Best’ At Its Worst

2 Jul

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From my Facebook update and Tweet immediately after seeing Drake’s new video for his (old) song “Best I Ever Had.”

From an artist stand point, I appreciate the way he built his buzz by hustling mix tapes BUT his latest interpretation of femininity at its “best” is THE worst. Cliche premise + slow moving clips + paternalistic imagery = annoying.

@MBtheREMIX and so it begins: Drake’s artistry tainted by KanWeezy, Dwayne Carter and the rest of the egos. Happens every time.

___________________

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On Being A Writer: The Jezebel Epiphany

18 Jun

Photo by Tara L. Conley 2008

Photo by Tara L. Conley 2008

Now we reflect.

One of the most important things I ever learned in graduate school was that a sistah always needs to reflect, if not only for herself, but for our collective consciousness and for our worlds around us.  Call it the Humanity Sustainability Project, if you will.

A few days ago I sent a personal email to the Senior Editor of Jezebel.com about a recent post, Tracie Egan, a Jezebel blogger wrote entitled “Why Is Mary J. Blige Working With Chris Brown?”  This was the first time I ever felt the need to email a website Editor expressing my concern about one of their posts.  Needless to say, the Senior Editor never wrote back but the author and her Managing Editor did (although, I’m inclined to believe that the Senior Editor was certainly privy to all of the “intense” correspondences).

If you’re on Facebook, then you can read all about the drama HERE, along with some incredibly insightful responses from friends and readers.

Without rehashing the entire scenario, what basically happened was I called out Tracie’s last few sentences of her post because I felt she, along with others at Jezebel, put themselves in a dangerous position by perpetuating (and therefore enabling) incendiary rhetoric created by crappy websites that rely heavily upon speculative rumors simply for “clicks.” Basically, Jezebel gave credence to a website who’s in the business of starting shit so there will be shit.  Good for some, but in my opinion, not a good look for Jezebel.

Needless to say, Tracie said she was “offended and hurt” by my complaints (even though I never directly accused her of being culturally naive about African-Americans like she said in the email) but I did apologize for writing to her Senior Editor instead of her, first.  The Managing Editor, with her fine word-smithing, basically thanked me for the email but ended up giving me the virtual and subtle talk-to-the-hand motion and moved on.

Remember people are at different places.

If anything, I hoped to open a dialogue, despite feeling admittedly defensive at first.  Hoped that at least the gals over at Jezebel would’ve updated (not erased or deleted) the original post by including links to other perspectives, or inserted qualifying language so that those of us who felt slighted by the borderline dangerous assumption could in the very least appreciate Tracie’s intent.

Remember people are at different places.

Now that all of the internal screaming has simmered (because, like it or not, I chose this battle), I’ve had time to do some reflecting.

Photo by Tara L. Conley 2008

Photo by Tara L. Conley 2008

And in reflecting about this ordeal, I learned a few things – even if no one else did.

I learned that I’m a helluva nit picky reader.

I learned that as careful a reader I am I have to be even more careful as a writer.

I learned that it’s so important to cite, not just accurately, but responsibly.

I learned that while others assume, so do I.

I learned that apologies are necessary because as we know from the David Letterman/Sarah Palin fiasco, Letterman’s apology said more about our country’s consciousness than it worked to ignite Sarah Palin’s seemingly calculated defensiveness.  It helped the Cause for a more ‘just’ society than Palin’s misguided faux feminism shtick ever would.  It indicated what progress perhaps looks like.  As in maybe our culture is graduating from lame 12-year-old “ya motha’s a slut, ya dawta’s a whore” jokes – and has actually developed a more sophisticated sense of humor and appreciation for irony.  See, I was hoping that the Jezzies, like Dave, would understand that acknowledging your errors is characteristic of progress.  No, it’s not a cop out, no it doesn’t make you look foolish, and no it doesn’t mean you lose your feminist-leaning-cool-liberal-website card because you got called out on your own assumptions, rhetoric, allies, and privileges.  It just means you’re wrong, but being wrong can be orgasmic if you let it.

I learned that being empowered is a pretty awesome feeling, even if it means showing my balls (or my ovaries?) when calling out another female blogger with whom I like for the most part.

I learned that I’m pretty lucky to have all this time on my hands to complain, write, and then think about what I just complained and wrote about.  Imagine if we, the Manys, had more time to develop our minds, rhetoric, and visions.  I think that in our little worlds, we’d single-handedly save ourselves from ourselves.

I learned that dialogue works much better than defensiveness.  After posting what happened on my Facebook page, I found the comments from women of all colors and backgrounds were profoundly helpful in that it made me understand what developing perspective is all about.  This is what I was hoping for when I requested that the Jezebel writers update the post about Chris Brown and the “other woman.”  The pot of ideas flow when people with all type of perspectives and experiences find that their words are acknowledged in a public space.

In that same vein, I learned this, with the help of Arvind, Aura, Melissa, Patricia, Brenda, Carla, Courtney, Necole, and Leopold:

Being a thoughtful and visionary writer is not simply about being a mindful spell checker, or fact checker, or even word smith.  It’s about being able to express yourself with a developed brevity that relies upon always rethinking our assumptions, rhetoric, allies, and privileges.  Because in the end, we must always remember that people are at different places.

Hopefully the Jezebel gals agree.

(The italicized words aren’t my own but from Aura, Courtney, and Patricia.  Thank you, ladies, and all the other FB commenters for helping me develop my on-going and ballsy perspectives).

Yours Truly Makes Ms.

23 May

Spring09_MsFrontStoreImage

A few months ago my former professors at Texas Woman’s University put out a request to the list serv asking current and former WS graduates to respond to a Ms. Magazine query for their “2009 Guide To Women’s Studies.” (Side note: Kudos to Ms. for featuring women of color on the front page of their latest virtual issue on Women’s Studies programs and degrees.  Unfortunately, the canon of WS is still largely seen as a white feminist phenomenon).

In any event, I had to come up with a “where are you now?” type of passage (in 50 words or less).  The challenge, obviously, was coming up with a descriptive yet pity comment about how obtaining a M.A. degree made an impact on my personal and professional life.  I didn’t have to think too hard; earning a M.A. degree in WS actually did change my life.  After a night mulling over some sentiments, I came up with what I felt accurately described my thoughts about earning an arguably marginalized degree – the “journey metaphor” happened to work best.  After a few email correspondences and revisions with the Ms. editors, my passage finally made it to print.

Here it is:

“Most of my life I’ve journeyed to gain perspective. Only after completing a graduate degree in women’s studies did I realize my journey has a purpose. Currently, I work for Brave New Films as a political communications associate. I’m also an online content writer for YouthNoise.com. Both organizations’ missions emphasize social justice in the new media age.
—TARA L. CONLEY, M.A. IN WOMEN’S STUDIES
(TEXAS WOMAN’S UNIVERSITY, 2008)

And there you have it: My subtle, yet pretty damn cool, entrance into the mainstream is through a feminist medium.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

When I responded, I was still working full-time for Brave New Films at the time.  As you know, I’ve since left BNF to move on to new ventures.  As of June 1, 2009 I will be the new Associate Editor for Hiplolitics.com.  Hipolitics, or “Hips” for sort, is a new virtual magazine and social networking space that offers users much more than mindless gossip or inarticulate and unqualified analysis, Hips will be the quintessential source for all things political and progressive from a Hip-Hop head’s perspective.  Hips will cover U.S./global politics and the enigma that is Hip-Hop.  Think: CNN meets MTV, but with consciousness.  Hips launches this summer.

I’m looking forward to meeting and interviewing some amazing and provacative people.  So definitely stick around because 2009 is going to be an awesome year.