Thursday, June 27, 2013

Another '✔' For #DoulaProgression, Celebrating My Blogaversary, and Taking Time Off!

Yesterday I signed up for awesome online childbirth education classes, through Community Birth Companion. They are a series of birth courses, instructed by Divine IzEarth. The first class on labor starts Tuesday night, and the others focusing on nutrition, stages of labor, signs of labor and postpartum all run through the month of July. I marked off the requirement 'audit a childbirth preparation series' on my Doula Progression checklist below!

But that's not entirely what I'm here to talk about.

Today I'm writing to let everyone know that I am taking a break from writing this blog -- though my actual plan is to take a break from my work in this area overall.

Over the past while, I have written non-stop on issues I feel are important in Black breastfeeding and how they are connected to the overall society at large,  -- my two year blogaversary was last month. I never stop looking for ways to provide critical insight from my lens, and learn ways I can get people excited about this area, and join in. Know that I have been doing anti-racist and social justice type of work long before starting the Lactation Journey Blog. I really do love what I do. And I appreciate all of you who have ever visited my work.

But lately there have been more times than not where I have found myself not being as happy or as excited as I once was. These thoughts and behavior forced me to question the root of these feelings, and question where this came from. I realized that doing this work has taken an incredible amount of myself -- my time, my energy and my efforts. And I give a lot. I do not mind giving, or expending my energy towards something that has become so important to me -- it's just that these days I feel depleted and recognize that I need to hold off and keep some of my energy for myself. Even more, over the past while, I have had a number of things in my personal life that feel as if they have left me emotionally drained -- one of them being my 7.5 year old nephew getting electrocuted by a powerline while he was climbing a tree a few weeks back (he is OK!, but you can imagine how scary that was for my family), and I also need to tend to other areas and concentrate on relationships with people in my life. Also, I am still working on finding funding for school, and have just three months left to do so. This has me somewhat nerve-racked, so I need to dedicate much time to this. I do figure, though, that the universe drew me to this work, and because of that it won't let me down. I am interested in seeing how this will work itself out.

Other things that concern me is that I am not engaging my community as I should or as much as I would like to -- that I'm not taking it to the streets. I feel as if I have focused most of my attention on theoretical and academic areas, which I like, but I feel that I have not been 'in' the community as I should be -- or how I would also like to be. I will be thinking about ways to change this.

A friend, of mine, who has lent some very encouraging words at times, said to me that sometimes fighting the 'good fight' means to stop fighting. Don't talk about it. Don't challenge it. When I heard Angela Davis speak earlier this year, the question I asked her about how to continue social justice work, I know, came from a place of not only being frustrated with constantly dealing with all that anti-racist and social justice work encompasses, but it is taxing. And I realized I never heeded my friend's advice. I didn't chill. But it's not just my doing. Each time I wanted to take a break, I was sent a clear message, somehow, by the universe that it was not the time, and to hold off. Right now I am not receiving that message, which lets me know that I am OK to do this.

I think this time away will provide me with ways to build my reservoir of inspirations, revamp my energy, and gain new insight on ways to ways to challenge injustice. I'm working by not working! I will also be doing a 21 day master cleanse to help regroup and find my balance, but not before next week -- because that's my 37th birthday. And I am looking forward to red wine and birthday cake!

I did say I will write book reviews from my long list, which I still plan on, and I have a stellar Black Feminist blog carnival issue to post. Also, if I receive guest posts I will publish those on here. I just will not be writing any more material other than until the Fall. After that I will write as frequently as I can since I will be in school full time, and that will require a great deal of time, but I am absolutely looking forward to sharing this journey of Black Feminist Breastfeeding Anthropology Public Health, with everyone.

In the meantime, I wish you an awesome Summer, filled with love, light, family and friends. Or, just have an awesome season filled with whatever it is you need, whichever season it is wherever you are. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013


I thought I'd bring you the second Bingo card -- I've got at least one more up my sleeve after this. I hope you didn't think I would just leave you with the dreary issues that was the first Radical Black Breastfeeding Bingo post I created.

If you haven't noticed by now that I don't really look at breastfeeding as solely an act between a mother and child, but believe everyone is involved in every aspect, and hopefully this provides a clearer picture of that outlook. I'm going to run into the ground that I believe breastfeeding extends far beyond mainstream ideas of infant nourishment and bonding -- even though those are, of course, important. It goes much further past the mechanical steps of attaching an infant to its mother's breast. And just the same as the first one, this card can only hold so much. Some of what is included here isn't really anything new, but to see the culmination and the community involvement under this umbrella, is almost never part of most conversations. When we all help out, the ways Black people can benefit from breastfeeding -- the empowerment runs deep. For example, you've heard talk about psychological bonding being discussed by Queen Ifama, challenging a legacy with roots in Black enslavement. That idea flows over into the inevitable increase of Black unity, which benefits the entire community, and gives us a higher self and social esteem -- and saves our lives. It also allows us to challenge capitalism, and saves us money while simultaneously helping to preserve the environment (of course Communities of Color feel the most detrimental effects of pollutants).

Do you see where I'm going?

Do you have BINGO yet?

But that's not all. And even with all of this being said I am still somewhat reluctant to post this card, without writing explicitly on the 'what', 'why', 'how' 'so what' and 'now what' of it all. I want to explain my perspective and where I come up with this -- which I plan on doing in great detail in a future post. But for now I want to at least begin a conversation and see what you think. I'm fishing for dialogue, and want to also hear your ideas. Let's talk about it!

Keepin' It REAL: There's Power (and life) In The (un)Romanticized Breastfeeding Tradition + #DoulaProgression

At the end of May I traveled up north to Xwlil'xhwm, to help a friend with her baby. Xwlil'xhwm is the pre-colonial name for Bowen Island, British Columbia, a city just outside of Vancouver, in Canada. Even though the reasons I was there weren't the greatest (my friend has ruptured discs in her back and literally could not lift her daughter for diaper changes, baths, or for anything else), I really enjoyed being there and being able to help out.

Being at the home of a radical Black Feminist queer human rights lawyer, for two weeks, as you could probably guess, had its amazing moments -- I'm sure you can imagine some of the discussions we had. Aside from being in the company of someone with congenial worldviews, and having those conversations Black women have in each other's presence that affirm our very existence, something I was so impressed with in is her outlook on Black breastfeeding -- her progression, where she went from being adamantly against the tradition to where she now 'cannot imagine not being able to have breastfed' her now one-year-old daughter. It really made me think about the way we discuss the tradition and also the power of 'keeping it real'.

Let me explain what I mean.

*I asked my friend for permission to share some of her story on this blog*

Even though she lives in an environment where breastfeeding is promoted much more than here in the U.S. (even though she says this is just a surface level idea, since actual support is greatly lacking), when I first mentioned breastfeeding to her when she was just entering her second trimester -- about the importance of breastfeeding for Black woman, she, like so many others in our culture, was not buying it. The messages about our bodies being reserves for others, along with other areas of concern about gender identity, was at the forefront of her thoughts. After that seed was planted, and with some encouragement to examine her biases and trust herself, she began looking into the tradition more.

She will be the first to tell you that she did not want to breastfeed. That initially she did so begrudgingly, even after she began learning of the benefits. That she wanted her daughter to have the best health possible, was still met with reluctance. Some people may view this as 'selfish' but I view this as a very powerful and something that can allow us to draw more people in and examine the deeper issues of breastfeeding for Black women and Black people, who feel this way but never truly discuss it. I think it humanizes our experiences. And it humanizes breastfeeding, and can help start new conversations on what it means to our community.

I can't help but think about breastfeeding and the way it is always romanticized -- how most only discuss how much they are in love with it. I'm not saying that many women who breastfeed do not have feelings of overwhelming joy when it comes to being close to their child in this way -- I've heard many of those. But I don't think I've ever heard of another woman who said they just did not want to breastfeed because of the reasons stated above, and only did so because of the benefits. Usually I find that aside from a few stories about how to decrease pain or hearing about other issues with practical matters -- engorgement, for example, often times these conversations about deeper issues and how this truly affects our desire or even ability to breastfeed, are lacking.

Am I making myself clear?

Another friend of mine talks about issues within the Black community -- about how our 'secrets' have been and are continuing to kill us. She says in order to continue to live, we must talk about things that are not easy to talk about, and that telling her story keeps her alive. I know some pretty awesome people. And I'm sure you can see where this is going in the context of breastfeeding.

Today my friend is even impressed at how far she has come. She says she cannot imagine not having breastfed, and recognizes that even though it took a long time to get to the point where she is now (and she has exclusively breastfed her daughter since birth), instead of viewing her milk as only nourishment, she recognizes breastfeeding for Black women as a site of empowerment, where issues that have been steeped deep in racism, gender normative identity, white-centric views and separation of Black women and our children, can be deconstructed. Nursing is her baby's 'home'. There was so much other good stuff we talked about in this area and I will definitely get into that eventually.

I think visiting was more than just about washing dishes and laundry, running errands and carrying a precious baby girl around. Aside from my love of Black women, and actually putting into practice that when I better care for other Black women I am better caring for myself, I truly believe being there opened an avenue towards a new set of ideas on ways to challenge issues that run deep in our community that have been situated for generations and viewed through this lens. I don't agree with mainstream perspectives on how breasts, bodies and even gender identity and others are exploited, and are big issues situated between an infant and its mother (and many others), but while we work towards dismantling those notions, how do you think the idea of 'keeping it real' -- hearing more stories of 'breastfeeding begrudingly' would work towards our cause?


I thought I'd give you a quick progress report on my journey towards doula certification. The great news is I talked to Shafia Monroe the founder of ICTC, and she told me that my Certified Lactation Educator certificate will count as 'auditing a breastfeeding class', so that's such a plus. Also, I'm just an inch from being signed-up for child CPR and will be taking this course soon. Next, I plan to audit a childbirth class, read and write a review/report on the last two books on the list -- and oh ya, help some women give birth. I reckon that would help.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mama Midwife: A Birth Adventure :: Book Review (Update) + Giveaway! (Closed)

Can you think of many other awesome things happening than an author revising a book, based on feedback from readers (besides a collective effort of humankind to improve the global conditions by dismantling institutional racism, patriarchy, ending war, abolishing the death penalty, and all other systems of injustice, -- a lengthy list of other things I can think of, that is)? But in this context, I'm talking about Christy Tyner, who wrote Mama Midwife: A Birth Adventure.

I reviewed this children's book a few months back, and thought it was almost perfect. My only critique was the absence of breastfeeding the new addition, even as the mama bear drank milk herself after the delivery. With that suggestion and another, the extra scene below was added, after Mama Grizzly birthed her new cub in a warm birthing tub with the assistance of Mama Midwife, young Miso, and the other Grizzly family.

"Miso's mama quickly placed the cub on his mommy's warm, safe chest, where he had his very first drink of sweet milk from his mommy's breast."

Christy Tyner said she wants to get the message across about her support of breastfeeding: "I am a huge supporter of breastfeeding and attachment parenting, and I agree that even a small mention of it will help in our journey to normalize, promote and support breastfeeding." 

I am so thankful to see this revision, adding this crucial breastfeeding image and story to the scene. 

Author: Christy Tyner
Publisher: Self-Published @ CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Year: 2013
Paperback: 11.50
Hardcover: 15.99
Genre: Children's
Pages: 36
ISBN: 978-1480244108

Thank you, Christy Tyner, for providing an updated copy of Mama Midwife: A Birth Adventure, for this review, and TWO additional copies for giveaway. At this time, this giveaway is open only to participants in the United States due to shipping issues.  Leave a comment on this post by Wednesday, and it will count as your entry. All names will be entered with two winners selected at random via, and announced in next week's blog post. Leave your email address with your comment: yourname(at)emailserver{dot}com, net, etc. Each winner must respond within 24 hours, or another will be selected. 

If you appreciate giveaways on the Lactation Journey Blog, please consider donating $1.00 USD, in order to help me offset the shipping & handling charges I incur to bring these to you. Thank you in advance for any consideration.

*Some of you expressed difficulty leaving comments on this blog during giveaways. If this is the case, and you would like to enter please just send an email to with the subject line 'Mama Midwife Book Giveaway,' and that will be counted as your entry. Good luck!

Update: Winners are Yasmin and Darcel. Congratulations!

If you have previously purchased a copy of Mama Midwife: A Birth Adventure, and want an updated version, or if you are purchasing for the first time, for a limited time Christy Tyner is offering a discount. Follow the instructions below to receive 35% off:

2. Click the "Add to Cart" button.
3. Enter the quantity and discount code. Your 35% discount code is UK22TJLS.
4. Click the "Apply Discount" button.
5. Click the "Checkout" button and complete the checkout process. An account is required.

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Updates, Interesting things and other stuff

I've been busy. I'm getting ready to go out of town -- out of the country, actually -- to help a friend for a quick min, with her baby -- postpartum care. . . . sort of. I haven't met her baby yet because I haven't seen my friend in a while. I am really looking forward to hanging out with them and getting my very long overdue dose of radical Afro-Carib-Trinidadian and Hungarian feminist, queer, human rights theory, from her. I'm getting a rush now just thinking about it. I'm also gearing up to return to school this Fall, as you know (if I can find funding, that is. Thanks, Sequester), to work towards a PhD in sociocultural anthropology, which I'm anticipating to be crazy insane as far as being busy and that taking much of my time. There is also some other stuff that's been going on around here that has not lent me much time to write these days, but I did want to bring another what I call my 'newsletter-type-ish' post, that has some things that are happening around and about:
  • Black Feminist Blog Carnival is coming, really. I am truly sorry I have had to push the date back on publishing the fabulous articles I received on 'debunking the man-hating myth', and know it is so important to continue to work on this perspective in Black feminist thought. The reason I am so behind is that I have not been able to dedicate the time I need to organize and create my contribution to this carnival, which is why it's so late, because I want to give the best representation to the contributors as well as the readers as possible. Please bear with me. 
  • I withdrew from speaking at the Inequity in Breastfeeding Support Summit, that's happening in Seattle in June. I did not make this decision lightly because addressing the impact of institutional racism, power and white privilege on breastfeeding rates and maternal-infant health, is very important to me. I also clocked some valuable time helping organize this conference, and was looking forward to presenting. For now, I will not be going into much detail about my withdrawal, but since some of you were looking forward to me presenting, I will give you the gist on why I backed out:
I really felt that since people of color were not the ones who held the 'purse strings,' or any 'real' positions of power on the committee, it was inevitable that issues of racialized oppression and white supremacy were being served up as stronger dishes than an actual address of the way these systemic issues are a major force in breastfeeding inequity. I felt that far from being involved in creating ways to truly challenge injustice and engage the most affected members of the community, the venue only became a way to center the experiences of white people, and that my remaining a 'Black body on display' and 'performing' for an audience, which became geared to the least impacted -- white healthcare workers, was very problematic for me. The way I see it is while this scene may appear to enact change and be viewed at resolving critical issues, it would not. Instead, it would only fortify the cohesiveness of whiteness and the deeply entrenched racism, helping it to mutate, making it much more difficult to see because it would create more 'white saviors' and 'do-gooders', who are not interested in challenging a system they benefit from everyday. It just continues the provide power to white people, and reinforce the dynamic of race and class. It also only creates more ways for these people to 'help,' instead of providing the communities most affected with critical tools to challenge the legacy that is racism and white domination -- much of the reasons behind these issues. It would just continue to disempower them. And create more disparities. And this is everything I work against. But like I told the committee, this is the way *I* see it. You may see things differently, and I would love it if you shared your thoughts.
  • My two year blogaversary was yesterday! 
  • Interesting things around the web:
  1. Dr. Breeze Harper -- the Sistah Vegan, just published a great blog post entitled On the Myth of Being a Strong Black Woman, Decolonizing Our Taste Buds, and Self-Care, where she was part of a talk and discussed her experience of being a 'Strong Black Woman'. I am so happy that more attention discussing these issues in the work of anti-racist and social justice activists. You know that I just recently discussed something somewhat along these lines -- mine, though, was about the need to make self-care an intricate part of our work and not view it as a separate entity. I'm really glad to see Dr. Harper's article/talk, and if I find other interesting perspectives on the topic floating around, I'll make sure to tell you about those, too. 
  2. One of my favorite bloggers, Darcel of The Mahogany Way, is fundraising to become a doula through the International Center for Traditional Childbearing. This is also where I took my training, and I think the course taught, which centers the experiences of Black women, is wonderful. Transformational. I hope that you will see the importance of supporting more Black women becoming doulas and all doulas of color, and pitch in if you can.
  3. I just learned that ROSE (Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere) Breastfeeding coalition is hosting the Addressing Social Determinants of Breatfeeding Conference. I'm not a spokesperson for this organization, really, I just truly appreciate them! This particular conference here is practically giving me palpitations because it sounds so exciting. It is happening at Jacksonville State University in Alabama, on August 23, and there looks to be an interesting lineup of speakers. This conference is not too long after ROSE's annual breastfeeding summit in Atlanta, this year's theme is about organizing, and is taking place on August 8-9. So. Exciting. I really hope I am able to go.
  4. Once Sold Tales, a used bookstore, is going out of business. I'm so sad to see this awesome Seattle-based company close their doors, after all of the awesome stuff they've done within and for the community. I really don't like to see most bookstores close down, really. I read an article that they are struggling to find homes for 500,000 books, so if you are in the area, stop by. They will give you a free book if you mention the story in the link, and have implemented a 'grab bag' to try and reduce their stock so even if you're not around here then you can get them shipped to you! Please check them out. Imagine the critical theory, breastfeeding and birth readers they have available. For cheap!
  5. Infant tooth reveals Neanderthal breastfeeding habits: Chemicals in primate teeth reveal transition to solid food, is an interesting article I read today. I'm insanely fascinated with Neanderthals and, believe it or not, I often times find myself romanticizing about eras when they existed. I try and find as much info as I can to look at how things are 'supposed to be', and I think it gives me a good starting point, I think, to see how drastically we have moved away from nature. The article is interesting, though just one tooth doesn't tell us all that much, but it's definitely something. 
  • Finally, I'm going to be taking an advocate/activist and blogging break soon. I think I'm finally at the point where the universe will actually allow me to take time off and regroup from this work. This is a first because usually, the smallest inkling of a thought towards this and I could almost guarantee that something, anything, would transpire, and send me a clear message that I couldn't break just yet. But I'm feeling it's OK this time around. We'll see. I'll give you more details when it happens, next month, so don't worry -- I won't just leave you hangin'. 
But other than that, that's what's happening around here. What updates, interesting things and other stuff is going on in your world?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I took my children to the lake. . And I Left with an #IBCLC And Goat Milk! #TrueStory

If you noticed that I added a new page to this blog -- Painted Sky Soap -- it is because as of recently I became an independent representative for this small company, and so I'll tell you why I'm excited about it, and why I believe this may be another important component of the work I do supporting breastfeeding.

I think the most interesting things happen to me sometimes. I mean, the encounters I have with people. When I took my (little sister's) two youngest to the lake nearby their house and planned to hang out while they swam and splashed around in the shallow end with their friends, I didn't anticipate meeting a labor and delivery nurse, who was also an IBCLC -- a board Certified Lactation Consultant until just recently when she decided not to renew her certification. I'm sure you can imagine what she and I talked about for some time, right?! I also didn't anticipate meeting her husband who makes bodycare products from raw goat's milk.

After we all talked about breastfeeding, the fact that we were all California natives, recycling, and had the insane privilege of watching, right in front of our eyes, a bald eagle swoop down from the sky to try and capture a baby duckling floating around on the lake with its mama and other siblings -- the mama, who instructed the duckling to 'duck' to avert its demise, we began discussing goat's milk. The labor and delivery nurse/IBCLC, shared that her mother birthed six children and didn't breastfeed any of them -- she said she doesn't know why, but she did know that of all of them were given infant formula, but because of her allergy to cow's milk she was fed goat milk. The conversation progressed and I was pretty intrigued at what I was told, so later I decided to do some research on my own.

I found the benefits of raw goat milk to be extraordinary -- that it is loaded with natural vitamins, has the closest ph to our own skin which helps to avert irritants and infections, and that more and more research is suggesting it be used in place of the current cow's milk in infant formula, because of its benefits. From what I understood some of these include a potential decrease of SIDS due to potentially lessening the chance of anaphylactic shock from allergic reactions to cow's milk. This was only initial research. Of course the fact that these products are all natural, each contain only six to eight ingredients at best and goat's milk is always first on that list -- meaning it is the largest quantity in each product, and that they are handmade and cold processed just grabs me.

But, if you know me or know anything at all about me -- even though I'm a sucker for great skincare products, and especially a good lotion, then you'll know that I'm not too quick to hop on just any bandwagon. And, with the exception of books, I have yet to advertise anything on my site, and never allow it. Or, excuse me -- it would be rare and I'm exceptionally choosy -- I think we are too often given the exact things that are used to exploit us and create tumultuous dynamics all in the name of 'mobility'. But I digress..

I was not only impressed with the products, which I love, but I appreciate the relationship this owner has with his goat herd as well as the land, reciprocating the same kindness, loyalty, and faithfulness that he receives (I would not have signed up were this not the case). I think doing so was one of those things I could feel was right -- that somehow this is another critical component of promoting breastfeeding -- involving deeper implications of self-care, environment, race, and other ideas of holism -- mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and so on. I can't quite put my finger on exactly how this milk intersects with this work, but I know it does. And I'll soon find out because I absolutely look forward to seeing where this will all lead.

Please visit my new page as well as the website. Right now, the dust is still settling around here and I will probably soon enter a redirect from the blog page that will take you to an online store/shopping cart, if you're interested in purchasing anything. Also, please know that some of the pricing on the current site is slightly different on the website and all orders must be done through email, where you would tell me what you want and I would send you an invoice through Paypal. Many thanks, and please share your thoughts and let me know if you have any questions :O)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

SELF CARE -- It's more than what you think in Anti-Racist and Social Justice Work! (Video)

I added a new label to this blog; 'SELF-CARE'. 

But I don't want to make it a truly 'separate' category and only talk about practical aspects, if you know what I mean, but I want to also talk about it on a deeper level. I'll explain.

From what I've noticed at least, self-care is one of the most overlooked aspects of anti-racist and anti-oppressive work. It seems as if the subject is almost taboo, in that it is hardly ever discussed and rarely have I seen the topic appear on my favorite blogs and websites, or hear about it during talks I attend by Black feminists, resistive workers, and other social justice activists. I admit I've hardly touched on it, and though I have found a few people discussing the issue here and there, the conversation in the 'quest' is always centered around ways to 'fight the power'.

You've heard this reference once before, and you'll hear it once again in an upcoming post, too, on when I went to hear Angela Davis speak a few months back. I asked her about suggestions for activists on how they continue, after always challenging everything under the sun, and feeling the toll it takes on us. I was approached after the event about my question, and was told it was a good one because, as this brotha put it, 'everyone wants to have dinner, but no one wants to talk about doing the dishes,' and he was right.

Day after day we prioritize issues that are undoubtedly important, in fighting the 'good fight'. It involves being vocal and speaking -- regardless of the level of difficulty. Activists endure verbal, emotional and sometimes physical violence from others reacting to social justice and anti-racist work, and we are often told to just 'suck it up' or 'keep it moving'. Many of us don't have adequate emotional support surrounding the issues we challenge -- I know for myself it has only been recently that I have begun to find the support I need in some areas, but I feel strongly that most Women of Color face the brunt of this, especially in an environment where issues of racism, sexism and capitalism are the backdrop. Black women, for example, whether actively engaged in anti-oppressive work or not, continue to be labeled 'strong', and never in need of a break -- that we've always got things under control. Of course this dehumanizing stereotype means at the end of the day, without getting proper support and self-nourishment, too many of us literally pay for this myth with our lives.

But just like others have said, and just like Audre Lorde's words in the image in this post -- 'Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare,' I agree. Self-care, I believe, is self preservation -- very much determined by who you are, in a society full of ideas on who we're 'supposed' to be -- and who is and is not supposed to be -- healthy, physically, mentally and emotionally well or even alive. Those who fall furthest from 'normative' dominant standards, as I stated earlier, feel the brunt, and it's most often these same people and groups on the front lines of the struggle. So why aren't we focusing more ways to ensure our own self-nourishment as an integral component of this work -- and not a separate entity? I think it can provide greater success with challenging injustice?

I don't think my ideas in this post are as clear as I'd like them to be. I would like to view this via a more critical and even practical perspective. I also want to hear about your thoughts on self-care -- in the 'ongoing quest for justice and equality'. I'm not sure what type of conversations exactly will erupt around this, but I do know that in my mind, I wonder how is it possible that we can participate in challenging injustice to its fullest if we fail to ensure we are even at our fullest? This is the way I see it, at least. And is why I want to place a special emphasis on this new category -- and make sure I post in it often.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Reblog - An Open Letter From Assata Shakur: 'I am only one woman' (Video) #handsoffAssata

I reblogged the article below from the Frontlines of Revolutionary Struggle's website. If you are unsure about the current conversation surrounding Assata Shakur, who was, just the other day, the 'first-ever woman to be added to the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list,' I recommend doing a good amount of research on her story, and contributions she has made to the struggle for justice and liberation. Though being convicted by an all-white jury of the murder of a state police officer, like others, I believe Assata's account of what happened on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973, and am convinced of her innocence. I also agree that this sudden act to label her a terrorist, is itself an act of terror.

But I can't put my entire faith into believing this is simply about one woman's plight. The tactics of the United States, and political dissent vis-à-vis Cuba, as well an attempt to divert public attention from innumerable injustices on a local and global level, perpetuated by the imperialistic U.S. government, is at least also at the forefront, I believe. I also recognize this is only part of the legacy of repression and tyranny that has been sustained by the government, that we have seen experienced by those now and in the past -- especially towards those who have sought radical and revolutionary change and social equality for Black, poor and oppressed people.

Even though I admit I'm at a loss on offering ways to challenge someone being placed on a terrorist list, I'm doing what I can to spread the word and looking for whatever ways I can to become involved. I think this starts by hearing Assata in her own words.

An Open Letter From Assata Shakur - May 3, 2013
My name is Assata Shakur, and I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government’s policy towards people of color. I am an ex-political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984.
I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. Because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it “greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.
In 1978, my case was one of many cases bought before the United Nations Organization in a petition filed by the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, exposing the existence of political prisoners in the United States, their political persecution, and the cruel and inhuman treatment they receive in US prisons. According to the report:
I was falsely accused in six different “criminal cases” and in all six of these cases I was eventually acquitted or the charges were dismissed. The fact that I was acquitted or that the charges were dismissed, did not mean that I received justice in the courts, that was certainly not the case. It only meant that the “evidence” presented against me was so flimsy and false that my innocence became evident. This political persecution was part and parcel of the government’s policy of eliminating political opponents by charging them with crimes and arresting them with no regard to the factual basis of such charges. . . . finish reading Assata's open letter
'Eyes of the Rainbow: Assata Shakur [Full] Documentary'

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Radical Black #Breastfeeding Bingo, Anyone?

I love Bingo! I have since I was a kid, and could play this game for hours. I usually play no less than several rounds at the family picnic each Summer, hosted by the company my brother-n-law works for. True story. I love the game and they give out great winning prizes. What can I say? J

I was inspired to create the bingo card below, after the idea came from viewing the ways other people have used the famous game to get messages across. I think it is a perfect opportunity to share the way I view structural barriers to breastfeeding for Black women, and the Black community (what stands in the way -- and grasp things at the root), and what I discuss during my presentations, along with what I believe are ways we can work towards solutions. Understand that there is only so much room on this single card; and it doesn't even begin to touch on practical matters -- infant tongue tie, fussy baby, thrush, for example. 

This is not to say that Black women don't have agency -- that Black women who don't breastfeed are nothing more than mindless and oppressed and don't know what they're doing or what's best for their own situations. I don't think that at all. Nor am I saying that those who do never face any social barriers, or don't occupy a social position where they feel these less than others. But I'm looking in on it through a more structural framework -- a larger picture than zeroing in on one Black woman, 10 or even 100. And what I am saying is that breastfeeding is more than simply the mechanical steps of attaching an infant to its mother's breast. If Black women have the lowest initiation and duration rates of any group in the country -- and who are coincidentally disproportionately affected by strategic and systematically crafted structures, which are part of a continued legacy of the most sordid US history, then it is not by chance. If we want to start hearing more about an infant's access to its mother's breast and all of the goodness that comes with that, then we need to look at breastfeeding through a more critical and holistic lens. And talk less about the infant and its mother's breast and more about the issues that are situated between the two. And find ways to challenge these issues. 

I hope you play a round or more of Radical Black Breastfeeding Bingo. And while you are immersed in your game, ask yourself just how you support these structures -- because you know you do. We all do, somehow.

Open Anthropology - A FREE #Anthropology Journal! #MakingAnthropologyPublic

This is cause for celebration. Or at least a few cheers. In an effort to make anthropology more public and to make anthropologists more visible, the American Anthropological Association (AAA) has created Open Anthropology: A PUBLIC JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGICAL ASSOCIATIONan online journal and volume 1, Number 1 -- the inaugural issue is now online, and it's FREE!!

This current issue is titled 'Marriage and other Arrangements'. Here are some of the titles from this volume, which are also linked:
There are other articles in the journal also, of course, and you can check those out. The AAA, on it's blog, provides the following info about the journal:
"Content in Open Anthropology will be culled from the full archive of AAA publications, curated into issues, and will be freely available on the internet for a minimum of six months, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles. Each issue will be dedicated to topics of interest to the general public, and that may have direct or indirect public policy implications." 
Below is part of the introduction to the journal form the AAA's president, Leith Mullings:
"Anthropology is the science of humankind, past and present, across societies and cultures. The anthropological perspective is distinct from most social sciences in that it does not accept specific cultural forms and societal arrangements as given or 'natural', but seeks to understand the conditions in which they came to be. As we apply anthropological knowledge — gained from the study of humans and primates through history and across societies — to pressing social issues such as family, war, health, migration, inequality, we ask how these emerge, and are reproduced or transformed. The answers to these questions may provide unique insights into addressing pressing social issues." 
This is why I think everyone needs at least a little bit of anthropology.  And judging from this new initiative, so do they.

If you would like to understand more about the discipline, I recommend you head over. I hope you visit this journal on a regular basis -- or at least often. Here's the link. Make sure you spread the world!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Top 10 + ONE Reasons Why I focus on Black Women's Breastfeeding - And Won't Apologize!

Some people are taken back when I tell them I'm interested in Black women's breastfeeding. When I'm in conversations with (usually non-Black) people who are advocates, or even others who are not necessarily into the 'breastfeeding thing', and we're on the subject and somewhere in there in there I mention that I want to see Black women's rates increase, there's that split-second pause right before that quizzical look appears on their face, like 'What? You only care about Black women breastfeeding?' Which, of course, is the furthest thing from what I said. Others have insisted that I'm reproducing the same racism that I challenge. I find this is largely the case with white people -- white women, particularly, who are involved in countless initiatives and who work as advocates to get more 'women' on board this breastfeeding train. But taking a look a their agenda, you quickly understand their use of the word 'women' easily translates to white women only, since it never encompasses areas specific to any group outside of their own ethnicity. At least this is my experience.

But I've not only noticed this with white women; this has been true about other people who work in areas specific to their own racial, or cultural group, for example. Let's say I'm talking with a woman with a Romanian heritage and she tells me, whether within breastfeeding or not, the area she specializes in is dealing with women and people from this group. Or, maybe it's someone from Iran, focusing on ways to empower women in the Iranian community. I have had these types of experiences a number of times. I once had a professor who stated she knew so much about Black history because she wanted to know her own Asian-American background in the US, and this history required her to understand African American's. Does it mean that there is no interest in learning about ways to connect with and interact with others, while working towards togetherness and solidarity? That's not the case for me, at least. But it does mean that there is a special area I place my emphasis --and it's clear they also have their own, which never really involves Black women, so I really don't understand why I receive such seemingly and sometimes outright negative reactions.

I decided to put together a short list of my top reasons for focusing in this area on Black women's breastfeeding. It's not exhaustive, or a way to try and justify or defend my focus, but maybe I'd just like to 'put it out there'  -- put that on record. I may list more in the future, but for now here are just a few.
  1. I am a Black Woman! Enough said!
  2. I love Black women!! Maybe this bears repeating. This does not mean I don't have a love for everyone, but I do have a special place in my heart for my sisters. Even though my feelings have been hurt within the community, as well as learning about the violent climate we have been subjected to, Black women have found creative ways to survive in this society given its history. Black women have built strong communities and continue to be beacons of light for those of us looking for guidance. I love that we have struggled, strived, and continue to work at challenging social injustice for ourselves and others. It is love that has kept us here, and that same love is what drives the desire within us to work with others and create a world free of oppression. 
  3. Because I am a Black woman and I love Black women, I have a desire to go deeper into the issues of breastfeeding for Black people and the Black community. I have not found scholarship that delves into the issues I have looked for, where breastfeeding is used as a site to place the larger issues of food, social, and other forms of justice and individual and community agency within this context of infant feeding, for us. 
  4. Black women have the lowest breastfeeding initiation and duration rates of any group in this country, and breastfeeding save lives. In fact, our disparity is what lured me to this work. Black babies are dying at an alarming rate, and breastmilk is literally the the difference between life and death for some of them. Breastfeeding can also assist in preserving the health of Black women, who also face inequity in medical care. BTW, this is not the 'oppression olympics' -- I've always rooted for the underdog anyway. Does this mean that I am uninterested in the lives of other people and communities? Not in the least. I believe my attention to our tradition has allowed me to look at understanding the way to view the benefits and cultural and social meaning of others'.   
  5. I am a 'Reverse Racist', remember?! -- a 'Racist anti-racist'! Because I challenge dominant structures that work to remain in power, and criticize whiteness on a regular, if not a daily, it means that I am racist against whites. I came to this conclusion a number of months ago, and you can read all about my 'coming out' story, if you click the link to the article at the beginning of this point. Oh, and I work to see how the issues that make me an reverse racist interfere with our breastfeeding rates. But don't worry, it's not like I blame everything on whiteness. I examine other types of social turmoil, as well as how Black intra-racial conflict impedes our success in this area, too. J
  6. Black women are apparently non-existent in books, magazines, pamphlets, etc., at the library, schools, and other places that deal with the topic at hand. These texts continue to remain authored by uninterested, culturally insular and/or xenophobic people who completely mull over the unique experiences of Black women. Black women remain left out of their breastfeeding context -- (well, except for in cases when we appear in reading material geared towards low-income, and other governmental agencies, that is). *Sigh* 
  7. I've got a lot of Black women to pay back. Helping eradicate breastfeeding disparities is the least I can do. As I've said before once when I learned about the history of Black women in this country, I promised I wouldn't remain silent -- that I would give my best to voice these women and shine a light on their lives and work towards challenging injustice. I would repay them. The universe chose this recompense be through breastfeeding support. I want to repay them for what they went through, what they got to -- and the support and courage for what they continue to do. Without them, there would be no me.
  8. Black women DO breastfeed. And breastfeeding is powerful! I have never breastfed a baby myself, but I see the impact it can and does have for the Black community far, far beyond nourishment, and mainstream medical reasoning. I also see the joy it brings to other women, and can empathize with their experiences of bonding, closeness, creating a healthier generation and an overall feeling of cherishing this critical but short time they share with babies. I love that I'm helping to enable other women to experience these same things. 
  9. The universe drew me here. Since it wasn't warm fuzzies and sentiments from a personal nursing experience that caused me to become an advocate, if you know how I became active in this area, then you will understand that ending up on the breastfeeding runway is the exact last place in the world I would have ever expected myself to land. Really. If you visit my 'About Me' page, then you will know that I am only responding to a summons from the universe.
  10. Anthropology + Black Breastfeeding gives me a rush! 
  11. "If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression." I firmly believe that many of the views expressed in the The Combahee River Collective Statementwhich was crafted in 1977, remains very true today still and even in this context. Breastfeeding is more than simply the mechanical steps of attaching an infant to its mother's breast. When issues of racial injustice and other forms of systematic oppression that are weighted heaviest against Black women in this country are addressed, then this would mean they are addressed on a larger scale, and that breastfeeding inequity is non longer existent.

'Into a world sick with racism': Can Sex(y) Sell Social Justice For Black People?

The other day I was taking my walk. Just the same as I always do when I'm out -- four times per week, three miles per trip, I had my ipod nano with me on shuffle. Near the end of my routine, one of the tracks from the megastar Janet Jackson played. The track is from the album Janet -- a CD a good friend of mine bought me as a Christmas gift when it was first released back in 1992. Or was it '93? Either way, I still have it, and for the past 20 years as you can imagine, I've heard it numerous times. But strange as it may seem, what stood out to me after all of this time was a track about racism -- titled Racism -- a nine second, 9-word interlude to a quite powerful song about the turning tide, social progression and 'New Agenda' for African American women in this country (all that we've been through): I've embedded the track below, as well as added its text underneath:

'Into a world sick with racism, get well soon.'

Even though I've never given it any real thought, interestingly enough -- perhaps in the back of my mind, I always felt this track was out of place. It may be because, save for a couple of songs from the late 80s, I've never heard much of Janet Jackson speaking (or singing) in the likes of anti-racism and social justice. The large majority of the other titles on this album are dedicated to relationships and sexual activity, and even though I have not purchased any of her albums since sometime in the mid to late 90s, it's probably not an assumption to say given the sultry image she portrays and from the songs I have heard on the radio, this is most likely the case on those successives. But I'm not necessarily here trying to pinpoint Janet Jackson, per se; doing so would be looking through too narrow a lens. She, like many others in the business, have been propped as agents of 'sex' and 'sexy' and have been made into 'sex symbols' in an industry whose purpose is to make money in a society where sex can sell anything from a bag of ice to thumb tacs, a candy bar, a new tire, a flashlight -- or CDs. And the track on her album is what made me think of this idea on racism and social justice, which is why I'm using her as an example. I went to an online site that allows users to create speech bubbles, and with the pictures of Janet Jackson I found online I got a little creative and put together the few below:

Challenge racism, class elitism, white supremacy -- social inequity.
Work to end institutional racism and cool off.
I could not leave a breastfeeding image out.

It's OK to laugh! I had a pretty good one putting these together. But I'm really not trying to be funny. 

Maybe I'm simply trying to understand what it meant back then, or what it means even today that what I view as a seemingly contradictory message of decrying anti-Black racism is coupled with acquiescence to patriarchy and male-domination, white-centric ideas of beauty, body image and capitalism -- all which have worked to ridicule Black women. And therein lies a history of stigma against Black bodies -- and Black women have been commoditized, hyper-sexualized, and considered the antithesis of all things related to real 'womanhood' -- and as I've heard one professor 'Blackness is seen as the most radical form of racial 'otherness.' I'm not judging -- at least that's not my intent. And I know that it can and does happen often that we participate in one form of oppression while denouncing another; I know things are complicated like that. So could this work for Black people? 

We clearly support this industry -- along its various messages. I mean, we never challenge the content, the tactics or question their marketing. And concert ticket sales, billboard charts and the various mansions and flashy cars that Janet Jackson and others live in and drive is the biggest indicator that we're tuned in. So if we infused music, magazines and other mediums with images and slogans like the ones above with popular artists, rock stars and maybe sports figures would it mean we could expect to hear less about young Black men being brutally attacked and gunned down within this racist system that continues to depict these men as just a threat to society? Could sex(y) somehow curve Black on Black crime? Or stop the many intra-racial conflicts in the Black community? Could we expect to see more Black babies at the breast? I mean, want more breastfeeding, right?!

What are your thoughts?

I personally do not believe sex can sell anti-racism or breastfeeding, or anything else for that matter. I mean, someone may buy it, but I believe it would only open up the floodgates for deeper and new forms of oppression and create more ways to strengthen the framework surrounding various exploitations -- racial, gendered and others. To me, it also means continuing to conform to the idea that sex -- and what we have established as so-called 'sexy' holds the answer to all things that we are too often led to believe -- and I have a lengthy list of politics in this area, including the over consumption of sexual activity (No! I don't believe sexual activity, that we are always encouraged to engage in with our significant other or any other consenting adult, is a natural phenomena). In fact, I believe in order to address more issues in general it must begin with the our preoccupation with sex. And even though not everyone may agree with me on this or any of my politics in this area, which is not what I'm asking, what would it mean to if this platform were used to promote anti-racism? I'd love to know what you have to say, really. Because I absolutely want to talk about it.

Update: Just to clarify, when I say I do not believe the sexual activity we are always encouraged to engage in is natural, what I mean by this is even though I believe sex is natural, of course, the way we are always encouraged to OVER-consume and always engage in it is not. But I believe it is learned behavior. I believe the issues behind our preoccupation with sex need to be addressed -- which inevitably shows us the links to this over consumption -- low self-esteem from the messages we receive, patriarchy, capitalism, etc. Hope that makes sense.

Now, back to the lecture at hand.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

'It's Only Natural': White Breastfeeding in Blackface?

If you are just now tuning into my blog, then you should know that yes, I do have a problem with everything. Maybe that's a stretch, but it's not too often I find myself taking anything at face value (whether that's always good or bad is up for debate). I like to think my critical thinking skills are always turned on and tuned in, but besides, I have entirely too much of a child-like curiosity, which involves a lot of question-asking, for that. I thought I would briefly weigh-in on this new campaign launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office on Women's Health. It's only natural focuses exclusively on Black breastfeeding. Their website says it "helps African-American women and their families understand the health benefits of breastfeeding—not just for babies, but for moms too," and there are several categories dedicated to the following topics:

  • Planning ahead
  • Addressing myths
  • Overcoming challenges
  • Finding support
  • Fitting breastfeeding into your life
  • My breastfeeding story

I don't want to give the impression that I don't think the site is useful; I think the videos are gorgeous, and the stories by the women who are featured in them are honest and heartfelt. When I first visited, I got a rush, followed by warm fuzzies -- the ones I always get when I hear about Black women breastfeeding. But after I looked at it again, I couldn't help but think of how much this initiative reminded me of a quote by Audre Lorde that a friend shared the other day, on Black Feminism, and all that it encompasses in what is the complexity of Black women's lives:

“Black feminism is not white feminism in blackface. Black women have particular and legitimate issues which affect our lives as Black women, and addressing those issues does not make us any less Black.”

I have criticized the free breastfeeding books offered by the Office on Women's Health before -- the ones that supposedly highlight the different "ethnic" groups; African American, Latina, Native American, and Chinese (though I could not read this last one). A cursory look may not reveal much, but a deeper one will show that they are literally nothing more than a murmur of white culture; (check them out, and compare them with the so-called "neutral" one they offer -- the one filled with majority white people -- because white is always considered the objective, of course). The OWH claims they are exclusive to each group, but if you look closer, you will undoubtedly agree that they simply herald the breastfeeding culture of white society, with Women of Color used as proxies. They reproduce mainstream ideas about breastfeeding, and don't delve deeper into areas that truly concern us, from our own perspective and our place in this society. This is, at least, how I see it. And these ideas seems to be along the same lines of the It's only natural campaign, and because of that, there are a few questions I have: 

Where are the issues specific to Black women -- instead of just repeating that 'Black women don't breastfeed' and simply saying we need to -- and showing us how to put a baby on our chest? Why are they making the breastfeeding inequity a Black woman's pathology instead of implicating other people who are responsible? And when I say 'other people,' I mean everyone! Where are the conversations on institutional racism that is perpetuated throughout society, and stand in the way of a slew of areas that shapes how we feel about our bodies, our self-esteem, our family life and every other area? White supremacy? The glorification of white bodies? The vilification of our partners, or the history of mistrust with healthcare professionals? Where is the conversation about structural violence, and how we can challenge this outside of the breastfeeding realm, which is inextricably linked to our rates?

I won't deny that just seeing or hearing the breastfeeding stories of those among our peer group, or others in our social circle can offer support. I recall the presentation by the founder of the Black Mothers' Breasfeeding Association last year at the ROSE Summit -- and how she shared that her presence alone -- being physically there in the company of a Black mother who was on the cusp of quitting was enough to encourage this woman to continue nursing her child (yes, I have goose bumps right now -- just like I did when I listened to this from my seat in the audience, almost one year ago). And I'm not saying that It's only natural does not provide assistance to women. What I am saying is that breastfeeding is more than simply the mechanical steps of attaching an infant to its mother's breast -- especially for Black women. And Black people. If indeed we have the lowest rates of any group in this country it is not just by chance. And the Office on Women's Health must take this into account as well as a more critical and holistic look into this area, and integrate these important aspects as part of their strategy, if they truly wish to impact and create real and lasting change.

But these are just some of my early thoughts.

Have you visited the site? What are yours?

'Living DOWN' to white standards: A Dr. William Henry 'Bill' Cosby, Jr., Ed. D-Inspired Post!

Ahhhh. I had no intention at all of writing this post. I signed out of Blogger, after posting my article for this week, on what I'm reading and was going to call it a day, after I excitedly shared with my facebook peeps that I had, for the first time used the word 'vaginally' on my site, that has been almost exclusive to breasts. But since someone shared a link with me, now I'm going to talk about Bill Cosby around here?! To what do I owe thee? It's all connected anyway.

A couple of people have asked me if I have seen this image of Bill Cosby -- the one I inserted in this post, up top. Underneath the original image floating around the web, it has an almost novel-like inscription directed to not just Black youth, but to the whole community. Have you see it? For some reason I got the impression that it was from the early 2000s, but now I'm thinking it was from recent(?) If you follow me on Twitter, then maybe you caught the brief conversation between myself and my tweeps about it the other night. And I knew that if I offered my quick response 'Yes, I've seen it, and don't agree' then it would be followed by another and morph into a potentially long debate, I figured I'd share my thoughts here. Yes, I have see it! In fact, not only have I seen this, but I would argue that Bill Cosby is largely incorrect, by offering such a narrow perspectives of the issues, and I find so many things wrong with what he says.

I want to start a conversation about this. Yes, I believe that instead of always talking about floods -- the problem, we need to practice the 'Noah Principle' and build arks -- offer solutions. But what may be best for my social circumstance, for example, may not be best for the next one, so at the end of this post, I'd like you to weigh in with your thoughts.

To be clear, I have NO problem criticizing my community. I admit that once upon a time I may have been reluctant to do so because I thought that if I did so then it would mean that I was not working to clear up these issues instead of bringing them to the forefront. Not anymore. In fact, if you've been reading along then you would know that this is a new area I focus on in breastfeeding research -- what role do we as Black people play in our own disparities? I have no issues with calling things out. What he is doing, however, is quite a bit different, and is basing his information on the perceived (and largely accepted) normalized representation that reflects white ideas and ideals -- at least in some areas, if not most.

First, Bill Cosby, Heathcliff, or whatever he calls himself these days -- Dr. William Henry 'Bill' Cosby, Jr., Ed. D, as it was inscribed at the bottom of the post -- his full name with credentials means it looks more official, I guess, criticizes Black people's use of language, by saying that we don't speak properly. Well, there are some Black people who are praised for how articulate we are and how proper we speak (insert *ugh*), so I reckon he was just talking to some Black folks:
"They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English. I can't even talk the way these people talk: Why you ain't, Where you is, What he drive, Where he stay, Where he work, Who you be... And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. In fact you will never get any kind of job making a decent living."
Getting straight to the point, there is NO such thing as the 'proper' language. All languages are grammatically correct. Bill Cosby (and countless others) have ideas that are based on centuries of English domination and imperialism, which has been used to subjugate others. In reality, *as long as one person understands the point another is trying to covey, that is ALL that matters.* Whether that is Ebonics, Jive, or any other broken and mixed-up usage, what counts is that I get what you are saying. The idea of 'proper' usage is based on nothing more than a system of power, where many people continue to say that this grasp of the English language means we are forced to try and 'live up' to white standards. But I say, if your natural tongue is being denigrated, while cultural genocide and ethnic cleansing happens as the inevitable result by whiteness and English, which has worked ardently for centuries to become the apotheosis of the world around us, then this is not 'living up' to white standards, since this is not ascension. In fact, it's 'living down'.

I just found out there will be a Star Wars Episode 7. Crazy, eh?!

Next, Jr., shed some light on our decline since the days of the the Civil Rights Movement:
"People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an Education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around."
You mean like the people marching around and being arrested as we speak protesting the closure of over 60 schools in Chicago? SIXTY!!!!! Mostly elementary schools in Black and Brown neighborhoods? I've inserted a few images, just in case you need a visual.

Keep in mind, Cliff, that this is only a very small glimpse of the overall climate of the racial injustice and culturally insular society, built on a legacy of exclusion directed at our communities. Black literacy was once punishable by death, remember? And even while marching, after Brown v. Board of Education, which he referenced, a suit that argued against the so-called 'separate but equal' law when in actuality Black kids were in sub-optimal classrooms, without running water, libraries, space to move around and learn in creative environments. Remember the money pumped into white households via the racist wallets of the U.S Government (which actually because of taxes everyone paid for), to send white kids to what we now call private schools, to avert interaction with Black ones? Do the images above remind you of something? Should I get into irony of current outdated textbooks, if any at all, thrown down as the crumbs from white people's educational plate, and infused with bullshit ideas on centuries of so-called white sovereignty, being made to abide by a one-talk, one-think system inspired by white standards, that ridicules anyone with a difference -- of opinion -- or of anything. And where being more active and energetic than the student next to you lands you a seat with the psychologist, whose textbook knowledge paints everyone with the same white-centric psychological brush, that is far from many actualized truths.

I won't really get into the $500 sneakers, really, because frankly we've all been duped in that area. I'm not saying that everyone has done so or that I've ever bought a pair of $500 dollar tennis shoes -- or a $500.00 pair of anything for that matter. No way! My most expensive pair of shoes I have are actually not shoes -- my dark chocolate/espresso brown Birkenstock Livorno boots that I got for half price = $125.00, about seven years ago. I admit I do love them. But I'm not worried, because I know Dr. Huxtable isn't really talking about shoes. I mean, I'm sure this is just an example he's referring to because of a much larger issue, and he's right. The issue -- you know the ubiquitous commercials, and billboards that surround us? The pamphlets we receive in the mail and articles promoting consumer goods, that now play before youtube videos? They're also embedded on websites each time you click on a link, and also in the newspaper, -- many people allow them on their personal sites in order to generate revenue from the sales. These corporations even start the kids off early by ensuring they're riddled with a dose of endorsements, with a lineup played during their Saturday morning cartoons -- and all of the other ways we have marketing brutally forced on us without our consent -- just like the ones that came on during your show. Shows. The same ones plastered everywhere that constantly tell us we're useless without their 'stuff' -- yes, even the numerous jello pudding pops you once peddled (I've inserted one of your many commercials for the brand below -- for sentiment. They remind me of my childhood).

Well, consequently, these same messages are ones that disproportionately affect the communities that you pinpoint -- the ones who, according to you, have no money for 'real' things, and are 'uneducated' or undereducated, have low literacy rates. And as it turns out, William, personal property and consumption offer a greater sense of security -- a way to fit in with others around. And though it's definitely a false-sense of security, a feeling of higher self esteem, which then falsely morphs into a sense of a higher social esteem (yes, I have personally researched this). But this is not exclusive to these communities, but they just face the brunt of the stigma. I  mean I bet you and the people in your own social circle fall victim to aggressive marketing or a desire to fit in. What kind of cars do you drive?

Maybe at some point I'll get into my thoughts on the idea of the so-called normative nuclear family, another area he criticized, along with his other opinions on our names, and sentiments towards Africa, and I may even continue the conversation on all aspects because there is just so much more to say. For now, though, I think my point is clear. I'm not placing Blacks in a position of people without agency. That is farthest from what I think or believe. And I'm not suggesting we can't do something, because I know there are plenty of areas that need improvement, and agree it is absolutely frustrating as humanly possibleBut there is a much larger picture, and a one-sided argument excluding the details of how some are gaining while others remain on the sidelines is getting us nowhere. 

Bill Cosby is praised for his philanthropy, and hailed for his multimillion dollar donations -- especially that one --  when he cut a 20-million dollar check to Spelman University some time back. Was it the 90s? That is some gesture. And I can see his desire to help improve certain social circumstances. But Bill Cosby profits off of and supports the system run by corporate moguls that only reinforces this dynamic of power and inequality, worldwide! I would be much more inclined to believe in this type of work if it actually did something, perhaps, like criticize a system that allows ONE man to make that much money by doing nothing more than reading some scripts from a piece of paper into a T.V. screen -- nothing that betters the human condition, if it even contributes to anything at all. Some people get 20 million dollar checks, others starve -- are out on the streets -- aren't in school -- don't have jobs....


Get to the root!

If you support what he's saying, then that is your right. But I don't think I'm too fundamental in my thinking to say that this is a much larger problem, one we all must take part in to create a more just society and a more equitable world. Conversations like these, geared at maligning more vulnerable populations are just another way for each of us to try and weasel our way out of recognizing that We are ALL to blame, and are ALL responsible. And we must keep this in mind if we are going to create change. We all play a part. Myself. Others. And yes, William Henry Cosby. Even you.