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Why a Hairstyle Made Headlines

By Robin Givhan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 7, 2006; C01

When Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) summoned the media to Howard University last week to tell her side of the story in an altercation with a Capitol Police officer, she assumed the traditional news conference position behind a podium and a bank of microphones.
Read more... )
But McKinney also made her hairstyle into such a symbol that it was hard to see the person behind it. Who could notice the cheekbones, the nose and the smile with the loaded distractions of that washerwoman crown of braids?

© 2006 The Washington Post Company
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i am a person of color, for what it's worth
i recently read rachel's post that asked if we can come up with another term for "marginalized people." in her posting, she made some comments regarding the term "people of color" that i felt an urge to respond to.

My problem with that term is threefold. First, the term is completely power neutral, and second it reinforces the racial language of color. I also keep thinking: are there people without color? Then I wonder if the term reinforces the normativity of Whiteness and the notion that Whites are somehow raceless.

i call myself a person of color for a number of strategic reasons. the main reason being, it allows me to feel safe--it allows me to feel included--it allows me to feel some sense of solidarity with other people who exist in similar social positions as i do. by calling myself a person of color, i willingly adopt a collective identity that extends far beyond my identification as a black woman. i personally think this collective identity, is no different than other collective identities that are based on shared traits or beliefs, rather they be sexual, political, religious, or cultural. this specific identity is based on a common history of exploitation, the systematic refusal of basic democratic and civil rights, limited political participation, racist legislature, and the overall socioeconomic disenfranchisement of racilized bodies that maintains the instituionalized power held by those who are seen as white.
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This extract, taken from Chapter Two of the Interesting Narrative, describes the young Equiano’s entry into a slave ship on the coast of Africa.


The first object which saluted my eyes when I arrived on the coast was the sea, and a slave-ship, which was then riding at anchor, and waiting for its cargo. These filled me with astonishment, which was soon converted into terror, which I am yet at a loss to describe, nor the then feelings of my mind. When I was carried on board I was immediately handled, and tossed up, to see if I were sound, by some of the crew; and I was now persuaded that I was got into a world of bad spirits, and that they were going to kill me. Their complexions too differing so much from ours, their long hair, and the language they spoke, which was very different from any I had ever heard, united to confirm me in this belief. Indeed, such were the horrors of my views and fears at the moment, that, if ten thousand worlds had been my own, I would have freely parted with them all to have exchanged my condition with that of the meanest slave in my own country. When I looked round the ship too, and saw a large furnace of copper boiling, and a multitude of black people of every description chained together, every one of their countenances expressing dejection and sorrow, I no longer doubted of my fate, and, quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted. When I recovered a little, I found some black people about me, who I believed were some of those who brought me on board, and had been receiving their pay; they talked to me in order to cheer me, but all in vain. I asked them if we were not to be eaten by those white men with horrible looks, red faces, and long hair? Read more... )
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THOSE TEARS -- Chrystos

of a white woman who came to the group for Women of Color
her grief cut us into guilt while we clutched the straw
of this tiny square inch we have which we need
so desperately when we need so much more
We talked her into leaving
which took 10 minutes of our precious 60
Those legion white Lesbians whose feelings are hurt
because we have a Lesbians of Color Potluck
once a month for 2 hours
without them
Those tears of the straight woman
because we kicked out her boyfriend at the Lesbians only
poetry reading where no microphone was provided
& the room was much too small for all of us
shouting that we were imperialists
though I had spent 8 minutes trying to explain
to her that an oppressed people
cannot oppress their oppressor
She ignored me
charged into the room weeping & storming
taking up 9 minutes of our precious tiny square inch
Ah those tears
which could be jails, graves, rapists, thieves, thugs
those tears which are so puffed up with inappropriate grief
Those women who are used to having their tears work
rage at us
when they don't
We are not real Feminists they say
We do not love women
I yell back with a wet face
_Where are our jobs? Our apartments?_
_Our voices in parliament or congress?_
_Where is our safety from beatings, from murder?_
_You cannot even respect us to allow us_
_60 uninterrupted minutes for ourselves_

Your tears are chains
Feminism is the right of each woman
to claim her own life her own time
her own interrupted 60 hours
60 days
60 years
No matter how sensitive you are
if you are white
you are
No matter how sensitive you are
if you are a man
you are
We who are not allowed to speak have the right
to define our terms our turf
These facts are not debatable
Give us our inch
& we'll hand you a hanky

for MAV & DENISE, who guarded the door after the incident at the Lesbian
reading & thus, didn't get to hear the poetry

Her biography and criticism.
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'How to write about Africa'
Binyavanga Wainaina
some tips: sunsets and starvation are good
Always use the word 'Africa' or 'Darkness' or 'Safari' in your title. Subtitles may include the words 'Zanzibar', 'Masai', 'Zulu', 'Zambezi', 'Congo', 'Nile', 'Big', 'Sky', 'Shadow', 'Drum', 'Sun' or 'Bygone'. Also useful are words such as 'Guerrillas', 'Timeless', 'Primordial' and 'Tribal'. Note that 'People' means Africans who are not black, while 'The People' means black Africans.
Read more... )
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A History of White People
by Jerome Sala

white people were paid well
not to witness
the fact that they were white

you know the theory
white isn't a color
but color's unlimited absence

white goes with anything
that's why it seemed fair that white people
conquered the world

they were the real invisible men
cause they could perch on top of a country
and say they weren't there

they could move through its neighborhoods
like mysterious aliens
with this difference:

in ufological lore
aliens often infilitrate a world
without its inhabitants knowing about it

but when white people invaded
everyone could see them
but themselves
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Bush's failing grade on racial issues

By Derrick Z. Jackson, Globe Columnist | November 9, 2005

HISTORIAN John Hope Franklin has lived through 16 presidents and has met many -- or tried to.
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''I'm not opposed to that, but these three great talents or talented three people in position of leadership are concerned with these matters and not with certain other matters . . . to assist us in moving to the next level. As long as we are concerned, not with those matters, but with other matters which it seems to me are inconsequential, I despair for the country."

Derrick Z. Jackson's e-mail address is
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Lucas donates $1M to MLK memorial

WASHINGTON (AP) -- George Lucas has donated $1 million to build a memorial to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall, backers of the project announced.

"The ideals and principles for which Dr. King fought have never been forgotten and are as relevant today as they were 40 years ago," Lucas said Thursday, adding in a statement that a memorial ensures King's message will endure for future generations.

Other notable supporters of the project include former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Jack Valenti, former president of the Motion Picture Association of America.

More than $40 million has been raised for the memorial, with $100 million needed to finish the project, organizers said.

Congress authorized the memorial in 1996, and groundbreaking is scheduled for late next year on a four-acre site near the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech on August 28, 1963.

stolen from blackfolk
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Talk of the Past
Jill Lepore

"As long as we have a politics of race in America," historian David Blight writes in his prize-winning study, Race and Reunion (Cambridge, Mass., 2001), "we will have a politics of Civil War memory." A pretty impoverished politics, apparently, since the need for reconciliation led white Americans, North and South, to remember the war but forget that it was about slavery. "The inexorable drive for reunion both used and trumped race," Blight argues, which goes a long way toward explaining the self-bloating Civil War re-enactors, Scarlett O'Hara impersonators, and dewy-eyed Dixie defenders journalist Tony Horwitz portrayed in his Confederates in the Attic (New York, 1998). And now–hold onto your hoop skirt and grab your space helmet–the Lost Cause has been taken up in outer space.
Read more... )
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Arizona State Ends Class Limited to Native Americans

Arizona State University announced this week that it has told a professor that he may not limit enrollment in some class sections to Native American students.
Read more... )
Olivas said that despite the controversies in Arizona State and Oregon, he thought such classes were few and far between. He also said that these disputes distract people from other inequities in academe, such as “set asides at universities that are for rich white kids — they are called honors programs.”

— Scott Jaschik
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Youth of Color Disproportionately Incarcerated
Advocates, Public Officials Share Stories of Success In
Promoting a Fairer and More Effective Youth Justice System


Washington, DC— Youth of color make up one-third of all youth in America, but two-thirds of youth in juvenile detention facilities. African-American, Latino, and other youth of color are more likely to be locked up than white youth, even when charged with the same types of offenses. No Turning Back: Promising Approaches to Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities Affecting Youth of Color in the Justice System, a new report by the Building Blocks for Youth initiative, documents effective strategies by advocates, policymakers, and public officials to reduce inequities in the justice system. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the issue of racial justice has returned to the forefront of the national agenda. This report shows progress in the struggle for a fair and effective youth justice system.
No Turning Back provides often-moving accounts of successful change in recent years from Massachusetts to California, from Louisiana to Washington State. No Turning Back catalogues the strategies used by system insiders as well as outside advocates, including research, legislation, community organizing, media advocacy, and litigation. In a field where real change often occurs slowly, if at all, No Turning Back profiles: Read more... )

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dancing on bridges -- aurora levins morales

loving deeply across differences of culture is like being an immigrant again, now that i'm finally getting used to this place.
when you stop being a tourist and start to *live* in someone else's country, the real, deep differences become visible... you have to be willing to give up the comfort of knowing what to expect.
and if one of you comes from a more dangerous life and bloodier history than the other, the one who feels safer in the world has to ask over and over again, "tell me everything that has happened to you..." it's the only way to get through the wall of silence opressing the oppressed.
but after seven years together, the intensity of my tone of voice still sounds like anger to him, and i can barely detect he modulations in his, so i always think he's bored.
you buy me plaintains, i buy you black-eyed peas.
throughout the years, it was my father [who was jewish] who remembered exactly who all the morales, moure and diaz cousins were and what they did. he spoke high school latin to people until he learned enough spanish.
while my father cooked tostones, my mother yearned for blintzes and kosher dills, and made latkes for hannukah... she was proud of the jewish history of activism. she took it as a personal gift.... she used yiddish as if it were a new spice invented for puerto ricans like her, and she would laugh with pleasure and affection, shrugging the way her friends' mothers had in new york, whenever she heard jewish music.


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