Subscribe to our newsletter to get tips and event updates delivered straight to your inbox!

Archive of ‘Feminism’ category

Open Letter to a Mother: Why a “Black Girls Rock” T-Shirt is OK

Tonight the 10th anniversary celebration of Black Girls Rock awards will debut on BET at 7 p.m. CDT. In honor of the ceremony I revisit an article I wrote for the November 2014 issue of B-Metro magazine

black girls rock tee

You see an African-American girl bouncing through the aisles of your local supermarket donning a T-shirt that reads “Black Girls Rock,” and you’re offended. You want to approach her parents and ask how they would feel if your daughter wore a shirt declaring “White Girls Rock.” But you decide against it.

You believe that if your daughter did wear a “White Girls Rock” T-shirt, both she and you would be declared racists and you don’t think that’s fair. You think it’s a double standard.

You’re right. And double standards suck.

But you know what else sucks?

(more…)

I Contain Multitudes

i contain multitudes

Image via B-Metro.com

Sometimes I feel as if I’m caught in a love triangle—writing and teaching both tugging at my heart. I was born to teach, but I didn’t realize this until after working in education for seven years. When I was a girl, I named all my dolls and other toys, arranged them in nice, neat rows in alphabetical order, and then launched into a lecture on whatever struck my fancy at the time. The classroom called me early in life, but I didn’t know it.

But I was also born to write. This I’ve known since the day I wrote my first poem. I was only 7 or 8 years old, so it was terrible, and I’m sure it included the line “Roses are red, violets are blue.” But it was the beginning of a lifelong love affair with the written word. And it was this love that led me to study journalism. I had dreams of working for Essence magazine and one day starting a print magazine of my own.

But a career in education was still whispering in my ear, flirting with my future plans. In graduate school at UC Berkeley, I was a graduate student instructor, or GSI, and taught a communications class for undergraduate students. I was charged with breaking down the complicated concepts and theories the professor discussed in her lectures. I did such a good job that students assigned to other GSIs would ask to come to my class, willing to sit on the floor or stand in the back if there weren’t enough desks.

I applied for Teach for America. I was accepted by Teach for America. I turned down Teach for America. I had also been offered a job as a features reporter in a city that I loved with the man whom I love. Writing won my heart again…

Read the entire article at B-Metro.com

I Am Black and Beautiful

Today as we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., many of us will read, listen to or share quotes from King’s famous I Have a Dream Speech — as well we should. I made listening to his speech part of my morning devotional.

But there are many powerful words of wisdom from King that we rarely hear. A few years ago BuzzFeed compiled 17 Martin Luther King Quotes You Never Hear. Yesterday, I read through them again and there was one in particular that struck me:

MLK black and beautiful

(more…)

Self-Care is a Feminist Issue

self care pic

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

Last year See Jane Write almost killed me.

I put so much time and effort into building See Jane Write into a business — while still teaching full time and taking care of family matters — that I often sacrificed sleeping, eating, and exercising for the sake of work.

And, of course, I got sick. Very sick. My body is still healing from all the damage done. But I’ve promised my body I will never hurt it that way again.

This year I promise to take care of myself and I’ve realized that to do so is a feminist act.

(more…)

My Bad Feminist Fitness Goals

bad feminist fitness goals

Every year in addition to my blogging, business, and writing goals, I set lofty fitness goals for myself, too. You can’t write the next great American novel if you’re dead, right? And I also believe that when you’re a solopreneur your business can only be as healthy as you are.

Some of my fitness goals I’ve conquered; others — not so much. In 2014 I set out to exercise for at least 30 minutes every single day for 365 days. And I did it! I was even invited to appear on Talk of Alabama to discuss this fantastic fitness feat. Last year, however, I tried to run 1200 miles and failed miserably.  Because of my insanely busy schedule, I gave up about half-way through the year.

Regardless of the goal, however, I am quick to say things like “I don’t want to be skinny; I want to be strong” and “It’s not about how my body looks, it’s about how my body feels.” And all that is true — sort of.

I don’t want to be skinny. I do want to be strong. I do want to feel great and healthy. But I also want to be hot. This probably makes me a bad feminist, but I’d rather be a bad feminist than a dishonest one.

So today I’m sharing with you my bad feminist fitness goals for 2016, but will attempt to balance out each one with a goal that focuses on what my body can do and not just how it looks.

(more…)

5 Things That Made Me a Happy Feminist This Week

amber paper mag

Amber Rose poses as feminist icons in a new photo shoot for Paper magazine.

In October Amber Rose hosted a “slut walk” in Los Angeles to protest the frequent slut-shaming that occurs in pop culture and society at large and this fall was featured in a hilarious parody video challenging the idea of “the walk of shame.”

amber rosie

In the Paper magazine photo shoot Amber Rose represents women like Gloria Steinem, Susan B. Anthony, Dorothy Pitman Hughes and Rosie the Riveter. Check out more photos on the Paper magazine Instagram feed.

(more…)

Am I a Sellout?

bmj sellout

image via

During last week’s episode of Being Mary Jane (which is one of my favorite shows on television right now) Gabrielle Union’s character Mary Jane Paul, the cable news anchor who is the protagonist of the show, was accused of selling out.

Mary Jane was once at the helm of the show Talk Back with Mary Jane Paul, on which she covered minority issues and other topics often ignored by mainstream media. Recently, however, she was promoted to a highly coveted prime-time position with her station SNC, a move that meant more money and more celebrity, but less opportunities to cover issues of social justice. We’ve seen Mary Jane scoff at having to do stories on heroic puppies, but we’ve also seen her relishing in her new salary and spending allowance — buying a new wardrobe, a $30,000 handbag and even a new Tesla!

On last week’s episode Mary Jane spoke to a journalism class at a local HBCU and one student boldly said to her “You sold out!” and accused her of being more concerned with fame and fortune than reporting the news. Mary Jane quickly replied that she didn’t sell out, she “bought in.” The student’s words, however, haunted her long after she left campus.

They haunted me, too.

Am I a sellout?

(more…)

On Being Mary Jane and Flawed Female Characters

BMJ

There are many reasons I shouldn’t like BET’s Being Mary Jane, the hourlong scripted drama that follows trials and triumphs of cable news anchor Mary Jane Paul.

In the first season of the show Mary Jane (played by actress Gabrielle Union) has an affair with a married man, and this is just one of the MANY bad relationship choices Mary Jane makes again and again. One could argue that the show’s focus on Mary Jane’s struggle to find true love perpetuates the idea that successful black women can’t find a man or simply argue that I can’t relate to Mary Jane’s relationship woes because I’m married and got hitched when I was only 25.

But Being Mary Jane is one of my absolute favorite shows on television.

I love the thought-provoking quotes that open each episode (and even take pictures of my TV to save them). I love seeing Mary Jane’s battle to cover issues and current events relevant to women and people of color. I love that Being Mary Jane deals with race, family drama, friendships, sex and sexuality in a way that is raw, real (or as real as a TV show can be) and in-your-face. The show has even tackled tough topics like suicide, drug abuse, and abortion.

Yes, we see Mary Jane’s glamorous life as a well-paid TV personality, but we also see her sitting on the toilet and scratching her boobs when she gets home and takes off her bra (something I am convinced every woman in America does).

And I even love that Mary Jane makes really, really stupid mistakes because I, too, make really, really stupid mistakes — and so do you.

As a writer and as a feminist, I appreciate flawed female characters. We need flawed female characters. We need them in books, we need them in movies, and we certainly need them on TV. This is why I love Mary Jane Paul. This is why I love Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games franchise and this is why even as an adult I am still a huge fan of the cult TV classic My So-Called Life.

We need flawed female characters because we need complex female characters that don’t neatly fit into the box of the good girl or the vixen, the girl next door or the whimsical pixie, the angry black woman or the basic white girl.

We need female characters that are complex because real women are complex. Real women are generous and selfish, loving and hateful, kind and malicious, smart and foolish, confident and insecure. I have been all of these things just in the last week and, chances are, you have, too.

Being Mary Jane creator Mara Brock Akil was recently interviewed by the Lenny, Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner’s website and newsletter on feminism, style, health, politics, and more. When asked to spill about any bad choices she may have made when she was younger, Akil gave an answer that resonated with me as much as her show does. She said: “I no longer think of my life in bad or good choices. I think they’re just my choices. As a writer, they’re all blessings in my life.”

1 2 3