Last week, Traci Young-Byron, owner of the Young Contemporary Dance Theatre in Florida, posted a video of her amazingly talented dancers in action. The video has since gone viral, and many comments have been posted in response to the video.
But, the comments have not been supportive and many of them have been focused on the girls’ attire, rather than their talent. Attire that is standard in the dance world, mind you.
“Look at those fast ass girls”
“If these were my daughters, there’s no way in hell they’d come out looking like these little hoes!”
“They’ll be strippers by the time they’re 19!”
“Fast ass?” “Hoes?” Is this what we truly think of our girls?
Unfortunately, this attitude towards Black girls runs rampant within our community. Click around social media and you will see dozens of disparaging comments about Black girls’ bodies and attire. Our girls are not allowed to be free and to openly express themselves without being policed, sexualized, and criticized. This greatly contributes to poor body image among Black girls
As I have written previously for “Feminist Wednesday”:
“The harsh and constant policing of Black Girls’ bodies has led us to become ashamed of ourselves- ashamed of our bodies and our sexualities. Our larger hips, ample asses, and breasts are hypersexualized, and as a defense mechanism, we hide our sexual desires in order to repel this hypersexualization and judge others who choose not to. We label other women as “hos” and steer clear of them, still suffering from the fear of being labeled a “fast-tailed girl.” We quickly dismiss victims’ statements about their sexual assaults and instead run to the perpetrator’s defense. (Prime example: R.Kelly. Black women, men, and others STILL support him and his music.) The social acceptance of body-shaming, slut-shaming, and victim-blaming within Black culture has shown that our girls are not valued, with the statistics to prove it.”
Our girls are suffering. Their creativity is being stifled and they are growing up with low self-esteem and sex-negative outlooks. But, we are ALL to blame.
Through our demonizing of our girls and coddling of abusers, we perpetuate rape culture regularly.
If you’ve ever called a girl “fast” or “hot”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever called a girl a “hoe”, a “thot”, or a “hoe in training”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever forced your daughter to change clothes because her outfits “revealed too much”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever told your daughter to change clothes because a “certain” male family member was coming over, “you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever second-guessed an assault victim’s story or asked them “what they were wearing” when they were assaulted”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture.
If you’ve ever told a young woman to “leave something to the imagination”, you’ve perpetuated rape culture. (This is also a weak excuse because seriously- in most cases, you know basic human anatomy and you KNOW what’s under people’s clothes. How much more is there to imagine?)
I implore you to check out my piece, “Fast-Tailed Girls, originally posted on Feminist Wednesday:
Let’s begin to educate ourselves and do better by our girls and our culture.
High School Students Stage Sit-In Protest Against Racism
In response to how school faculty have handled a racist video, students of Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx have staged an overnight-sit-in protest. Dissatisfied with faculty’s response to demands to address racism on the school’s campus, students have rallied and locked staff out of the administration building until they reached an agreement.
Outrage Lead to Action
More than 200 high school students of the K-12 academy occupied the building to demand action. They were outraged by the response to a video which featured White students counting down before blurting racist, homophobic, and misogynistic slurs. The video gained attention after circulating Twitter and eventually being reported on by The New York Times. However, school administrative officials did the bare minimum by only condemning the video without stating a plan for disciplinary action. Knowing only one of the students involved had withdrawn from the exclusive academy, students developed a plan to hold staff accountable. Thus, Students of Color Matter was born.
The standoff between students and staff lasted for 72 hours before an agreement was met. Each day the students, who developed a Twitter, Instagram, and petition, posted demands to their accounts. March 11th, the students began with a statement on Instagram:
“We are here today in light of recent events imploring those who desire to see out institution more forward to stand in solidarity with the students of color and white allies of the Ethical Culture Fieldston Community. Today a lockout will take place in the administration building (the 200s) as a means to force our administration to acknowledge the concerns we’ve been bringing to their attention over the past several years”
After outlining the reason for their cause, Students of Color Matter organizers detailed updates as well as their demands.
All or Nothing
The administration was sent an email by students which resulted in the head of the school, Jessica Bagby, alerting parents and students that “Fieldston campus will operate on a normal schedule.” The students also integrated a hashtag, which added pressure due to its discovery by major media sources. Despite the non-violent protest, there were two physical altercations which involved a history teacher and a parent attempting to enter the closed facility. Jessica Bagby’s inadequate response to the students’ demands and inability to commit to change is what ultimately caused the 72-hour standoff.
As of March13th, the students had roughly 3,000 signatures on their petition. Housed on their Students of Color Matter website, the organization calls for the following:
The use of racist and bigoted language are symptoms of systemic and institutional racism that plague educational institutions across the country. For this reason, we command the implementation of structural reform, such as long term curriculum changes, the admittance of more students and faculty of color, and racial sensitivity training for all community members.”
Jaden Smith Brings Mobile Water Filtration System to Flint
Flint, Michigan has been ravaged by a bad city-wide deal that resulted in tainted water for nearly five years. Now, Jaden Smith’s startup may provide a solution to the city’s needs water needs.
Called “The Water Box”, Jaden’s mobile water filtration device was unveiled in Flint at First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church. Able to produce 10 gallons of clean drinking water per minute, the actor-rapper turned philanthropist hopes the invention will help the community. Housed within the church, which previously distributed over 5 million bottles of water to the community, residents will be able to fill any container of their choice with clean water. However, they are required to do so during distribution times.
After Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder ended the free bottled water program initiated by the state, Jaden and crew stepped up through JUST Water. JUST Water is a company that Jaden Smith became a partner of at just 12 years old. The company, which “combines for-profit energy and non-profit motives,” began from a desire to develop a filtration system to benefit poorer areas and nations. Making clean water more accessible, the company first launched in August 2018 in the UK.
Speaking about his community effort, Jaded remarked, “This has been one of the most rewarding and educational experiences for me personally. He added,” Working together with people in the community experiencing the problems and designing something to help them has been a journey I will never forget.” Jaden Smith plans to continue deploying more filtration systems across the city to benefit those in need and looks forward to aiding more places experiencing similar issues.
Jussie Smollett | In The Middle
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