Melissa Harris-Perry went THERE! Her hat, whip and cuffs were in reference to a segment on today’s episode of The Melissa Harris-Perry Show where her panel discussed female sexuality, whether or not a sexual pill for women is trying to use medicine to cure something cultural, fear/shame regarding female sexuality and more.
I find this image empowering because here she is, a Black woman, discussing sex on a major show, with humor, confidence and intelligence, and not being used as reference for “deviant” sex, as Black women, heterosexual or LBTQ are, yet at the same time, visually speaking to sexual practice often deemed deviant regardless of who practices it. Brilliant.
omg dying. this is too much for me to handle
……….i just discovered a few things about myself
Yes, Oshun! Go in! Let have!
The world of music constantly pits “sexuality” against “consciousness” in its commentary, especially when Black music is the subject at hand; internationally, it divides music with “positive,” “progressive” or “political” content from “sex-driven” music which is, supposedly, “sensational,” “scandalous” and “slack.” This line of thinking goes well beyond contemporary critics and consumers. For over five hundred years, the Western world of ideas has itself opposed sexuality and consciousness, rigidly, laying the foundation for an entire culture to interpret “eroticism” as a threat to “intelligence,” “bodies” as menaces to “minds” and “sensuality” as an enemy to “rationality” or rationalism. The European oppression of most of the world’s peoples, African people most of all, it continues to use this bi-polar world-view to advance a racist empire that is every bit as much sexist, class-elitist and homophobic as it is racist or white-supremacist.
Too bad more Black tumblr bloggers don’t care about sports (or at least not the ones I follow). The intersection of race, class, gender & sexual orientation in sports is woefully understudied & underreported, but definitely problematic in terms of representation, sponsorship and reporting. I’d love to do more with this….but I don’t have the time/effort.
YES I agree. A lot of the people I follow are the same, but I agree
It depends on which sport. I know a few of the folks I follow have spoken about pro wrestling and the implications of race, gender and sexual orientation within it….
Others I’m not too familiar with…
Yeah, I don’t follow pro wrestling, but I was thinking more along the lines of mainstream sports: football, baseball/softball, soccer, tennis, golf, basketball, etc.
Pete Rock totally sat behind me on Amtrak to NYC once. I pretended to be asleep while secretly eavesdropping on his phone call & then he started talking about my booty & my mom heard everything & told him off cuz I was like 16.
My sister just told me my outfit was slutty because I’m wearing a tank top and my bra is visible.
Thank You Frank Ocean. It’s true, we are a lot alike… “spinning on blackness. All wanting to be seen, touched, heard, paid attention to.” In your opening few lines, you simultaneously established your humanity, a burden far too often asked of same sex lovers, and acknowledged that in this age of hyper self awareness, amplified in no small part by the social media medium in which you made your announcement, we are desperate to share. You shared one of the most intimate things that ever happened to you—-falling in love with someone who wasn’t brave enough to love you back. Your relieving yourself of your “secret” is as much about wanting to honestly connect as it is about exhibition. We are all made better by your decision to share publicly.
You and Anderson Cooper have the same coming out calendar week in common, but in many obvious ways, you couldn’t be more different. Anderson Cooper is an heir to one of American’s great Industrial Age fortunes and a network professional whose maleness and whiteness backed by his considerable accomplishments guarantee him work. You are a young Black man from New Orleans who fled your still struggling city. You didn’t arrive in Los Angeles with generational wealth and privilege, only the beautiful lyrics and melodies that danced through you and your dream of making it in a music industry whose sand castles were crumbling.
You are in fact, connected to one of hip hop’s great cadres, in the tradition of Oakland’s Heiroglyphics, The Native Tongues and The Juice Crew. Your music family, like all the rest, will likely grow apart, but in this moment Odd Future bends hip hop’s imagination with utter abandon. You fulfill hip hop’s early promise to not give a fuck about what others think of you. The 200 times Tyler says faggot and the wonderful way he held you up and down on Twitter today, Syd the Kid’s sexy stud profile and her confusing, misogynistic videos speak to the many contradictions and posturing your generation inherited from the hip hop generation before you. I’m sure you know a rumor about Big Daddy Kane having AIDS and with it, the suggestion that he was bisexual, effectively ended his career. You must have seen the pictures of pioneer Afrika “Baby Bam” from the Jungle Brothers in drag and read the blogs ridiculing him, despite the fact that he’s been leading a civilian life for nearly two decades. I know as a singer you love Rahsaan Patterson and bemoan the fact that homophobia prevented him from being the huge star his talent deserves. Only last month Queen Latifah unnecessarily released a statement denying that her performing at a Gay Pride event meant she was finally affirming her identity for thousands of Black girls. Imagine if Luther had been able to write, as you closed your letter, “I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore…I feel like a free man.”
But you’re not an activist. You’re a Black man in America whose star is on the rise, working in hip hop and soul, where gender constructs are cartoonishly fixed. Your colleague Drake is often attacked with homophobic slurs when he simply displays vulnerability in his music. He seems to respond by following those moments of real emotion with bars that put “hoes” in their proverbial place. But you’re a beautiful songwriter (your question to Jay and Kanye, “What’s a King to a God?” on their own song on an album about their kingdom, was brilliantly sly). Your letter is revolutionary not least of all because it is about love. It is about falling in love and feeling rejected and carrying both that love and rejection with you through life. The male pronoun of the object of your desire is practically incidental. We have all been in a love that felt “malignant…hopeless” from which “there was no escaping, no negotiating.” Your promise to your first love, that you won’t forget him, that you’ll remember how you changed each other, is so full of love and grace.
You were born in the 80’s, when gay rights activists were seizing the streets of New York and other major world cities, fighting for visibility and against a disease that threatened to disappear them. The cultural shifts created from those struggles in some ways make your revelation about your fluid sexuality less shocking than it would have been decades before. Still, there are real risks with coming out as a man who loved a man. I hope you hear and are reading the hundreds of thousands of people who have your back.
We admire the great courage and beauty and fearlessness in your coming out, not only as a bisexual Black man, but as a broken hearted one. The tender irony that your letter is to a boy who was unable to return your love love until years later because he was living a lie is the only truly tragic thing about your letter. A million twirls on this spinning ocean blue globe in this vast endless blackness for you my love.
Body image is something I find myself preoccupied with often, and almost always in the contexts of my Brown and queer identities. As a queer man, I am bombarded with images of ideal and idealized manhood, and am made to wonder how my own body measures up. I worry, against my better judgement, about whether I am too skinny or ought to be in better shape, if I am too hairy or not pretty enough. As a light-skinned Black man, I am reminded constantly how my body appears to other people of color–when Black folks are unable to recognize me as theirs, when I am assumed to speak Spanish, or when people confide in me their distrust, dislike or fear of Black people. As a queer man of color, I have to see the ways Black and Brown bodies are only held as beautiful in certain contexts, only given attention for certain features. I worry about whether partners are only interested or attracted to me because I am light-skinned, don’t look like “a real Black person.” In other words, most of the thoughts I have about my body on a daily basis, while inextricably bound up in my Brown and queer identities, are about how other people are perceiving it.
My body image–which is tied to race, class, gender, and so much more–takes a particularly forward position in my mind when it comes to sexual interactions. For in exploring this area that I have had to think in new ways not just about my own attractions and desires, but about what attractions and desires lead people to me. I have had to learn about what makes me feel comfortable, but also about what it takes to make others feel comfortable. I have had to think about respect, both in the contexts of what makes my body feel safe and attended to, but also how to attend to my partners in ways that honor and protect theirs. While this is an ongoing process, it has led me to realize how strange it is that so many of my perceptions of my own body should come from how others look at it. What about the things that my body is regardless of how it is seen by outsiders? How do those things effect my image of my body? This question, I have found, is perhaps more linked to my queer and Brown identities than any of those mentioned before.
My body is not just the parts of it which are desired. In fact, my body is not merely what is seen. It was given to me by generations of people whom governments, militaries, systems of forced labor, and missionaries have tried repeatedly to destroy. It holds wisdom in the forms of dance, language and movement, springing out on occasion from places in me I did not know existed. It is capable of many things, and incapable of many things, and in that, too, the hard-fought battles of many people live. To love my body is to love all the things it holds inside of it. To respect it is to respect the histories which it carries through its many bloodlines. To desire it is to acknowledge the beauty of anti-colonial struggle, the eloquence of demonized traditions, the pleasures of raging against power. To demand that it be treated with care, consideration and reverence is to demand that my people and their concessions be treated with the same.
This manifesto is not just for my sexual and romantic partners to take note of–it is equally for myself. My desires, my spirit, my body and my ancestors are all inseparable. You cannot access one without opening yourself to the complex powers of all the others. Recognizing these links and learning to love them in unison is radical, not only because it takes my body image out of the hands of advertisers, legacies of racism and patriarchy, and the desires of other people. It is a reminder that my physical being, wonderful as it is, is good for more than just sex. It connects me to family and communities of people I love. It supports me as I learn, grown, and come to find my own voice in the world for change. It bonds me to traditions of struggle against violence, genocide and injustice on a global and historical scale. The process of learning to love, trust and respect it is the process of committing to all the people that have given it to me, to carry them and their struggles forward.