I was recently flying from Chicago to Boston and experienced in real time, in real life, Trumping. While this phrase may be unfamiliar, we are all aware of its power, extent, and use. Similar to the Trump effect, Trumping is the actual, physical experience of uttering the nonsense that spews from the mouth of Presidential Candidate, Republican Nominee, Donald Trump, and then applying this to your everyday practices and performances. Trumping is the actual practice of using not just male privilege or white privilege, but overt and outward racism, sexism and misogyny.
(For more on this story and to see bystander intervention tips for Trumping..click this LINK HERE)
Once again, J. Cole is making news - not for his music, but for his violations of respectability politics. Previous discussions surrounding his ‘untamed’ hair reveal tensions at the intersection of Black hair and biracial identity (J. Cole and the Politics of Black Hair). And with his recent visit to the White House, conversations are once again emerging around his failure to uphold tenets of Black authenticity and Black masculinity.
The image below that is circulating on social media show a few of the invited guests of the White House to discuss the on-going inititiave associated with “My Brothers Keeper,” a program that invests in dismantling barriers that many disadavantaged youth face diminishing their access to adequate opportunities. Those in attendance include Talib Kweli, Busta Rhymes, Nikki Minaj, and DJ Khaled. Unfortunately, those sharing this image express discontent for J. Cole’s attire. A few of those tweets are below:
@MrBusby4o8: Yo I like J. Cole more then the next man but why the hell did he show up to the White House looking like a bum?..https://twitter.com/MrBusby4o8/status/721581945063215105
@StercaStercules: @MrBusby4o8 that's super unprofessional I love Cole but that upset me https://twitter.com/StercaStercules/status/721582321472638978
@Kimbooboo_: J Cole really went to the white house in sweats ?! 😂 https://twitter.com/Kimbooboo_/status/721373827234549760
@QVD916: conscious rappers try to hard to show their conscious.. u know how stupid j cole looks going to the white house fresh outta bed?? https://twitter.com/QVD916/status/721838052155400192
@youngndumtweets: J Cole could have really dressed up for the White House right? https://twitter.com/youngndumtweets/status/721890899891003393
Keep in mind, Jermaine Cole was invited to the White House not for his contributions to fashion, but because of his intellectual ability to propel conversations and reach a large audience. J. Cole was invited to the White House, and J. Cole is what the White House got.
While it is impressive that J. Cole continues to express his individuality, what’s even more important is that he has reached the pinnacle of consciousness that keeps many of us imprisoned to hegemonic ideology that forces the idea of respectability politics.
No one expressed discontent with Lin-Manuel Miranda, star and writer of the Broadway musical Hamilton, wearing jeans. The coolness of freestyling with the President mattered. J. Cole is unbothered by these comments – dude was at the White House with the first Black President of the United States.
I can relate on so many levels to the politics of dress in professional spaces. As a professor who wears flip-flops, t-shirts, and yoga pants every day, even to meetings with the Provost of my University, I find it distracting that the focus is always on what I have on and not what I contribute intellectually. We must begin to unplug ourselves from this respectability matrix and begin valuing contributions and alternate expressions of identity.
I grew up hearing the phrase “dress for the job that you want.” I hated that phrase because I knew at a young age what that meant. It meant that my poor body wasn’t appropriate enough for certain spaces. “Dressing up” is a way to conceal reality. It’s an illusion. And it’s a dangerous one that has many in our hardest living communities trapped to want more and more. You have children talking about name brands and many engaging in illicit behaviors to wear the latest fashions (selling drugs for Jordan’s). This is a direct theme present in J. Cole’s music – to begin valuing and appreciating yourself. There is beauty in the struggle.
We should all aim to emulate J. Cole. Labels and brand names don’t matter. Dressing up to ‘impress’ doesn’t matter. What does matter is what you have filled your mind with leading to what you can offer intellectually.
Today in Black History: Remembering White Abolitionists, Allies, Advocates, and Activists this Black History Month (Satire)
During the month of February, we are reminded of many who made the ultimate sacrifice for racial equality and equity in our country. This rich history and tradition spans from the abolitionist movement through contemporary social movements.
While slavery was banned in the British Empire in 1807 and a year later in the United States, the work to actually end slavery took more than an act of Congress. The ground work was laid by the brave men and women who tirelessly fought to abolish slavery and many others followed in their footsteps, bending the laws of (in)justice to ensure an equitable future.
This week, we are remembering Civil Rights activist and educator Dr. Melissa Click who was made famous during the student uprisings of the early 21st century. On this day, body cam footage was released of her standing up and defending the personal space of student protestors known in our history books as #ConcernedStudent1950. While at the time many claimed her behavior bordered criminal, today she is known as “The One Who Stood Firm.” The footage, now archived in the National Museum for Social Movements and Activism, reveals the persistence of this educator to protect her students.
History doesn’t recall the infractions of law. No one recalls Dr. King or Rosa Parks as criminals. And lucky for the students who went down in history as transforming the landscape of activism and mobilization with their use of now defunct social media (ask your grandparents what Twitter and hashtags are).
Let’s recall others, especially those White comrades and allies, who ‘bent’ or outright broke the law in the name of justice:
And add Melissa Click to this list of unsung heroes. When the name Dr. Click is uttered, she is immediately placed in a class of Child’s, Grimke’s, Truth’s, Tubman’s, Stowe’s, and other women who stood firm and did the uncomfortable and probably unlawful thing at the time.
Join us next week as we journey through the life of former President Beyonce Knowles-Carter. Her life before politics may just surprise you.
I was recently contacted by a journalist from a major news outlet about a story on why women who play video games shun the ‘gamer’ label.
Women Who Play Games Shun ‘Gamer’ Label
About half of both sexes play the games, but men more readily adopt the identity, a Pew survey…Read on nytimes.com
He simply asked me one question: my reaction to this phenomenon. I provided several paragraphs worth of information including citations from scholars who have conducted research on this very topic. Much of what we know about the constructed label of gamer and why women shun the designation of ‘gamer’ came from the research conducted by Adrienne Shaw (and I told him that).
Everything I cited and forwarded to him essentially was her work. Yet in this high profile news outlet and story, she was not mentioned once.
Maybe there is some kind of disconnect between academics and journalists. We write differently. We research differently. We disseminate knowledge differently. But there should be more incorporation and inclusion of the research that academics do (and that public bloggers and writers always use). We are more than our abstracts!
This also has me thinking about male privilege inherent in citing practices in academia. I recently attended a conference and I heard a story of a woman whose work was not cited because a man had conducted the same research and reached similar conclusions. The woman informed the person that her work was in fact performed way before her male counterpart and that he, in fact, should have cited her.
While I hope cases like this are rare, this example highlights the constant struggle of women in academia having their work acknowledged as valid contributions to the literature and field.
As academics, we must end the practice of only privileging certain voices while marginalizing others. This is a call to action to make women’s work visible in academia. Using the hashtag #CiteHerWork, recognize and acknowledge your own work or someone else’s work who is seminal to any given discipline and field.
#AdrienneShaw #GameStudies #CiteHerWorkShaw, A. (2012). “Do You Identify as a Gamer?: Gender, race, sexuality, and gamer identity.” New Media and Society 14(1): 25-41. DOI: 10.1177/1461444811410394
This article was published by the Lexington Herald here:
As many of you are aware, Printer giant Lexmark recently fired about 120 workers at their Juarez location. They were essentially fired for seeking a $0.35 raise and improved work conditions.
American’s (especially in Kentucky where Lexmark is headquartered) who are criticizing Mexican laborers for demanding more, recall your own history that is currently influencing your on-the-job luxuries. Do you realize that we enjoy our safe work conditions because of the previous strikes by our coalminers (especially in Kentucky) , postal workers, textile workers, car factory workers, railroad workers, sanitation workers, teachers…hell even AT&T workers went on strike! These White Dudes exercised their constitutionally protected right to assemble and protest.
When one halts their labor, it is a result of on-going neglect and tension between the worker and the employer. These workers aren’t lazy. They aren’t trying to get rich. They are aware of the power they have and how they are exploited.
While Lexmark has recently reported losses, CEO Paul Rooke’s salary and compensation has steadily increased over the past four years. While some may argue that increasing the hourly wage of the some of the most expendable labor in a company is not financially feasible or sound, you must get a clearer picture on our corporate elites. The next time you feel sorry for Lexmark, remember they just acquired Kofax for 1 billion – cash. Yall didn’t hear me. ONE BILLION DOLLARS CASH MONEY. They got the money. They just don’t want to give it to their most exploited laborers.
We’ve been sold this myth and lie that increasing hourly wages for some of our most menial jobs would do more harm than good. The only harm that these increase could pose is a threat to capitalism as the point and purpose is to maximize profits at all cost. Ford Pinto anyone? Sharing the wealth disrupts the system that benefits the few at the very top. But it’s time to share the wealth, literally.
We must end the trend of neglecting our most vulnerable workers. It’s only a matter of time before you too are subject to the unfair practices on your job and you will utilize your First Amendment right to assemble and petition the government to redress grievances (yeah, the constitution protects more than just the right to bear arms).
And take a look at what their demands are: 1) better working conditions, 2) a living wage, 3) the recognition of the right to form independent unions, 4) a halt to sexual harassment, and 5) legal protection from handling hazardous chemicals. These are some of the most basic work conditions that many Americans enjoy every day. But you want to frame these Mexican workers as being lazy and demanding too much? Shame on you.
We somehow have lost site of the importance of unions. They ensure equitable wages and fair working conditions. And to provide an example of how far capital and corporations will go to resist unions, many organizers in Kentucky were shot at, beaten, and stabbed all for seeking safer working conditions for their families. The message was and is loud and clear: you don’t matter.
#I Stand In Solidarity with the Maquiladora Workers of Ciudad Juárez
Kishonna L. Gray, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. She actively blogs about social justice issues at www.kishonnagray.com, www.nymgamer.com, and at https://kinja.com/lachezbippy. Journey with her on Twitter @DrGrayThaPhx.
So why are we really mad at Washington State University Cultural Studies professors for restricting certain words?
Is it really that big of a deal to get mad? It’s a classroom setting. It’s an institution of HIGHER learning. We are supposed to progress from our limited knowledge base towards something greater right? If we don’t, then we’re wasting our money.
You mad about the term illegal? Why not be upset with AP for solidifying what many critical race scholars have long suggested – no person is illegal, but their behaviors might be. Using the term ‘illegal’ to define a certain group of people begins the stigmatize and devalue their identity which leads to their exploitation and ultimately violence enacted upon them (either individually or by the state). If I’ve lost you already, then you probably need a cultural studies class.
You mad about tranny? College isn’t a porn site. It’s an academic setting. There are words that are right and wrong in describing our trans populations.
You mad about male and female? Think about individuals who don’t fit these restrictive categories. These terms are essentially excluding entire segments of our population.
For those of you who have been inside a college classroom, there are a whole host of restrictions. Some professors restrict technology use. Some professors restrict late entrants into the classroom. Some professors restrict talking at all. Some people are acting like there should be no restrictions. Just as you are restricted in your workplace (limiting social media, adhering to dress codes, etc), classroom settings operate in a similar manner. A quick preview of a syllabus in any field will reveal the variety of restrictions that every student in the class must abide by.
In the sciences, its mostly been debated about what’s right and wrong (or rather, what’s more correct than not correct). For instance, a True and False question may ask if Cumulus Clouds are low level. One would answer ‘True’. But there was a historical process that’s so far removed from our realities that led to this point. If you can recall, people used to think that the Sun revolved around the Earth. And there were people persecuted for such hypotheses. Kinda what’s happening to the Cultural Studies professors at WSU and other institutions across the country. They already know right and wrong....ahem, rather, what’s more correct....
The fields of cultural studies are new to many universities, and many campuses still don’t have dedicated programs for Ethnic studies or Gender Studies. Many of the things that we teach urge for a new way of thinking that can free us from the confines of our bodies, that can move beyond dichotomies, and that can liberate us from oppressive structures of racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc. Lost you again....Gender Studies 101.
If we want to progress beyond gender labels and gender identity, we must identify new language to engage these conversations. Limiting our language limits our ability to transcend beyond binaries. Most of our languages are gendered. The categories of masculine and feminine are oppressive to those who might not identify as such.
Many of us want to view gendered language as some accident that just happened out of nowhere and not as something that was rooted in privileging masculinity or heteronormative ideals. But language is rooted in power. And language has the ability to maintain social hierarchies, marginalize groups, and oppression certain bodies. While the Spanish language may be one of the most obvious for perpetuating gendered dichotomies, el/la/los/las, etc, most European based languages have this inherent bias engrained in them.
Restricting these words is not a violation of freedom of expression.
In these classes, the students will be equipped with knowledge and tools necessary to incorporate progressive language not only in the classroom but also in their daily lives and daily interactions.
And let’s be real. Is restricting certain ‘words’ in a classroom seriously violating the students rights? The students spend all of maybe an hour every few days in this space. They can go back to using whatever words they want to use when they leave the classroom. The classroom setting should be an alternate place. A different space for being, seeing, doing, and knowing.
And let’s be even more real, are we really upset that students were urged to not use these words or the fact that we see these programs as disrupting antiquated values of racial and gender hierarchies in society? Yeah. We know which is true.
There was a simple solution. Drop the class. Change your major. If you don’t understand the rational in the professor urging for a progressive environment, and aren’t open enough to engage with the reasons why, these programs might not be for you. I have been in this field for a long time and I have learned that I can’t save everyone. And I’m not trying anymore.
"Augustus ‘Cole Train’ Cole from the popular series Gears of War, CJ from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Black characters from Street Fighter, and others are all examples of stereotypical representations of Blacks in video games. The mediated story of Black’s is limited and situated within buffoonery (comedy) or crime. Media outlets have created essentialist notions about Blackness and what it means to have an ‘authentic’ Black experience. And because there are limited counter narratives, this singular narrative only confirms hegemonic notions of what it means to be Black (Gray, 2014)."
For the full article, click here.
I created a blog in response to the racist police officer who ranted about killing blacks in Xbox Live. This blog was featured in Racism Review. Access the full blog here: Black Gamers Don't Matter in Xbox Live.
"This is the reality in Xbox Live. This systematically embedded discrimination is apparent in Microsoft’s inaction on the issue of racism within their gaming community. Microsoft representatives have even proudly proclaimed that racism was not a major issue.
The failure of Microsoft to take racism seriously is a slap in the face of minority gamers who fail to conform to the White male norm. What occurs in Xbox Live is linguistic profiling based on how one sounds within the space. Similar to racial profiling, linguistic profiling occurs when auditory cues as opposed to visual cues are used to speculate on the racial background of another person. Based on how they sound, they experience constant harassment, verbal abuse, and racism. This linguistic profiling occurs on a daily basis and has led to the virtual ghettoization of marginalized gamers in Xbox."
Access full article from Racism Review HERE.
Manifest...My Reality: Seeing the World through the eyes of the 'other'