Friday, September 5, 2008

Somebody loves my blog!

Ginny over at the great blog Ginny's Thoughts has awarded my humble little site the "I Love Your Blog" award. Awww...I feel all tingly now. I love getting cyberpresents. Of course, I have to pay the good feelings forward. The rules of the "I love your blog award" go like this:

1. The winner can put the logo on their blog
2. Link to the person you received the award from
3. Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4. Put links of those blogs on yours
5. Leave a message on the blogs nominated

Now, I love quite a few big blogs like Racialicious, Blogher, What About Our Daughters, Feministe and Jack and Jill Politics and The Field Negro, but I'm not going to nominate them because EVERYBODY shows them love. Instead, I'm going to nominate some smaller blogs that I hope will become your favorites as well. The nominees are...

No, Jennifer does not pay me to recommend her blog. It's just so good that I find myself linking to it a lot and singing its praises. Jennifer writes thoughtfully and passionately on race and its intersection with a lot of other issues. And she has this knack for thinking what I'm thinking (and then explaining it far better than I can). Check out her recent posts on the RNC and DNC...heck, just read the whole blog. You'll be glad you did.

Professor Tracey brings the fire in every post--doesn't matter if she's talking about sports or politics or pop culture or race. She covers them all, by the way. We don't always have the same approach to issues (See Palin, Sarah), but Tracey always makes me think. And she's funny as hell. She's the only person yet who has admitted sharing my feelings about the skeeviness that is Harold Ford, Jr. Plus, she's a horror movie buff. And, like me, a black woman marooned in central Indiana. I suspect I'd like her even if we weren't blogsisters.

I've never met the Daddy in real life, but something tells me he's way cooler than I. His blog is pure poetry (other folks' poetry and his own), with a dose of blues and jazz and history and civil rights and other stuff. I know this sounds silly, but when I read DaddyBStrong, I always think of like a house party in Philly in 1968 with some real, funky soul, maybe James Brown, on the turntable; and there are some really righteous folks there, smoking and talking about the cause; and there is academic/arty guy in the corner, wearing black specs and quoting poetry from the Harlem Renaissance; and some folks are flirting and grinding and dancing to the music.

Mind you, I've only just driven through Philly and I wasn't even born yet in 1968, but that's what DaddyBStrong feels like to me, even when the posts are about today's political issues. The Daddy's got soul.

What Would Thembi Do?
! No offense to all those mega black celeb culture sites, but I like my discussions of who is sleeping with whom, and who wore what with a dash of whip smartness, dry wit and finely-tuned snark--that's why I hang out at What Would Thembi Do. The blog is not really a celeb news blog per se, it's sort of an examination of old school celebrity with some pop culture examination and politics and social commentary...oh hell, Thembi herself describes it as: "Pontifications, coonery, quips, blasphemy, miscegenation, freshness, concern for celebrity life, the beauty of blackness, the sorrow of work-life, the curse of brilliance, and sassy stories." Got it?

Los Angelista's Guide to the Pursuit of Happiness
Liz is a really wonderful writer and I am jealous. Liz is a really wonderful writer even when she is writing about stuff like walking to Starbucks or being obsessed with an 80s electronic band. I mean, it's easy to keep people reading when you pick their side of a hot argument like the 2008 Presidential Elections and go all feral on the other side. It's hard, though, to write about some everyday thing and keep folks glued 'til the end. Liz knows how to do that and last week she ran six miles in just over an hour. I keep reading Los Angelista in hopes her writing skillz and, who knows, athleticism, will rub off.

Deesha at Mamalicious is yet another blogger that makes me say, "Wish I could write like that." (Did you read her article "Ain't I a Mommy?" in issue 40 of Bitch magazine?) On Mamalicious, Deesha writes about everything: from mamahood to politics to good books to the difference between Facebook and MySpace to disgraced Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. The blog is brain food for the Renaissance woman (or man).

This feminist from the Big Easy, is honest in her writing. I love that. She is honest when she is writing about how she squares her support of Joe Biden with her radical feminist ideals. She is honest when she is writing about her family's plantation-owning past. She is honest when she is writing about cheating husbands and female orgasms and violence against women and racism and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And, like all the bloggers listed here, it just feels like if I really knew NOLA Radfem, I'd like her. Next time I'm down her way I'd like to hang out for an hour and talk over chicory coffee and beignets, which will probably make her roll her eyes, because I suspect that's a really touristy thing to do, but, hey, I'm a tourist.

The Cruel Secretary
You just gotta love AJ Plaid at The Cruel Secretary for having the brass ovaries to talk about female sexuality, and black female sexuality especially. And she uses the same straight-forward approach and frank talk to discuss other things like politics, sociology, urban living, fierce mothers, etc. AJ gets extra stars for the bald fade she's rocking in her blog pic. Fierce!

You say this makes eight blogs and not seven as the rules require. I say that you're wrong; I've only listed seven favorite blogs. See, I've been watching the Republican National Convention and I know that you can cover up for a multitude of missteps just by pretending they didn't happen and stating otherwise. So...The Cruel Secretary makes seven blogs. Stop hating me for my freedom.

Congrats to all the nominees!

8 Days...

As the one-year blogiversay of What Tami Said approaches, I've been re-posting some old essays from back when the only person reading the blog was, well, me. This original version of this post [I made some tweaks] appeared on Feb. 24 of this year.

"Y'know we got Indian in the family"

I read this post about James Brown on Angry Asian Man (hat tip to Racialicious). On page 54 of his memoir, Soul Brother Number One said:

"I also have some Chinese in me, at least as much as I have black (and maybe a little Egyptian King Tut thrown in for good measure). All you have to do is look at my face--it's all there."
Now, I'm not coming for the Godfather, because I have no idea in what context he made these statements or how true they are. But AAM's post made me think about how often black people claim mixed heritage as a badge of honor--proof of being better and special. And why is that?

I am not talking about bi-racial people who rightly claim both family cultures. I'm not talking about descendants of Cherokee freedman and other groups with blended cultures. I'm talking about folks who reach back 100 years in the family tree to tout a mythical Cherokee princess or a great-great-great-great-grandfather in Louisiana who may or may not have been Creole.

I would venture that most black Americans that dig into their family history--and not that far back either--can find more than a few ancestors not of African descent. Most of us are of mixed race. It is only the one-drop rule that says otherwise. But there is something not exactly self-affirming about many of the ways we communicate this:

"She's got them pretty, light eyes and she's a nice color. You know her mama's people were Creole."

"Yeah, you know me and my sisters have that good grade of hair because we have Indian in the family."

It is very often "Indian in the family," isn't it? While many black Americans do have Native ancestry, I bet a higher proportion have white ancestry, given the history of slavery. How come you never hear: "My great-great-grandfather was a white plantation owner?" Not exotic enough?

We also love to be Creole, and we use the term so sloppily that when I first visited Louisiana and learned about the region's history, I was surprised that Creole didn't simply refer to a mix of African and white French heritage.

There is nothing wrong with embracing every part of your heritage. I'm a family researcher. I get wanting to understand all the parts that make you--you. But mixed ancestry is what we too often use to explain physical traits and cultural markers that are deemed good--the opposite of the "dark continent" practices, tightly coiled hair and dark skin that are bad. Mixed ancestry is often what we bring up to prove that we are different from other "just black" folks.

I find it interesting that many of the people who tout non-African ancestry rarely embrace that ancestry. They wouldn't know Cherokee culture from Nez Perce culture. Chinese is the adjective they affix to every Asian person. Creole and Cajun are interchangeable. And great-great-grandmother Siobhan was actually Irish not Scottish.

So, too often it's not about embracing all parts of our culture. In fact, it involves some exoticizing of other cultures--distilling them down to a source of pretty hair and acceptable features. It is about elevating ourselves in the hierarchy of race--from "just black" to something special.

What do you think?


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