My New Favorite Thing: Black Feminist Writer Joan Morgan

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“I did not know that feminism is what you called it when black warrior women moved mountains and walked on water. Growing up in their company, I considered these things ordinary.” ~ Joan Morgan

I’ve been suspecting it for a little while now, but Joan Morgan’s “When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost” officially confirmed it for me.

I’m a black feminist.

I remember once in a job interview being asked “What am I passionate about? What motivates me? That was a year ago and I didn’t know. I remember BSing some answer that obviously didn’t work because I didn’t get the job.

In a year of unemployment, college, dating, loving, dumping, and being dumped by black men, I’ve learned a lot about myself.

I can finally say with certainty I know what I’m passionate about. I’m passionate about advancing my people. Particularly black women.  I find myself increasingly concerned with how black women are treated, how black women are depicted, and how black women are perceived. The older, wiser Brandy no longer hates on a young, black girl because she’s got a bigger ass than me, dresses a little more fly than me, or gets more male attention than me. I can’t hate on young black girls, because I’ve been a young black girl. I know how hard it is out there for us. We don’t need anything additional working against us. If anything we need more of us loving and supporting each other. We need to bond together, we need to create a network. And we need to love ourselves just as much, and in some cases, more than we love our black brothers. Only then, will we be able to get what we need from our brothers, our lovers, our communities, this country, and this world.

So Morgan’s addresses this issue in a passage from “Chickenheads.” She’s been ambushed by three black men upset by a pro-woman response to the racial implications of the raping of a white Central Park jogger allegedly by black teenage boys. Her defense, for me, addresses the dark secret of black relationships that is so rarely talked about:

“Whatcha really wanna know is how I feel about brothas.  It’s simple. I love black men like I love no other. And I’m not talking sex or aesthetics, I’m talking about loving y’all enough to be down for the drama — stomping anything that threatens your existence. Now only a fool loves that hard without asking the same in return. So yeah, I demand that black men fight sexism with the same passion they battle racism. I want you to annihilate anything that endangers sistas’ welfare — including violence against women — because my survival walks hand in hand with yours. So, my brotha, if loving y’all fiercely and wanting it back makes me a feminist than I’m a feminist. So be it.”

This sentiment is on point. It’s upsetting that black men sometimes look at black women as the enemy for expecting to be respected and loved the same way we respect and love them. I digress though.

The book is fantastic. Her writing is fantastic.Check it for yourself here, along with other works by Morgan.

…thinking like a man.

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In an effort to understand the male mind a little bit better over the past few months I’ve read three relationship books by men for women. All three books attempted to put women at a dating advantage by allowing us to understand how men think about women. After a year of being single I applied some of the techniques and caught me a hot, sexy guy. Was it the books? Who knows, but if you’ll indulge me I’d like to share some of the lessons I learned over the next three blog posts.

Actor/comedian Steve Harvey’s “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” was a best seller. He was all over the place giving love and relationship advice. And for good reason, the book was an incredible insight into the male psyche. Steve’s book forced me to look at myself the way a man sees me. Once I understood how a man saw me I understood their behavior.

One concept that stood out for me was his sportsfishing analogy. He explained that men sometimes view dating and pursuing women like fishing. There are the women that they catch and keep and then there is sports fishing where they fish just to see what they can get and then throw it back. That’s sports fishing. I never realized it, but I was a sports fish.

I say that because I always thought of myself as the type of girlfriend who didn’t put pressure on her man. I was never the type that would hound you about your whereabouts. I’m a free-spirit and I take that attitude into my relationships. I was always carefree and fun, with very little rules. I was always open to trying wild and adventurous things. What I learned is that men like those kinds of women, but they don’t date or marry those kinds of women.

They need and want rules and restrictions, just not too many. Also, being too wild and free makes them wonder if you are capable of being serious as a mother or a wife. I thought this was fascinating. I wonder if any of my guy readers agree or disagree with Steve’s take on this? What do you think? Do guys like freedom or do they need rules?

…is admitting she has a problem.

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Yesterday I spent the entire day  hostage at home. Not by choice, but because in a purely genius move I misplaced my keys.

 I’m not kidding.

 I spent an entire day in my house looking for keys. I could not leave my house because I couldn’t lock my door. I couldn’t leave the door unlocked because my roommate already wants me out and I’m pretty sure if I left the house I probably would not be able to get back in. And without me, there would be no one to care for my massive shoe and clothing collection. (Priorities, right?)

 I’m making light of this but its symptomatic of a real problem. I turned the bed upside down. I checked all my pockets. I retraced my steps. I even went through the trash.

 The funny thing is, days before  I’d finished reading  Mike Nelson’s book “Stop Clutter from Stealing Your Life.” I’ve admitted to myself I may have a problem with clutter. Sure my old apartment could have been on one of those Oprah decluttering shows, but I never really thought it was stealing my life, until yesterday. Its literally stealing my life.

  I watch the TLC show hoarders on television and though I’m not that extreme, I relate to what they’re going through. It’s not bad housekeeping. These people aren’t dirty or lazy. I’m an organizational freak. I love to sort and organize things. It’s psychological.

 I can pinpoint  when I became a clutterer. There was a short period of my life when I was homeless. Not literally leaving on the street, but no home to call mine, living with friends, etc. I lived with a male friend who had a crush on me. He kicked me out  when he realized our relationship wasn’t going to be sexual. He kept all my clothes and possessions as a bargaining chip for sex. I left with literally the clothes on my back. A friend of mine gave me a few pieces, but for months I had like two pairs of pants and a couple shirts.

 I think once I was financially able I subconsciously bought and bought and bought clothes to ensure that no matter what happened I would never be in that position again. Now, I can barely walk in my closet and have a large storage unit filled mostly with clothes.

 So back to the keys, I eventually found them. They’d fallen into a pair of knee length boots by my bed. I stared at those boots all day and never was the wiser. It turned out not to be a freak occurence and not a result of my cluttering.  But it very easily could have been.

 I encourage anyone who can remotely relate to this story to check out Mike Nelson’s book “Stop Clutter from Stealing Your Life.” Its eye-opening and its life changing.

…a Superfreak, superfreak, she’s superfreaky (yow!)

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 This book is my Harry Potter. I was so excited and waiting for the day the  guys did another book. I don’t know why they didn’t have midnight parties at bookstores with people dressed up as dollar signs and theorems. (I had my Pythagorean Theorem costume already picked out, maybe I can still try to go to a Barnes and Noble in it around midnight, just kidding sort of).

 SuperFreakonimics is the follow-up to the two Steves wildly successful New York Times best-selling book Freakonomics. Freakonomics has an economist applying economic analysis techniques to answer questions like “why do most drug dealers still live at home with their moms,” “Is more dangerous for your children to have a playdate at the family with a gun or a pool in their home?”

 So I picked up the book and it does not disappoint. There are new analyses including why the prostitution industry is not quite as lucrative as it used to be, the surprising impact American television has had on Indian women, and the dangers of drunk walking.

 The two Stevens are geniuses. And to me the sure sign of pure genius is making the most complex things so simple that anyone can understand it. Economics is not the most exciting subject there is, but in the hands of these guys its utterly fascinating. Finish this blog and go out and get your copies right now. Today. Seriously. I mean it. And maybe when the third Freakonomics book comes out I can dust off my costume for the midnight book party at Barnes and Nobles. I’ll bring the protractors if you bring the compasses.