You're Probably Perpetuating Rape Culture

Brock Turner, is a rapist. He’s not an Olympic hopeful, a former Ivy League student, or as his father put it “happy go lucky…with [an] easy going personality and welcoming smile.” He is a rapist. At just 19 years old, he sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster and blamed it on college drinking and hook-up culture. Now we all watch in disgust as he continues to be protected by the systematic and institutionalized ideals that support rape culture.

Rape culture is made up of actions and inactions, questions, derogatory, and sexist sentiments towards women. Rape culture makes sexual violence both invisible and inevitable for women. Rape culture is when the sentencing judge thinks that a rapist’s independence and joy of life is more important than that of his victim’s. Rape culture represents the structural hierarchies, from the legal system, to the media, that can’t possibly perceive men like Brock Turner as criminals. Rape culture is when mugshots are hidden and reputations are protected. Rape culture is what you say, rape culture is what you let people say around you, rape culture is something we all take part in.

Men and women both consciously or subconsciously support this culture of blame every day. Let’s break it down for the 1,000th time for everyone so we can pay more attention to what we say to women:

  1. When you silence the voice of a survivor of rape to make the story about the rapist; his life before the rape, his education, his accomplishments (all reporters ever), you are perpetuating rape culture.

  2. When you ask a woman what she was wearing, drinking, or who she chose to spend her time with (all police officers ever), you are perpetuating rape culture.

  3. When you sympathize with rapists like Tuner for having to register as a sex offender, having his name thrown across all media outlets, or question the validity of a woman’s word (all family members ever), you are perpetuating rape culture.

  4. When you give a woman a list of things she should do to avoid rape: drink less, wear more, just don’t leave the house at night, you are perpetuating rape culture.

  5. When you ever utter the words “I told her this would happen if she [insert whatever foolishness you’d like]”, you are perpetuating rape culture.

  6. And to my “conscious” black people who want to turn a white woman’s rape into a question about other black men who have raped and gotten less jail time than her white rapist, you too are perpetuating rape culture.

What we must understand is when we say or support statements that silence a woman’s voice, her narrative, her attempts for normalcy, to find her resilience in a society that only wants her to be the “‘unconscious intoxicated woman”, we are all perpetuating rape culture.

Celebrating Africa Day: Our African-ness is not a Handicap

Today is Africa Day (!!!), the annual commemoration of the 1963 founding of the Organization of African Unity, which is now known as the Africa Union. You may have your qualms with the productivity, or effectiveness of the AU, but it does symbolize a lot for Africa. The pan-African ideal that was spear-headed by Kwame Nkrumah was about coming together as a continent, outside of tribal, religious, or national affiliations, to create an Africa free from the physiological oppression that crippled the continent during colonization. 

This psychological oppression that plagued the continent can be best described in Frantz Fanon’s piece “The Fact of Blackness.” Fanon speaks in this piece of meeting a white Frenchman and war veteran who had an amputated leg in 1950’s Paris. The Frenchman says to him “resign yourself to your color the way I got used to my stump; we’re both victims.” Fanon reflects on the psychoanalytical cure that has been created for many blacks, the cure from our sorrow is to accept the realities of our victimhood as the inferior race. That this is the cure to our conditions of feeling inadequate, accept our skin color as a handicap, something we can’t help.

African unity, pan-Africanism, what we celebrate today May 25th, is the cure to many of Africa's hurdles. From corruption, to civil wars, religious conflict, and xenophobia, if Africa can continue to bridge our arbitrary and psychological borders, the continent will be stronger than our forefathers could have ever imagined. To remember the importance of our united history, here are five quotes from Africa’s most influential leaders on the importance of a unified Africa:

“We must unite now or perish… We must recognize that our economic independence resides in our African union and requires the same concentration upon the political achievement.” – First President and Prime Minister of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah in his address at the founding of the OAU, Addis Ababa, 1963.

“We spoke and acted as if, given the opportunity for self-government, we would quickly create utopias. Instead injustice, even tyranny, is rampant”. – Julius ‘Mwalimu’ Nyerere, first President of Tanzania, as quoted in David Lamb’s The Africans, New York, 1985.

“The evolution of humanity says that Africa reaffirms that she is continuing her rise from the ashes. Whatever the setbacks of the moment, nothing can stop us now! Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace!” – Thabo Mbeki former President of South Africa, “I Am an African” speech delivered on 8 May 1996.

“We know that Africa is neither French, nor British, nor American, nor Russian, that it is African. We know the objects of the West. Yesterday they divided us on the level of a tribe, clan and village…They want to create antagonistic blocs, satellites…” – Patrice Émery Lumumba, speech at the All-African Conference in Leopoldville, August 25, 1960.

“Always bear in mind that the people are not fighting for ideas, for the things in anyone’s head. They are fighting to win material benefits, to live better and in peace, to see their lives go forward, to guarantee the future of their children…” – Amilcar Cabral, Revolution in Guinea, written 1965.

 

When Female Artists Perpetuate the Sexualiziation of Black Women

Some would say that these are images of strong, successful, RICH, women just being “bosses”. They are making it rain on strippers and are smacking booties in the video for their umpteenth hit song. All good fun. All examples of powerful women doing big things in their careers, but it is definitely not that light hearted in my opinion.

Entertainers like Rihanna and Nicki Minaj are actually just replicating stereotypical sexist behavior in order to validate their existence in traditionally masculine spaces. I.E instead of steering their careers and public personas in such a direction that would uplift the women who consume their music, these women revert to what they have been taught: That the over sexualization of black women in the media is what sells records and concert tickets. Rihanna I love you, but what makes you think empowerment is copying and pasting the lewd behavior of men in strip clubs?  To proudly flaunt these photos on your social media outlets is actually disappointing. To show off how much of a boss you are by dropping $20 bills on these strippers private parts is not a sign of power, it’s a sad attempt to do what the boys do. And what the "boys" often do in hip hop reflects an ongoing campaign to sexualize, consume, and discard the black female body.

When did being a successful female hip hop artist mean you need to see how closely you can mimic a Lil Wayne video? Are our favorite female hip hop and RnB artists aiding in the perpetual cycle of big booty fetishization on a global scale? When Nicki Minaj spends 2 minutes of a 3 minute music video rubbing and smacking the asses of video “models,” is it not another sad attempt to validate her existence in Hip Hop? The notion that black women are unable to have successful music careers without becoming walking representations of male desire has crippled us to the point of self mutilation and in some cases complete destruction. It is bad enough that we must navigate the deep waters of skin lightening, long blond weaves, butt injections, and the like, but we now have famous figures continuing the cycle by partaking in the same sexist banter and behavior as the men.

It is a reoccurring problem when women construct their identities, particularly in the hip hop community, around patriarchy and sexism. I know it is easier said than done, but when are our favorite artists going to begin creating their own spaces that do not include replicating the historically sexist and exploitative habits of male artists?

My Struggle to Support Contentless Feminism

One of the most important, and rewarding, parts of identifying as a feminist is uplifting all women, no matter their choices in life. Meaning supporting women who are college graduates, and strippers, prostitutes, and lawyers. Now this a difficult exercise in checking my own privilege, understanding that as women (particularly women of color), we have a collective struggle that transcends educational or professional circumstances. I've struggled with this as I grow into my own womanhood.

I've found it to be quite trying, to accept and support different versions of feminism that do not reflect my own; to stop myself from judging women who pursue sex work, or women who are transgendered. I try to recognize my privilege as a college-educated, employed, straight woman when I see other women twerking on the gram or watch any version of Love and Hip Hop. No, Cardi B. and I do not have the same definitions of success, but we are both women of color and we do share similar realities that link us intrinsically. This is the true meaning of intersectional feminism, understanding that oppressive institutions like racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, or transphobia, are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another. All of these institutions matter when we discuss gender equality, reproductive health, and the political participation of women.

Now again, it’s a challenging version of feminism to associate with. To consistently work on understanding the diversity of the women around you. To ensure that you are supporting their socio-political agency, and giving them the space to share their narratives without judgement. It’s hard, and what makes it harder is when I come across nonsense from people like Kim Khardashian. Apparently she penned her first “feminist” “article” this year for International Women’s Day. This “article” was a response to the negative comments she received after posting a nude selfie on Instagram (Bette Midler said that Khardashian would need to swallow a camera for us to see a new part of her body. Bette Midler is an American treasure) Kim posted her “article” on her app, which you need to pay $2.99 per month to access, saying: “I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world."

Is this feminism? Does throwing the word empowerment around to support any lucrative and sexually exploitive action we partake in constructive? Are we teaching our daughters that posting nude photos of ourselves is a form of revolutionary self-love? I’m sorry but this is what can be defined as content less feminism and it challenges nothing. What Kim Khardashian is doing lacks real agency, it is based on nothing but likes and money. Posting nudes does nothing for the movement to liberate women, particularly coming from a woman who is the personification of the over-sexed, capitalistic machine that is social media. She makes millions of dollars from showing her body, and now wants to use the umbrella of feminism to try to distract us from what is really going on. NOTHING. Nothing is going on but nudes being posted. This thought-less excuse for feminism perpetuates the notion that success come from what we look like and how sexy men think we are. Nothing, nothing to see here but traditional 1940's version of female sexuality on display for consumption.

Being proud of your sexuality as a woman is essential, but if you’re going to pen an article about how being naked on Instagram is empowering, save it for the dummies who pay $2.99 to watch you pluck your eyebrows every month. I do support the sexual liberation of women, to be proud of our bodies, to be proud of the pleasure we get from being sexy and having sex. Showing our daughters that life is not just about being the sexy woman online, that there are real issues that women face and must tackle together: easy access to contraception, sex education in which boys and men were taught that female pleasure and orgasm matter as much as their own, victim blaming for survivors of rape and sexual assault. What about those things? Do posting nudes and whining about mean twitter comments address those things? No Mrs. West, your nudes have no political agency.

 I strongly believe in intersectional feminism, and will support any woman who wants to see change, but we also need to recognize when the terms empowerment and feminism are being used to distract us.

Do Museums Perpetuate the Dehumanization of Black Bodies?

Last year my fiancé and I went to visit the Kehinde Wiley exhibit in Brooklyn. It was a beautiful exhibition of the majesty of the black man and woman. I really enjoyed it, as did everyone else in Brooklyn, making it one of the most visited exhibits that year. Still, I did have a heaviness walking through Wiley’s exhibit, and it had nothing to do with the art, but more to do with my observations of the exhibit visitors. As we walked from painting to sculpture, it dawned on me that my fiancé and I were amongst only a handful of other black people; the rest were mostly white Americans and Europeans. I said to him, “all these hipsters are in here analyzing and applauding black men in G Unit shirts and timbs and I feel so uneasy about it all.” My fiancé put it perfectly when he responded: “It’s because, on their way here, they all passed and ignored ten men just like the ones in the paintings.” Boom.

As black people we were surrounded by art that looked familiar and depicted, more or less, the essence of the black experience. Simultaneously, we were also surrounded by comments like “such colorful clothing”, “look at the juxtaposition of the colors of the hats and the richness of the skin.” The hipsters were acting so enthralled in the images of black men, as if they had never in real life, in real time, seen one. It was as if they were truly seeing black men and not just acknowledging their existence.

I felt the same uneasiness two weeks ago when we visited the Seydou Keita exhibit in Paris. I was so pressed to see the work of a photographer who was astonishingly prolific. He captured the images of West Africa’s beauty in all its shades, shapes, and sizes. Once again, my fiancée and I were one of three black people in the exhibit. All around us were white French people admiring the portraits of beautiful Africans: the cheekbones, the lips, the head wraps. They had all paid 10€ to admire the esthetics of faces similar to those whom they probably ignore on the metro, at the grocery store, or in their neighborhoods all over Paris. But because similar faces are on display in one of the cities most revered exhibition spaces, dark skin Africans were more worthy of recognition.

When I asked the exhibit's Gambian security guard his thoughts on all of these white French people coming to see photographs of Africans, he said: “It’s like going to a zoo for them, they come and want to see the beauty of the black man, but in a controlled space where they feel most comfortable. If they actually went to the African neighborhoods in Paris, they would see people with the same faces as those in these photographs, but that would be too close for comfort.” The way our skin, clothes, and hair are seen as art within our own communities, is not the way they are seen in white communities. As the security guard said, our esthetic is packaged for consumption in museums and in the media, people are able to pick and choose how much they consume and when they have had enough. When they have seen enough photos of Africans, they can leave the exhibit and continue to ignore the Africans all around them in Paris. When Brooklyn hipsters are tired of seeing paintings of black men in fitted caps, they can leave the museum and ignore the negros they pass on their way home.

What draws white Americans or Europeans to art in our likeness, does not necessarily draw them closer to understanding our experiences outside of the museum space. There is a disconnect between looking at a photo of a Malian man with tribal scars in the Grand Palais, and understanding the racial injustices a Malian man with tribal scars may face in 2016 Paris. Is this not what it means to dehumanize a person? To separate their burdens and harsh realities from their physical in an attempt to appreciate what is the easiest to consume and comprehend. There needs to be more to these exhibits, not just photos or paintings of us and our ancestors, but also reflections on how our realities are carried in these images.

Melissa Harris Perry for Elle.com: Does the Historically White-washed Magazine Deserve Her?

Melissa Harris Perry is the QUEEN of unapologetic black womanhood, and the personification of black resistance. She gave a big middle finger to MSNBC when they wanted to control the nature and frequency of her show as they "temporarily" transitioned to covering politics 24/7 during this election year. She kept firm that she had a clear vision for her show, and no election year was going to silence or muffle the important stories she lived to share. “I will not be used as a tool for their purposes,” she wrote. “I am not a token, mammy, or little brown bobble head. I am not owned by Lack, Griffin, or MSNBC. I love our show. I want it back.” Well the show didn't come back, she parted ways with MSNBC amongst tense emails made public and hilarious tweets. Since this all went down, we have been waiting patiently for her next move, and this week she was announced as the new Editor at Large of Elle.com.

Yup, Elle Magazine, the publication that after about 30 pages, you'll MAYBE find a woman woman of color who is not Beyonce or Sofia Verga. I went to the site recently to check out some headlines:

You know how us #blackgirls relate to Jane Austen characters. 

Oh no, Reese Witherspoon, Oscar Winner and everyone's favorite girl next door can't find a role for her? In America? In 2016? A blond woman? Tell me more. 

Who dis?

Riveting coverage on Kendall Jenner's track suit!

Listen, I respect MHP too much to blatantly criticize her choice to join the predominately white, historically not-so-feminist publication. She is the Queen mother of raging against the machine, and her political agency is unmatched. I guess we will have to see how the tides turn at Elle, but one thing is for sure; they are going to get some woke women of color expecting more than what we've seen from the publication in the past. 

On Global Grieving: When Ivory Coast is not Belgium

Fact: Yesterday's shooting in Brussels was tragic. After this year's attacks across the francophone world, any sense of security or calm is being replaced by panic, conspiracy theories, and crippling Islamophobia. Still, throughout these attacks, from Paris to Bamako, one can not ignore the clear differences in sympathy levels that are shown on social media. Photo filters, public displays of grief for European cities that most people have never been to, profiles of those people lost. But, where is it for the Africans?

I think the biggest reality check has been at work. Yesterday, an all staff email was circulated to a co-worker with family in Belgium to see if HIS family was ok after the blast. But, wait, my WHOLE FAMILY is in Abidjan and I didn't get an email? I didn't get any check ins. No questions about if my family or friends were alright.

The problem is what we are fed in the media. The glittering streets of Paris, and Brussels should never have blood on them. But the potholes in Bamako, and  Maiduguri Nigeria are used to such tragedies. There is a sympathy in the way people discuss European mass shootings: "I can not believe that this brutal barbarianism is now coming to us." Where as killings in Africa are more like: "I can not believe this barbarianism is still happening there." For mainstream American media, there is an expectation for violence in Africa that stops people from asking me if my family is ok in Abidjan.

Let's not forget that in March alone there have been FIVE mass shootings outside of western Europe's golden walls. From Ivory Coast, to Yemen, to just last week in Turkey, people are being blown up, shot at close range, and families are being destroyed. So before you jump to grieve whoever CNN tells you to, consider the global network of violence penetrating black and brown people this year. 

Remember that your half hearted Facebook flag profile photo may undermine the loss of others.

For These White Women, Books about Africa are Surprisingly Interesting

I recently finished my third book by a female African writer this year! 2011's The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin was AMAZING. Hands down one of my favorite books. This book followed the histories, and scandalous realities of the brute that is Baba Segi, and his four wives. Polygamy is real in Africa, its common, and part of the culture in many nations. What I liked about this book is it humanized polygamy. It focused not only on how women cope with living in a polygamous household, but how they came to make this life choice, and how they can even flourish in this type of marriage. This book hits upon sex, sensuality, rape, domestic violence, illegitimate children, murder, EVERYTHING. It was like reading the script to a Nigerian movie written by Chinua Achebe. The prose was remarkable, and it left me feeling so attached to the women in the stories, I cried at the end!

After I read the book I wanted to leave it a raving review online, so I hoped over to Goodreads.com to leave my two cents. Well, I found lots of reviews for the book by African, and Caribbean women, some good, some in the middle. THEN, I fell upon two reviews from Susie and Christine that gave me a good laugh:

These "Western" women, so far removed from the realities of other people, were astounded that they could actually enjoy a story that did not reflect their own lives or interests. I suppose they would label themselves as literary risk takers, going out on a limb to read a book about....[SHOCKER] African women?! The surprise that is felt in their reviews made me angry. The surprise that a book about African women in a polygamous marriage could actually be well written and enthralling. I don’t get it? Why is it so hard to connect to the experience of people in Africa? Do we not sit through English classes all of our lives being forced to read Jane Austen books (no I don’t want no damn Mr. Darcy), have we not been told that literary classics are set in 1900 England? When is the last time you have heard someone say, "you know I really couldn’t connect with Pride and Prejudice because you know, I’m African and live in 2016 Washington, DC." From the day we begin to hone our reading comprehension skills, black girls are fed books about the white, European, experience and told THOSE were the classics. Those were the best stores ever written.  There is a normalization of the white Western story that has left society looking at other narratives as so farfetched and far removed, its seemingly impossible to understand or enjoy the diversity of the human experience.

Of course lately there have been books that attempt to bridge the gaps. Americanah is every white woman's guide on how to walk in the shoes of an African woman in America. Although I have my issues with Americanah, I can also recognize that it is spreading the stories and voices of women like me far and wide. Yes, it is a start, but is it good enough?

To Know Us is To Love Us: The Power of African Feminists

African feminists are vital to the social and economic mobility of women on the continent and in the diaspora. They have, and continue to, pave the way for the education of girls, the political participation of our women, and have even built the confidence for women to say no to patriarchal systems of government and marriage.  They are intimately familiar with our struggles spanning from colonization, apartheid, and civil wars, and as the gate keepers of the female African experience, we need to learn their names and remember their work.

Here are 5 African feminists to know and love (you're welcome):

1. Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist, social worker and women's rights advocate. She is also a 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate. She is the founder and president of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, based in Monrovia. Leymah is best known for leading a nonviolent movement that brought together Christian and Muslim women to play a pivotal role in ending Liberia's devastating, 14-year civil war in 2003. Her book, Mighty be Our Powers will change your life.

2. Professor Amina Mama is Nigerian-British feminist writer and intellectual who has worked for over two decades in research, teaching, organizational change, and editing in Nigeria, Britain, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the U.S.A. She spent a decade at the University of Cape Town’s African Gender Institute (she is the reason I choose to spend my time at the University of Cape Town!) where she led the collaborative development of feminist studies and research for African contexts. Amina currently works as a professor of Women and Gender Studies at the University of California, Davis.

3. Professor Ama Ata Aidoo, is a Ghanaian author, poet, playwright, and academic. She also served as a Minister of Education in Ghana under the Jerry Rawlings administration.  In 2000, she established the Mbaasem Foundation to promote and support the work of African women writers. She is a prolific writer, with her most popular works being Changes: A Love Story, and Our Sister Kill Joy.

4. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977. She is the author of three critically acclaimed novels: Purple Hibiscus (2003), Half of a Yellow Sun (2006), and Americanah (2013). She also released a short story collection, The Thing around Your Neck in 2009. Chimamanda self-identifies as a feminist and has written and given speeches on various current topics relating to women’s issues in Nigeria and across the Diaspora, including her celebrated TED talks.

5. Theo Sowa is Chief Executive Officer of the African Women’s Development Fund, the premiere grantmaking foundation that supports local, national and regional women’s organizations working towards the empowerment of African women and the promotion and realization of their rights. She has previously worked as an independent advisor for a wide range of international and social development issues. Her work has covered advocacy, service delivery, evaluation, facilitation, policy, and organizational development with a range of international and intergovernmental organizations and grant-making foundations.

Also seen on: http://www.forharriet.com/2015/04/18-phenomenal-african-feminists-to-know.html#axzz42Jw5HSq3

African Women in Politics: Taking the "Mama Africa" Approach is No Longer Enough

African women are entering politics now more than ever. With with 64% of seats held by women, Rwanda has the highest number of female parliamentarians in the world. Senegal, the Seychelles, and South Africa have more than 40% each. Considering that women hold less than 25% of the seats in the US congress and senate, one could say that Africa is indeed in the future. Still, on a continent historically run by patriarchal, and male dominated systems of government, the participation of women has often taken the "Mama Africa" approach. 

This approach continues the narrative that women are needed in politics to brings kindness, humility, love, and a nurturing spirit to the political process. This often submissive political participation of women leaves them to become more symbolic roles of the mother, than active change agents looking to make radical improvements in their countries.  The "Mama Africa" approach, with its soft, cushy, definition of political participation, is perpetuated by female politicians as well. Maureen Kyalya, the only female candidate to run for presidential office in this year's election, took the "Mama Africa" approach: “There is lots of tear gas in every police station but there is no medicine in the hospitals. Trust me, I am a mother. I will heal to this country with love.” It pains me to see the that the political agency of African women is often directly tied to their roles of mothers and care givers. I have been in many conferences and seminars with female Prime Ministers from all over Africa, and they always mention how their roles as mothers guides their roles as politicians. 

Even during times of activism, there is a sense that women can only bring change when they use the tools within their traditional repertoire. Esther Murugi, a member of Parliament in central Kenya, has recently called on Kenyan women  stop cooking, or having sex with their husbands until they register to vote. In 2013, Zimbabwean minister Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga advocated a similar no vote, no sex strategy. And we all remember the infamous sex strike of 2002, led by Liberian activist and Nobel Laureate Leymah Gbowee. 

I'm not saying that the pride African women feel in their roles as mothers is useless, it has proven time and time again that it is not. What I am saying is that it is limiting, leaving many of our female politicians in positions lacking of true agency, replacing it with tokenism that brings no change for future generations.  

The Angry African Book Club: Part 2

So I finished my first book of 2016! "We Need New Names" by No-violet Bulawayo was a good read. Not totally enthralling, but good. A coming of age story that walks you through the life of a young girl navigating the oppressive structures that are race, gender, and class in Zimbabwe and later Detroit, MI. I must say, it was similar to Americanah, as in it read like a long ass blog post, different stories and characters intermingling in a sometimes haphazard way. Nonetheless, it is worth a read for those African women who have left their countries behind at a young age, and live the tug of war life between who they once were in Africa, and what they are becoming away from her. Anywho, read it and let me know what you think :)

Now, I am currently in Senegal on a long work trip and am right in the middle of my second book (remember 2016 I'm reading a book a month by a female African writer.) I am reading "Mighty be our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayers, and Sex Changed a Nation at War" by Leymah Gbowee (Nobel Peace Prize winner for her peace keeping and reconciliation work in Liberia.) WHEW, talk about a REAL BOOK. This is Leymah's first hand account of living through a decade of war in Liberia, and how she helped mobilize thousands of women for peace and change across war torn West Africa. This is not only a life story, this is a history lesson on how Liberia's ethnic divides originally started. From the arrival of "Americo-Liberians", to the public execution of Samuel Doe, and to the arrest of Charles Taylor; Leymah was there and described every raw detail. This is a living book, that still speaks to the power and resilience of women in conflict. I can honestly say, this is one of the most important books I've read. HANDS DOWN. It pairs the brutally honest stories of African women raped with knives, breasts cut open, with the history of an African nation at war, two narratives that belong together but are often separated for some reason. Very graphic, and emotional, but necessary for all black women to read.

PSA: Telling Women to Stop Drinking to Avoid Rape is Sexist

This month the Center for Disease Control (CDC) is in the business of pissing off feminists around the country. As if rape culture is not perpetuated enough, the CDC releases this piece of poop info-graphic which  lists violence, unwanted pregnancy, and STDs as a result of "drinking too much" :

I'm on board with the first column, there are CLEAR and documented health risks for pregnant women who "drink too much." But to list violence, STDs, and unwanted pregnancy as a result of excessive drinking for non-pregnant women is absurd. It is basically confirming that when a woman drinks it is inevitable that she is a target for sexual violence. It is stripping a woman of any power she may have as an adult, and reverting her to a child who has no say or control over what may happen to her when she decides to leave her home and drink alcohol. This is preposterous and should not be disseminated as a government document, because drinking wine on your couch while binge watching "How to Get Away with Murder" is not going to get you raped, a disgusting rapist is going to get you raped.

Now I know what kind of society we live in, and unfortunately the truth is that we women are always at risk for sexual violence, particularly when we are intoxicated. But lets be clear (Obama voice): it is utterly irresponsible to share something which strongly suggests that the burden of avoiding violence, unwanted pregnancy and STDs falls to women, and that the way to avoid these atrocities is to drink less than males (who clearly can't be trusted to control themselves.)  This info-graphic leans towards the "victim-blaming" narrative which I hate so much: "But what was she wearing when she was raped?" "was she drunk?" "did she know what kind of guys were there?" The safety of women is a shared responsibility and should not be a mountain women are expected to carry themselves. There can not be a paradigm shift in this world if government agencies still disseminate such sexist recommendations. 

#1986pictures: Uganda has had the Same President for 30 Years

The President of Uganda has been in power for thirty years. THIRTY. President Yoweri Museveni assumed officed (whatever that means) in January 1986, and with him gunning for another term in this month's election, Ugandans on Twitter started the hashtag #1986pictures to show snapshots of what life was like back then. This hastag is a clear, yet not overly provocative, way of saying it’s been too damn long since ole boy has been in office. In 1986 Princess Diana had just given birth, Regan was President, Mandela was still in jail, so many changes in our world's socio-political environment yet here we are in Africa with the same President's 30 years later.

In 1986 Yoweri Museveni and his National Resistance Army (NRA) took power after years of guerrilla fighting that eventually toppled Ugandan leader Idi Amin. He then gave a speech to a crowd of thousands of hopeful Ugandans outside of the parliament: he promised to rule for only four years, then hand over power to a civilian-led government. He said the people of Uganda and all Africa were entitled to democratic governance and he asked Ugandans not to put him in the category of those who are power hungry. WELP, African Twitter wanted to reminds the world that 30 years later, he was still in office .

And I personally hate having to deal with Twitter and hashtags, but I LOVE the ability for Africans all over the continent and the diaspora, to create these powerful movements based on their lived realities and what THEY want to see change. The internet is a beautiful thing. Now will this twitter campaign cleary addressing presidential term limits (or a lack thereof) resonate with the Museveni's, Mugabe's, and Biya's of the world? Uhh probably not, but it will strike a cord with the millions of young Africans connected to Twitter, and with leadership, twitter campaigns could spark revolutions right? We shall see who wins this years Ugandan election.

Who the hell is Stitches and why is he walking women around like dogs?

HOO MY GAWD. First of all, why does this person have the creative liberties to act out such a disgraceful act for the whole internet to see? Who is this coon? [Spent 3 minutes googling] Apparently his name is Stitches, he's a 20 year old rapper and a holder of an instagram account; he is making a music video ensuring that the degradation of the female is prioritized in 2016. 

AND OF COURSE the internet trolls are already out asking "what kind of women are these?" "why would they disrespect themselves like this".....UMMM so no one is going to address the fact that it was not their music video, and perhaps, I don't know hold the artist accountable for his actions?! Why are women the first people to be questioned?