27 August 2008

the august escape & fall in new york city

Okay, so I kinda missed august and dropped the ball on my response to part two of the hot mess that was CNN's Black in America on "The Black Man." Luckily I kept my notes and its been in progress. So here it is finally (even though it is beyond late) - just some food for thought and because it will be relevant to some of my future postings... But first, an update on me and my first month in new york city :) I successfully defended my dissertation on July 29th :) packed and moved in August... Strangely but not surprisingly I am missing da'ville... Mostly I miss my peeps, my crew, my community, but we're still with each other in spirit and cyberspace :)

(This posting date says Aug 27th cause I started working on it back then, it is now actually Sept 24th)

Meanwhile, in new york, I am settling in and adjusting to city life. Fall has just arrived and my tropic self is not prepared for winter. But since I have little choice in the matter, I gats to get ready... As colder days approach, I am hard at work on various projects and transitioning from graduate student to post-diss life and postdoctoral research and book proposal. It is crazy, but yeah I am finally on the other end, staring down the long list of more work, more reading, more research, and more writing that will be my career and life as an emerging academic... I am learning/adjusting to life after defense, actually being Dr. Angelique V. Nixon and what that all means, letting it roll off my tongue and hear it out loud and feel it and know it to be true... but the hardest thing is owning it... truly owning it. I am sure it will come with time, and so I am grateful for the postdoc fellowship cause it is giving me that time, as well as giving me time to work on transforming the dissertation into a book (or at least starting the process). I feel inspired by the move and very motivated to do the work. And I plan to focus on my creative writing as well.

I am loving new york city - it is dramatic, daring, and delicious. I am slowly getting the hang of things/tings. There is way too much to do, and yet I am determined to make the most of my year and do as much as I can. In a way, I feel remarkably comfortable in its streets, but at the same time, I feel out of place. Every day though, I feelin more and more in place, mostly on the side lines, driving forward and pushing through.

Part Two response (better late than never... I hope :) and pondering the state of the world

This is clearly late for my part two response... but I've been really busy... and now I am finally getting back to responding to the second part of CNN's Black in America, "The Black Man" - which was not quite as terrible as the first one. I didn't want to scream as much as I did during the first part... Nevertheless, there were problems (multiple in fact). One glaring problem, as with the first one, why is Roland Fryer (an economist) an expert on everything Black??? why was he back on part two??? cause he's also an expert on drugs? this makes no sense... I could go on forever, but I just wanna touch on a couple issues:

- Why begin this segment with crack stories and prison without context for the prison industrial complex or unfair sentencing laws that are racist or any discussion of the drug laws and how they were created.

(But at least they talked about unemployment and the fact that racism still affects Black men getting jobs, racial stereotypes, and fear of the Black man in the United States.)

- The “successful” Black man raising his kids as “white” - We need to break down this notion that Black kids who do well in school are acting white, and the other crazy idea that education is not a black thing. Why didn't they talk about the very long history of Black Intellectuals, Scholars and Educators in the United States?

- Like the first part, this one still had no analysis of issues of class or poverty; and again this notion that there are no role models for young Black men from "the inner city” reinforcing the pathology of "no Black fathers" or the looming question of the segment - “where have all the fathers gone?” - and so they compared two different families but never talk to the women/partners of those "amazing" men who stay in their families. But of course part two was only about Black men, so apparently no need to discuss Black women (even though they talked A LOT about Black men during the "Black women and family" part).

- The show continues to pathologize the "generational problem" of Black men not being fathers, which in turn reinforces all the racialized stereotypes of Black women and the "breakdown of the Black family."

I could go on and on, and let's not even start with the bizarre and highly problematic discussion of hip hop culture and contemporary Black music. I will stop here and just say that the show was inadequate at best and dangerous at worse -reinforcing racialized stereotypes and pathologizing Black people and Black peoples lives. We deserve better. We deserve more complicated readings and studies of our lives. We deserve truly diverse representations of ourselves that account for the DIFFERENCES that comprise Blackness in "America" and beyond (i.e. in terms of race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, class, spirituality, family structure, and so on). (for example: The show in NO way dealt with Black migrants from the Caribbean, Latin America, or Africa - in fact, the show did not even account for Soledad's own identity of being mixed and Afro-Cuban.)

Most of all, we deserve to not be reduced to stereotypes and caricatures. Can our human lives have value, as the great Sylvia Wynter theorizes about, in a world where capital and money are the driving forces, not humanity?

I dedicated my dissertation "for the struggle, to be human, Black woman, and free" because this is what preoccupies me now - especially in these regressive moments where it seems people believe we live in a color-blind, gender-equal world, where we can't really talk about race or gender, not to mention class, sex, or sexuality - a world that is increasingly racist, sexist, classist, repressed, xenophobic, and homophobic but there is little to no public discourse about what these actually mean... I've been watching way way too much t.v. since I've been in new york (someone let me have free channels :) and since I haven't watched t.v. regularly in many years, it has been a "learning" experience... This has re-confirmed for me that public discourse and so-called journalists really don't engage at all with these issues. I watched "The View" the other day and the five women on that show (including Barbara Walters) could not define sexism... I knew something was terribly wrong at that moment...

more rantings and musings to follow...
conscious wibes from Angelique in new york...


Mary said...

ohh im jealous.. i miss new york, I always get wistful for it in the fall.. send me pics will you?
hope ur well. xoxo MBB

Solangé said...

Thumbs up for this conscious vibe!