Tag Archives: black women

Chescaleigh Breaks Down the Harriet Tubman “Sex Tape”

19 Aug

Sisters of Resistance have featured the awesome YouTube comedian Franchesca Ramsey, a.k.a. Chescaleigh before, when she took on the “Shit People Say” meme with her pointed and hilarious observations of “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls.”

She recently posted a video critiquing the deeply sexist, racist and all-around offensive “Harriet Tubman Sex Tape” released by media mogul Russell Simmons last week. (Coincidentally, his video hit the Net around the time that the hashtag #blackpowerisforblackmen, started by Jamilah Lemieux of Ebony Magazine and illustrating sexist intraracial dynamics between black men and women, was trending on Twitter. Funny how that works.)

In addition to breaking down the wrongness that is the video in a smart and funny way, Franchesca also addresses the issue of social responsibility in comedy. She describes how as a black comic, she once relied on racial stereotyping to get laughs, as many other comedians have done in the past. But she was powerfully challenged by a concerned audience member to see what was problematic about this. She listened, and as a result, learned to stop relying on stereotypes (which she calls “lazy” comedy) and instead, to be funny while making social critique.

Her reflexivity and message is powerful, and especially needs to reach the ears of people whose voices and impact are widespread – people like Uncle Russell “Hustle” Simmons, who has weakly apologized for the video and pulled it from the web. In order to shine up his image (we suspect), he has tweeted about having his apology accepted by Harriet Tubman’s descendants (who are not the only ones he needs to ask forgiveness from!) and producing a miniseries on Frederick Douglas. Let’s just hope he has learned the lesson that Franchesca makes so clear – that claiming “it’s only comedy” is no excuse for eschewing social responsibility, and that all of us have a responsibility to reflect on our actions and contribute positively to the world in which we live.

Franchesca’s recent vlog is below. Follow her on Twitter or check out her YouTube channel here.

Update 22 Aug 2013: An Open Letter to Russell Simmons from Harriet Tubman’s Great Great Grandniece (we knew his claim that they “accepted his apology” was dodgy!)

Related Posts:

Why White People Talk Shit about “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls”

London 2012 Olympics: Unwrapped

27 Aug

In the wake of the 2012 London Olympics, we are cross-posting Ashok Kumar‘s radical analysis of the elite-serving “tradition”/distraction of the masses that is the Olympic Games. You can read the complete article at Ceasefire Magazine.

We close with links to a number of articles from various sources who don’t all agree with our stance on the Olympics, but provide critical insight into the ways women athletes of color are scrutinized rather than celebrated for their accomplishments, a particularly ignominious trend in light of such overwhelming successes this year.

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Hosting the Olympics is often presented to us as an ideologically neutral opportunity to boost tourism and sports. In a thought-provoking piece Ceasefire Magazine’s Ashok Kumar outlines a clear and consistent, yet barely noticed, pattern of the Games being used to fundamentally restructure the host City to the purposeful exclusion of its working class and ethnic minority residents.

As London prepares to host the 2012 Summer Olympics, startlingly little critique has surfaced in the mainstream press. With the exception of the trivial issue of ticket prices, most of the city remains transfixed, internalising the dominant narrative. This process precedes each Olympic games, one that is written and distributed by and for the real Olympic profiteers; a nexus of powerful interests that sees both short and long term gains in each host city.

This highly profitable, publicly subsidised, sporting event always attracts the major, and wannabe major, cities of the world, using any and all methods to entice an unaccountable Olympic committee, each flexing their political muscle to ensure theirs is the next chosen location. The Olympics take billions of pounds, yen, dollars of their host countries’ tax revenue to build magnificent stadiums and housing facilities, militarise the city, trample civil liberties and construct elaborate installations with shelf lives of a few weeks.

Read the rest of Ashok Kumar’s article at Ceasefire Magazine.

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Haters Need to Shut the Hell Up About Gabby Douglas’ Hair [Jezebel]

The Gabby Douglas Hair Controversy…Unwrapped [Sporty Afros]

Caster Semenya and athletic excellence: a critique of Olympic sex-testing [Somatosphere]

UK weightlifter Zoe Smith responds to criticism of women’s weightlifting as “unfeminine” [Zoe Smith’s Blog]

Racist/sexist/ageist disbelief  of Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen’s world record [The Guardian]

Racism and prejudice against Serena Williams’ celebratory dance [The Guardian]

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And to anyone seeking to belittle the great feats of athleticism these women have achieved, we got one thing for you:

Sisters Talking Back (Challenging Dominant Narratives)

23 Jun

Sisters of Resistance have recently read some powerful sisters talking back, challenging racist, sexist stereotypes of the dominant white male power structure. 

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Lauryn Hill has spoken back against the poisonous nature of the music industry in a powerful statement available here.

Erykah Badu has directly addressed those who seek to badmouth her because of her third child here. 

Lastly, this in depth article analyses “respectability politics” and how they can be oppressive for black women in particular, making reference to the racist film The Help and Erykah Badu. 

Why White People Talk Shit about “Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls”

16 Jan

“Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls,” parts 1 and 2, by actress and comedian Franchesca Ramsey are recently released YouTube parodies of the “Shit Girls Say” series that have gone viral. Predictably, the videos are causing an uproar amongst white people attacking what they see as Ramsey’s “racism”, when in fact what she is doing is illustrating, in no uncertain terms, some of the many ways racism continues to be inflicted on people of color.

Sisters of Resistance read an excellent article over at New Black Woman critiquing these kinds of responses, some of which we would like to share with you here. In it, she explains why white people have reacted so vehemently to what Ramsey has brought to the surface with her videos, which are the”microaggressive” forms of racism experienced by people of color on a daily basis. She also reminds those who took offense of the historical and structural context that makes it impossible for Black people and other people of color to commit racism against white people. We encourage you to read the whole article for its insightful analysis.

And for further info on the topic, check out this article by Jamilah King, over at one of our favorite anti-racist news sources, Colorlines.com, and hear what Franchesca Ramsey herself had to say about the reactions.

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Women We Admire: Wangari Maathai (1940-2011)

16 Oct
Wangari Maathai

Africa's Green Queen

WHO SHE IS: Wangari Maathai (1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011), Kenyan feminist, environmental and political activist.

WHAT SHE HAS ACCOMPLISHED: In the 1970s, she founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental organization that empowers women by planting trees to restore their environments. She was one of the first to pioneer this practice among  grassroots campaigns for environmental conservation.  According to The Guardian, “Her disdain for the economics promoted by Britain, the World Bank, and the west was huge: ‘The people at the top of the pyramid do not understand the limits to growth and they do not appreciate that they jeopardize the capacity of future generations to meet their own needs,’ she said.

Her solution, to work with the poorest and most vulnerable women to repair their own degraded environments and empower themselves, proved inspirational. Planting trees became a worldwide symbol of hope and community regeneration. The Green Belt Movement she started evolved into one of the first truly worldwide, grassroots, self-help organisations.” (John Vidal, Guardian, 27 Sept. 2011)

Women of the Green Belt Movement planting trees

Over the next 20 years, tens of billions of trees were planted by women as a direct result of her work. For this, she became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2004) for “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.”  She is known as one of Kenya’s greatest heroes of the last 50 years.

WHY WE LOVE HER: Mathaai’s politics was on point and her principles were put into practice. She combined environmentalism and feminism; she built an ecofeminist movement that went worldwide, united female poverty and environmental concerns to fight against patriarchy and for climate justice.  She was fearless, responding to extreme political repression with public acts of resistance, such as home barricades, hunger strikes and clashes with the police. Through it all, she wore traditional dress, repping for her culture. She remained defiant in her personal life as well, refusing to allow her husband to control her. Her passion, her example,  and the grassroots model she used will continue to inspire women as we fight for revolutionary change.

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