Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Welcome to 2015

It's been a long time since I posted. I have been debating whether or not I want to come back to Loudish or not. I felt like I fell off because I didn't know what I wanted to do with this blog. Like, did I want it to be personal or not? Did I want to stick to a smaller range of topics? Or did I want it to be a free-for-all where I write whatever I want to write?

I wasn't sure, so I decided to let the blog sit until I felt like writing again. I had started to feel like I was only writing certain things to please other people. And I have been restructuring my life and my relationships over the past few years since I've been an adult, trying to set boundaries and rid myself of poisonous friendships and family relationships.

I originally wanted this to be a blog about my opinions, but focusing in on race and atheism and feminism, because these are all issues that affect me, and I enjoy writing about them. But I also want to discuss relationships, specifically toxic relationships, and emotional abuse, which I feel black folks don't talk about enough. I have been dealing with emotional abuse my entire life, but any time I mention this to a black person they basically tell me to get over it. So this is something I would like to address.

I also would like to write about my life. Not the boring day to day shit, but I do have a lot of cool shit going on. For instance, I finally gave in to my inner urges and changed my major to Interdisciplinary Arts with a focus in Digital Studio Practice and Film/Animation. I am still writing. I'm also making a webcomic.

I was thinking about killing this blog and moving over to my tumblr blog. I can only manage so many things at a time. I have tumblr, an Instagram, a Twitter, and Facebook. Hmm. Listing it makes me realize that it's not that much, hahaha. I'm thinking on it, y'all.

I just want to take this blog in a direction where I can sustain the energy to update at least once a week. I don't know if anybody is still reading it, but I know that I just want this blog to touch people. And I want to stop writing to please others. I want to write about what I care about. Some of the stuff I wrote about before I don't like anymore. So I'm probably gonna do an entire rehaul of Loudish if I decide to keep doing it. I probably will. So what I will do is take majority of my old posts and turn them back into drafts. If you want any of my old posts I'll email them or something. But I'm probably gonna start from scratch.

I'm feeling hopeful now, I think I've talked myself back into doing this :D

Thanks for listening, self.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Drunk in Love: Bey-Hive Feminism and Black Female Respectability Politics

All over the blogosphere black and white women alike are discussing whether or not Beyoncé should be "allowed" her feminism or condemning Bey-hive fanatics for their undying loyalty to Beyoncé Knowles. There are also articles discussing the opposite, stating that some black women just hate Beyoncé because she's light-skinned, has money, etc. I hesitate to join this conversation because I have found that some people are so passionate about the subject of Bey on either side. I take no sides. I happen to like some of Beyoncé's music. I think she is a very talented performer. I'm not looking to discuss whether she is feminist or not because she clearly self-identifies as a feminist. Feminism is about freedom of choice, and the power to freely make decisions. That's not to say that pop culture shouldn't be discussed or critiqued--I know that there are some who are just going to say, "Why is there so much talk about a freaking pop star?" But it is important to discuss these things and how they affect us on a larger scale. How are we to grow, otherwise? But the discussion of whether Bey is a feminist or not is not what intrigues me most.

No, what intrigues me most is the virgin/whore dichotomy that continues to be perpetuated in many feminist circles. This sentiment is especially strong in Black feminist circles and I believe much of it has to do with Christian "ethics" and learned patriarchal attitudes. It seems that a black woman cannot be sexual without being constantly judged. A black woman is only allowed to be a certain kind of sexy. Everything has to be done "to taste." No matter how much we try to avoid politics when it comes to our hair, our clothes, and our skin, we cannot escape the public judgment that comes along with being born a black female. Everything we are and do is inherently political by the mere factor of our birth in this country where most positions of wealth and power are owned by "white" Americans and most of us are poor or struggling.

I have seen Beyoncé being constantly denigrated and reviled for everything from being light-skinned to making pop music to coining "bootylicious." Let me just be frank here. Beyoncé is light-skinned. No, she cannot control that but, like any black woman she probably knows what that means and how it plays into her success in the music industry. But what about the discussion she has opened up about the boundaries of black female sexuality? Most of the time it seems like we can only be a certain way. We have to be pure and virginal, and purer and even more virginal than white girls. There's always this comparison to white girls and how they just "go wild" in their teenage years, and black girls have to be purer than them. Why is that? Is it because we're soiled by nature? Going back to slavery there has been this idea that black women are easy. That if the white man took it you must have let him have it. And it's easier to think that way, easier for black men and women and others to place blame that way, rather than looking at the source.

Beyoncé owns her sexuality. Yeah, she may have had to play into certain stereotypes to get where she is today, but she is running her own show now. A bish has to eat. Why is everyone up in arms over her singing about boning her husband? Hell, I want to write songs about fucking my man sometimes. Do we not all fuck our men or women? Is that not something to sing about? Do we not need songs to fuck to? You see, R. Kelly just put out "Black Panties" after "Love Letter." He has songs on there titled "Marry the Pussy," "Crazy Sex," and "Throw This Money on You." I don't see a whirlwind of discussion on whether he's a whore or over-sexed or not. Yet there is this constant policing of Beyoncé over her singing about how her man is looking at her fatty. It's because she's a woman-- and a black woman and that! How dare she be half-naked in her music video? Who does she think she is, Madonna? Only a white woman can show her body and have it be artistic. But if a black woman does it it has to be because she has nothing else going for her. It must be because she's trying to be noticed or because she's an oversexed slut.

Historically, black women have often sang positively about "pussy power," in Blues music especially. Though many black folks would have you believe that black women were way more modest "back in the day," the reality is that there were women who sang about sex and money and female power just like they do now. They may not have called it feminism, but there is a lot of music from back then that exudes womanism and joy in being a woman. There's nothing wrong with a little power play in sex. Sexiness is part of the Beyoncé brand. I like seeing a black woman who is comfortable with her body. Especially a woman who has had issues with her weight at one point or another, and has made a point of being honest about it. That being said: Black women have always had their bodies put on display or publicly policed. We have always been sexualized and treated as objects. We were valued for our flesh and what it could offer and not for our minds. I get why so many black people, especially women, are taken aback or otherwise offended by Beyoncé. For so long we have attempted to erase the stains of forced breeding and public humiliation by becoming good Christian girls and waiting until we're married in order to regain our dignity and respectability. I get that. But, all other issues aside, isn't it time to let go of these "respectability politics" and widen our definition of what a black female feminist can be? No we should not conflate sexiness with feminism because sexiness does not equal feminism and vice versa. But we can say that being sexy or a sex worker or dying one's hair blonde does not exclude one from being a feminist.

Black women have been stereotyped and pigeon-holed into these boxes for so long I wonder if we'll ever get out. Either we're too angry or too uptight or too sexy or too something. Can we not be all flavors? Can we escape from this group mentality and realize that each of us is our own self within this tribe we call "blackness?" Can Beyoncé be feminist and still make fun pop songs? Can she enjoy being sexy and find power in that? I think many black women are afraid of the influence Beyoncé has and legions of young girls and women who follow her. There is a legitimate fear that, because Beyoncé is one of the few powerful and immediately recognizable Black celebrities, young (black) girls will think that being sexy and light-skinned and blonde is the only way to be respected or noticed. There is still this (mostly correct) impression that we have to work much harder to be respected and noticed at all in this world. We have to prove our worth not only to others but to ourselves, daily. Yes, we should be free as women to find sexuality empowering if we so choose. But we should also be free to choose otherwise. Does this mean we should police each other and criticize Beyoncé for making music she enjoys and profiting from it? No. But it does mean that we should continue to have open discussions on how pop culture and media opens and influences us.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Is This an Atheist Movement? And, if so, What are We Doing?

I am becoming more and more open about my many isms every day. I am a humanist, atheist, feminist, Afrofuturist young woman. I write this blog because I love talking about these things, I love debates (even though none of y'all ever comment on the actual blog), and I want to encourage those atheists of color, especially women. I want you to know that you are not alone.

I am not a big fan of religion. At all. It is useless to me. I never needed those kinds of comforts, even as a child. Honestly, I believe that I was one of those few who never truly believed the things I was told. Because of this many people assumed that I thought I was above them, or smarter than them. I was always asking too many questions. My curiosity is never sated. I devour knowledge. I stay busy. That's who I am. But every atheist or nonbeliever or freethinker or whatever isn't like that. Likewise, some of us are more comfortable with the word atheist than others. It's kind of like the word "feminist" or "Republican." It's a trigger-word. It's a teeth-grinding, butt-chafing, eye-roll-inducing word. It makes a lot of people angry or fearful.

A lot of us refer to this whole atheism thing as a "movement." Many of us are banding together and forming groups or organizations. We are discussing religion and engaging in, sometimes, lively debates. Some of us are very public and outspoken about non-belief, some aren't. There are many different shades of atheism. A lot of the time I find myself wondering: Can this really be considered a movement? What makes this a movement? Yes, the fact that any of us are even speaking on atheism as people of color is a huge step forward in terms of dialogue. But what are we trying to accomplish as a group? A lot of us come from extremely different backgrounds. We all came to our unbelief or non-belief in different ways. Some of us never really "believed" at all. There are many different personalities under this here umbrella.

Most of us have already seen or experienced racism (or sexism) or just plain ignorance from supposedly "enlightened" atheists. I have heard some "smart" black atheist men say some terrible things about black women (and vice versa). Just because we agree on one thing does not mean we agree on any others, and many of these attitudes stem from cultural habit. Habits are hard to break.

If this is a movement, what are our goals? Many of us participate in online groups and communities. We are spread out all over the U.S. What do we, as a group, hope to accomplish by being more open and vocal about our atheism? Acceptance? More complete separation of church and state? Are we hoping to normalize non-belief? To stop people from teaching creationism in our kids' schools? To bring African Americans out of the fields of ignorance and into the house of understanding?

Is part of our goal social justice? Note that because of cultural and economic differences, black atheist (and other atheists of color) and white atheists might not have the same goals. For example, where my goal may be gaining some acceptance and working to get my people to stop forking over their hard-earned cash to churches and start investing in their future (Social Justice Issues), a white person's goals might be to eradicate religion or focus on Secularism and science-based issues. Same difference for those who come from working-class backgrounds versus middle-class or wealthy. We all have differing concerns. So where do we meet?

Things like this are why Atheism plus pops up. A lot of atheists say, "Stop making atheism into a movement. All it is is a non-belief. So there." Okay, whiny atheists. But what about those people like me whose atheism has been a vehicle for change in their life? What about me, a black woman who sees her people wasting their lives and money praying and tithing and kneeling to a god who could give two shits about them? All because life is so fucked up they feel that is their only glimmer of hope?

Could Atheism be a vehicle for change in the black community and the world at large? Could we nerds and geeks and in-between freaks be gearing up for something spectacular? An intellectual or cultural Renaissance perhaps?

What do y'all think? Comment below.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Creative Writing/Poem

[dedicated to Jay Cavaciay from the Black Atheist group, who inspired me to post this poem/song I wrote a few months ago LOL]


You say there's a reason
and a season for eveything If only I could listen I could see everything And wash away this sinful glistening To find my way to walk in humility Sorry I cannot agree to be agreeable Sorry I cannot believe in the immutable
If you are looking for momentary absolution Come and find me
They say that my p*ssy is not my own Not something one can bargain for But what I got is organic grown Careful what you say your shame is showing Ask me what my price is My womanly devices Only I know what I'm worth for Planting seeds within my earth
If you are looking for momentary absolution Come and find me
I offer nothing but everything Which is myself and my own Sins are subjective But I am subjective And I will not be owned What is righteous? Or self-righteous? Only according to men Laws abiding, unabiding I can never win
If you are looking for momentary absolution...
Come and find me.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Danger of Being an AoC (Atheist of Color)

Don't get your hackles up, my dear white friends! I love y'all. My first cousins are white. (There's a joke in that last one, ha!) I'm not saying that there is no danger in being an atheist in general. That would be incredibly foolish. However, I will say that I believe that, right now in America, it is slightly more dangerous for a colored person to come out as an atheist or other various colors of nonbelief. Here's why:

Being an AOC is still somewhat isolating. Maybe not as isolating as before, what with the advent and subsequent spread of technology but still pretty damn isolating. After all, I haven't met any black or brown atheists in Milwaukee other than my Everett and myself. Well, and a couple of friends but I'm not gonna "put they life out there" like that. (Code switch!) We don't really have communities like that, although judging from the gang of mofos joining my favorite group on Facebook I can see that either more of us are beginning to question (it's the recession y'all) or there's gonna be a lot of trolling. (Captain-save-a-heathen Xtians.) It's a little bit more acceptable in the paler communities to express doubt. Especially if you're a man. There are more of you. And y'all have Hitchens, Harris, and Dawkins. There aren't a lot of AoC in the spotlight. More of us are coming out, slowly but...

Much of our communities (and I'm speaking of blacks and Mexicans especially because that's what I know) are based around the Church. We grow up in the church. At least, I did. Everyone I knew, and still know goes to church, even if it's not the same church we grew up in. They date, fall in love, socialize, etc. all in church. I learned to sing in church. I conquered my fear of speaking and singing in front of crowds in church. I love those people. But many of them would probably "unfriend me" or "dismiss me" because of my nonbelief. For all I know some of them already have. I'm not sure. I'm not good at keeping in touch with people. (#fuckpeople)

Because many of us grew up in the church, we end up being ostracized. Some of us were/are disowned. Sometimes your family feels like you are not only rejecting religion--you're rejecting them. Kind of how some parents feel when their child marries outside of their race our culture. They take it personal.

You're already black (or brown)!! Damn. People already think you're stealing all the good jobs (you know, sharecropping and cleaning and warehouse work--that good shit. $9/an hour, hombre!). And if your employer finds out? Forget about it. Especially if they're super-extra-Jesus Camp religious. You better pray to George Bush. Preferably the H-Dub. Cos, you know, his son don't run shit. Many of us already have more trouble than most getting and keeping jobs. Hell, employers are more likely to hire a white ex-con than a black man. Many of us are risking our jobs, our careers, and our security by publicly proclaiming our atheism. Proclaiming atheism in the black community is like promoting Satanism. And some crazy people will kill you for their god. Even in some parts of America (i.e. the South where they still have laws against electing atheists as government officials and fucking with the lights on.)

Odds are, you were already a little off to begin with. I know I was. All that reading and shit. And I skipped a grade? And  I had braces and my mama has a Master's? What? It was all, why you so proper? (Outsiders.) What are you reading? You think you're so intellectual. You think you know everything. Girl, you gon' marry a white man. (Family members.) Whatever geeky, nerdy or even normal shit that you're passionate about--it was, and is, probably perceived as weird by other folks around you. So now it's just like, Sigh. S/he always has to be different. S/he just tries to be contrary. Whatever. 

What are you guy's thoughts on this? Comment below.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Humanist Hump-Day: Conversation with Shoeresh Coppage (on Youtube)

Shoeresh and I kept missing each other and this past week we finally got to sit down and Skype to do this profile. It's actually more of a conversation (they all are lol) but it's so nice to connect with other nonbelievers and hear what they have to say about the world. There really are so many persepectives out there, proving that all atheists are not the same. Listen as he and I discuss Social Justice/Activism, the impact or non-impact of atheism on our relationships (romantic or otherwise), parenting and the afterlife.

I put the video on YouTube because it was too long to upload to Blogger. Access it here.

Shoeresh Coppage is co-founder of the Black Nonbelievers of Detroit. He has a background in Sales and Accounting but is an (still?) aspiring actor/screenwriter. He is the proud father of two children and is married to their gorgeous mother. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Guest Post: First Impression of Contradiction

by Shoeresh Coppage

 “Contradiction,” the new feature length documentary by Jeremiah Camara, can be described in many ways, but what comes to mind before anything else is “thorough.”

I had the pleasure of seeing a cut of this film in Chicago. There were two screenings held on Tuesday (11/19/13) and  Wednesday (11/20/13), I attended the latter.

Being familiar with two of Camara’s books, “Holy Lockdown,” and “The New Doubting Thomas,” and his web series, “Slave Sermons,” there was a bit of anticipation for this film on my part. My expectations were exceeded. It is, simply put, one of the best documentaries, addressing religion from a non-theistic perspective, that I have ever seen.  

Focusing on the African American community’s almost complete devotion to religion, it deconstructs this relationship, asking questions of clergy such as Martin Luther King III, devotees, Humanist personalities such as Dan Barker, scientists such as Lawrence Krauss, and scholars. It does not pull any punches, yet doesn’t come off as snarky or condescending. It is apparent that this is a labor of love, and Camara’s motivation comes from a good place: Instigating a dialogue about theism among African Americans, which is long overdue.

Its value as a tool for education cannot be overstated. The information presented is so compact and detailed that this film deserves to be the perennial example of the thought processes that lead to and reinforce non-belief among people from any background. The danger that this film will be forced into the “Black film” box is very real and would devalue this movie’s importance; that is, any theist from any background can walk away from this film with an understanding of the mind of their non-believing family and friends.

This is why it is important for the larger Humanist, atheist, and freethinking community to support this film. It must be distributed widely, and the key to this is its initial success at screenings across the country. This is not a film just for African Americans, but a film to inspire sincere dialogue between atheists and their families and friends, that focuses specifically on African American issues to illustrate broader points: The nexus of theism and sexism, anti-intellectualism, exploitation and promotion of ignorance, dependency, co-opting the struggle for liberty and freedom by the religious, etc. These are but a few subjects.

To put it another way: The non-believing community as a whole must promote and support this film to ensure that theists have an opportunity to see it. Ultimately, this labor of love is for them, not us-if we do not do the work to bring it to them, and the theaters are filled only with nones, then we have accomplished nothing more than masturbation-a contradiction to the ideals of freethought and liberty that many claim to represent.

To get an idea of this movie’s importance, view the trailer for Contradiction below:

Shoeresh Coppage on Facebook