In her debut novel, composed of a collection of personal essays, Kendrick gets candid about the complex reality of navigating Black womanhood.
From exploring religion and spirituality on her own terms to subverting the expectation that all (Black) women aspire to motherhood, Kendrick writes for every Black girl or woman who has felt the exhaustion of carrying the world’s expectations on her back.
In many of Kendrick’s anecdotes, you will see yourself. Like when the New Orleans-born writer discusses the occurrence of being labeled “one of those Black women” (i.e.: one who doesn’t accept the status quo of her community simply because it’s familiar). Or when she highlights that starting anew in a big city isn’t just for “the twenty-something backpacker.”
But, if you don’t exactly see yourself in Kendrick’s story, you may find commonality in other Black women’s stories whose quotes are woven throughout each essay. And who’s contribution to the novel is equally as vital.
For example, alongside Kendrick, Sabrina — a divorced mother in her forties — also talks of challenging herself to pick up and move to a new location. Grace wants to be free from the expectation that her life is solely devoted to others to the expense of her own autonomy. Natasha thinks we should show compassion and empathy to mothers who don’t fit society’s burdening stereotype of “the perfect mom.”
What makes this particular book special is that there’s a sense of community in this memoir, which accurately reflects the nature of Black womanhood. As is noted in the novel, Black women are substantially shaped by our ancestry, community, family, and friends. We are so often the backbone of the communal relationships in our lives.
Although, because of this last point, No Thanks encourages Black women to reconsider what it means to be selfish.
The second chapter of the book titled “The S Word” explores this topic more deeply. This section touches on how the idea of selfishness is weaponized against (Black) women; especially looking at how internalized misogyny and misogynoir often lead to those critiques against other women.
“When someone is called selfish, it suggests there should be some corrective behavior. There is also an implication that thinking only of self is a direct correlation to someone else being placed in a less-than-satisfactory position,” Kendrick explains in this chapter. But what is selfish about choosing one’s own path? Or rather, what is inherently wrong with selfishly making the right decisions for you?
Typically, Black women are expected to yield to the wants and whims of everyone else, while neglecting our own desires for peace, independence, or better yet support. Kendrick refuses to be a labor mule or a martyr and instead chooses to live unapologetically and wills other Black women to do the same.
No Thanks will make you laugh, it’ll make you think, and if you’re a Black woman it’ll help you feel seen. Some of Kendrick’s tales may even make you reconsider that what other people have told you is what’s best for you. And hopefully, like Kendrick, you’ll find the courage to explore your desires and ambitions on your own terms.
Keturah Kendrick discusses all of the aforementioned themes and subjects in her podcast, Unchained. Unbothered.
Olga Bancic was a force to be reckoned with. Her bravery and determination to always stand up for what was right should be an inspiration to us all. But who was she? Bancic was born in 1912 to a working-class Romanian Jewish family, and her life wasn’t easy. She began working in a mattress factory at the age of 12 in order to support her family. The conditions spurred her to join a workers’ union and participate in a strike. Despite her young age, she was beaten and arrested by strikebreakers, sparking her strong belief in workers’ rights.
Bancic would later become a strong force in unionist and left-wing activism in Romania. She faced arrest and imprisonment multiple times, but never stopped fighting.
As fascism started to spread throughout Europe, Bancic’s political activism ramped up. She joined the Spanish Republican cause, made up of liberal democrats, socialists, communists, and anarchists, to fight the fascist takeover of Spain during the Spanish Civil War. During that time, Bancic transported weapons and assisted soldiers at the front. She, unfortunately, had to flee in 1938 when it became apparent that fascist victory was in sight. She later moved to Paris where she met and married Alexandru Jar and gave birth to their daughter, Dolores.
Bancic was always a fighter, but it was during World War II that she truly became a hero. Since Bancic and her family were Jewish, they were in grave danger when Nazi Germans occupied Paris. She and her husband left their daughter with a sympathetic French family and took up arms in the French Resistance. They joined the FTP-MOI (Francs-Tireurs et Partisans de la Main d’Oeuvre Immigrée),a group of immigrants and refugees who fought against Nazi occupiers. She took part in dozens of acts of sabotage against the Nazis occupiers, working as a manufacturer andtransporter of explosives as well asa messenger.
Unfortunately, authorities put an end to their Resistance activities in 1944, near the end of the war. As immigrants and political dissidents, they lacked the same kind of protection that other French Resistance members had. The Gestapo specifically targeted them, releasing propaganda posters denouncing them as foreign terrorists and calling for the arrest of the “Manouchian group,” so named after the group’s leader, Missak Manouchian. The French police worked with the Gestapo to arrest the fighters. Bancic and twenty of her comrades were arrested and tortured.
The courts handed down a death sentence to the entire group without a proper trial. As the only woman of the condemned group, she was executed separately from the other members. It was illegal to execute women on French grounds, so her captors cruelly executed her in Germany. Her husband and daughter survived the war and were able to keep her memory alive.
Olga Bancic was a strong and tireless advocate for human rights. She sacrificed herself for a country that disowned her and refused to protect her. France was not willing to defend her rights as an immigrant and a Jewish woman, yet she gave her life to defend the citizens of France. She faced betrayal and hostility from her government, but she fought for those who couldn’t fight.
Bancic fought to secure a better future for her daughter and so many others like her. It’s hard not to tear up reading her last letter to her daughter. In the letter, she tells her not to cry because “I believe that your life and your future will be much happier and brighter than your mother’s.” Up until her last moment, she thought of the future she hoped to secure for her daughter.
We can all learn from OlgaBancic who was willing to sacrifice everything to create a better future. She braved terrible factory conditions, antisemitism, police beatings, imprisonment, torture, warfare, and even death. She wanted to create a fair and peaceful world.
We should honor her strength and conviction and know that she did not die in vain. Bancic’s story shows us that it is not only presidents and politicians who create history but ordinary people as well. This woman, a mother, a mattress-factory worker, a convict, and a hero, was braver than some of the most famous men of her time. The world would be better off with more Olga Bancic’s. It is up to us to give power to her memory.
At five feet and eleven inches, I’m the tallest in my immediate family and it’s an aspect of my self-esteem that I constantly struggle with. But when I feel down about my lengthy stature, I remember where it comes from.
It wasn’t always gold medals and triumphs. Raised in poverty, Rudolph was born prematurely as the 20th child out of 22 siblings (yes, 22.) As a kid, she suffered from double pneumonia and scarlet fever that almost killed her, and (ironically, considering her career as a runner), had polio in her left leg that paralyzed her. Doctors told her that she would never be able to walk, and in her autobiography, Wilma: The Story of Wilma Rudolph, she discussed feeling ashamed because of her disabilities.
Rudolph wrote that, when playing with other children, “some of them would start teasing me and calling me ‘cripple’… and they would try to make me cry.”
Through consistent physical therapy, support from her parents, and her unshakable Christian faith, Rudolph began playing basketball at school without a leg brace or an orthopedic shoe by the time she was thirteen years old.
Despite her new ability to walk and play sports, she would still have to spend a lifetime experiencing racism and sexism. My great aunt grew up in the segregated South in Clarksville, Tennessee, where most of my family is from. She was often told to stop playing sports over the concern that her femininity was exclusive to being an athlete.
“You couldn’t be a lady and a good athlete at the same time,” she wrote in her autobiography. “There was a lot of talk about ‘playing sports will give you muscles, and you’ll look just like a man.'”
Thanks to her skills in basketball, Rudolph was scouted by Ed Temple to join the historically Black Tennessee State University’s (TSU) famous group of women runners, the Tigerbelles.
The all-Black Tigerbelles weren’t afforded the same luxuries as other athletes. When traveling to competitions, the runners would have to pack their own meals because segregation laws prevented them from being served in restaurants. Instead of being allowed to ride buses, the entire team would often be stuffed into one or two cars.
Despite the constant racism and sexism, my great-aunt eventually qualified for the 1956 Olympic Games when she was only 16-years-old. She was the youngest member of the United States track-and-field team at the time. At her first Olympics, Rudolph’s speed won her a bronze medal in the 400-meter relay. Following her first win, she returned to Tennessee where she studied education at TSU and plunged into training for the next Olympics.
My great-aunt was one of the most popular athletes of her time. In the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, she won gold medals in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, and the relay.
Although she retired from track and field after breaking records, Rudolph later put her education degree to use and became a schoolteacher and running coach. She created a nonprofit organization that provided underprivileged youth athletes more opportunities, paving the way for Black pride in all career fields. Rudolph continued to make strides until 1994; she passed away from brain cancer at age 54 before I was born and had the chance to meet her.
Before she died, she wrote, “I would be very sad if I was only remembered as Wilma Rudolph, the great sprinter. To me, my legacy is to the youth of America to let them know they can be anything they want to be.”
I am so proud to be related to her. Although I didn’t use my long legs that I inherited from her for sports, I have definitely applied my great-aunt’s tenacity and perseverance as inspiration throughout my life. I look at my height as a reflection of her and am constantly reminded not to let adversity keep me from my dreams.
There is no doubt that Wilma Rudolph changed the world, and knowing that her spirit breathes within me only reminds me that one day, so too will I.
In fact, only a mere 3% of Black professionals want to go back to work full-time in the office. Therefore, white professionals must reckon with what that statistic illustrates about the type of environments that workplaces have created to the detriment of their Black employees.
In the context of white-collar work settings, workplace professionalism is “working and behaving in such a way that others think as competent, reliable and respectful,” according to theAssociation of Chartered Certified Accountants. The concept of professionalism also emphasizes how people physically present themselves at work or as an extension or representation of their employer even while away from the office.
Unfortunately, though, as a result of having to learn to adapt within white workspaces, Black people have had to learn to code switch—a term coined by Einar Haugen in 1954 to describe language alternation, or the mixing of two or more languages, or dialects—manipulate our natural hair texture, or overall abandon our culture as a means for survival in the workplace. And if we fail to successfully integrate or become what white employers deem as “professional,” we risk facing punishment.
In truth, this conversation is long overdue. “Professionalism is just a synonym for obedience,” Chika Ekemezie says in an article for Zora. And she’s right. “The less social capital you have, the more you are tethered to professionalism”: meaning, performing professionalism becomes even more essential the more financially insecure a person is, which puts a lot of pressure on working-class Black Americans to conform to a status quo that centers whiteness or we risk being barred from economic and job opportunities.
Consequently, “these expectations of professionalism are so common to us — from our outer appearance to the way we behave — we begin to create different versions of ourselves, doppelgängers to help us get through the day,” Chika explains. However, having to be what is essentially “reformed” versions of ourselves for long hours of the day, five days a week, can have negative consequences on our mental health and job performance.
According to a Harvard Business Review article titled “The Cost of Codeswitching,” the authors assert: “Seeking to avoid stereotypes can deplete cognitive resources and hinder performance. [In addition] feigning commonality with [white] coworkers also reducesauthentic self-expression and contributes to burnout.”
Ultimately and unsurprisingly, workplace professionalism in the U.S. wasn’t designed with Black people and Black culture in mind. And especially in a white-dominated society, Blackness is seen as inherently unkept, unrefined, and undignified.
The idea that we can successfully keep up this illusion of professionalism to remain physically integrated with white people is ridiculous. Because the culture surrounding what constitutes professionalism has forced Black people to adhere to whiteness in a way that’s simply unnatural and unsustainable.
Even still, Black people have continued to fight a losing battle of performing respectability in the workplace that will never be good enough because the goal post for what professionalism means and who it truly applies to is always moving.
So, if there was ever a time to re-examine toxic workplace culture, it’s now. In the past year, Black communities across America have been hit hard by a global pandemic and have watched as the policing and justice system continues to have a flagrant disregard for our livelihood. And despite all of the racial injustice that was highlighted in both 2020 and 2021, the support for Black lives is at an all-time low.
Coming back to the office would only serve as an added burden on Black American’s mental and emotional well-being. Working from home, on the other hand, has finally allowed Black professionals the freedom of self-expression without having to endure the inherent racism that comes from being amongst predominantly white work environments.
Understandably, though, adjusting to telework has been difficult for many and ultimately isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to rectifying, improving, or rebuilding racist workplaces.
But whatever the case, in whatever a post-pandemic society looks like, we can’t resort back to western, white supremacist work culture just because it’s comfortable for some while disadvantageous for others. And to put it plainly, professionalism has long been about control just to remind racially marginalized communities white people hold the power and can wield it against us whenever and however they like.
In turn, there needs to be a continuous conversation for how we can accommodate Black, Indigenous, and other POC communities into the workplace all while dismantling the oppressive idea of professionalism. Because wearing a bonnet, a durag, braids, dread locs, natural hair, or just overall being unapologetically and authentically Black while working never hurt anyone.
And if we’re all working to build a more equitable society, traditional ideas of professionalism would have no place there anyway.
The day the SpaceX mission launched, I opened my social media to find various posts from friends and family members all saying the same thing: “They chose the right time to go,” “I wish I could go to space now,” “Now is the perfect time to leave Earth!” I understood what people were saying. It was a tough week, fraught with reports of coronavirus infections, murder hornets, and brutal police killings of Black Americans. The rest of the year continued to face more and more concerns. Nonetheless, all these posts seemed somewhat off to me for a reason I couldn’t pinpoint.
Now, I recognize what that feeling was. Looking over the posts again, I realized that almost every single one was made by a white person, and none were written by a single Black person. It made me wonder: why do we think we have the right to escape this? Don’t get me wrong. I understand that escapism is a natural human desire, and it’s hard to blame people for wanting to escape from a global pandemic and a racist government. But at the same time, what good does escape do?
These posts also reveal another strange phenomenon: how we view science as separate from the “real world.” Space, technology, and science are often considered exempt from our human world’s biases, wholly infallible and detached from racism, corruption, and inequality. But this isn’t true. Technology informs government policies, provides tools to corrupt police forces, and sows seeds of classism and inequality. Science informs health and medicine, two very unequal sectors of our society–as this pandemic has shown with difficulties in distributing vaccines to the most in need. Even the United States Space Program was pushed forward out of Cold-War era political tensions, driven by political motive and power. This isn’t to say that science is inherently evil or corrupt, but that it has an incredible capacity for political and social change.
Human problems don’t end when we go to space. They just change location.
Science is and has always been a human endeavor. As long as humans are involved, it will take on the biases of the people who create and study it. For example, NASA is not free from human prejudice and politics. NASA’s workforce is still about 72% white, and only a third of the employees are women. SpaceX founder Elon Musk certainly isn’t free from prejudice as well. Musk has expressed some progressive views, but he’s also courted controversy by speaking out against coronavirus lockdowns, spouting red pill rumors, and fighting union organizing. That doesn’t mean that SpaceX is necessarily racist or evil; it just means that the world of aerospace engineering is still capable of human biases.
These statements also show the wrong way we view science as totally disparate from our society. In reality, science and technology inform almost every aspect of our daily lives, from the information we receive daily to the medicine and hygiene we all need. Science is not separate from human endeavors but entirely integral to it. The world of science is not a detached fantasy world where one can ignore human problems. It is woven into every fiber of the world we inhabit now. We can use science and technology to create positive solutions, or we can ignore this opportunity and allow them to continue to enforce the status quo. Either way, we cannot ignore the impact of either of these sectors.
As attractive as it sounds, going to space will never be a true escape. People in space are still people, with all the biases, prejudices, fears, and traumas of people on Earth. Human problems don’t end when we go to space. They just change location. Science is an intrinsic part of every problem or solution that we have on Earth; it is not a distraction from our society but a fundamental aspect of it.
Most of us cannot go to space at this moment. It would be logically improbably and ethically wrong. Right now, the best thing we can do is stand our ground and stay on Earth. Hard as is it, we need you here, and now is not the time to run — or fly — away.
I had never visited Donald Trump’s Instagram page before but, when I went to check it for the first time, I found the oddest thing in the comments. Virtually every other comment was a teenager responding to his post with cyberbullying — yes, cyberbullying. All of these comments were various insulting puns with heart and fairy emojis. These comments tend to be witty bait and switches — “You made my day…worse!” or “You tried your best! Stop trying!” or other similar sentiments. Apparently, it got so bad that Trump turned off his comments. Some critics say that cyberbullying is back in a big way. But I don’t know if this is quite true.
What I do know is that members of Gen Z have been finding new ways to confront people online. Sometimes Zoomers will take aim at innocuous people they view as an easy target, such as millennial Buzzfeed readers or anime-loving band kids. Other times, they’ll go after peers and classmates. But something that has gained my interest is the “cyberbullying” of celebrities and politicians.
You might wonder: Is it cyberbullying if it’s a celebrity? Yes and no. Celebrities are still real people, as are politicians, and any form of harassment can hurt them. However, the act of bullying requires some kind of power imbalance.
Think of it this way: Back in school, bullies would usually target kids who were at least at their level or went after people they felt were less powerful. If a teenager on social media “bullies” the president, the same power imbalance isn’t there. The president isn’t a middle school child, even if he acts like one. He holds power over most of the population, meaning that the power imbalance necessary for bullying isn’t there. The same thing goes for other politicians.
What about celebrities? Well, from my experience, most celebrities who get “bullied” or “canceled” are targeted because of past problematic behavior. It can often be unfair, but most recently, people have been targeting celebrities who support Trump or refuse to speak in favor of Black Lives Matter.
One way this manifests itself is by pulling out “receipts” of racist incidents on social media. Within classrooms and college campuses, a similar pattern happens. Zoomers are perfectly willing to call out racist, sexist, and homophobic acts, especially if they can back up their claims with evidence. Most often, this involves digging up offensive social media posts or comments, rather than simply insulting someone. There are entire Instagram and Twitter accounts dedicated to exposing racists. Other generations might find it unusual, but it’s similar to the hate pages of millennials’ youth. The only difference is that these accounts have a social purpose.
These accounts function in a variety of different ways. Sometimes these accounts call for people to lose academic scholarships, college acceptances, or face disciplinary action for offensive behavior. Others have stated that they will remove the incriminating “receipts” if the person involved writes an apology or makes a donation to a relevant fund. In my experience, most just want to make sure that everyone is held accountable for their actions.
Don’t get me wrong, sometimes these accounts go too far. Sometimes they “dox” the people involved and reveal personal information. Sometimes people go as far as to send death threats and hate mail. All of these actions constitute actual cyberbullying. However, we need to separate these actions: Sending death threats to a peer or exposing them to real harm is very different from simply calling them out for racist behavior. It’s certainly different from leaving a harmless comment with a fairy emoji on the president’s Instagram account.
Cyberbullying is alive and well, but so much of this so-called “political cyberbullying” is anything but that. Let me make one thing clear: Holding someone accountable for their reprehensible statements and actions isn’t bullying, it’s justice. We should all draw the line at doxing and threats, but it’s alright to hold people responsible for their actions. At the end of the day, let kids have fun with fairy emojis and puns, so long as they direct their mockery to the right people.
My introduction to reading began when I was 15-years-old, reading (mostly One Direction) fanfiction on Wattpad. And in an attempt to keep fueling my addiction to romantic narratives, I then shifted my focus from fanfiction to Young adult and romantic comedy novels. Notably, however, one thing that was apparent in the stories I read (whether fanfiction or otherwise)— the heroines were always white.
This could have been due to my own lack of knowledge surrounding whatever diversity existed in the rom-com/YA genre, or there just weren’t many protagonists that looked like me or stories that mirrored my own sitting on bookshelves when I was a teenager.
That’s why Joya Goffney’s debut novel titled Excuse me while I ugly cry was a refreshing read for me that fulfilled my long-time affection for love stories (both self and romantic) while also providing me with narratives and characters I could deeply relate to.
Namely, the novel illustrates a compelling coming-of-age story that showcases the hardships Black girls in predominantly white communities often experience. The book does this using Quinn, the story’s protagonist, a high school senior who lives her life perpetually writing lists in her private but not-so-secure journal.
Due to this last point, an anonymous person(s) steals said journal and threatens to expose the secrets Quinn has housed there. Secrets such as “Things I would never admit out loud” and “Things to do before I graduate.” Consequently, the anonymous blackmailer now has complete ammo to expose Quinn to all who know her in more ways than one.
So on a journey to get her journal back, Quinn must team up with some unlikely allies to discover who in her school has a big enough vendetta against her to sabotage her this way. This quest of sorts takes Quinn on a much-needed journey towards finding her confidence, finding genuine and reliable companionships, learning the importance of advocating for herself, and having the vulnerability to explore life outside of hercomfort zone.
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry showcases storylines and characters that examine a side to Black girlhood many people don’t often see.This book transported me back to what it was like to be a young Black girl trying to simultaneously navigate life, dating, and friendships as best she could while living in a predominantly non-Black community.
Like me, Quinn was tasked to do the same. There’s a unique experience that accompanies Black girlhood when you’re one of few Black students in your school, and Joya nails the feelings of isolation, loneliness, of being misunderstood, or even misunderstanding others who also look like you. And Quinn was the perfect, imperfect protagonist to portray those challenges.
Quinn’s financial privilege and tokenism from her white friends mean she must unlearn the internalized racism she’s held throughout her childhood. Quinn must open herself to friendships that are mutual and supportive rather than settling for friends who constantly ‘other’ her due to her Blackness. And Quinn must let go of a fruitless childhood crush and instead allow herself to be loved by someone capable of truly loving her back.
I appreciate Joya’s decision to have Quinn be romantically involved with a Black partner, one who she doesn’t have to conform parts of herself to be with. It was significant for Quinn’s character arc to disregard whatever preconceived notions she held for Carter and let her guard come down for him. As he understands her plight perhaps more than she even realizes.
In an exclusive interview with The Tempest, Joya Goffney stated how as she got older, she began to read books more critically compared to when she was growing up. Like me, Joya grew to be disappointed in the lack of diversity within the stories she read, so she sought to contribute what was a much-needed change within the YA genre as a writer herself.
In response to Quinn and Carter’s budding romance in the novel, especially given the two of them being some of the few Black kids at their high school, Joya stated during our interview, “At the start of writing this story, I wanted a love story between a Black boy and a Back girl. I hadn’t really seen a lot of [those kinds of love stories in the past]. [And since] so much of the story deals with [Quinn’s] race and the microaggressions that she experiences, it was important that [Carter] was Black so he could relate to [Quinn’s] experiences [attending a predominantly white school].”
Not only do I welcome the diversity within the novel, I deeply appreciate Joya’s examinations of other themes like internalized racism and racial microaggressions that so many young Black kids have to unlearn or learn to fight against.
As a result, many Black girls picking up this book who are familiar with being one of few Black girls in an environment that not only doesn’t look like you but actively reminds you of your otherness will feel seen given many of the themes discussed in the novel. Hopefully, given thelove that Quinn finds in herself, her new friendships, and her new significant other, Black girls can know it’s possible to find such loves without compromising themselves or settling for people who don’t put in the work to understand them.
All in all, Porshèa Patterson-Hurst accurately sums up the greatness of Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry for Black Girl’s Create stating, “Joya Goffney has crafted a novel that examines the ways that we learn to protect ourselves as teenagers, the ways we hide all the vulnerabilities we would hate having used against us, by showing the ramifications of this exact event in Quinn’s life.”
In recent years, the YA genre has seen an influx ofdiverse narratives, and thankfully Excuse me while I ugly cry perfectly adds to the diversity that currently exists in the genre, while also providing readers with an added perspective to marginalized characters readers don’t normally see. For that, I’m so grateful for this novel.
In our interview together, Joya teased that she has even more stories in the works. In turn, we will all be on the edge of our seats, waiting for whatever new project Joya decides to drop next!
Vulvasations is a Tempest Love exclusive series dedicated to spreading awareness about the female reproductive system, debunking myths about periods and dissecting everything vajayjay related. Let’s talk about vaginas!
I was today years old when I discovered a person could be born with two vaginas.
It was a typical Thursday night for me. I was swiftly approaching too many hours spent scrolling on TikTok when I stumbled upon a now-viral video posted by TikTok user @britsburg, Brittany Jacobs. Like most stitched TikToks, the video started with a prompt: What is something a doctor completely ignored you about when clearly there was something wrong? Jacobs immediately claims, “I’m about to own this!”
And own it she does. Jacobs goes on to reveal she was born with two vaginas. This is actually a rare genetic condition known as double uterus or uterus didelphys, which means a person is born with two uteri and potentially two cervixes as well. Typically, a baby’s uterus originates from two small tubes called Mullerian ducts that eventually fuse together while the baby is still in its mother’s womb. With uterus didelphys, however, the tubes never fuse and instead remain divided by a thin membrane.
Pretty cool, right? Well, not exactly.
Jacobs explains that every month, she experiences two painful periods, heavy bleeding, and painful sex. When she was pregnant with her son, she only carried on one side. The only reason she found out about her condition is because a nurse noticed it when she was giving birth to her son.
My first thought after watching this TikTok a few more times was how did the doctors not catch this earlier? As a 25-year-old woman, Jacobs has technically been going to the doctors for 25 years, including gynecologist and obstetrician-gynecologist (OBGYN) visits. The side effects she listed should have clued her doctors into her condition long before she delivered her son.
But this isn’t actually all that shocking when we take into account how modern medicine often fails minority communities.
Historically, medical institutions have long upheld racism and sexism. This deadly combination has culminated for hundreds of years and put many BIPOC in danger. Black women especially are often taken advantage of and dismissed by practicing doctors to this day, with many Black women going on TikTok to discuss why doctors need to do better.
In fact, doctors’ implicit race- and gender-based bias has put many Black women in jeopardy. The medical industry’s malpractice has contributed to horrible statistics like 40% of Black women being more likely to die from breast cancer compared to white women and Black women being three times more likely to suffer from severe complications from childbirth than white women—both of which could be lower if proper care had been provided by medical professionals.
While egregious facts like these have roots tracing back throughout U.S. history, it’s important to note that “history” doesn’t always mean very long ago.
In the 20th century alone, federally-funded programs included forced sterilizations of immigrants, people of color, including 70,000 Native American women, poor people, unmarried mothers, people with disabilities, and the mentally ill. And, like most of American racism, this practice carried over into the 21st century. Between 2006 and 2010, California prisons authorized the sterilization of 144 female inmates, a majority of whom were Black or Latina.
Let’s say Jacobs did share her ailments with her doctors prior to her pregnancy. Even then there is still the possibility that her doctors dismissed her pain because she’s a woman.
In the 19th century, “hysteria” was often used to “diagnose” women and force them into mental institutions. At the time, it was perfectly okay for husbands to admit their wives to these institutions without the women’s consent. Postpartum depression, infertility, masturbation, and homosexuality were also reasons women were placed in mental institutions.
It’s important to know this history, wrought with the trauma and pain of racism and sexism because we need to be better about holding the medical industry accountable.
I think one of the reasons why we as a society have failed at this is because of doctor dramas like Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs, The Good Doctor, House, and more—all of which can be viewed as the medical equivalent of Brooklyn Nine-Nine cop propaganda.
Doctor dramas often show medical professionals going the extra mile to deliver care to their patients. For example, Meredith Grey has been suspended, fired, arrested, and jailed throughout her story’s 17 seasons. She usually faces these consequences because she broke rules in order to help save her patients.
But doctors outside of dramas are not always known for having this same level of dedication. Many of my friends and coworkers struggle with chronic illness and have shared stories about having to convince their doctors to take them seriously and administer a diagnosis.
In addition, people with disabilities reportedly receive inferior health care because less than 20 percent of medical schools teach their students how to talk to patients with disabilities. Furthermore, patients with disabilities are often otherized, which adds a psychological toll for these patients who are already having to advocate for and even explain their medical care to their doctors.
Though we’re told to trust our doctors, this is often easier said than done for many communities. Women of color, especially Black and Native American women, and people with disabilities face discrimination in the medical industry every day, with many people struggling for years to demand proper medical treatment. If our doctors don’t see anything wrong with that, then they are part of the problem.
Every so often on social media, conversations arise comparing Black parenting styles to white ones, and I’ve noticed an unsettling pattern. It seems what Black people tend to associate with Black parenting styles is negative or downright abusive characteristics: disregarding their children’s boundaries, corporal punishment, and humiliation. Conversely, Black people often associate white parenting styles with kind forms of nurturing: effectively listening to their children, being understanding, offering empathy, and respecting their children’s boundaries.
However, as accurately stated in an article for BBC, “Many black parents identify the refusal to spank as “white,” viewing white parents as too permissive and not in proper control of their children, especially in public spaces.” Notably, a few years back, it was even a common occurrence to see Black parents publicly humiliating their children as a form of discipline for all of social media to see.
In fact, statistics prove Black parents do tend to be considerably harsher with punishing their children, and there is some historical context to be explored as to why. Black parenting methods are a reflection of the harm and abuse we experienced during slavery. In turn, Black parents often discipline their kids in similar ways plantation owners abused enslaved people.
Now, however, Black parents strongly believe beating children into behavioral correction can save them from the dangers Black kids are likely to face outside of their homes. Even though, the idea that you can beat a human being into submission or into performing good behavior directly correlates with the institutional practices of slavery.
Correspondingly, America’s refusal to directly address the harm slavery has had on the Black community causes Black people to continue internalizing trauma without any healthy outlet to properly heal. This cycle of unchecked trauma, which is now arguably an inherent aspect of Blackness stemming from slavery, ultimately comes at the expense of Black children.
The idea that spanking can effectively correct children’s behavior is not supported by facts or statistical evidence. Consequently, the practice of spanking in the Black community is continued for two reasons: firstly, I suspect the use of corporal punishment on Black kids provides Black parents a feeling of superiority or control they don’t have outside of their household.
Secondly, Black parents are trying and failing to save or prepare their kids from the repercussions of living in a racist society. This notion is seemingly well-intentioned. However, it normalizes abuse as a form of love, furthering the cycle of trauma in a manner more subdue.
Racism partly thrives off convincing Black parents to forcefully get Black kids to conform to white supremacy. This is supported in a newsletter article for the American Psychological Association (APA). Dr. Stacey Patton examines how racial trauma has influenced Black parent’s use of corporal punishment. The article explains how the American slave trade purposefully targeted African youth.
As a result, kids that grew up in enslavement became adults and “were under tremendous pressure to shape their [own] children into docile field workers and to teach them proper deference and demeanor in front of whites,” Patton states. So are born familiar phrases like “this hurts me more than it hurts you:” a phrase commonly used by Black parents to justify their perpetuation (whether intentional or not) of abuse.
Dr. Patton also wrote a compelling article for the New York Times detailing her own experience with the negative effects of corporal punishment. Because of the abuse she endured, Dr. Patton ran away at 12-years-old, ending up in foster care. As an adult, she came to realize the direct harm beatings had on her as a child and had to spend part of her adulthood unpacking her trauma in therapy.
Henceforth, the current generation of Black youth must break cyclical family trauma for the sake of our own kids and our kid’s kids. With modern studies coupled with the ability to have nuanced, cultural conversations on social media, we can now understand that spankings and humiliation tactics have been historically harmful to Black children.
Black trauma is cyclical. Therefore, going forward, the way we as a community can remedy those toxic perceptions of Black parenting is by recognizing the trauma of our past and present, regarding both our lineage and personal childhood experience.
We must be the generation of parents that recognize beating Black kids into good behavior benefits no one. It’s on us to change the narrative surrounding Black parenting to be something universally positive and leave this cycle of trauma in the past. To ensure future generations of Black kids can have a healthy and nurturing development as all children deserve.
It’s Sunday night and I stumble across the trailer for Ginny and Georgia. The words, “we’re like the ‘Gilmore Girls’ — but with bigger boobs,” play on-screen and I’m instantly intrigued. Because who doesn’t love a mother-daughter duo tv show? More so, when it references the ultimate feel-good Stars Hollow fantasy. So of course I started watching the show expecting something light, but wow, was I wrong. There was so much in this show, maybe too much for me to unpack in one article but here are my thoughts:
Ginny (played by Antonia Gentry) is a fierce feminist and a seemingly strong-headed teenager who was raised by her single mom, Georgia (Brianne Howey).
“Life is a battle and beauty is a goddamn machine gun.” – Georgia
Georgia is a sassy force of nature, and we see that over the flashbacks that are peppered through the narrative and her will and determination to protect herself and her children at all costs. She’s always dressed for success – on a mission to dominate a world that was cruel and unfair to her. And yet, she doesn’t stop at anything. She wears her armour like a second skin and no one is given permission to pierce it.
The series begins with Georgia moving to Wellsbury with her two children, Ginny and Austin (Diesel La Torraca). Ginny and Georgia have a fascinating relationship and the mother-daughter duo is complex if anything. They come across as best friends and yet as the show progresses, cracks begin to form within their relationship and ends in ashes (pun intended).
“I’ve accepted that everything that sparks joy is cancerous, and I love string cheese. I’m embracing death.” -Maxine
Ginny instantly finds a new friend in the girl next door, Maxine. She’s full of life, energy and drama – she’s the girl we’re rooting for throughout the series. But along with an introduction to Max, Ginny meets her broody (so typical) twin brother, Marcus. How much do we live for the bad boy trope on tv? But I’m not complaining, cause for me, it worked. Meanwhile, Georgia has already been spotted making her moves on the town’s Mayor, Paul (Scott Porter) who FYI is George Tucker from Hart of Dixie!!! The show was really chasing those small-town feels. It’s clear front the onset of the show that Georgia has a dark past, one that she’s been running from her entire life and that she tends to find a new man in every place she ventures (as Ginny states).
There’s one flashback in particular that resonated with me deeply and I wish they had given this plotline more to unpack. But since they didn’t, I’m here to introduce you to my favourite character, Joe (Raymond Ablack). Firstly, can we just acknowledge how beautiful this man is? His charisma, persona and all-around good guy VIBES were just killing it throughout and I was rooting for him and Georgia to end up together. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We see a 15-year-old Georgia finding out she’s pregnant at a rest stop, when she meets a young boy (Joe) who shares half of his sandwich with her. He tells her he’s from this town called Wellsbury and ends up giving her his black ray bans. It’s this adorable, whimsical and purely sweet moment. When Joe realizes that Georgia is the girl from the stop he gave his glasses to all those years ago – he’s ready to finally confess his love for her. And damn, was I there for it.
But alas, she was already engaged to Mayor Paul. What struck me about this plotline, in particular, was that Georgia was always determined. She wanted a better life for herself, and seeing Joe and finding out where he was from stirred something within her. I would have loved for the show to explicitly show Georgia acknowledging that dream of hers. But Georgia is never vulnerable, she lives for power and the upper hand and that’s how she gets out of so many awful situations.
As the series moves along, we find out that not only was Georgia’s past chequered, it was in fact, murderous. Her history though is only one string in this narrative. The show keeps you on your toes – questioning where it’ll take you next. We have the new girl cannon coming in with Ginny, a girl who’s never even had friends much less kissed a boy turns popular and that power almost changes her for the worst. There’s the whole love triangle with the good boy (Hunter) vs the bad boy (Marcus) who Ginny loses her virginity to almost ten minutes after meeting him. You do you, sis.
And then we have the biracial identity aspect, Ginny’s dad is Black (Zion – who I’ll get to in a bit because so many thoughts) along with dealing with racism within the classroom. Although the race aspect could have been handled better, there is one scene where Ginny claps back at her English teacher for being racist and another time when she speaks out about analysing literary theory solely through a white male lens. As for the fight between Ginny and her also biracial boyfriend, Hunter – what was THAT? The way they attacked each other with racial stereotypes was cruel and honestly just left a sour taste. We needed more time to unravel that thread and yet, the story picked back up again and pulled us into the whimsy of it all.
Zion is Ginny’s father who is basically out of the picture. He’s the guy that comes back temporarily to make everything seemingly okay while playing happy families but ups and leaves. In a way, I was rooting for their family to get back together and when Zion reveals that he truly wants to stay in their lives and commit to a future together – I was living for it. But just like Chris and Lorelai in Gilmore Girls, some families don’t have happily ever afters.
“What do you care? You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.” – Ginny
“Hey ‘Ginny & Georgia,’ 2010 called and it wants its lazy, deeply sexist joke back,” Swift wrote. “How about we stop degrading hard working women by defining this horse shit as [funny]. Also, Netflix, after ‘Miss Americana’ this outfit doesn’t look cute on you…Happy Women’s History Month I guess.”
And honestly, ya girl loves Taylor so I did feel like the reference was unnecessary. Taylor’s love life has been overtly dissected by the media for years—why can’t we give her a break? Let’s be honest she saved us this year with folklore and evermore and Love Story (Taylor’s Version) and she she doesn’t deserve these cheap jokes.
“This is love.” – Abby.
Maxine is aching over her recent breakup as Abby feeds her oreos and whispers the wise words of all true friendship and they lay tethered in the air between the four girls of MANG (Maxine, Abby, Norah and Ginny). For me, one of the greatest elements of Ginny and Georgia was that friendship. While the show encapsulated so many different things, this was one piece that resonated with me. It was fuelled by drama, by stomach aching laughter, friendships being broken and formed again – everything that I (think) teenage friendships encapsulate. On that note, Gen-Zers on TikTok have been bashing the show for its acutely millennial depiction of teenagedom. But what can I say? All I know about teenagers is what I’ve seen in the classroom.
Revelations about Georgia’s past come to light in the finale and Ginny along with little Austin are seen leaving Wellsbury as a result. There’s a foreboding voiceover as the half-siblings drive off on a motorbike where Ginny claims that she’s running away from it all. And in a painstakingly beautiful light, it’s juxtaposed with Georgia’s final voiceover where she believes she’s finally free and the running is all over: roots planted, lies put to bed – a fictitious happily ever after.
So if you were expecting to walk through the dreamscape of a pretty and pure Stars Hallow, drenched in sunshine and love, stop now. That isn’t what you’re doing to get. Georgia is no Lorelai and Ginny is no Rory. There’s a lot within the show that makes you feel, love and hurt but there’s also a lot that is inexplicable and everything comes to a fleeting and forceful end with the finale. That’s not to say I won’t be hoping and eagerly waiting for season two.
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When I was in seventh grade, my English class was assigned to read a book titled Roll of Thunder, Hear MyCry by Mildred D. Taylor. I can’t remember the exact moment I learned about racism in school, but reading this book was an eye-opener. To this day, I can still recall two vivid scenes from the book: Cassie Logan describing the worn-out textbooks meant for Black students and her Papa’s leg being crushed by a wagon during a racist ambush.
Mildred D. Taylor began writing about the Logan family in 1975 with her first novella, Song of the Trees. Her historical works are about the hardships faced by African-American families living in the Deep South. Taylor was not the first author to narrate such moving stories. Yet, to me, she stood out for the sense of hope and resilience she breathes into her characters.
Taylor was born in Jackson, Mississippi, but moved north with her family when she was justthree months old. Despite not having a Southern upbringing, she insisted that the region held pleasant memories for her as her family’s home.They eventuallysettled in Toledo, Ohio as her father did not want her and her sister to grow up in the racially segregated society of the Souththat he lived in. When Taylor started school, she was the only black child in her class. Yearly trips to Mississippi and firsthand stories from family gatherings helped her become familiar with the South. Taylor would eventually use some of the stories for her novels.
Taylor attended the University of Toledo where she majored in English and minored in History. By age 19, she had written her first novel, Dark People, Dark World. Sadly, due to revision disagreements with a publisher, the novel was never published. After graduation, Taylor joined the Peace Corps and taught in Arizona and Ethiopia. She then attended the University of Colorado School of Journalism, where she worked with university officials and fellow students to curate a Black Studies program. It’s inspiring how Taylor maintained the respect from her roots and encouraged for others to do the same in education.
In addition to all those accomplishments, Taylor kept writing. In 1973, Taylor entered a contest funded by the Council on Interracial Books for Children. “I tried writing [a story] from a boy’s point of view because the story was based on my father’s life, but that didn’t work,” Taylor said in a 2006 interview with the American Library Association. “So I decided to retell it from the girl’s point of view. It won that honor and got my foot in the door.”
The story was eventually published as Song of the Trees, and won first prize in the contest’s African-American category. It was also listed as an outstanding book of the year in the New York Times.
In 1977, she also won the Newberry Medal for the sequel to Song of the Trees,Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, and several other literary recognitions.
“I wanted to show a different kind of black world from the one so often seen,” she said of her characters, the Logan family. “[Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry] will always be the most special book I have written.”
Black stories are often heavily centered around trauma. There’s a common assumption that Blacknes and suffering go hand in hand. While the Logans are a disadvantaged family, what we learn from them is their ability to make the most out of situations. Cassie and her brothers are a strong unit who have a solid relationship with their parents and appreciate who they are surrounded by. If anything, Taylor has shown us the importance of family dynamics in the face of constant trauma.
In an interview with The Brown Bookshelf, Taylor commented on the backlash of parents who felt her work was too painful for children to read. “As much as it hurts me to write words of pain, I know that they must be written, for they are truthful words about the time I write,” she said.
Sometimes, even if it can be uncomfortable, writing about pain is necessary. It can help others become more attentive to voices that are often silenced. What I find heartbreakingly relatable is that the Logan children instantly learned that they were living in a different world than their white peers. How Taylor writes about pain from Cassie’s perspective lets readers know that children are never too young to start understanding the world around them.
In the same interview, Taylor discussed receiving letters from students like myself who read her books as required reading. The students, however, said the books weren’t just about history. Rather, they are about the values they wished were more a part of their world today.
In Taylor’s words, “[It] is so uplifting to find there are still those who read my books and not only feel a greater understanding about our past, but feel the relevancy of that past to apply to the great turmoil of today’s world.”
Last year was a year defined by abolition movements. As a result of several killings by police officers that rightly garnered national outrage in 2020, activists have fought hard to now bring police abolition to the forefront of the American psyche.
In particular, #BlackLivesMatter and abolition activists have been strongly critiquing the inflated police budgets in metropolitan cities within the United States of America that disproportionately outweigh the budgets of other city departments; namely, city departments that could provide citizens with better economic opportunity. Ultimately, major cities in the US receive up to billions of dollars worth of funding at the expense of American taxpayers.
As a result, police abolitionists have been demanding politicians to “defund the police” — a now controversial statement and call to action that is becoming increasingly misunderstood by the American populace. Even months after several police killings made national or global attention, the popularity of defunding police authorities among the American people is low. According to an ABC/Ipsos poll, only 39% of Americans support defunding the police, while 60% do not.
This is because many Americans still falsely believe defunding the police would result in societal anarchy or the immediate disappearance of police officers. Rather, defunding the police is the first step towards police abolition which seeks to create a new system (over time), free of imperialism and inequity, that is more effective and beneficial for all.
There was a police abolition campaign created last year, during the rise of the #BlackLivesMatter protests last summer, called “8 to abolition“— a multi-stepped plan to defund police authorities, encourage decarceration, and accessible housing, and decriminalize Black, Brown, and poor communities.
The 8 to abolition plan provides 8 steps to abolish the police, the first being a call to defund the policing system. Defunding the police, among many other things, entails significantly cutting the disproportionate amount of funds police departments receive from cities and reallocating those funds to under-funded aspects of the community; specifically, city departments that aid in maintaining the well-being of community residents like healthcare, education, housing, employment, and arts.
Many Americans still falsely believe defunding the police would result in societal anarchy.
In truth, upon deeper examination, defunding the police makes more economic sense than keeping the current policing system and would actually benefit most taxpayers’ pocketbooks. Notably, police budgets are expensive and take up a large part of city budgets. “Police budgets remain high in 2020, ranging from 20 to 45% of discretionary funding in major metropolitan areas,” Niall McCarthy explains in an article for Statista.
In addition, states across the US spend millions of taxpayer dollars on police misconduct lawsuits.
A Rolling Stones article details the history of CPD’s history of corruption and violence. Regarding money the city of Chicago spent on police misconduct and brutality suits over the last decade, Paul Solotaroff states that “between 2010 and 2017, [Chicago] issued more than $700 million in police brutality bonds.” Correspondingly, in 2017, the NYPD spent $302 million on police misconduct lawsuits.
Consequently, these aspects of police spending and city corruption tend to fly under the radar due to confidentiality agreements and attorney-client privilege. In turn, taxpayers are essentially paying their cities at least millions of dollars for ineffective, corrupt, or downright abusive policing. So much government money is wasted on police departments across America for no valid reasons except to protect officers from legal accountability as well as to allow officers the resources to militarize against the communities they vow to “protect.”
Defunding the police could more effectively benefit taxpayers by reallocating city budgets into new avenues that could create jobs, could increase pay for government or state workers, and put government money back into the community. Sean Collins affirms this sentiment in his article for Vox stating, “Defunding police departments successfully would create a virtuous cycle, in which communities reap social and political benefits that translate into economic benefits for cities, states, and the communities themselves.”
Between 2010 and 2017, Chicago issued more than $700 million in ‘police brutality bonds’.
Defunding the police is not only an attainable and reasonable call to action, but it’s necessary. Defunding the police would ultimately put government money where it’s most effective — invested in American citizens; more specifically, invested in the working-class communities who are the foundation of America’s economy. Thankfully, cities like Minneapolis (the city where George Floyd was murdered), Baltimore, and Austin along with Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago have defunded their police departments for the following fiscal year. These cities are instead using the reallocated money to invest in social programs, homelessness, Black and Brown communities, and more.
These are the necessary and logical steps to be taken to utilize taxpayer money to maximize financial benefits for, well, taxpayers. This money would get reinvested back into cities and states over time, creating a virtuous cycle of efficient and effective economics.