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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Super Delicious, Creamy Dreamsicle Juice

Hey Scholars!

For the past year, I have been transitioning from vegetarianism to veganism. It has been a year since I have eaten chicken and fish, however, I have been consuming dairy this summer. I understand that this is a process, so I am not beating myself up too badly. I will say that I am reevaluating my lifestyle and am making conscious decisions to consume only a vegan diet. I am also thinking of being a fullyraw vegan, at least most of the time. 

Last week, I had a stomach virus. It was hard to eat anything, so to be gentle with my stomach and intake nutrients, I decided to make a juice that would be easy on my stomach and help me replenish the nutrients I lost while sick. One of my favorite juices is a Dreamsicle juice. This juice is creamy, smooth, and so flavorful. It is really simple to make. All you need are five ingredients: carrots, oranges, coconut water, pink lady apples, and vanilla extract. You will also need a juicer or a blender as this recipe is great for a smoothie as well. 

Regardless of your dietary choices, it is important to consume colorful foods for your overall health. I posted a previous blog about colorful foods and what they do for your health. Find it here.


For this juice I used:

1 Bag of Carrots (It has roughly eight carrots in it.)
5 Pink Lady Apples (You can also use Fiji or any red apple)
8 Navel Oranges (Tangelos also work)
2 Cups of Coconut Water (Whichever brand you prefer)
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract (A little goes a long way, but if you love vanilla you may add more; you can also use a sliver of vanilla bean)

Prep your ingredients by cutting your apples, washing your carrots, measuring your coconut water and vanilla extract, and peeling and cutting your oranges.  

Feed everything into your juicer or blender. For my juice, I take and strain it into a large glass bowl and then pour it into a glass jar and ip from a glass straw.  If blending, make sure to blend until it is smooth. 


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Appropriation and the Power Behind Racism

Hey scholars! 

I came across the photo below on some social media platform. What interests me about is how wrong the caption/text is. 

Since we're on the topic of appropriation, I think someone needs to look up the definition. If the Simpsons were black characters, white people dressing up as them would not be considered racist unless they painted their faces black. 

Also, people use the terms racist/racism too loosely. The fundamental definition of racism is to systematically benefit from advantages based on race. We do not have the power to benefit from such a system. While anyone can be prejudice, black people cannot be racist. 


Friday, July 1, 2016

Let's Get Physical: The Commodification of Black Women's Bodies

Hey scholars! 

Usually when I see shit like this, I ignore it, this time I will not. Why? Why white women? Why do you feel the need to post stuff like this? When we, black women, see images and captions like this, we immediately question your state of mind, not perceived inadequacies in us. Why do you think that we that we are jealous of you? I could drag this photo, but I will refrain from doing so. Instead, I will not take a learning opportunity from you. I find it rather insulting that many of you think that we covet features you enhance, the same kinds of features we are naturally born with and have been degraded for, for centuries.

bell hooks wrote an essay entitled, “Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance,” in Black Looks: Race and Representation. In this essay she states, “cultural, ethnic, and racial differences will be continually commodified and offered up as new dishes to enhance the white palate” (39). The other is ‘eaten’ as whites consume aspects of the other’s culture such as music, language, and even the body. For example, let me take you back to 19th century Great Britain where a young South African woman was forced by white men on display for public consumption. Why? This woman, Saartjie “Sarah” Baartman also known as the Hottentot Venus, had physical features common among Khoikhoi women where their labia, buttocks and thighs are a bit more prominent than other women. This right here points out another issue. In the dictionary, the Greek term used for African women with excessive fatty tissue in these areas is “steatopygia”- a disease. For white women with normal waistlines and flat buttocks, the Greek term, “callipygian,” is utilized. History tells us that in order to be considered beautiful, one has to have flat rear ends, a characteristic according to dictionaries, only white women have. However, these terms are outdated now seeing as how many women are enhancing their asses though various means such as silicon or fat injections or by exercising.   

In life and in death, Saartjie’s body was highly eroticized and fetishized by white audiences. She was taken from her homeland of South Africa and paraded around and exhibited in Great Britain as a freak show due to her voluminous rear end and elongated genitalia. She was sold to a French animal trainer who also put her on exhibit for the public consumption of French audiences. After death, her pickled brain and genitalia were placed on display at the Musée de l’Homme in Paris until 1974. Suzan Lori-Parks’ 1996 play entitled “Venus” explores how whites have associated black women’s bodies with food. At one point in the play, Venus is given chocolates by her lover who as she eats them, he watches and masturbates. She questions if he thinks her body reminds him of the chocolate.

This association of black women’s bodies as food can be seen in recent examples of public consumption of black women’s bodies. In 2012, Sweden’s Minister of Culture, Lena Adelsohn Litjeroth celebrated World Art Day by cutting and eating a cake of a naked black woman that clearly looks like a minstrel caricature. Responding to the racist backlash, the artist stated that this piece of “art” was to bring awareness to female circumcision. One cannot help but to see the blatant racism in this so-called art as white people stand around, take photos of the cake and then consume it. 

After centuries of degradation for our figures, white women feel the need to gloat about their physical features, real and imagined, telling us we are jealous. Trust and believe, we are not pressed. If anything our anger comes from reducing us to our body parts when we are so much more than that. This is not to say we cannot be proud of and celebrate our bodies, we do, but we know that our value cannot be measured by waistlines, bra size, hip dimensions, or thigh thickness. So to all you pressed ass Becky’s with “good hair” (wigs, weaves, and otherwise), try again.  

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Books: Too Heavy a Load and Storming Caesar's Palace

In Too Heavy a Load, Deborah Gray White profiles a group of black women who seek to establish a set of moral standards for other black women in the spirit of racial uplift. She notes, “chastity became the litmus test of middle-class respectability…Middle-class status in black society was associated was much with ‘style of life’ as with income” (30). In other words, gender performance was also class performance, targeting white audiences. For clubwomen, defending their womanhood is an assertion that black women are just as feminine and worthy of respect as white women. While attempting to climb social, economic, and cultural ladders, black clubwomen left many behind, feeling that some black women did not measure up to middle-class standards of cultural refinements. Some rural blacks rebuked the “high falutin’” ways of clubwomen. For example, hair straightening techniques were rejected for preferred multicolored headwraps. This form of resistance is a demonstration of gender, race, and class performativity. Whether images of New Negroes or iconic blues women, young black women were offered various examples of how to (re)present their gender, race, class, and sexuality.    

Annelise Orleck’s Storming Caesar’s Palace, is a story of poor women who became anti-poverty activists. In the 1950s, these southern women left sharecropping behind to become domestic laborers (maids and cooks) in hotels in Las Vegas. While there, a number of the women joined labor unions, providing them with their first experiences with political activism and interracial solidarity. During the 60s, issues concerning layoffs, health, and childcare, resulted in them applying for public assistance and forming a welfare organization. By 1971, their grassroots organizing received national attention following their opposition to drastic welfare cute through a march to the lavish Caesar’s Palace. The march included poor women and their children, peace activists, civil rights leaders, clergy, and celebrities. Eventually, forming Operation Life, these women lobbied politicians and wrote grant proposals to get Nevada to support federal programs like food stamps and WIC as well as attempts to get President Carter to create jobs that addressed concerns of gender segregation in the workforce and lack of childcare for poor mothers. For the mothers, they no longer saw themselves as “clients” rather they saw themselves become “catalysts of change” (167).

            While reading Too Heavy a Load, a couple of books exploring race and gender at the turn of the 20th century came to mind. White reveals that black clubwomen embraced Victorian gender and performance. Responding to this is Glenda Gilmore’s Gender and Jim Crow, which discusses how whites used white supremacy to sexually oppress black people. Entering this conversation is Eileen Suarez Findlay with her work, Imposing Decency, which explores the relationship between political change and discourse on sexuality in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Each of these historians engage in a discourse around racial uplift that links progress with adopting white cultural norms and values. Implied in this assimilation are performances of womanhood related to race and class decorum. During my reading of Storming Caesar’s Palace and thinking of the welfare rights movement, Premilla Nadasen’s Welfare Warriors immediately came to mind. Welfare Warriors examines the racial politics of welfare from the 1950s to the 1970s, during a time when welfare became synonymous with black motherhood. Nadasen explores the grassroots movement and activism of black women in cities across the nation, demonstrating that the welfare rights movement was integral to the Black Freedom Movement and other Black Power organizations.

Books: Living for the Revolution and Radicals on the Road

Kimberly Springer’s Living for the Revolution explores issues of race, gender, and representation in feminist theory. This work is one of the first thorough analysis of black feminist organizations chronicling the history of black women’s social organizations in the twentieth century. Springer argues that black feminist organizations engaged in interstitial politics to “connect to political opportunity and identity specific to race and gender with social movements.”[1] Furthermore, she states, “I maintain that black feminists are historically, the first activists in the US to theorize and act upon the intersections of race, gender, and class.”[2] She invites readers to to reconceptualizes black women’s roles in social movements for social justice. When black women are marginalized in the civil rights movement as well as the women’s movement, stereotyped in popular culture, and misrepresented in public policy, black feminist organizations emerged in response, utilizing feminist theory as a tool to build upon the social organizations black women founded that came before them. Springer examines five black feminist organizations: Third World Women’s Alliance, Black Women Organized for Action, National Black Feminist Organization, National Alliance of Feminists, and the Combahee River Collective. From the late 1960s to the mid to late 1970s, these organizations were in existence; by 1980, they were defunct. She scrutinizes the organizations through three categories of analysis, “activism,” “movements,” and “organizations.” The individual activists worked together to form a collective identity in response to and as a result of their personal and socio-political experiences. These black feminist movements expanded beyond cultural and political spheres to include organizations, essays, film, dance, fiction, visual arts, and scholarly studies. These structured, formal organizations had clear specific goals and objectives to combat and eradicate racism, poverty, and sexism. While these organizations were not successful in eradicating these issues, Springer wants readers to reconsider their perceptions of success since these groups made it possible for thousands of black women to resist white supremacy in ways that hold long term effects.      

Judy Tzu-Chun Wu’s Radicals on the Road highlights the trans-Pacific journeys of underappreciated historical actors such as black leaders Robert Brown, Elaine Brown, and Eldridge Cleaver; Asian American radicals Alex Hing and Pat Sumi; Chicana activists Betita Martinez; and women’s peace and liberation advocates Cora Weiss and Charlotte Bunch. As diverse as these individuals are, they all agree that the Vietnam war was immoral and unjustified. In the 1960s, these American and Vietnamese antiwar activists established a transnational political community based on critiques of U.S policy in Asia. Through Third World tourism, familial ties, journalism, and personal encounters, these activists built a “global public sphere” centered on war.[3] Wu argues that these activists assisted in shaping the era’s turbulent events. The key factor in Wu’s argument is the notion of “radical orientalism.” Antiwar activists in the US and in the West idealized revolutionary anticolonial Asian societies in Vietnam, North Korea, and China in order to establish the West, or more specifically the US, as an inferior empire. She explores the relationships of these diverse activists and furthermore, centralizes Asians as active players in events of the time. Radicals on the Road consists of three parts. The first part examines Robert Brown’s life and career, providing an illustration of Afro-Asian alliances during the 1950s. The second part focuses on the U.S People’s Anti-Imperialist Delegation (USPAID) from their brief, foreign state sponsored journey to the tensions that afflicted the group in the 1970s. The third part concentrates on North American and Vietnamese women and the political, social, interpersonal, and ideological issues that plagued their groups such as the Vietnamese Women’s Union (VWU). These “women warriors” as Wu like to call them, often traveled across the Pacific, formed bonds with Native American and Asian women, employed popular-front strategies, and served as mediators during Western feminists bickering. The WVU inspired American feminists to participate in confrontational anti-war campaigns.      
Springer’s Living for Revolution speaks to Julia Sudbury’s “Other Kinds of Dreams,” in which she analyzes the political activities of black and Asian women in Britain. Springer’s and Wu’s works speaks to Benita Roth’s Separate Roads to Feminism, which is an examination of second wave feminism and the emergence of black and Chicana feminism and white women’s liberation during the civil rights and black liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Wu’s work also conjures conversations with Yuri Kochiyama’s Passing It On, a study of the networks and activism of black, Native, Asian, Latina, and white women working together for civil rights, social justice, women’s rights, and prisoners rights in the US and around the world.   

[1] Kimberly Springer, Living for the Revolution: Black Feminists Organizations, 1968- 1980 (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005), 11.  
[2] Springer, Living for the Revolution, 2.
[3] Judy Tzu- Chun Wu, Radicals on the Road: Internationalism, Orientalism, and Feminism during the Vietnam Era (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013), 4.