For a while I sat silently knowing that Ashley Yates, someone I care deeply about was hurting in ways that required a lot of repair and healing. I maintained this silence because I dont believe in telling someone elses story when they can speak for themselves. It is now time that this silence on my part be broken as my comrade has finally decided to speak out. Know that it takes a lot of courage and tenacity to get to a point where one can expose their abuser. PERIOD.
Yesterday, I got an email along with those in direct leadership of the Black Lives Matter Global Network from Ashley Yates outlining the abuse that she endured at the hands on Shanelle Matthews:
"I’m writing this letter to inform the leadership and network of Black Lives Matter Network that you are currently employing and in community with someone who has engaged and continues to engage in prolonged exploitative, predatory, and abusive behavior targeting Black queer women.
As many of you know, Shanelle Matthews and I were involved in a personal relationship for approximately a year and a half. What most of you may not know is that during the year and a half span of our relationship I encountered deep emotional, psychological, verbal, financial and at times physical abuse from Shanelle Matthews, the acting director of communications for the Black Lives Matter National Network.
Through my work as a movement leader, I’ve not only helped catalyze an international movement, I’ve worked tirelessly to build and help sustain it. The visibility I gained as a result allowed me to become a vulnerable target for people seeking to gain power via proximity. Beyond the abuse I experienced within our relationship, Shanelle proved herself to be predatory and opportunistic by exploiting our relationship from very early on in order to gain position, influence, and credibility within the movement. The serious impacts and repercussions of the abuse of anyone in movement spaces, much less a leader, are not only personal, they are political. I can no longer sit silent as such a dangerous person moves through movement spaces proclaiming moral leadership rooted in empathy. It’s unconscionable.
After ten months of intensive healing, therapy and personal work I am finally telling my story publicly as I have a right to do. Too many people have experienced what I have. We've been told our silence is necessary for movement unity while the impacts of rampant abuse, unaccountability and other toxic dynamics have created widespread disarray and disunity. Abuse breeds in silence and I am breaking mine,. In doing so, I’m refusing to continue to shield the identity of my abuser as she’s made no effort to be accountable for her extensive abuse and harm. This is in addition to her admittances of the abuse in private while denying the abuse publicly. My silence has not protected me from her continued abuse, lies and manipulation. In speaking out, I’m not only protecting myself, I’m taking a stand against an issue that plagues movement spaces and shedding the muzzle visibility places on those of us who endure abuse with public platforms.
We each have the right to tell our story. We do not have the right to lie and manipulate truths to hide our own shameful behavior. Rest assured that despite Shanelle’s successful and insidious actions to hide her actions, proof exists in many forms. As people in community and in association with Shanelle, I’m informing your organization now that should Shanelle continue to lie, claim my work as her own and/or negatively impact my livelihood, I will take every actionable step to enforce my right to be safe from my abuser. The truth is my best protection and tool towar.
I’m writing this because I want to give you all the opportunity to hear this directly from me, as opposed to in the public sphere. It is my hope is that you take this opportunity to act in tandem with the values that the Network espouses. Certainly an organization that claims a large amount of resources, leadership space, and morality rooted in accountability and love of Black people— Black women and femmes in particular— would show extreme concern and vigorous action to account for uplifting a person who sought to gain influence via proximity, extreme emotional and psychological abuse, and who has actively worked to not only escape accountability, but to damage the reputation and social standing of the person whom they victimized.
While that is my hope, I would be dishonest to state that I have high expectations, or any whatsoever, to be clear, that the leadership in your organization will take steps to hold Shanelle Matthews accountable. I don’t think I need to share the reasons here as your organization has often failed at larger scale, movement-wide accountability - situations that have strained many of our personal and movement relationships.
However, minimal my hope, my asks are that you hold your leadership accountable with the understanding that unchecked abuse and predatory behavior leave us ALL vulnerable. Encourage her to be honest and responsible about her past and present behaviors, as my truths will stand and no longer be hidden. It would be moral for her to remove herself from visible leadership, undergo a process that addresses her abusive behaviors and to stop claiming my work. I believe that she has the right to heal and get help for her issues, but not at the expense of her victim. These asks are not about being punitive to her, but rather breaking the silence around abuse and embodying the moral standard that you have decided on as a network and we should all be embodying in our work done in love, service and community. While I do not require a direct response from the leadership of BLM, I hope you will act with love and accountability, notions I am also open to move forward in community and conversation. It's with that hope and the spirit of community responsibility and love that I've opened the conversation beyond the insular pathways that have existed thus far and led me to take such vulnerable action in hopes of a being able to continue to do movement work with love and support.
with love and respect and hope for a healthier movement,
After Breaking her silence, Ashley went public with a post on Medium called Breaking the Silence and shared the letter (above), here is an except of the post:
"This person has a history of abusive, predatory behavior and had remained unrepentant, unaccountable and abusive to those she’s harmed. While the network has responded with suggestions of processes rooted in transformative justice, I want to be clear that my letter was offered in the spirit of accountability and integrity, not as an opportunity to silence me or ask for private processes that allow BLM and my abuser to control the narrative or isolate me back into silence. What I revealed was not unknown to the leadership before my letter, they just chose not to address it. Transformative justice comes when we’re intentionally about transforming. Keeping silent about abuse isn’t transformative."
The official (INTERNAL) BLM network response:
To the network and those who may deny these allegations, it is time to for a look inward if we are to move forward in creating change that enhances all aspects of Black lives. It is my hope that Shanelle corrects this behavior, but on a larger scale that restructuring and evaluation of current leadership take place ASAP. UPDATES to come.
- Ashton P. Woods, Founder Black Lives Matter Houston
I remember it like yesterday, I was in the seventh grade when I privately started to acknowledge, in my mind that I was gay. I was going to a little magnet school called "The New Orleans Free School" and it was a school where a kid could be a kid, learn and grow. It was here that I had my first pubescent crushes, and battled with whether or not I believed in God. On one hand I was being raised by my grandmother who is a Jehovah's Witness and one thing about the Witnesses is that my sexual orientation is not in line with their teachings or ideals. On the other hand I struggled with what people told me what my belief system should be vs my own independent thoughts that I do not believe in any God. It was a dual battle to believe and be straight, two things that have never been good at and never will be LOL! Anyway, I was having a conversation at recess with my favorite teacher Mary Garton, was not only a great teacher, but a strong woman in her own right. The few things that I remember about this conversation is that it was a warm and sunny day in New Orleans and Mary, a classmate and I were talking about random societal issues (yes we were pretty advanced). During that conversation I blurted out, "I think that I might be gay..." and then the conversation continued with a thoughtful acknowledgement of my statement. That day turned out to be a precursor to when I would actually come out as gay and the way my life would change.
One day, during my freshman year at McMain I read in the local paper that one of the teachers at my school had come out as gay in the interview that he had with them. That teacher turned out to be Marco Menghini a Spanish teacher, he was brave enough to allow the paper to list his phone number in article. That very same day I called him to tell him that he had my support and we talked for a few minutes, not knowing what drove me to call him, I felt a calling to do it. The conversation ended with an invitation to meet in his classroom with a small group of students to discuss creating a Gay/Straight alliance on campus. When the day came to meet in his classroom, there was a lot of anticipation on my part, I was curious to know who the other students were and what they would be like. So, during the lunch period I headed to the meeting and there stood the folks that I would come to be friends with to this day.
That day we came up with the name “Student Alliance For Equality” or S.A.F.E and recorded a video introduction for the morning announcements. We ironed out a script for those who would speak and when the camera started to roll something weird happened. The person who was supposed to say his lines froze in fear, understandable considering the circumstances. For some reason, I remembered lines and stepped forward to recite them. It was like my alter ego pushed me forward and said the words for me. It went something like this (paraphrasing), “Hi my name is Ashton Woods and this is the Student Alliance for Equality, if you are gay, lesbian, or bisexual come and join us at the S.A.F.E club…we are family.” I am quite sure that some of the wording may have been different, but you get the point! Keep in mind that my actions during this recording facilitated my coming out to a student body of close to two thousand plus students. The prospect of this never scared me, but it set me up for triumph and failure on a scale that would take me years to come grips with.
I had help and friends to come and go over the years, like I said on my S!N Blog post "Why WE Must Support OUR Trans Brothers & Sisters NOW!" After I came out that I had some help through my coming out process, "I have had the privilege of meeting some great people who just so happened to be Transgender. When I was fifteen and still living in my beloved New Orleans, I would visit my life long friend Dee whose mother is friends with my mother. He lived around the corner from me and when I would visit him I would notice four people sitting on a porch, sometimes five, two to three women and two men. I had always spoken (its a NOLA thing) to them in passing and one day I was drawn to go directly and speak to them out of attraction to this beautiful man named Jeff. My attention was quickly stolen by a regal and stately elderly woman named Mrs. Williams, who I came to think of as my own family: "boy come on up here and sit on this porch.." she belted out in strong yet soft tone. It turns out that this group of people for a short time in my teenage life would be part of my chosen family! Amber, one of the women, out of the three happened to be Trans and I couldn't tell until she made mention of it."
Today I ran across a post on Facebook by a prominent person in the Black LGBT community here in Houston that works in HIV prevention. It was triggering and full of HIV Stigma (pictured left), disappointed is an understatement to say the least. Living with HIV as I do, the concern is that there are those who have been diagnosed and refuse to get care because of shit like this. There are people who don't get tested because of this type of shit. This picture has been the subject of investigation and debunked by Snopes, a popular fact checking site.
Before I share the information posted on snopes, here are some FACTS:
#HIVFact - HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus.
#HIVFact - HIV is found in semen including pre cum, blood, vaginal and anal fluids, and breast milk. HIV cannot be transmitted through sweat, saliva or urine.
* Only certain fluids—blood, semen (cum), pre-seminal fluid (pre-cum), rectal fluids, vaginal fluids, and breast milk—from an HIV-infected person can transmit HIV. These fluids must come in contact with a mucous membrane or damaged tissue or be directly injected into the bloodstream (from a needle or syringe) for transmission to possibly occur. Mucous membranes can be found inside the rectum, the vagina, the opening of the penis, and the mouth.
In the United States, HIV is spread mainly by
Having sex with someone who has HIV. In general:
- Anal sex
- Vaginal sex
- Having multiple sex partners or having other sexually transmitted infections can increase the risk of infection through sex.
#HIVFact - Seroconversion is the period of time during which HIV antibodies develop and become detectable.
*- Seroconversion is the period of time during which HIV antibodies develop and become detectable.
- Seroconversion generally takes place within a few weeks of initial infection.
- It is often, but not always, accompanied by flu-like symptoms including fever, rash, muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes. These symptoms are not a reliable way to identify seroconversion or to diagnose HIV infection.
#HIVFact - HIV is a VIRUS that can lead to AIDS which is a SYNDROME.
*stands for human immunodeficiency virus. It is the virus that can lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, or AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, the human body cannot get rid of HIV. That means that once you have HIV, you have it for life.
#HIVFact - AIDS stands for acquired immune deficiency syndrome.
#HIVFact - AIDS is diagnosed when the immune system of a person diagnosed with HIV becomes severely compromised.
*HIV disease becomes AIDS when your immune system is seriously damaged. If you have less than 200 CD4+ cells or if your CD4 percentage is less than 14%, you have AIDS.
#HIVFact - There is NO SUCH THING as "full blown AIDS." Stop saying that crap!
#HIVFact - CD4 cells are white blood cells that help to keep us healthy and play a role in protecting our immune system.
Below is the post that I am talking about running across, I am highly conflicted about sharing these screenshots. But people's lives are at play here and someone in his particular line of work needs to be more thoughtful about what he posts. MOST of the people who work in Houston HIV prevention are HIV negative, which is problematic as fuck...I dont know Jovuan's status and its no one's business.
Take a look for yourselves:
"Panic and ignorance leads people to believe an urban legend about "HIV blood filled needles" being inserted in gas pumps. HIV cannot be transmitted this way because it cannot live outside the body! Also, where is the source coming from? Newsflash, if it's coming from Worldstar Hip Hop it's probably fake! Plus, false stories like this push a ridiculous narrative about the ways HIV is contracted while ignoring the fact that HIV is a manageable condition if one adheres to medication. Undetectable equals non transmittable. If we continue to post stuff like this, people will continue to feel ashamed about getting tested. I for one am tired of seeing young gay, particularly black men, still dying from complications to AIDS, especially when HIV is not a death sentence anymore. Let me find out some of you still think you can still catch it from a handshake or eating off the same plate as a poz person.
#fuckstigma #notonemore" - Graham Maio
Far too often those who work in the #HIV prevention field take on this attitude that they can do no wrong and that is a dangerous standard. Not seeing the error of your ways without being held accountable stops now. If you work in health care, regardless of the entity, you became responsible to those you signed on to play whatever roles that may exist in the field of HIV prevention and treatment. I have said it before and I will say it again...."To be honest, when dealing with HIV outside and within the Black community, stigma has a stronghold. The lack of HIV 101 plays a large part in why stigma is such a huge issue, it is saddening. It is one of the reasons that I came out of the HIV closet, which was for everyone who has been ostracized and made to feel nasty."
Today I read a piece written by popular Atheist Matthew O'Neil entitled, "It's Time to Stop Advocating for Violence." As I read through the numbered disclaimer...
"1) If someone its in a position of being threatened, in whatever way that may come, they should have every right to defend themselves.
2) People come from different backgrounds, which means they have experiences that I likely have never faced and will not fully understand.
3) I acknowledge that I am a privileged individual that has not know such circumstances, and am incredibly fortunate as a consequence.
With all this being said, I want to proceed with the main thesis of this article: People shouldn't be assaulted because they hold beliefs that you disagree with."
... I grew concerned that I was reading another tone policing piece of garbage written by another person privileged with whiteness. My concerns were correct! As most white people do when they are tone policing, Matthew tries to be polite and acts as if he is truly helpful or sincere about what he is about to say. The Fact is that there is nothing helpful or sincere in telling those who are marginalized that:
"If there is a person who says things like "homosexuality is unnatural," "whites are the superior race," or "a woman's place is in the home and not in the workplace," you should not assault them. This includes punching. Because punching is assault. And assault is illegal. And illegal things can land you in jail, which means a criminal record, and will end up damaging more than just your opportunity to be free. It means being put into a criminal justice system that will ruin your life."
You don't get to tell us how we process the experiences of our blackness or any other forms of marginalization for that matter. You can keep that white gaze bullshit to yourself. We reserve the right to react in any ways we damn well please. Using Richard Spencer and his assault as an example of how one should and should not react does not make it ok for any white person to tell a Black person how to act. We have been assaulted, raped, lynched, kidnapped, enslaved, burned and robbed throughout the entire history of this country. So if you and the other offspring of slave masters who wish for us to be peaceful while people like Spencer who advocates for "peaceful ethnic cleansing and denouncing Jews, homosexuality, and other minority groups".... you are terribly mistaken!
"What are the consequences? He asked as I rolled my eyes into oblivion. once my eyes completed their roll, O'neil lists Spencer's threat of self protection for him and his alt - right goons. NEWSFLASH: Most states are open carry and the idea some big truck driving, well suited piece of white racist trash will be on site with an automatic rifle or side arm is not farfetched. Have you not heard of Trayvon Martin and his murderer George Zimmerman?! Consequence? What are the consequences of white people just shutting the hell up, recognizing their privilege and paying reparations?! The only consequences that I suspect would occur are the ones that white folks should be subject to. But, you want us to be docile in the face of threats that you have never faced Matthew.
But I digress, for too long we've had to go along with what white folks have told us about who we were are, and should be. White people should be lining up to be accomplices and at points that means self sacrifice. When O'Neil cited the the horrible incident in Portland, Oregon it pissed me off even more, because there are countless incidents like this that go unreported. They go unreported because we dont like to call the police when we are victimized, generally the police will answer the call and make things worse. Police tend to think the victim is the one who committed the crime, we don't call the police because our lives would be endangered. So you and that spokesman from SPLC can kiss our collective Black ass.
While placing emphasis on the fact that any violent actions from a marginalized group towards their oppressors may give their oppressors media attention, empower them and even arm them, O'Neil never considers that when we act.... We were pushed to that point and pretty much are out of fucks to give. To make things worse he cites the Women's Suffrage movement to support his tone policing claims that nonviolence. It is typical of white people in general and white men specifically, to want those who have experienced the violence of marginalization to be calm when demanding equity and justice. Peace is the "best route for marginalized folks" he says or we risk looking "violent and irrational."
THEN, he cites the Civil Rights movement! This was highly insulting as white folks always refer to this period in the movement for Black lives to tone police, misquote and refer to Dr. King as the template. We did not "find more success through non violent measures" alone! Let Black folks be and decide how we will best address you, your skin cousins and without your redundant suggestions...
"The bottom line is this: History has shown that violence is less effective than non-violence in producing positive, progressive outcomes. Yes, there has been violence, but it has accomplished little if anything if history is to be believed. Punching someone is assault and is illegal. Want to spend time in jail and ruin your life because you disagreed with someone? Assaulting someone will do that. Also, the racists and Nazis are arming themselves now and apparently aren't afraid to take lives.
Don't go to jail. Don't lose your life. Don't. Fucking. Punch. Nazis."
Here is the real bottom line, you seem to have this need, a need to have a say in how we handle our oppression. Your words seem to lend to your white privilege that say you have to have a say, to give permission in order for our actions, words and thoughts to have weight or be deemed violent or irrational. History tell us and the current climate continues to tell us that Black people are violent and irrational any damn way, we are automatically criminalized for or Blackness. Because you lack the ability to see our experience, it is important to understand that your white opinion is not the one that matters. It must be noted that we say what we say and do what we want to do without need of your acceptance or approval.
We are trying too hard to play by rules intended to subjugate our Black bodies only to get crumbs in return. We want a piece of the pie from a system that arose on the sweat and blood of our ancestors through colonization, enslavement, and financial oppression. We clamor for respect, and equality or the acknowledgment of said equality. The truth is that, in theory we are equal because we have the tools to build our own table where we make decisions for ourselves without seeking approval from the dominant group. In reality we are not equal, not if we have to avoid calling White folks out on their privilege at the risk of no longer being invited to the party or their table. When will we wake up to that fact that so - call opportunities from people who claim to be allies come with a price, with rules that challenge our very integrity???
It starts the moment that we stop being the Black friend that they claim, when we call them out on their White privilege and bullshit. Usually, this is by someone unafraid to be shut out and sadly some of us shun those people to keep our positions at the table of white supremacy. This is an unfortunate thing, but we will have to look passed them and keep our eyes on th the prize. When building our tables, rented negros or coons will most likely be the gatekeepers who block in various ways and at every turn. Now, this is not intended to question one's Blackness, but I have to wonder, ask, and repeatedly go over in my mind why my Black people can't see that if we rise up against the mainstream collectively from our own lanes, that we wouldn't have to worry about "keeping White people happy to get what we want." Of course it isn't that simple, We have respectability politics as one of our biggest obstacles...
"We have the RIGHT to ask questions of not only the dominant group (White folks), but we CAN & SHOULD question folks within our own ranks. usually the response to questions and gripes include getting defensive, brushing off, and subsequently degrading the person and inquiry."
Respectability politics can kill, it has killed and will kill countless Black folks who are told that they cannot be themselves. We automatically start by devaluing ourselves within our own community of orientation, the Black community. It is as if we are fulfilling the crabs in a barrel stereotype, like we are in a forced competition with ourselves. Respectability politics reinforces tone policing, sexism, hate, fear and a host of other redundancies that hold us back as a collective. We can't express anger, have to dress a certain way and present an overall image that will improve things just enough for us to work three times harder in order to be twice as good as our White counterparts. This is so contradictory to me that we as Black people in general are automatically groomed in that manner and then achieve some level of success only to be told not to be too expressive or too intersectional. We become shells of ourselves, one dimensional to the point that we even view our own intelligence as a threat to ourselves and others.
We are talented beyond binaries.
We are intersectional beings that are unique and we must be respected for it! Respectability politics needs to die a swift death, so that we can thrive and not just survive. It needs to die because unsolicited directives about how we should express our individuality is no longer acceptable. This is where we have to cease the tone policing and disrespectfully crossing boundaries that don't need to be crossed. The need to "play the game" has long passed its prime, we simply need to walk to the beat of our own drum and celebrate differences. We can still be unified, unique and learn from others with different perspectives. If we shake the fear of things outside of our social norms that have been instilled within us by respectability politics, we can then listen actively and learn something new about ourselves.
Lets start by building our own tables, and having much needed internal dialog without white interference.
Here in the United States, poor and marginalized people are forced to adhere to rich and privileged folk’s concepts of “being responsible”. But wealthy, privileged people are accountable to no one because of their standing.
Because we are sold the narrative that working harder and smarter guarantees economic success, we begin to believe that those who don’t have wealth are less than deserving (lazier), and even less intelligent. Meanwhile as those in power continue to fail at being truly responsible, we suffer.
One problem with this false notion of upward mobility is that privilege, oppression, exploitation, discrimination, etc. exist, and has created what we have now: A situation where those who are oppressed fight for their humanity and dignity to be recognized, while those who are in “power” truly believe that circumstances of need are created by lack of personal responsibility. (Paternalism and the ability to see their own individual personal vices)
This reflects in the creation of horrible, oppressive policies meant to shock us into picking ourselves up by the bootstraps (or maybe just to keep opposition at bay). The line is blurred (to me) in terms of whether this is willful blindness or cognitive dissonance. Even in the few instances where some degree of education would fix a problem, there is no intention to provide it because there is no incentive.
So what do we do about it?
Racism is not what people think it is, racism is not limited to the white man draped in a klan outfit. It is much more systemic and insidious than that, it is a learned behavior that needs to be addressed. With that said, I had a meeting with Irwin Palchick and Jon Humphries from Houston Splash at Irwin's restaurant Jimmy Chew Asian Kitchen on Westheimer. I attended this meeting because everyone deserves a chance to have their side heard and that is exactly what happened. I sat and listened to Irwin speak and what struck me about the conversation is that he felt that it was COMPLETELY okay to say "nigger" in front of me and Jon. He explained that what he said was in the "heat of the moment," that he was hit across the face and had a "bloody nose." As he explained this, he heavily emphasized that it was in the privacy of his office and implied strongly that he should be able to say what he wants as long as it is not in a public setting.
Nevertheless, he admitted to making the statement after denying it:
Even with this admission that I originally planned not to share until a recording of a call after our meeting came to my attention... Before I share that you should know that there were several things that struck me as problematic and typical of any white person when in denial about their racism. Racism is a learned behavior that goes deeper than the N-word, it is something that our society is built on. The last thing we should do is attack someone for calling that type of thing out, I am not even here to demonize Irwin. BUT, lessons must be taught and learned to people who feel that is okay to not see the error of their ways. Irwin said several, very typical things:
- "I love my Blacks, I love my Asians, I love my Hispanic and I even have an Asian partner..." I am sure that he does, but the ownership that one takes in human beings is odd.
- "I have employees who use that word all the the time..." You never really had more that 3 or 4 Black folks out of about 25 staffers, so is he saying that his white bartenders are using the N-word too?
- "I hear your people say it all the time.." as to imply it should be ok for him to say it regardless of context.
If you dont believe me, just listen to these snippets from a recorded conversation with someone who talked to him about this issue...
You will not get off easy for this Palchick, I wanted to believe that he was being sincere, but he was only telling us what he wanted us to hear to get off of his back. While some of you may disagree and have disbelief, I will continue to stand my ground and I demand a public apology or FBar will be boycotted.
There have been several moments that people have sought me out to give me information about FBar a local Houston club and its owner Irwin Palchick regarding alleged accusations of racism. This club is an LGBT staple in the Montrose area which has made a killing in revenue off the Black community and stands to make more in the coming week when Houston Splash takes full effect. Every time these sources contacted me, I asked for proof of racism... And I got it.
*the statements and content in this post are alleged and have not been confirmed as true*
In the era of Trump, this recording comes as no surprise to see or hear things like this. I met Irwin long before there was an FBar and it is his voice. PERIOD. While I will not reveal my source(e), it is clear that someone was close enough to record him in action. I will be fully transparent and make in known that more than this audio file was sent, I have obtained documents that show a (now settle out of court?) law suit filed by the family of Juan Carlos Ramirez and other bad business dealings. To be honest, this is the time that hold white folks to the fire and stop giving them our hard earned money. I refuse to patronize someone who calls me a nigger.
Dear Mayor Taylor,
It came to my attention that at a recent forum you had this to say:
“Since you’re with the Christian Coalition, I’ll go ahead and put it out there that to me, it’s broken people. People not being in a relationship with their creator and therefore not being in a good relationship with their families and their communities and not being productive members of society.”
What is it with my fellow Black people who happen to be elected officials? Between you and quite a few others, I am not sure that you are for everyone that you claim to represent, not making statements like this! Do you realize that you have direct hand in poverty as the current Mayor of a major city? Instead, you scapegoat it on people who do great work without the need for a god to inspire them to do good deeds. I AM a Black Atheist who happens to be gay and remembers how you threw the LGBT community in your city under the bus with your "no" vote against a proposed nondiscrimination ordinance. In both instances (The NDO and recent statement) you referenced your christian background, but what the hell happened to SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE?
I cannot begin to describe the dismay that I feel at the fact that people like you want to lead while discarding people like me in the process. For my Atheism, I make no apologies to you or those who may be offended. The idea of a 'higher power" causes me just as much cognitive dissonance as a believer who might be reading my words regarding what they believe in. I do not live to disavow or disprove the existence of a god, I simply do not care to attack one's beliefs and I demand that you not question my existence or my humanity.
I most definitely see religion and deity as separate, and in my view religion is a means of social control and domination for those who are in control of governments and other institutions that are used to govern the masses. HOWEVER, I am not running around saying directly that christianity is the root cause of poverty. Now if we were to check the receipts of christian politicians, we will find that they do the MOST harm to impoverished communities. In fact, poverty has expanded because of people like you and to make things worse, you are cooning. Yep I said it, coon. Most people in poverty in Texas are Black and all you can think about is your damn sky daddy and how a relationship with him/it will suddenly improve one's life chances.
Atheism - is the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities.Most inclusively, atheism is the absence of belief that any deities exist. Atheism is contrasted with theism, which, in its most general form, is the belief that at least one deity exists.
Being an Atheist almost, always leads to a line of questioning where folks like to challenge one on his or her morality. Do we know right from wrong? Yes, we do. we don't need some figure to guide us down a path of righteousness. Let me be clear, I know my know right from wrong. Doing the right thing should not come with the idea or promise of reward from some non existent being for good deeds. You and people like you lose your minds when one is unapologetically an Atheist. You call anyone different from you wicked, AS IF you were vested with power of never ending knowledge and judgment. Like your Wednesday/Sunday shit don't stank!
You christians (ones like you, Mayor Taylor) are the wicked ones, YOU are the Broken ones and you don't get to choose who people should and shouldn't be. You are the reason, CHRISTIANS, YOU are the reason this world is so fucked up. Seek help, because the white man has got you believing that Jesus is real, he was effective when he beat it into us during slavery. It is sad that you really believe that some "God sent his son into this sinful world to die for" us "and so that we might have a chance at eternal life..." don't you? Fuck that, how is this the reason for you to be good? Quoting scriptures like "Philippians 4:13 - For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength," chosen for you by some mediocre ass white men!
Ashton P. Woods
Yesterday Shea Moisture created a firestorm with its new ad campaign that only used white and light skinned models and their apology gave even more pause...
When they finally apologized they released this whitewashed and erasive apology:
"Wow, okay – so guys, listen, we really f-ed this one up. Please know that our intention was not – and would never be – to disrespect our community, and as such, we are pulling this piece immediately because it does not represent what we intended to communicate. You guys know that we have always stood for inclusion in beauty and have always fought for our community and given them credit for not just building our business but for shifting the beauty landscape. So, the feedback we are seeing here brings to light a very important point. While this campaign included several different videos showing different ethnicities and hair types to demonstrate the breadth and depth of each individual’s hair journey, we must absolutely ensure moving forward that our community is well-represented in each one so that the women who have led this movement never feel that their hair journey is minimized in any way. We are keenly aware of the journey that WOC face – and our work will continue to serve as the inspiration for work like the Perception Institute’s Good Hair Study/Implicit Association Test that suggests that a majority of people, regardless of race and gender, hold some bias towards women of color based on their textured or natural hair. So, you’re right. We are different – and we should know better.
Thank you all, as always, for the honest and candid feedback. We hear you. We’re listening. We appreciate you. We count on you. And we’re always here for you. Thank you, #SheaFam, for being there for us, even when we make mistakes. Here’s to growing and building together…"
Anyone who knows me, knows that using the phrases women, men, people, person "OF COLOR" when having direct conversations about Blackness is erasure in my opinion....
The term "People" or "Person of Color" is a dangerous trap for several reasons that I will outline in this post. In my opinion, the first reason that this phrase is problematic, is that it is used out of context on a regular basis. When it is important to say the specific race of a group or individual, folks say POC instead of saying Black or (insert race here) and that is problematic. A great example is last year during the endorsement meeting for The Caucus in Houston, a question was posed with the intention to ask if any Black folks were on the screening committee for the Mayor's race. The well intentioned response from one of the Black board members is that "there were no POC" that screened in that race, we knew they meant Black, but it may have been better if that was stated instead of POC.
Person of color: (plural: people of color, persons of color, sometimes abbreviated POC) is a term used primarily in the United States to describe any person who is not white. The term encompasses all non-white groups, emphasizing common experiences of racism.
When us Black folk refer to ourselves as a POC in a Predominantly White space, it contributes to the
erasure that we fight so hard to rid ourselves of. Might I suggest that when we are talking about issues specific to us as Black folk, we say Black or African American. Think of it on the same
premise of using "I" statements. This erasure is also very real as it pertains to predominantly White spaces like conferences, organizations and even campuses. Netroots' conference last year is a great example of what erasure looks like. Literally, almost every session pertaining to race had the label POC and it came off as, "we know you want issues of race addressed, but we will put you all together in one space and let you hash the issues out on your own." When these scenarios take place, there is a tendency for a group or person to feel oppressed because everyone is clamoring to talk about issues specific to their race, someone gets left out.
I wonder if predominantly White organizations, institutions and etc are doing this on purpose in hopes that we will fight amongst ourselves. Especially when the example of Netroots brings back the memory of having to leave the main space to go to Blackroots during lunch, which was held at a local Phoenix community center and organized by great people like Tia Oso and so many other great friends that I made. The who thing about Blackroots is that Netroots rejected any proposals with the specific intention to center Black voices in a designated space. In doing so, the issues of immigration as it pertains to Black bodies had to be discussed of site, we were erased. How much, and how often is this happening at these events and campuses that portray themselves to be progressive and liberal, which somehow falsely exempts them from being called on their White privilege and racism. Anyway, I ran across a video on Youtube that speaks to this issue, it was posted by this great person who goes by QueerAsCatt in the final days of 2015:
"i’ve long since had issues with how some people, specifically white people, repeatedly misuse the term “People of Color” (aka “POC”). at long last i’m finally putting my frustrations into words in the hope of bringing awareness to these issues.
in the interest of being as brief as possible, in this video i've summarize my issues regarding white people’s usage of this term into two points:
1. treating POC as if they are a homogeneous group of people. ( @00:29 ~ )
2. treating whiteness as if it is the default not only in one's own country, but internationally. ( @4:12 ~ )
obviously when people who consider themselves to be allies to POC make such mistakes the mistakes are honest ones with no ill intent behind them. however, that does not change the fact that mistakes are being made and that these mistakes should be corrected.
if you consider yourself to be an ally to people of color, please watch this video and be open to rethinking your usage of “people of color.”
Let me put it another way, in 2013 Janani wrote a piece for Black Girl Dangerous entitled "What’s Wrong With the Term ‘Person of Color’." In this snippet from the piece, she addresses being non Black, non Indigenous & Non White:
"...As an identifier, ‘person of color’ can be slippery for a lot of politicized, non-Black, non-indigenous, non-White people in the US, for 2 reasons:
1) US/Western imperialism is so widespread that it even imposes its ways of doing racism on the rest of the world, and on people of color. For example, my family is upper caste, and that caste position is partly what enabled our immigration to the US. It also means that we’re lighter-skinned South Asians (read: closer to Aryan British colonizers). Using the term ‘POC’ as my identifier rather than ‘South Asian’ or ‘Desi’ means I never unpack these non-Western racial systems that are also at play.
2) Many of our communities have benefited variously from racism. South Asian communities I’ve been involved in use antiblack racism as one strategy of assimilation. Because as White people have established, the easiest way to shore up your racial supremacy is to be antiblack, displayed in everything from microaggressions to employment discrimination to violence. We know that people of color can be racist towards each other. What I’m saying is that many of us also reap systematic advantages from the racist attitudes and structures that are held by our entire communities.
How do we, as politicized people of color, acknowledge the very limits of the term ‘people of color’ and the way it can mask our actual racial situations? For example, why do we keep using the phrase ‘communities of color’ as targets of police and state violence when we primarily mean Black and Latino folks? What races are we trying to contain in the word ‘brown’? Why are we afraid to point to the specificities of racism? Do we think it will divide us? Do we think we are really not capable of understanding and working from the different ways we experience racism?"
We all should use the term in context and make sure it is relevant to the conversations and settings involved, or you will be contributing to your own erasure. We should also check people when they are using it to silence us, disrupt it, take over the spaces...