All good things must come to an end

February and Black History Month are over! My limited exposure to the media meant I didn’t have to deal with too much stupid BHM crap this year. Must remember this strategy next time around.

First thing, I want to thank all of the guest bloggers and essayists who contributed to ABW last month. Your contributions were everything I hoped for and more — you’re all amazing and talented folks.

On the guest blogger front, I’m happy to announce that Karynthia will be joining us as a regular political blogger. She’ll usually post on Mondays, though if this election continues to bring the crazy, you might see her even more. Nora will remain a contributor as well.

Due to the awesomeness of the author essays, I am going to make them a regular feature. I might use different themes each month or stick with the history thing, I’m not sure yet. Suggestions are welcome.

I must say, though last month was awesome, was also one of the busiest on this blog in a long time. I loved it, but I am ready for a break. So here are some links to tide you over this weekend:

If you’re interested in more discussion, debate, and musings from creators (not just of fiction, but of art, comics, television, movies, etc.) then I highly suggest you look over the Race Around the Net list compiled by digital_femme on LJ. It’s an excellent place to start if you’re looking to read and learn more.

You may have noticed links to Black News Junkie on some posts. BNJ is sort of like Digg for black blogs. It’s a good place to see what folks on blogs are talking about, you can vote on interesting stories, and you can submit your own blog posts to it. Right now it only drives a bit of traffic, but as more people use it, it will benefit both bloggers and readers more. Go make an account!

For those of you interested in children’s literature written by and about black folks, check out the festivities over at The Brown Bookshelf. Every day in February they highlighted an author or illustrator and there is a lot of good stuff over there.

A few weeks ago I got an email about TheRoot.com, a new website headed by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. It’s a bit like a Huffington Post, but with African-American concerns at the fore. It’s also more news magazine-like with the various bloggers only being one component. So far I find it interesting and entertaining in equal measure.

Besides the blogs and news, there’s also a section where you can start your genealogical search and get your DNA tested to see where your origins lie. Now I am aware that this process isn’t perfect, but I am rather interested to see if there’s something in my background I’m not aware of or if I can find out from what region of Africa some of my ancestors hailed from. Still, until I have a few hundred dollars lying around doing nothing, I will just have to wait.

Last and least, here’s the stupidest Black History Month thing I came across on the Internets:

Walgreens Sort of Celebrates Black History Month

Walgreens BHM

Is this a cotton-picking joke? We’ll never know. What crazy stuff did you all find/hear about?

February on the ABW

Welcome to February ABW readers. Already this month is making me angry, though less for public reasons than private. Still, there is a lot to look forward to, at least around here. One of those things is posts from a cavalcade of guest bloggers, some of whom you’ll see often, some who just contributed an essay. To start, I want to introduce you to the folks who you’ll see more than once. In no particular order, here are this month’s guest bloggers:

sokari ekine is a Nigerian living in London. She is the founder and editor of Black Looks blog which has been running for 3 1/2 years.

Naamen Gobert Tilahun is a writer/blogger based in San Francisco. He holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and has been writing about and discussing issues of race/gender/sexuality/class and all other oppressive hierarchical structures for a very long time now. He identifies as a post-structuralist and embraces the title of “another angry black man” because he knows he has a valid reason/right to be angry. He can be found at his personal mostly-writing blog, Words From The Center, Words From The Edge, and as one of the group bloggers on Feminist SF- The Blog!

Karnythia is a writer, a historian, and occasionally a loud mouth. In between raising hell and raising kids she usually manages to find time to contemplate the meaning of life as a black woman in America.

Steven Barnes is a fiction, television and movie writer. His career has spanned over 25 years and produced dozens of books and teleplays as well as nominations for the Hugo and Cable Ace awards. He blogs about his passions: writing, martial arts, writing (again), his family, race, and politics (to name a few).

Angry Black Bitch has been practicing the fine art of bitchitude since February 2005 and the Internet hasn’t been the same since. She blogs about politics, race, gender, and other things inescapable as a black woman in America.

Also look out for essays from authors ruminating on the subject of history and posts from yours truly and regular guest blogger nojojojo on our own history and pretty much anything that comes up.

Happy Black History Month, everyone!

The Missing Black Woman Formation

Missing Black Woman

Apropos of Monday’s political post, I wanted to point out some interesting blog posts. A few weeks ago, author and friend Scott Westerfeld posted this excerpt from his novel So Yesterday:

A focus group of cool-hunters has just been shown a new sneaker advertisement, and they all seem to agree that it’s awesome. That is, until Jen says:

“I was kind of bugged by the missing-black-woman formation.”

Mandy blinked. “The what?”

Jen shrugged uncomfortably, feeling the eyes on her.

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” I said, even though I didn’t.

Jen took a slow breath, collecting her thoughts. “You know, the guy on the motorcycle was black. The guy on the bike was white. The woman was white. That’s the usual bunch, you know? Like everybody’s accounted for? Except not really. I call that the missing-black-woman formation. It kind of happens a lot.”

It was quiet for another moment. But gears were spinning. Tina Catalina let out a long sigh of recognition.

“Like the Mod Squad!” she said.

“Yeah,” Hiro chimed in, “or the three main characters in . . . ” He named a certain trilogy of movies about cyber-reality and frozen kung-fu, whose title ends in an X, counts as a brand, and therefore will not grace these pages.

The floodgates broke. More comic books, movies, and TV shows tumbled off everyone’s lips, a dozen stuffed-full pop-cultural memory banks rifled for examples of missing-black-woman formations, until Mandy looked ready to cry.

She smacked the clipboard down.

“Is this something I should have KNOWN ABOUT?” she said sharply, sweeping her eyes around the table.

An unhappy silence fell over the conference room. I felt like an evil genius’s henchman when something goes wrong in a certain series of secret agent films—as if Mandy might push a button on the control panel and we would be ejected, chairs and all, out the roof and into some lake in Central Park.

His post was prompted, in part, by the Gloria Steinem piece Nora posted about last week. “We have a way of becoming the stories we tell ourselves.” Scott said, and provided some pictorial evidence. Travel on over to his blog to see.

Not long after, author and friend Claire Light posted a response:

Not to be down on Scott Westerfeld, [...] but his recent blog post [...] needs some complications added to it.
[...]
The black man inserted into a white couple says, “Our brand is diverse!” whatever that means. The missing black woman, if she were to appear, would say, “We’re selling to blacks and whites equally!” which is not what most commercials want to say. Most want to say, “Hey, liberal white guilt dollars! Flow this way!”
[...]
There’s a fuck of a lot more missing than a black woman. In commercials, one black man is shorthand for all color (i.e. the black woman is not so much missing as unnecessary, since the black man is standing in for her … and the Asian man, and the Asian woman, and the Latin@, and the …)
[...]
the MBWF, a white fantasy scenario, is leaving out a much more complicated, and truly diverse, group of people because that would complicate and diversify the white audience’s social scene, rather than placating them for having a mostly white peer group. So it’s a bit more complicated than just a missing black woman. If we’re going to look at negative space, let’s really look at it.

There is also a very, very interesting discussion of bi-and mixed-raciality and how both white and POC perception of that affects how we see/code/react to folks like Keanu Reeves and Barack Obama.

To Claire’s point about the fact that it’s not just a black woman missing in most of these scenarios, but that the black man is standing in for all minorities everywhere–I definitely get that impression. Just thinking of the Clinton/Obama/Edwards formation, it wouldn’t have surprised me if, in the early days, a black woman had made a bid for president and she was shut out because we already had the minority candidate.

It’s reminiscent of the idea that there’s one slot for minorities, and once it’s filled all other minorities are unnecessary. Whether it be in a company, on a TV show, in a community (who’s the next Octavia Butler, anyone? There can be only one!), or in a group of “friends”. It’s some kind of warped version of Affirmative Action that’s neither Affirmative nor Action. Discuss.

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