All I Want For Christmas Is For Sports Misogynoir to Have A Seat

I woke up this morning with every intention not to write anything today.  Recently, life for me ain’t been no kinds of a crystal stair.  For the past three weeks through a cold, stomach virus, work fatigue and life in general, I’d been reading and writing for finals in both my classes.  After confirming that I scored another 4.0 for the semester, I decided that for the next three days I was on a writing break.  I needed time for my brain to breathe and fingers to relax.  But then I got an email from the National Conference of Black Political Scientists congratulating me on my second paper abstract being accepted for this year’s conference.  Doing the “me” thing, I decided to bend my rules a little and brush up on some of the reading I did for the submission.  Given that my topic is on Black Female Sexuality and its present reception in society, a lot of my readings were based on theory as well as pop culture things like Amber Rose’s SlutWalk and Brelyn Bowman’s purity pledge.  Scouring the internet for more pop culture examples to dissect in my presentation, I happened upon the whole uproar with Gilbert talking shit about the WBNA.  Admittedly, I heard about his comments before, but that was around the time I was in a post-finals/sick fog where I couldn’t lend it the random pop culture intellect I can now (read as: I was far too tired to give a fuck).  But now that I have my second wind and while I’m in the zone of Black feminist/Womanist thought, let’s have a quick chat about how incredibly stupid comments like Gilly’s really are.  

 

While blog site after blog site can tell you numerous ways how asininely sexist the comments were, I want to take a step back for a minute and look at the framework from whence this bullshit came.  The bigger problem with Gilbert’s incredibly fucked-up, sexist comments is that they stem from the long-standing tradition and practice of undermining Black women’s sports acumen by criticizing their appearance.  This isn’t an isolated incident.  We’ve been here before.  

 

We were there in 2000 with Love and Basketball.  Aside from the constant crooning of Maxwell everytime Monica and Quincy were around each other and Zeke keeping his wife’s fine ass in Gucci and gold (such a joy of a quote), one of the subplots in the movie touched on this subject.   While there were no direct comments correlating Monica’s appearance to her basketball ability, one of her constant conflicts throughout the film was the expectation of balancing (or at times outweighing) society’s standard of “being ladylike” against her passion for the sport.  The most compelling scene in the film on this topic was the debate Monica and Quincy had in the car regarding how her “attitude” on the court could cost her being selected for a college team.  When Quincy advises that she should calm down when playing, Monica points out the double standard that women have when playing the sport,

 

Please, you jump in some guy’s face, talk smack and you get a pat on your ass.  But because I’m a female, I get told to calm down and act like a “lady”.  I’m a ballplayer, okay?  

 

While rooted in fiction, this example stems from a serious, real-life quagmire female athletes, particularly Black, find themselves in.  When their ability is top-notch, they are often the targets of ad hominem attacks with their femininity being called into question.

We were there in 2007 with Don Imus.  While most of the public outrage was directed to the fact that Imus referred to the Rutgers University Women’s Basketball Team as “nappy headed hoes,” what wasn’t discussed as much was the underlying sentiment that the University of Tennessee Women’s Basketball Team won because they were the “prettier” (and not-so-ironically fairer-skinned) team.  Such reasoning feeds into the erroneous assumption that appearance influences ability.  If that were truly the case, there should be a whole rack of people in the NBA, NFL, and whatever else 3 or 4-lettered sports organizations on unemployment because their looks don’t compare to their ability.  

 

We were there in 2012 with Gabby Douglas.  Here we had young Miss Douglas slaying the gymnastics competition in the OLYMPICS, yet there was all this controversy about how she wore her hair.  Of course some people in the pithole of opinion hell aka Twitter went just as far to say that Gabby’s hair was the missing element in her being the quintessential Black female athlete role model.

 

Seriously.  

 

For starters, she is an athlete.  Having gone to an all-girl high school, it really wasn’t an uncommon thing at all for ANY athlete regardless of the sport they played to have a ponytail.  Secondly, she was 16 at the time.  Have any of you people met 16-year-olds?  Their appearances can range from gorge to plain and everything in between.  This includes hairstyle.  When you blend together Gabby’s age and her profession (a profession that she has not even out of high school, mind you), I was neither shocked nor outraged by any of it.  In fact, I expected it.  Watching student athletes in action, who would want to invest time away from practices and working out and money into going to the hairdresser if you’re only going to sweat your hair out hours later?  What was our problem that we were far more concerned with the girl’s snatchback than we were with her snatching gold medals in the name of these United States?

 

My God, when are we NOT there with Serena?  If I listed every, single example of how her appearance undermined her sports skills, I’d most likely still be writing this “short” piece well into 2016.  Her incidents include Tomasz Wiktorowski comparing Agnieszka Radwanska to Serena stating that they keep her small “because first of all she’s a woman, and she wants to be a woman, being called arrogant and cocky, to the most bizarre recent pandering that a horse be more deserving of Sports Illustrated’s 2015 SportsPERSON of the year honor.  But again, much of the grievances against Williams harken back to the misogynoir framework that a Black female athlete can’t simply be a good athlete without her appearance being called in for critique as well.   

 

So how do we resolve this conundrum?  For starters, we can continue to serving seats for folks comments, posts, articles, and whatnot that perpetuate this kind of bullshit.  And said seats can be occupied by both men and women (believe me, there were just as many women standing by Arenas as there were men).  But in making this mass purchase order, it will take the effort for both men and women to be vocal about this.   It was great and expected that the WNBA spoke out, and yet we’ve heard next to nothing from the NBA.  Perhaps because deep down, whether they would admit it or not, there is room on the row for them to take a seat as well because they feel the exact same way Arenas does.  As I always say, folks should listen to who speaks and hear who is silent.

 

“Feminism, What’s Good?”: On Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj and “The Trouble Between Us”

Nicki Minaj

Before I tell you exactly why I am more than willing to serve Miley Cyrus’s public persona a Four Horseman shot of bleach, cyanide, kerosene, and antifreeze, let me make this clear.  I am a semi-fan of Nicki Minaj, but I am not a Barb.  Never have been, may not ever really be.  I’ve been openly critical about certain aspects of Nicki’s music, message, and the like.  Those are the facts.  Be that as it may, right is right and wrong is wrong.  And when it comes to the Nicki situation, Miley is wrong.  

While the world may have just seen two people having a public disagreement on stage, as a PhD student you tend to see things a little differently.  Yes, I saw the show go from the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards to the late 90s-early 2000s Source Awards in a matter of seconds.  But also considering the sociopolitical implications and constructs that brought about that moment on that stage, I also saw a metaphor for the ever-present issues surrounding the relationship of White feminism and Black women.  

And that’s where I’m irritated as fuck.  

I am a firm believer in the thought of the background always telling the foreground of any person, place, or thing.  So before we dissect what actually took place on the stage, let’s start from the beginning.  The foundation of the Nicki/Miley feud is actually a spinoff from a Twitter-debate (never really saw it as a beef, per se) from Nicki and Taylor Swift. Months later after Taylor and Nicki decided to play nice, Miley gave a pre-VMA interview with the New York Times where she discussed the Twitter situation between Nicki and Taylor.   In fairness, I will say that the blame of this problematic foundation does not just lie with Miley.  Joe Coscarelli from the New York Times is a raindrop in this shit storm as well.  Analyzing at the way Coscarelli framed certain questions to the point of possibly fabricating facts (I’m still looking for the receipts where Nicki exactly said “when a White girl breaks a Vevo record, she gets nominated” that was referenced in the NY Times interview), it makes sense why some aspects of the discussion warranted certain reactions from Miley.  But that is where it stops.  After shying away from leading questions about any direct personal statements Nicki did (or more than likely did not) say about her, Miley went into classic, white’splaining mode stating that one of the reasons she did not accept Nicki’s critique of the industry was because of the tone that she used.  In the interview she said the following key statements,

….People forget that the choices that they make and how they treat people in life affect you in a really big way. If you do things with an open heart and you come at things with love, you would be heard and I would respect your statement. But I don’t respect your statement because of the anger that came with it.  And it’s not anger like, “Guys, I’m frustrated about some things that are a bigger issue.”  You made it about you…

If you want to make it about race, there’s a way you could do that. But don’t make it just about yourself. Say: “This is the reason why I think it’s important to be nominated. There’s girls everywhere with this body type.”

[Coscarelli points out that she did say this]

What I read sounded very Nicki Minaj, which, if you know Nicki Minaj is not too kind. It’s not very polite. I think there’s a way you speak to people with openness and love…I know you can make it seem like, Oh I just don’t understand because I’m a white pop star. I know the statistics. I know what’s going on in the world. But to be honest, I don’t think MTV did that on purpose.  

Let’s pause here and tease this response out.  First off, I’m going to need for everyone to understand (Black, White, or whatever) whenever we talk about race-related issues, you are in for a multitude of responses and reactions.  They can range anywhere from light-hearted, to hurtful, to angry, to depressing, and everything else in between.  The reason for that is because there are a multitude of emotions that go along with race, all ranging from different places.  In the spirit of Kanye when he said, “The art ain’t always going to be polite,” neither will race conversations.  Given that logic, for Miley to say she doesn’t respect or accept someone’s perspective on a race-related issue because it sounded “angry” is dumb.  It is also, albeit, yet another example of a component within White supremacist culture–the policing of every conceivable facet of the lives of people of color including our emotions.   To clarify, I’m not saying Miley is a White supremacist.  But her thinking and reaction to all this (like others, including Taylor’s) is a byproduct of our society living under a White supremacist structure.  The audacity to say that you can negate and discredit someone’s entire argument based on the premise, not of it being untrue, but because it was spoken harshly is part of the construct of privilege only afforded to White people.  

In the words leading up to the last paragraph, one could easily don their cape and swoop down to save Miley with the argument of, “Oh but Miley is just a celebrity.  Why should we give thought to what she says about race?”  That would be valid had not Miss Cyrus alluded that she was in some way knowledgeable of the topic stating, “I know you can make it seem like, ‘Oh I just don’t understand because I’m a White pop star.’  I know the statistics.  I know what’s going on in the world.”  Lesson for the class: The minute you purport yourself as having some kind of empirical knowledge on a subject matter, whether it’s good or not, that puts you up as a candidate for critique.  That is just what is happening in this moment right now.  

Furthermore, let’s also consider the source of these statements.  Seriously, who the fuck is Miley Cyrus to have any kind of nerve in policing Nicki’s tone?  In writing this piece, I have gone through the timeline of all of Nicki’s tweets on the situation.  In not a single one did she curse, call anybody out of their name, or whatnot (before you shout, “But Nicki called Miley a bitch at the show,” hang tight, we’ll get to that in a second).  Yet Miley is saying that her tone was too harsh and not spoken out of love hence why her truth is unacceptable?  This is coming from a girl who prides herself in constructing a “not giving a fuck, I stay true” attitude, will flip you off for no reason, and whose basis of all the promo commercials she did leading up to the VMAs was the fact that she curses so much.  This girl wants to apply respectability politics to a situation that didn’t even involve her to begin with?  

*hits the Quinta B step*

I CANNOT!!!!!!!!!

So, now that we have analyzed the background of this case, let’s deconstruct what happened in the foreground at the show.  By now, we pretty much got the gist of what happened.  After that trash ass joke about police brutality from Rebel Wilson (whom is on the list to be dragged at a later time along with Viacom’s overall bullshit for this particular award show), Nicki won for best Hip-Hop video for Anaconda.  The speech started off as light enough, giving props to women and men taking care of themselves.  Now here’s where it gets sociopolitical for me.  After shouting out different folks, Nicki went on to thank her pastor.  At the core of this feud between Nicki and Miley was the issue of the role of Black respectability in responding to social issues.  For Black people (and most White people), there is nothing more respectable than a Black person talking about some good ol’ Christian religion.  For Nicki to talk about her pastor could give her the appearance of being the “respectable” person Miley tried to say she should be when expressing herself  From there, Nicki deviates her attention from her wholesome persona to addressing Miley head-on, “And now back to this bitch that had a lot to say about me in the press the other day.  Miley, what’s good?”  The very second when Nicki said, “And now back…” was a powerful, key moment.  The structure, again, of this entire issue has been the policing and dictating of Black emotions and responses.  When Nicki showed she could talk about “respectable” things in one moment and then square up the next, she resumed ownership in her range of emotion.  Going back to what we mentioned earlier when we examined the background, due in part to the White supremacist structure of our society, people of color are not often afforded that opportunity to express themselves in various ways.  When we are, the results can range from being socially detrimental to physically deadly.  For Nicki to do so publicly knowing the social backlash she will endure (being classified as ghetto, a hoodrat, trashy, classless, etc.) should be acknowledged.   Furthermore, given her possible frustration with such a system (she did make mention to White media and their tactics in the midst of her Twitter feud with Taylor), I can understand why she would come at Miley so hard at that moment.  From the start of the incident stemming with Taylor, people have been very critical of her harsh tone while she did not use any curse words. No matter if her language was profane or pure. she would still carry the burden of the Angry Black Woman label.     It is pretty much a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.  

But the sociopolitical applications do not end there.  Miley’s response was a social statement as well.  While Miley did congratulate Nicki on her award, the sincerity is questionable at best.  Miley did so with a dismissive attitude, telling her “Congratufuckinglations,” flipped and twirled her fake dreads around her finger, and offered further condescending indirect chastisement about Nicki’s response.

Considering the subject matter, their physical positioning of where Miley and Nicki were in relation to each other, and the language used reminds me of everything discussed in Winifred Breines’s The Trouble Between Us where Breines talks about the social and personal conviction of checking discrimination and marginalization of one group (women of color) within an ideological movement structured to address discrimination and marginalization of another group (women).  On television you see Nicki standing on one part of the stage and Miley is across from her, with a mosh pit of a couple hundred people between them.  While Nicki is going off on her side, Miley can give this cool, dismissive attitude with her fake dreads because she is in a protected place where Nicki cannot get to her.  No wonder she’s unbothered.  She doesn’t have to be bothered.  Had we removed the mosh pit and there was nothing more than space and opportunity between them, we might have seen a different reaction from both parties.  This can easily be seen as a metaphor for the volatile relationship between White feminism and women of color.  With Nicki being the example of women of color who try to be outspoken against intersectionality issues concerning race and gender and Miley being the example of some White feminists who are dismissive towards those issue, the mosh pit is the barrier of racial privilege that divides the two groups.  It is what protects the Mileys from the Nickis.  It is what allows the Mileys to flick and flip their appropriated, costumed culture around for the world to see much to the outrage of the Nickis.  It speaks to the issue that while womanhood can bring women of all races in one arena, the intersectional issues of race is what keeps us on different stages.  

Miley was dead ass wrong and tried it speaking out of turn in regulating somebody’s reaction.  While Nicki certainly could have addressed the issue another way, I will not condemn her for doing what she saw fit. Having people constantly police your presentation before they get to your point (if they are even willing to hear it) is infuriating.  This is especially frustrating from someone who supposedly calls herself a feminist so you would think she would get it.  But how do we fix this problem?  Right now, I ain’t got the answers, Sway.  But I think having these kinds of conversations is critical.  Acknowledging that there is a problem from both white feminists and women of color instead of being dismissive is key *coughs Facebook*.    It is what could lead us to cultivate solutions to simultaneously eradicate sexism and racism.  

Feminism, what’s good?

Mother Fuckas Never Loved Us: How Black Girls Have Never Mattered in the Fight For Black Liberation

Yup

#STAYwoke

lafdjdlkj“I will not participate in the public bandwagon bashing Bill Cosby. Rape is rape and it is never justifiable, but rape is largely only punished in this country when the victims are white women, and the perp is a Black male….

Where was this outrage when Josh Duggar molested his sisters? There was no outrage instead excuses were made in his defense. While TLC continues to promote 19 Kids and Counting, I’ll continue to remember the images of Black culture that Bill Cosby was responsible for producing. The image of what Cliff Huxtable represented. This was not about any sexual relations Bill Cosby had, but more about tarnishing the legacy of yet another successful and prominent Black figure….

9 Black people were murdered by a confederate flag waving white supremacist, because apparently “you’re raping our women. Yet there’s still discussions about weather that flag should still be allowed, not even…

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Letter From A Black Girl to Rachel Dolezal

Rachel DolezalAshley Afro puffs

Dear Rachel,

My name is Ashley; Ash for short around this time.  I’m between the ages of 4 and 17.  The 29-year-old Ashley would rather not be bothered by you.  Being a scholar of Black studies where she spends countless hours reading, studying, and sorting through Black pain and Black positivness, she is weary.  When she sees you, she sees a mountain of theories, articles, and books from scholars such as bell hooks (“Madonna: Soul Sista or Plantation Mistress”), Edward Said (Orientalism), David Mariott (“On Racial Fetishism”), and Frantz Fanon (The Wretched of the Earth).  After the semester she’s had, the truth is she tired.

But the little girl within her (me) is both intrigued and confused by you.

Contrigued, I supposed.

What I’m contrigued by is how you thought you could just assume the identity and experience as a Black woman without any connection to me, the Black girl.  The experience of the Black girl is critical to the becoming of a Black woman.  It shapes how she thinks, sees, and deals with her in society, be it positively or negatively.

I know that the #AskRachel thing is a joke, but there are some serious things I want to ask you.   Throughout your White childhood did you ever have the following experiences:

  • Holding on to the moment of joy you felt at 4-years-old seeing at least one Black girl character on a cartoon (even if she had no speaking parts or was an extra) because you knew you would probably never see another one again?
  • Having your ear singed from the heat of the hot comb (or the hot comb itself) at 6-years-old to get your hair to look as straight as possible because there’s this social idea that your kinks and coils are “unmanageable”?
  • The pain of having to sit through your first perm at 7-years-old, picking scabs from your scalp every six weeks for years because again, your hair is perceived as “unmanageable”?
  • Wanting to let those natural kinks and coils go free at 16-years-old but not getting that opportunity to have that kind of freedom and confidence in your image until you were 24?
  • Wanting to be as happy as the White girl on the package of a dollar store toy beauty kit at 5-years-old, but being disappointed it’s not realistic for you to try to use the brush and comb on your hair?
  • The anxiety of picking a doll at Toys R Us at 8-years-old because while you knew you should pick one that looked like you, you weren’t convinced you would look or feel as happy as the scores of White girls in the magazines playing with their dolls? Even if there was Kenya?
  • Worn big clothes from 13-years-old because your body was changing and based on the countless music videos and attention you got walking down the street minding your business, the more your clothes fit, the more sexual you were perceived as a Black woman and you did not want that kind of attention?
  • Never having a desire to play with your Addy American Girl doll at 9-years-old because although you could not verbalize it, subconsciously it felt weird to play with struggle of your ancestors (was there ever an Anne Frank doll)?
  • Having the struggle of your life trying to self-identify a sense of pride in yourself as being Black and female when White men, Black men, AND White women are constantly are either speaking of you negatively or ignoring your existence altogether?

Now let’s be clear.  My specific experiences may not have happened to all Black women, but the concept is the same.  Having to navigate through a society that tells you constantly that you are less than does not suddenly happen at 27 (the age where you reportedly started to assume this persona) as a Black woman.  It starts very early when you are a Black girl in the toy store, in school, in your living room watching cartoons, in magazines, and in life.  Unless you had some sort of past life experience (which I don’t believe for a minute that is the case here), I fail to see how you cannot connect with me and peg yourself as a Black woman.

It is for this reason, Rachel, why despite your commendable contributions to Black advocacy, I refuse to let you, your jheri curl hair store wig, and golden tan Bare Minerals blackface just rock.  My experience is not a costume nor a fabrication.  There are levels to Black womanhood.  Considering studies like #BlackGirlsMatter, the outcry against My Brother’s Keeper, and movements like #SayHerName, we are slowly realizing that Black girls are largely ignored or harshly criticized in society.  Accepting you as only having ten years of being a Black woman would be a slap in the face to the many years of serious soul searching I did in order to be Black women.  Others are still searching, even well into adulthood.  Some may never get there.

To validate your version of Black womanhood would invalidate and erase the necessity of Black girlhood.  That the essence (and in your case benefits) of Black womanhood without going through the experience of Black girlhood is easily bought and sold through a few good works, a disguise.  It says that my journey to get where I am does not matter.  It says that my experience does not exist. That’s troubling.  If we are this dismissively accepting of a White woman pretending to have a Black women’s experience, it makes sense why we have so many hurt and damaged Black women around today.  When they were little Black girls, they did not matter.  They still don’t apparently.

In closing, I think that I can speak for both the Black girl within and the Black woman becoming that this was beyond not being cool.  For the umpteenth time, you seriously did not have to lie to kick it.  But you did and now to me, the Black girl Ashley, we can’t be friends.

The Black woman Ashley simply says, “Fuck you.”

“Mass Organization=Sorority Level”: What We Can Learn From the Demise of Sorority Sisters

So let me preface to say that yes, I am a member of a sorority.  Just admitting that alone I know more than half of you are probably rolling, your eyes, sucking your teeth, or contemplating flipping to another blog.  Stay with me if you can. I’ll get right back to y’all in a second.  Let me also say that I am not speaking on behalf of my organization in any way; I’m just a member of a sorority who has an opinion (as right or wrong as it may be to some folks).  Now that all formalities are out the way, here’s how I break.

As I spent my Founders’ Day yesterday at work posting pictures in my favorite crimson and cream sweater, dusting off my red Chuck Taylors, and indulging in red velvet cupcakes, the internet gave me one of the nicest gifts I’ve ever received on January 13th in a minute.  While putting on my coat and getting ready to head to class, I got an alert on my phone that a high school friend (who is not in a sorority) tagged me to a picture on Instagram.  As most people do who are addicted to social media, I put down my coat and checked my phone to see what she tagged me to.   Tapping on the little square on the upper right corner of my phone, my screen illuminated with a picture of the infamous Sorority Sisters cast.  Knowing this friend wouldn’t play me like this tagging me to this picture on my Founders Day, I looked in the caption to figure out why she would bring this to my attention.  Inscribed underneath the picture was the following:

 

According to reports, VH1 reality show #SororitySisters has been cancelled!!!! After Friday the show will no longer air…

Good.  God.

I stood there speechless trying to read the words over and over again to make sure what I was reading was what was registering in my brain.  After about the fifth or so time, my subconscious and conscious came to the agreement that what I was reading and comprehending was for real.  Sorority Sisters was to be no more.

I’ve never been into ratchet reality television.  Anybody that knows me can validate this as a truth.  I’ve signed several online petitions, was totally here for Michaelangela Davis’s “Bury the Ratchet” campaign, and  I simply don’t watch the shows.  The only way I would know anything that is going on these programs is because of social media telling me how folks are proposing to men, knocking people out, sleeping with former boyfriends, sleeping with current boyfriends, keeping sidewives as sidehoes, or anything else like that.  With that being understood, I think I fail to meet the qualification of the chastising argument given to Sorority members who are opposed to Sorority Sisters, “Well, you watch the other reality shows though.”

From the beginning I have always been an adamant opponent of the show.  And when I say from the beginning I mean way back when Mona and Company posted that my-first-iPhone  taped YouTube commercial one random day in July 2014.  After watching the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) sororities (Alpha Kappa Alpha, Delta Sigma Theta, Zeta Phi Beta, and Sigma Gamma Rho) silence and snatched the commercial from the internet almost as fast as it was posted, I thought it would be the last we would hear about this foolishness.

Oh, but then…

I still can’t remember what I was watching, but I remember being in my bed and then seeing the first commercial saying the bullish was back.  Mona took her name off the producer list, but I didn’t think she wasn’t chilling in the background.  Imediately, my phone started jumping with texts from Greek friends and family asking if I had seen the travesty.  I responded to many with dismay and confusion of its unusual return (the promo aired not even a week before the premiere).  I thought we deaded this months ago?  Does this show have the lifespan of a multitude of cockroaches?  WHY IS IT BACK?!?!?

Within the coming days, I saw countless pleas from the people (some in sororities and some not) to give it a chance.  That maybe it would be a good look for us?  *In my Take A Bow voice* PLEASE.  Bad black images under the guise of “reality” are the bread and butter of the Mona Scott Young empire.  Her name may have disappeared  but I doubt if her influence did.  After ten or so years of this, we know how she rolls by now.  If it ain’t about the ratchet, you can miss her wit it.  But out of the darkness of disparity, Black social media gave me hope.  There was a campaign afoot to combat television trash in the form of petitioning, boycotting sponsors, channel blocking, and protesting.  It took a little while to get folks on board, but eventually the hash tag #BoycottSororitySisters became a thing; and a very good thing, might I add.  What amazed me was the variety of people that participated.  Men and women; older people and younger people; BGLO members and non-BGLO members.  A lot of friends who I knew from elementary, high school, and college that didn’t pledge gave me a lot of support (it also made me realize how much I really display my org if I was their first reference point in hearing about this mess).  Since the first airing of the Greek tragedy (no pun or exaggeration; I heard it was really that terrible), the protest had taken root and grown.  While VH1 tried to downplay the social media demonstration as minimal, subtle hints suggested otherwise.  Like their standing firm in a pool of quicksand that the show was “really connecting with its audience.”  Hmm, steadily declining weekly ratings indicated a connection?  News to me.  Or when they said that it was only a few members that took issue with the program.  Hmmm, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that maybe the folks at VH1 just don’t get how NPHC’s work.  Those “few” members (aside from the countless tweets and tags you got from other pissed off members) wrote a letter to you all saying how as a collective unit, they weren’t here for this program.  Those “few” members were the National Presidents of each of the sororities you decided to include in your Greek Freak Show.  Those “few” members pretty much speak for the entire organization when they speak (or at least that’s how it rolls for me and mines).  And then there was the all time kicker that let you know they were hurting BAD: that pathetic little sit-down for the cast to “defend” themselves.  What is there to defend exactly, doll?  You prostituted your membership in your organization to act a purebred fool for a paycheck.  In the NPHC world, there is no defending that and you know it.

But despite such useless strategies, protesters were steadfast in our approach which appears to e paying off now.

We could argue all day about the rights and wrongs about Fraternity and Sorority life, the seemingly pointlessness of protesting this kind of thing, and how it appears contradictory to protest against one show but not the others.  But to me, again as an opponent of all reality ratchet television, this wastes a lot of time and energy that can be better spent into formulizing new strategies, which is what I’d rather hear being discussed.  How can we as a people replicate the approach to combat other shows and social issues?

Key word: Organization.

One of the main reasons why the #BoycottSororitySisters movement was able to produce results so quickly was because it was an organized effort by an organized entity.  To my knowledge, there is no National Basketball Wives Association of Anycity, USA or Hip Hop Jumpoffs Junction, Inc. to go after these kinds of shows that degrade their featured demographic.  Despite how folks may feel about the whole concept of fraternities and sororities, it cannot be denied there is power in a unified front.  This demonstration showed that (which is a concept I think Black people have been struggling with for a while, but that’s another writing piece).

But therein lies a conundrum: How do we get organized?  In constantly reading different stories about the Sorority Sisters debacle, the comments sections always seem so filled with attacks from NPHC members and non-NPHC members towards each other.  Speaking in this capacity, there is one thing that both sides need if we are to effectively organize–humility.

NPHC Fraters and Sorors, we have to be humble enough to learn from AND teach our communities.  Yes, we came up with this masterful strategy to combat Sorority Sisters, but what good is it if we don’t reapply it elsewhere to help the communities we claim to support?  And when we teach others what we have done, we must do it in such a way that is helpful, not haughty or with some superiority complex.  Nobody wants help from someone who presents himself/herself like a pretentious jackass no matter how good their intentions may be.  We have to understand our people as well.  We are not better than them, we are them.  Learn their names and know their needs.  Don’t bust up in the hood not knowing what it’s about like Edward Said discussed in Orientalism (Yeah this is a Political Science nerd reference; he was actually talking about European infiltration in the East but you get my drift)  Alpha Phi Alpha member Cornell West once said, “You can’t lead the people if you don’t love the people; you can’t save the people if you don’t serve the people.”

Non-NPHC folks, the same prescription of humility to learn and to teach should be used.  Instead of being so quick to negatively criticize what was or was not done earlier, it would behoove you to ask questions about how #BoycottSororitySisters got off the ground so quickly and how the results are materializing.    It is clear that this is a strategy that produces results.  Why not try to learn from it and encourage NPHC members to get involved with your causes (if they are not involved already)?  Again, being a pretentious jackass (i.e.- eye rolls, teeth suck, nitpicking criticism)  works both ways–nobody wants help from one and nobody wants to help one.

I know that when I talk about organizing, I don’t expect that if everybody just smiled on their brother (or sister) that everything will be okay.  Like we would all magically be on the same page at the same time all of the time.  *Bring the Take a Bow voice back*  PLEASE!  Of all the countless hours studying Organizational Behavior, I know that isn’t going to happen.  That never happens in even the most well-organized groups in the nation.  But even though we may not be on the same page, that does not mean we still can’t be in the same book.