Social Issues

R.Kelly Should Not Have Support In 2017

At this point, I'm sure you've read or should have read the report released by Buzzfeed detailing the abusive cult led by none other than R. Kelly.

*sigh* I'm tired of hearing about a 50-year-old black man who has preyed on black girls for years but because they are black they are deemed invaluable so nothing has been done. This is the same man who was taken to trial when video evidence was released of him urinating on a 14-year-old girl and when documentation was also released of him filming other young girls in sexual acts as well. So when I read the Buzzfeed report, I see red, because this situation – parents losing their children and girls being sexually abused on an almost constant basis – could have been avoided years ago. While the report of R. Kelly's abuse, mental, emotional and physical is sickening to read in detail, reading black men and women defending him is even worse. I am exhausted from black people defending problematic entertainers and artists because they feel like they do it for the "culture" or in this case because R. Kelly is viewed as an R&B connoisseur. R. Kelly is not an R&B connoisseur, he's a grown man preying on black girls. Period. People who are still supporting R. Kelly after having the information given to them single handily, after countless trials are choosing not to care. Black people supporting entertainers who are known to be abusive, rapists, or sexual predators is nothing new, but every single person who still listens to R. Kelly, buys his music, any music executive or venue who stages his shows, and the music artists that continue to collaborate with him enable his behavior. The support he continues to receive makes him think that this is okay and that nothing will be done.

Photograph from PicNoi

R. Kelly is not an R&B connoisseur, he's a grown man preying on black girls.

The adultification of black girls is a problem, that countless reports and studies have shown is a problem in how black girls are perceived in society and the problems it creates daily for black women, such as receiving medical care and in schools. But this is not only with how white people view black girls but also how black people, especially black men view black girls as well. In the black community, if a young black girl does not adhere to the "good girl" stereotype they are viewed as "fast." Being "fast" means that this girl is now no longer viewed as a child, but as a grown woman as she was not acting a child in the eyes of that adult. For example, if you spoke up or disagreed with something in your household to either your momma or grandmother you would not only get popped but you would be viewed as acting grown. In the black community, we are quick to strip black girls of their innocence and vilify them if they do not adhere to our expectations. Black girls are expected to live up to the racial stereotypes that have been placed upon them by society of being loud, angry, and sexually experienced. Black girls are viewed as being sexually experienced by the time they are 12 years old because of the adultification of black girls, they are not able to be children. They are not able to grow into their own and learn.

Photographer: William Stitt

Black girls are viewed as being sexually experienced by the time they are 12 years old because of the adultification of black girls, they are not able to be children. They are not able to grow into their own and learn.

The support of R. Kelly is the same support black families give the family member that is also sexually assaulting our children. It is the same support given to sexual predators at the family cookout when you force the same child that uncle or cousin was inappropriately touching to get close to them or sit on their lap. That child still has to be around that person and relive these experiences and the most we give these families, either from the church or the grandmother, a deacon of the church in most families, is, "go to church and pray it away." We as a community have to do better of holding these people accountable who prey on our communities. In the case of R.Kelly, he has been preying on young black girls for decades, there is no reason he should still be receiving the support of anyone, let alone the black community. We have to start valuing black girls and black women, their lives, their contributions, and who they are as people to stop these things from happening. If R. Kelly was treating and hurting white girls or white women like this, he would have been in jail and probably received a life sentence. But because these are black women, because these are black girls being treated this way they are viewed as less than, no one to save. We as the black community have to work to change this narrative and show that black girls and black women matter. 

I am honestly hoping that more people will read this report and the articles that have been written by black women on the impact of his actions on black women and the black community that R. Kelly will lose his support and earnings, but I won't hold my breath. 

Mental Health and Hip-Hop

mental-illness-in-the-hip-hop-community
mental-illness-in-the-hip-hop-community

Photo Credit: Joel G. Mwakasege

In the first week of October, Kid Cudi released a statement informing not only his fans, but the general public that he was checking himself into a rehab after spending years battling with depression and anxiety. In April, in an interview with Billboard, Kid Cudi revealed his battle with depression and using drugs as a coping mechanism. During this interview, Kid Cudi also mentioned how his last album Speedin’ Bullet 2 Heaven would be his last album where he would be the “dark depressing” character that people knew regarding the artist and his work. That part of the interview stuck out to me because whenever my friends or people, in general, would discuss Kid Cudi to or with me, they would always make him out to be this dark and depressing character. As if, that is the only person he was or is.

The presence of mental health and mental illness has always been discussed and talked about in hip-hop. Hip-hop is an art, it is music, and for these artists, their music, this is how they discuss how they are battling with their mental health. Their music is the conversation of their daily struggles with their fans, with society, to educate and let people know what they are dealing with. I think the problem is, many consumers, CEO’s and owners of record labels rarely pay attention to the mental health of their artists or what their music is talking about or discussing. I think the lack of respect for hip-hop artists as true artists causes for many not to pay attention to their words, to their pain. Hip-hop artists become known for the popular persona, for the character that they have created through their music. It’s the person that’s always turnt, always sipping lean, taking a battle to the head, these are the people we dismiss as consumers and as friends.

Jordan Simpson (Twitter handle: @a_JBsoprano) discussed how hip-hop has always talked about mental health and mental illness in hip-hop, but how people commonly overlook these artists’ words. Check out a few of the quotes Jordan Simpson provided on his Twitter timeline below:

In the examples listed above from Jordon Simpson’s timeline, you are able to read and see lyrics from prominent artists whose songs and lyrics we have listened to time and time again, yet these are lyrics that are overlooked. These are lyrics that are glossed over and unseen by many. There was an article that came out when Kid Cudi announced checking himself into rehab where the headline said, “Why don’t hip-hop artists discuss mental illness more” or something similar to that. It is extremely infuriating when writers at prominent publications write headlines similar to this because this is coming from the perspective of someone who is not in tune nor listens to hip-hop. There is clear evidence that hip-hop artists are discussing and talking about mental health and mental illness, but the people who write articles such as these are choosing not to listen.

I’m glad that more and more people are discussing mental health and mental illness on a national platform, but also that there is more of a conversation regarding men of color and their mental health. From here this creates a bigger discussion that will allow for people to be educated on mental health and provide resources to others.

You can also read my post Mental Health in The Black Community.

Mental Illness In The Black Community

I was 23 before I started going to a counselor for my actions and symptoms that were very similar to the same symptoms of depression. I was depressed most days of the week which caused me to not eat for most days of the week. I lost weight and was awake for more than 12 hours of the day with 4 -5 hours of sleep thrown in here and there. My partner at the time also dealt with issues with mental health and rarely focused on me. I spent most of my time trying to make sure he was doing okay, emotionally and mentally. To make sure he didn’t slip into the mindset where he may have felt as though his life had no more meaning and tried to end it. When I wasn’t doing that I was studying. I was in the library for 7-10 hours at a time and even once I left the library I would go straight back to my dorm room to study until I had to go to class again or I would head straight to class to learn new information. This was my life the last year and a half I was in college. I was always alone and even when I wasn’t alone, may be hanging out with friends I wasn’t mentally there. I always tried to find a way to be alone in my dorm room so that spent more time studying as I could then have an excuse to tell my friends as to why I didn’t show up to have lunch or an event. I felt empty and numb most of the time wondering why I even woke up most mornings. I didn’t tell anyone about these feelings, not my mom or my sister and I felt like if I did they would ask me why I felt this way when my life was so good. When I had more opportunities than most young adults my age get, why would or how could I be depressed?

Mental health or mental illness is rarely discussed within the black community. In the black community, mental illness is thought of as a “white person’s disease” it is nothing that affects black people. But mental illness is not dependent upon race or gender. Mental health is extremely important for any and everyone, no matter their race may experience or deal with mental health issues. Without mental health, we can not be healthy. Everyone experiences emotional ups and downs, including black people.

“According to the Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health, African-Americans are 20% more likely to experience serious mental health problems than the general population.” (African American Mental Health. National Alliance on Mental Illness). The statistic is true, although black people are more likely to deal with psychological distress versus their white counterparts, black people are less likely to seek help when dealing with mental health issues. The stigma surrounding mental illness in the black community is heavy as black people feel as though choosing to seek professional help, such as a therapist is a sign of weakness. The topic of mental health is largely absent from discourse in the black community. It is not a topic that is talked about amongst friends or family given the stigma associated with mental illness in the black community. In fact, some family members may even ridicule or make fun of the individual dealing with the mental illness. As a result, individuals in the black community choose to suffer in silence rather than telling anyone what they may be dealing with.

One of the reasons psychologists say black people suffer more from mental illness versus their white counterparts is because of the “psycho-social reason, including socio-economic status, poverty, and crime in African-American communities.” (Nia Hamm. Black Folks and Mental Health: Why Do We Suffer in Silence? Ebony). Black people tend to feel as though their suffering is a normal and expected outcome given our history from slavery to present. But also dealing with the fact that in a country that is predominantly white, we are the outsider. As an outsider, we are more prone to discrimination and actions from the majority that may also contribute to mental illness developing at an accelerated rate.

But how do we as black people change the conversation of mental health in the black community? Well, that’s not going to be easy, but the first step is getting the conversation going. I have already seen young black millennials take the lead and start discussing the topic of mental health on a public platform. At the beginning of May, The Fader published an article on Victor Pope Jr, a comedian, and social media star, where The Fader interviewed Victor Pope Jr to discuss his YouTube video where he openly talks about living with Bipolar Disorder. You can find the link to the article here.  Also, providing the resources to black people in the black community of more affordable options that will help their mental health. Recently, more people are using virtual therapy such as talkspace, where a person is able to text or skype their therapist. This would allow for black people to not have to go into an office or force them to let family members or friends know where they are going, but also make therapy more accessible.

There is still a long way to go before black people may become comfortable and more open and accepting of the thought of mental illness as well as talking about it in comfortable spaces such as, barbershops, family functions, and events, but I think once black people are more educated on mental illness as well as therapy it will be easier for it to be talked about in the black community.

But just a reminder to everyone if it has never been said to you before:

It is okay if you are sad if you get depressed if you get anxious or have anxiety if you just can’t seem to find a reason to get out of bed on some mornings because of how you are feeling. Your emotions are valid and you are valid.

Mental Illness in BC Pic

 

Does Political Affiliation = Negativity?

Almost a month or so ago Franchesca Ramsey engaged in a conversation with a user on Twitter about the hate she receives. The conversation was focused on the fact that Franchesca receives a lot of hateful, demeaning and sometimes racist comments from various people on Twitter as well as on her YouTube videos. If you do not know who Francesca Ramsey is then you should check her out on YouTube and Twitter. Franchesca Ramsey is a writer for the nightly show with Larry Wilmore, host on MTVs Decoded and she has her own YouTube channel (@chescaleigh). Do yourself a favor and check out her YouTube video on 4 reasons why white pride makes people uneasy because you know that should be explained like people don't already know this. Francesca Ramsey is not afraid to talk about the issues a lot of people would prefer to act as if they don't exist or are silent about as to not make others uncomfortable. One of the reasons this is, is because people honestly don't like to hear anything that goes against what they believe. If you are saying something that goes against another person’s beliefs, people tend to buck and respond with negativity and sometimes even violence because they are now being pushed outside of their comfort zone. This negativity is usually associated with talking about race, religion, abortion, or any other hot topic.

What was really interesting about this conversation is that a Twitter user made the point that the hateful comments seem to come from mostly conservative voters or people whose morals and ideals would be identified as conservative. The conversation really got me thinking. Are conservatives more hateful when on social media? Do they tend to leave more hateful comments versus liberals or independents? Or is this another case of media bias- the bias or perceived bias of journalists and news producers within the mass media in the selection of events and stories that are reported.

Most of the time when I am scrolling through Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube I never think that a person being hateful could be political…except when the issue the person is commenting on is political. I see the point the Twitter user was making when they initially said this. If the issue is regarding race, white privilege, gay marriage, or abortion I do think conservatives will comment and reply with more hateful commentary because issues such as these are going directly against the beliefs that are typically associated with being a conservative. I also think conservatives are so used to surrounding themselves with people like them, who have the same beliefs or who talk the same way as them, they do not want to hear anyone who would go against that. While I do not think that a person’s political affiliation solely determines their behavior on or off social media when discussing social issues, I do think a person’s beliefs will and does determine their response to certain social issues. A person’s decision to identify as a democrat, republican, liberal, or conservative, is based upon their beliefs, values, morals and ideals.

The degree of a person's hatred when interacting with someone who believes something different I think has more to do with the time we are living in. I think people think it is a bad thing to disagree with someone and automatically want to argue if someone has a different opinion. Because of social media, a person is now able to constantly surround themselves with people who think exactly the same way they do and get angry when they encounter someone who believes something different. It’s a matter of telling people that its okay to disagree with someone and it not lead to an argument or an attack of insults followed by that. We as a society need to work on our communication and learning how to talk to people regardless of what they believe. We get too caught up in titles, especially regarding politics and who people decide to affiliate themselves with.

So tell me below in the comments what do you think. Do you think a person’s political affiliation determines how they will react to certain social issues? Do you agree with the Twitter user that conservatives are more hateful?

The Fight for Abortion Includes the Trans* Community

I love having friends who constantly challenge and educate me. Who are not afraid to call me out on my shit and say, “Christina, you fucked up. Stop talking about shit you may not know about.” That’s why I was so excited when one of my best friends posted a very valid and honest post on Facebook about the issue of abortion. I will not screenshot their Facebook post into this blog post, nor will I say their name, but I will give you a quick synopsis of what they said. They stated that, “abortion is not only a cis woman issue. Trans individuals need access to abortion and reproductive health as well. Many afab (assigned female at birth) trans individuals feel as though they have no voice and cannot have an opinion on the issue given mainstream feminism.”

I know it was a very quick post, yet those are the best ones such as in this case. It packed a punch and opened my eyes to an issue I had never truly thought about. I am a cis woman so when the topic of abortion is brought up I argue passionately for the subject as I do feel it is something that affects women everywhere. Although, as an ally, I had never thought about how abortion may affect the trans* community and afab trans* individuals.

In the last year, there has a been a recent push amongst reproductive and abortion rights activists to use more gender inclusive language where the focus for those who would need access to abortions is not only focused on cis women. But where there is a push for something there is a push that goes against it. There have been feminists who have stated that the use of gender inclusive language of pronouns would “. . . render half of the population, those who got pregnant, invisible.” (Link to article here)

That’s ridiculous. It even sounds ridiculous. How does using gender inclusive language render the female population invisible when a person obtaining an abortion should not solely be based on their gender? What I mean by that is, I view abortion as a solution to a problem that has happened in a person’s life. They may not have a lot of options and this may be the one act, the one solution, that gets them out of this problem. It is asinine to think that abortion can only be inclusive of cisgender women when it should all-inclusive to transgender men and non-binary individuals as well. Those who are a part of the transgender community face not only discrimination within society but also discrimination within the medical field and failure to use gender inclusive language when talking about abortion rights only furthers the problem and limits the trans* community's accessibility to medical and reproductive services as they do face increased discrimination.

The issue of abortion rights has always been viewed as a woman’s problem, an issue that only affects women and their bodies, but that is a basic and limited way of viewing the abortion rights issue. Unfortunately, that mindset and that view of abortion rights is what drives the abortion rights cause. Many feminists feel as though by not specifically using the term women or talking directly to women you are leaving them out of the conversation. Those who are a part of the mainstream feminists movement have gone so far as to create an ultimatum, “. . . To address privilege in the movement threatens women and, therefore, strengthens patriarchy.” (Link to article here)

Inclusion makes a movement stronger as it causes more people to feel included and respected. What you may lose in individuals who do not agree with your new message, you make up for with integrity and respect towards new individuals who want to be a part of your movement once you started being more inclusive. Using gender-neutral language does not make women invisible, yet using and portraying the idea that only women need access to abortions does make the trans*, non-binary and genderqueer community feel invisible. I think when it comes to feminism, there's a history of feminists speaking out on injustices and issues that "white, upper class, cisgender women" (Link to article here) find to be important, yet not including, maybe even "othering" those who do not identify as "white, upper class, cisgender women". I think those a part of the feminist movement, including myself, need to do our part in portraying those who are a part of oppressed groups, not only women, and not only the groups many feminists may feel comfortable with. The first step to making those who are a part of oppressed groups feel included is to start using inclusive language.