"The thing about this appropriation of the burqa that people need to understand is that people like Lady Gaga haven’t done a thing for the communities [here and abroad] that wear, live and breathe the garb who are subjected to harassment for doing so. The words “appreciation” and “admiration” are painfully hollow when you take a piece of clothing from a community and strip it of its intent and the consequences that come from it. Lady Gaga makes millions and taxes subsequently take a huge chunk of those millions. Therein, a quarter of her taxes are used to ravage Muslim majority populations. Has she spoken out about this? Has anyone orientalist who bastardizes our garb done so? Where were they when the Sikh tragedy happened? Where are they now when Newsweek posts a horribly offensive article on Muslim rage, aggressively written by their puppet Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who I’m ashamed to call my fellow Somali? Do they come to our defense when we’re expected to kneel over and apologize on behalf of extremists, who funnily enough kill us as well? If I wear a burqa, niqab.. or hell even a fucking hijab, I’m a stupid, brown savage who has no capacity to think for herself. But when Gaga wears it, its revolutionary and fashionable. People love to scream equality and colorblindedness when such an event arises, but such a world is completely theoretical until we fix these the caricatured perceptions about Islam. The power dynamics here cannot be ignored.”
I responded to a letter with a letter regarding Beyonce, Solange and her most recent cover on NOW Magazine:
The initial complaint:
Knowles no role model for young women That’s quite a cover photo of Solange Knowles last week – a young black female performer looking provocatively into the camera while sitting on a stack of mattresses (NOW, February 21-27). The Knowles sisters have always been a classy operation. Beyoncé earned millions performing private shows for a Middle East dictator when she wasn’t taking millions from Pepsi to push their sugar water to young kids. Did you mention any of that in your article? It started by talking about Beyoncé. Why NOW feels compelled to perpetuate the Knowles agenda is beyond me. Am I happy thinking about young girls checking out your magazine cover? Hell, no. Nick Winters
I think Nick Winter’s assertion that the Knowles sisters are bad role models for young females was an unreasonable claim.
Critiquing Solange based on her sister’s unique “political” choices throughout her career is impartial and biased as it takes away from Solange’s individualism as an artist. I think as an individual who is marginalized as both a woman and a person of colour, Beyonce shouldn’t be blamed for utilizing career opportunities granted to her in order to generate income and expand her publicity. Much like Viola Davis shouldn’t be blamed for making the decision, as an actress, to play a role in a very problematic film like “The Help.” Don’t hate the playa; hate the game.
Let’s also not forget that although Beyonce’s work is rather banal, her entire career revolves around enforcing female empowerment, embracing femininity as a tool, independence, work ethic and self-love. I admit that some of her political choices in her career have been problematic, such as participating in black face or responding back to Harry Belafonte’s criticism of her not advocating for issues within the black community by referencing her humanitarian work for 9/11 (with the assumption that it was a suitable rebuttal). However, I don’t entirely expect political consciousness from a commercial, pop artist. It’s also increasingly more difficult for a marginalized artist to incorporate politics into their work and still achieve a commercial level of success.
Lastly, critiquing NOW’s choice in displaying a “provocative” image of Solange; a woman of colour (who is alas at the peak of her career with new found individualism) is entirely unfair. Provocative imagery of women in the media is a nuanced issue – but to see a woman of colour, front page and displaying a non-conventional form of beauty (for instance, her posing with non-processed hair is a political statement in itself) is directly valuable in many ways to young, coloured females in particular.
Marie-Joseph Angelique, Oliver Le Jeune, Michaelle Jean - how recognizable are these names to the majority of our citizens and how well informed are Canadians about the history of blacks in Canada?
Every year that black history month rolls around, our country seems to fall into national amnesia about the complete history of Black Canadians. It was not until my third year in university that I acknowledged how deluded I was as a citizen about the history of blacks in Canada. Fourteen years of public education and all I had come to discover was the atrocities of African-Americans in our neighboring country; a woman named Harriet Tubman and some Canadian Underground Railroad. That was the jest of it.
Somehow the historical facts about slavery in Canada had slipped from the minds of my teachers, or facts such as the first exodus of slaves to Sierra Leone had departed from the east coast of our nation, or the details of black loyalists, immigration restrictions on blacks in the 20th centrury or the story of ‘Africville.’
Unfortunately, certain facts just don’t seem to play a role in the national narrative of our land. Being such a pivotal part of our history, these untold stories should not be limited to one of the shortest months of the year, but instead integrated into our public school curriculums to remind Canadian students like myself that those of African descent played a critical role in the history of shaping our nation, and it didn’t just involve an Underground Railroad.
“I think all theories are suspect, that the finest principles may have to be modified or, may even be pulverized by the demands of life, and that one must find, therefore, one’s own moral center and move through the world hoping that this center will guide one aright. I consider that I have many responsibilities, but none greater than this: to last, as Hemingway says, and get my work done.
I want to be an honest man and good writer.”—– James Baldwin, from Notes of a Native Son
Lately I've been hearing about Somaliland from my Somali friends and theres just alot of tension whenever its mentioned. Can I ask, what is the whole Somalia-Somaliland situation and why is it such a taboo? Also, what's your opinion? Thanks:)
"Lupe is that dude that took one political science class with some radical professor in community college and now all of a sudden feels inclined to tell everyone how they’re living wrong, all while looking like a dark Otto Rocket." - a tumblr text post
"Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and finally in to you."