Healing from Historic Trauma: “12 Years a Slave”

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It never looked as terrible as it was and it made her wonder if hell was a pretty place too. Fire and brimstone all right, but hidden in lacy groves. Such is the “rememory” of Sethe, the main character in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, who recalls the glorious splendor of the trees on the farm where […]

The Rape of Harriet Tubman

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This year marked the 100th anniversary of the passing of Harriet Tubman. I had the opportunity to celebrate that fact when organizing a special symposium back in March, resulting in some thought-provoking critical papers on her legacy of resistance, which I’m currently guest-editing for Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism. One of the more interesting conversations that […]

Race, White Womanhood, and Trayvon Martin

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Reflecting upon the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, I’m struck by the expectations so many in mainstream and social media held for the six women jurors who found Zimmerman not guilty 0f second-degree murder. This jury was more often “gendered” than they were “raced.” Many of us—whatever “side” one took in this controversial high-profile […]

Policing Feminism: Regulating the Bodies of Women of Color

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The decision to feature Beyoncé Knowles-Carter on the cover of the latest issue of Ms. magazine ignited controversy among its feminist readership, and as the author of that cover story I’m not all that surprised. Indeed, my article is precisely about the “debates” over such a high-profile celebrity and sex symbol identifying as a feminist. […]

100 Years Later: The Harriet Tubman Symposium

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We don’t know the exact date when the great and powerful Harriet Tubman (ca. 1820-1913) came into this temporal world, but we do know when she left it. One hundred years ago on this day, Harriet Tubman exhaled her final breath and spoke her last words to those at her side: “I go away to […]

The Onion CEO Takes Quvenzhane Wallis to Disney World!

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Well, not really.  What Steve Hannah, CEO for The Onion, the popular satirical news source (otherwise known as “America’s Finest News Source”), actually did was issue an apology to Quvenzhane Wallis after an immediate backlash on social media greeted an inappropriate tweet from The Onion‘s live Twitter feed during the Academy Awards telecast Sunday night. […]

Django Unchained: Unspeakable Things Unseen

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(Beware: Spoilers below) I was hesitant to see Django Unchained, having read an earlier script floating around the Internet, until actress Kerry Washington said this about her role as long-suffering slave and love interest, Broomhilda: Look I can see how it’s not particularly feminist to play the princess in the tower, waiting to be saved. […]

How Do We Address Misogyny in a Racist Society?

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You know things seem dire for women when you find yourself revisiting Andrea Dworkin. Not the Dworkin who’s often misquoted as saying, “All heterosexual sex is rape,” but the Dworkin who once said this: Have you ever wondered why we [women] are not just in armed combat against you [men]? It’s not because there’s a […]

“Respectability” Politics: Michelle Obama vs. Nicki Minaj

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During this past week of presidential politics, the contrast in depictions of black women in the public sphere couldn’t have been more striking. On one end was the dignified, eloquent First Lady Michelle Obama, universally praised for her speech at the Democratic National Convention. On the opposite end was rapper Nicki Minaj seemingly “betraying” her […]

Let Them Eat Cake

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On first sight, it’s pretty clear why Afro-Swedish male artist Makode Linde‘s performance art piece “Painful Cake,” which premiered at Sweden’s Moderna Museet for World Art Day last week, struck many people as just plain wrong. The performance featured a black-iced cake in a caricature of an African woman’s torso, complete with protuberant breasts and […]