Monthly Archives: January 2018

‘Sex On The Table: Decoding Black Sexual Politics’ by C. Imani Williams

Black Sexual Politics, have the Black community in a quandary. We’re not sure how to manage some very serious conversations that need to be held in the village. I maintain that many of our struggles over relationships and interpersonal communication stems largely from not having had a collective conversation since slavery ended.

Black People Are Survivors, White Supremacists Hate It
It’s painful to think about the horrors our ancestors lived through with no agency over what happened to their physical bodies. The sexual degradation they faced every single day included the unthinkable. Sons forced to have sex with their Mothers, Fathers unable to keep slave owners from repeatedly raping their wives and daughters. While Black babies born out of rape were not acknowledged by their rapey ass fathers, they also caught hell from white mistresses, torn between their husbands proof of infidelity with enslaved Black women, and their hypersexualization and straight out thirst for Black men.

Revelations Found In Mandingo
As a twelve-year-old, I read Kyle Onstotts’ Antebellum fiction classic, Mandingo, when it hit me where the word “Muthafucka,” I sprinkled conversations with when adults weren’t around, came from. That that word explained what happened between mothers and sons in the book, Mandingo was set in 1857 and can also be categorized as historical fiction that told horrors of sheer evil. Making the connection made me blue. An avid reader, it took me some time to finish the book. I wasn’t allowed to see the movie and had to catch it on VHS as an adult.

Faith, Love, and Sex
Major amounts of wrong were heaped on our people, and we haven’t had a break from white supremacy to heal. With each sexual revolution, (if that’s what we’re in right now), new ideas and expressions are introduced, and old school games get a makeover. The $25 engagement ring debate broke the Internet. While the beauty of honoring traditions like jumping the broom, during wedding ceremonies and its history takes a back seat to clicks and likes. Which brings us to 2018 where community staples – the Black Church, and Black Respectability Politics continue to thrive.

Strong Roots
The world is ever-changing. Staples of yesteryear lessen unless the roots are maintained. Family structures have changed quite a deal. Wouldn’t you agree? Not everyone is Christian which some Black people take offense to, and some religions are more oppressive to women than others. Our story didn’t begin with Christianity, we would do well to remember the ancestor’s way. Religion kind of leaves the door open for judgment unless everyone is of like mind. Regardless of race queers are a minority, and the Black community holds onto a deep disdain for Black Homosexuality. Maybe, embracing spirituality and love would be helpful, while we figure things out.

Male Toxicity Is Dangerous For Everyone
Male toxicity is a curiously dangerous thing. It throws shade and sheer hate towards hetero women, queer women, and especially trans women. It both pokes fun at and threatens male homosexuality. A social construct born out narcissism, male toxicity is so potent that some women support it. With some cis women standing with Black men in denouncing queers and their right to be. Rape apologists are sometimes women protecting men and or the image of men they hold on to. Tragic.

Black people remain behind the 8-ball on many sexuality issues. Call it self-censoring, unless it pertains to satisfying the needs of cis men. We’re more conservative than not, despite the Mandingo and Jezebel stereotypes that exist. There is so much cross-dissension between hetero women and men that queer issues don’t get addressed readily.

When Black queers are diminished to punch lines of jokes, it equates regulating queer folk to the children’s table during holiday dinners. Concerns and pleas to be accepted as part of the community and the adult table are rarely granted. Kids are told to “Sit there with your cousins,” and “Don’t move from that table!” Kids get full for sure, but the children’s table fare never looks as good as the food on the grown-up table. Feel me or not there’s truth to it.

We Are Family!
Black trans women are part of our family. The hospice nurse who cared for my father as he transitioned wasn’t Black but she was a trans woman who carried herself professionally and was one hell of an R.N. Trans women are getting a lot of buzz right now over who they are and their right to hold space. Laverne Cox is a one-woman show serving as PR professional, Activist, Artist, and Speaker of Truth. Trans women are getting more network media roles than lesbians and using the opportunity to advocate for trans rights and sharing the stories of transphobia and discrimination faced by the trans community.

As long as trans women stay “over there,” it’s out of sight out, of mind. You saw “The Crying Game,” and we all struggled with Forest Whitaker’s character as he went through the process of dealing with falling for a trans girl who stole his heart. That’s a movie. In real life, trans women are being murdered. Spelman College will be in the news for a good minute when the prestigious all women Atlanta HBCU, formally admits Trans co-eds this September. It’s an all women space, and a huge move where Black Respectability Politics reign, with a lot of generational legacies and traditions. The governing body of the Divine Nine, known as the Pan- Hellenic Council, has been real quiet. The lion will awaken soon. Hopefully, Spelman administration and Board of Directors are preparing for the good fight. It’s epic.

Fear, Hate, and Black Male Fragility
Once things blow over at Spelman, other HBCU’s will follow suit in breaking down barriers to Black education. We’re going to have to get a handle on male toxicity. From reports and hood gossip, it appears that Black men are responsible for the string of “convenient” murders when they learn their love interest was born a boy. Which begs the question, when is the right time for trans women to disclose that they were not born girls? I think that even those with fragile egos deserve the right to provide a “yes or no,” and to turn down sex if the person is not their cup of tea. Communication is key, and we’re ignoring that fact across the board.

Debating the Disclosure Window
Today’s dating world handles the art of sharing information through texting and hookups. Should trans women disclose through Snapchat or whenever someone slides into a DM on social media, just because someone shows up? I think not. It can be argued, that when married people cheat they should be honest about their status, giving people a chance to decline. Surprise outings can and do lead to violence. It’s possible that disclosure at any point will drive a fragile-minded person to react violently. Regardless, they have a right to know, and safety for trans women and cis women alike is a concern. Both are true.

The Debates Continue As More Trans Women are Murdered
When male toxicity and homophobia are present, it’s neither emotionally or physically safe for trans women to disclose at any point, or for cis men to have friendships or be attracted sexually to trans women. There’s a silent rift between Black cis and trans women, and lesbians and trans women also have their issues. Black people must come to the realization as marginalized and disenfranchised folks, that Black Liberation has to include the entire Black family.

Bottom Line: We Gotta Do Better By One Another
Social media can be beaten like a drum to address issues and find solutions. Addressing Black Sexual Politics is part of the journey in reclaiming our villages. It’s also a multi-generational discussion. If not us then who, and if not now, when?

Copyright 2017 by C Imani Williams. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

‘A Testimony of Faith and Gratitude’ by C. Imani Williams

“Stop the Nonsense, and Get. Your. Life” is the title of the podcast I did for Bon Bon Break in 2015. A motivational essay turned podcast (new format for me), that made the cut. The message was for me as much as any (Wo)man going, through. When I thought about my testimony today, I didn’t know if I would write a poem, or stick to my usual essay. If you’ve read my book, Reflections Of A Survivor (arranged by Melony HIll), and co-written with five other courageous and conscious writers, you know my journey over the last seven years.

Applying The Lessons
I believed in what I was saying in “Get Your Life.” I was struggling financially and battling depression on a regular basis. But, I had to hang on and know in the depths of my spirit, that if I did what my mother wrote on her deathbed, that I would be okay. “Trust, God!” Her mantra, even as she accepted that her days were numbered on this plane. During my earnest talks with my “Cool Cat,” Daddy explained again, that he made no move to the right, to the left, in front, or behind, without checking in with his Father. A Libra, he balanced things out studiously, before making a decision. The need to practice self-care while parenting myself, and missing my parents is Daddy’s patient spirit showing up to remind me of the necessity of patience. Oh, I’ve learned how to get quiet and listen. Solitude will do that. I got real clear on a lot of things.

Joybells and Gratitude
I proclaim Joybells today. They’re ringing. I will regain doing work I absolutely love, work, that is necessary in my ask of the Creator, to make me of service to community. I want to use my gifts that I know will fulfill my promise to self, to leave this world a better place than I found it.

I’m celebrating, a new opportunity to return love to a community that has enriched my life in so many ways. In all reality, they helped save my life. The. Black. Queer. Community. To the Black Lesbian Community in Los Angeles, and Long Beach, CA, I love you. To my Lil SisTars in Oakland, I love you. To my SisTars in the Detroit Black Lesbian and Arts Community, I love you. To my str8 fam. Queens, I love you. If you’ve stayed this long, heck, you have stories to tell of your own. To my TN SisTars, I’m going to introduce you. I shan’t be selfish.

You all provided salve, for a weary mind and soul. You housed me, fed me, listened and loved on me as I fought to survive. As SisTars, you loved me thicker than blood and continue too. What a blessing for this Detroit born free spirit who was indeed, broken. Broken hearted and the whole nine. Thank you.

Writing Connections
To my Writers-Black Art Connected family. What a mighty long way we’ve come together. I do know we’re going to meet in person. And. It’s going to be lit. We’ve experienced life, death, illnesses, homelessness, and the desire to keep writing. Real. Talk. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to write and grow with so many beautiful creatives across the Diaspora. Connecting with my SisTars here in Las Vegas, is everything. I love ya’ll and what you’re doing is next level. Please understand how full my heart is. Truth. Fam. I’m waiting on the first WBAC wedding. I make couples in my mind all the time. I feel a poem coming on and maybe; a short story, starring you! I love ya’ll. #writeon #8KStrongBlackWriters

Recognizing Gifts
This testimony is also full of gratitude for staying true to my path. It’s been hard. Today I give thanks standing on my purpose. Raising awareness around Mental Health, including Domestic Violence and Childhood Sexual Abuse are my calling. I’m degreed by life and academia. I’m a real deal subject matter expert. I accepted a job offer with a Behavioral Health company here in Las Vegas. I will serve as the LGBT Program Coordinator.

It’s in alignment with the Sex On The Table events I co-host in Detroit where we make intentional space for co-gendered evenings of communication and dialogue. These events have been held with diverse participants and representation across the sexual continuum.

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
I never stop talking about the conversations we need to have, haven’t ever had, since slavery ended. We have to first be willing to talk about the issues plaguing Black communities. Openly and honestly. There is so much healing that needs to take place. As a Healing Artist, I think we have to be gentle with ourselves and others throughout this process.

Across social media and in the real world (sometimes the lines blur), we aren’t being respectful to one another. Across the board. The babies are always watching. If you’re grappling with “everything is about being gay! Why?” Let’s talk about it. I return to the work I left formally over a decade ago, but never really left. I can’t break off the queer part of myself, nor do I choose to.

Restoration Through Service
Being a celibate queer bi-attracted woman gives me a special vantage point into, Black Sexual Politics. To do the work full-time is humbling (it points to the need), and rewarding. I live for outreach and connecting people to affordable and accessible resources. I enjoy gathering and writing our stories. So much of what we have gifted the world through Black experiences goes unwritten, and is eventually, forgotten. I say, no to all of that. A studious researcher, I’m archiving #BlackHistory. I know the worth of that. I got my life, and am ringing my joybells loudly and fiercely, with purpose.

Peace, Love, and Blessings,
~Imani #UrbanBushSista

Copyright 2017 by C Imani Williams. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.

Featured Image Via Tiffany Dillard