The dangers and falsities of ‘black excellence’ as a means of navigating Western society ‘safely’ and ‘successfully’ as a black person

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The George Floyd murder has sparked an unprecedented civil rights movement which is taking the world by storm. Unsurprisingly, even with the video-documented murder of an innocent black man that we all witnessed for an excruciating 15 minutes, some individuals are committed to making a villain out of a victim. There is a recurring theme of creating a mirage of martyrdom out of George Floyd and others like him, just to say in the next breath that these individuals were never as ‘innocent’ as they appeared once contentious autopsy reports are filed and the gaslighting begins. In villainizing George Floyd, these groups seek to justify an inhumane act of police brutality. This mentality tells black people that they are only deserving of basic human courtesy and treatment when they possess flawless records and drug-free histories. …

A $12 million settlement isn’t justice. Black women need to be protected by the law— not murdered by it.

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What does life look like when you are one of the most disrespected people in America?

Nataysia Williams would show you, but she was shot dead by a security guard in Brentwood, Indiana on August 28th, 2020.

Breonna Taylor would tell you, but she was shot dead in her home by police officers in Louisville, Kentucky on March 13th, 2020.

Atatiana Jefferson would show you, but she was shot dead in her home by police officers in Fort Worth, Texas on October 12th, 2019.

Sandra Bland would tell you but she was found hanged in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas after a traffic stop on July 13th, 2015.

You may have heard the names of these women after waves of protests in the last several months. Maybe you donated to their charitable causes or signed petitions demanding the arrests of their murderers. Maybe you cried. I did. Maybe you shelved their names and stories in that place at the corner of your mind where trauma, heartbreak, and hopelessness live. Maybe you did nothing at all. Regardless of your response at the times of these murders, where you were or what you did, the fact remains that you and I, we could. These women couldn’t. They can’t. Weeks, months, and even years have passed since their deaths. Yet the question still remains — will there ever be justice for Nataysia, for Breonna, for Atatiana, for Sandra? …

In response to a recent post which congratulated Teyana Taylor’s new role as Creative Director of the online fast-fashion franchise, Pretty Little Thing, I shared this tweet(s):

“Happy to see Black women with large creative influence but also thinking about how Black people navigate the wider intersections of global Black progress/social activism. PLT is known for its unethical production practices which affects Black/Brown women around the globe the most […] We cannot do everything but does our activism/politics become contradictory when we say BLM but don’t recognise the danger our consumerism creates for Black lives outside of the West? …

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Essence via Getty Images

Today I watched a response video to the claim that ‘high-value’ men do not like natural hair.

Yes, I had the same reaction. There are so many things to unpack here.

I’ve written about desirability before (‘Desirability politics and why I’m no longer talking about it’) and more recently I wrote for another magazine about decentering men from desirability. Needless to say, this new take on natural hair and how it shapes desirability for black women in the eyes of ‘high-value men’ deserves some discussion.

I take issue with the statement firstly because I don’t entirely understand what is meant by a ‘high-value’ man. High-earning? Highly-educated? It seems that this content creator was, whether intentionally or unintentionally, equating a man’s wealth and financial status with his value. …

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CW: mention of sexual abuse

Yesterday, I read an article about sexual abuse amongst Nigerian men. These are not the easiest pieces to read. But at the same time, these are not the kinds of stories one often comes across, particularly when you consider the shame and respectability politics that govern Nigerian culture. All things considered, it was an insightful yet saddening read. Interestingly, it got me thinking about how I understand masculinity and specifically black masculinity in general.

I recently finished bell hook’s We Real Cool and it helped me start to understand the foundations of black masculinity in the West in ways in which I had never previously considered. Off the back of that, I’m now reading Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul On Ice to see more deeply into the mind of the impassioned Black Panther activist and writer. …

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We are 3 days into the 2020 election night marathon. Ballot counters have headed home and counties are preparing for the next day of work that will undoubtedly redefine the face of American democracy as we know it. It seems as if the country is upside down. But in the week that culminates 4 years of political unrest and division like never before, where is the ‘American church’?

Well, the ‘American church’ can be found in front of election departments donning MAGA hats and praying for ‘justice’. If you do not cross them there, perhaps you will encounter them leading “impassioned prayer services” as a means of securing President Trump’s reelection. …

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Lina Kivaka

So, it’s election week. As a legal alien, i.e. a documented non-citizen, I can’t vote this election year. Maybe in 2024. Regardless, I’m sort of relieved I’m not faced with the choice this year. The state of American democracy these days is complicated enough to fatigue even the most politically-acute millennial, and I am neither one of these things.

On a serious note, I have seen countless comments (and rebuttals) about choosing to ‘vote Jesus’ this election. I’m not quite sure what this means. Jesus is one, not on the ballot, and two, neither political parties wholly represent Jesus’ life or teachings. Perhaps what people mean is ‘vote for the most Jesus-adjacent party’? …

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Pexels; Judith Agusti Aranda

Today I tuned in to a film screening of ‘African Apocalypse’ by Femi Nylander via one of Trinity College’s celebrations for Black History Month. This exploration into the bloody past of the French colonialist Paul Voulet through the Niger region can hardly be called a celebration, but it did renew my eyes to the horrors of European colonialism.

I find artistic depictions, particularly film adaptions, of the colonial period to be sort of hit and miss these days. It’s sort of like, we get it…the Europeans hated African people. They kind of still do. What’s new? But this documentary was different. It didn’t aestheticise the horrors and brutalities of this period. …

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I recently started following Sarah Pulliam Bailey on Twitter. She’s a reporter from the Washington Post covering faith, politics, and culture.

Today, she tweeted about one of her recent articles on the rise of ‘patriotic churches’ under the Trump administration. The mantra of these churches is essentially to ‘love Jesus and love this country’. They are, as Bailey goes on to explain, part of the Christian nationalist movement that has gained a significant amount of traction under Trump’s presidency.

What I got from the thread is that under these new ‘patriotic churches’, while Jesus may come first, the country, America, comes “right behind”. One pastor that Bailey spoke with commented in response to John Piper’s recent article ‘Policies, Persons, and Paths to Ruin’, that “Piper and his friends want to make it seem like we love America more than heaven. …

A discussion surrounding the June 27th Shukri Abdi protest, and concepts of blackness and ‘black legitimacy’ within intra-diaspora diaspora relations

A massive thank you to Natanim Fekadu-Dessie (twitter @ natanimf) and Saron Mehari for taking the time to speak with me for this piece. Hearing their passion for Shukri’s case and racial equality was inspiring, and our brief conversations were eye-opening!

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Illustration by Christo MusinguzI

Shukri Abdi was a 12-year-old refugee who died June last year after drowning in River Irwell in Bury, Great Manchester. Shukri’s death was ruled a “tragic incident” and the Greater Manchester Police did not believe any suspicious circumstances were surrounding her death. However, there has been an emergence of new details about the case, namely the admittance of another child who confessed that they had threatened to kill Shukri before her death. This has led many to believe that Shukri was murdered and her case should be investigated as such. Shukri’s cause has garnered much attention, particularly on social media, and ‘Justice for Shukri’ petitions have received support from notable names in the British celebrity scene, including John Boyega. …


Mary-Hannah Oteju

A personal page. Mostly my thoughts about life, race, gender, and theology. Believer. Millennium baby. Cambridge, UK/ATL. BlackLivesMatter.

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