shock value & solutions

{trigger warning: video contains mention/images of domestic violence, injury}


i understand and appreciate the sentiment.  and i sincerely agree that black folks--perhaps sistas in particular--will have to pool our resources in order to uplift and empower ourselves.  {something we used to do in big ways, in case you didn't know}.

one of my personal dreams is to have a home large enough to help sistas and babies in just this way.

but i have some serious concerns about the presentation of the solution.   

for one, "blackistan" is horrifically insensitive.  "-stan" is a suffix meaning "land" in many languages (eastern euro/ slavic/ asian), and has positive connotations.  many, many folks have died to be able to rename their ancestral lands on their terms--just as we have.   

where does "-stan" have negative connotations? the western eurocentric/american media.  which i'm sure the makers of this video do not mean to align themselves with. 

the above sentence is the last time you'll see me use that word.  i pray it doesn't catch on.  

the second thing that smacked me was the deep tone of internalized oppression.  who thinks anyone is living like that because they want to?  but more on the economic justice angle later.

even within some of our worst communities, there have been places that were respected and protected: safe houses, homes of community elders, etc.--sometimes by the very "thugs" we demonize.  having the Fruit of Islam provide security within housing projects and at community events worked well for decades.

as i move through baltimore, dc and other urban areas, i still see this kind of oasis around community centers, certain homes and offices.  the key? seeing and serving the community from a base of respect and mutual cooperation.  trust and believe: there have been mechanisms of protection and respect within the 'hood, and there can be again.* 

we also have to be careful of tossing around the "ex-con" label.  these men didn't do what they did because they'd been in jail. they did what they did because they were/are sociopaths.  not all sociopaths are currently or have been imprisoned, and being imprisoned doesn't turn everyone into one.    
which leads me to my next point: we all have healing to do.  the mental health issues that form the backdrop of these individual cases and the state of our people as a whole will not magically disappear.

i rejoiced over the Kenyan women's village when it first came to light.  but i also understood that their cultural and spiritual base allowed for that kind of cohesion and community in a way that ours might not--at least not without a lot of work.  sistas who would be open to this kind of arrangement have probably already done a fair bit of reprogramming to get to that stage.

how do we overcome the pervasiveness of the idea that you can't trust another woman, or that two women can't live amicably in the same home?

how soon would these arrangements fall apart if or when someone accuses the sistas of being queer or lesbian? 

remember i mentioned economic justice?  how many sistas facing these living conditions receive benefits from the state?  how does that restrict their income and general mobility?

i noticed one of the comments mentioned that women should start the process with family members, which many folks do--either by choice or circumstance.  the catch: that still doesn't make it easier (financially) to get outta the 'hood.** 

i'm not saying the folks who made this video are not prepared to face these questions--they may very well be.

but, as i always say: go deeper.  don't stop with the soundbites and the quick, feel-good fixes.  

* i'm aware that this has changed greatly with the emergence of a younger generation that often has no understanding or respect of the "rules"--that's a problem.  you also don't see sistas being offered much protection unless they're the "right" kind of sista.  another problem.  

** remember: statistics lie, and you can't always judge a book by its cover. a woman who's single (on paper) doesn't necessarily lack a loving partner and/or co-parent.  folks are workin it out. eff what ya heard.  it's also important to note that marriage is a problem if you need assistance, and it's been that way for years.

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