Friday, June 29, 2012

Mixed Bag Friday: Things We’re Talking About

To say what a news week seems like an understatement. So much occurred this week leaving me to ponder, how do I capture it all. After following the multitude of events, I’m left with more questions than answers. So I thought that I would try something new. Instead of posting my thoughts on a specific issue, I  post on a series of issues that caught my attention. While the topics and question differ, they all speak to the issue of the functioning of race, class and gender in society. So here we go.    

 Health Care Reform. So the Affordable Health Care Act is Constitutional under tax laws but not under the commerce clause. How might this decision be used in the future? I leave that for others to debate. What I’m especially curious about is how will such a decision change the lived realities of Black women? A number of analyses look at the impact of this policy on women in general. Often ignored is the reality that not all women occupy the same socioeconomic space and as such there are differences in terms of access and privileges. The Affordable Health Care Act expands maternity care and family planning services. It also expands Medicaid for family-planning. These I see as good for women in general and Black women specifically. In terms of those who are living with HIV/AIDS-- children can no longer be denied health insurance coverage. This is a positive change given insurance companies’ treatment of this population. Here is my concern—how do we address the issue of access to care and the availability of culturally competent service providers? These are two factors that are often barriers to Black women’s experience with the health care system.

It wasn’t bath salts! I read this and declared “no shit!” in my most sarcastic of tones. In May, Rudy Eugene was killed by the police while biting the face off of Ronald Poppo (a homeless man). It was widely speculated that Eugene was under the influence of bath salts. According to the autopsy such substance was not evident in his body. Yovonka Bryant (his alleged girlfriend) is quoted as saying It's a puzzle. The hard part is not knowing why. Obviously something went wrong in his mind.” Immediately following this vicious and seemingly unexplainable act some categorized this as a “zombie-like cannibalism”. My guess is that when the unthinkable happens we seek to find explanations even if such explanations are in the realm of make belief. Given the current updates on this case maybe we can take this opportunity to have a more “real” discussion around issues of mental illness and mental illness and its relation to drug use. However, the question remains: Will this finding lead to a substantive discussion on mental health? Will it open up a space for conversation that does not treat substance abuse as an individual failing? Or will we be silent because this is considered such a heinous act?

Bristol Palin and reality TV. I have yet to see the show “Lifes a Tripp” which features Bristol Palin’s life as a solo-parent. According to the Lifetime network this is “a show that follows her everyday life as a single mother living under intense media scrutiny.” One show was titled “Baby Daddy Dilemma”. No comment! What fascinates me has more to do with the (re)imagining of Bristol Palin and the notion of teen pregnancy. Here’s a young woman who appears rather uncomfortable as she promotes abstinence (she was the ambassador for abstinence). During another interview she implied that her virginity was “stolen”. Stolen? What that means is a topic for another conversation. What I’m intrigued by is how her story fits into the larger conversations of teen pregnancy and its intersection with class and race. In other words, who among teen mothers gets to be rehabilitated and who gets punished and shamed? In welfare reform, poor teen mothers are treated as criminals and as devoid of morality. Such young women are often used to tell stories of all that is wrong with the fabric and fiber of American society. Then here comes an 18 year old teen mother, the daughter of the 2008 Vice President candidate Sara Palin. The conversation seems to have changed. The evolving narrative suggests that she has recognized the errors of her ways (almost a Christian rebirth) and is now equipped to lead others to the promise land (virginity until marriage). Really? Why can’t poor Black and Brown girls be treated in such a manner instead of being forced to wear the scarlet letter? How do we rehabilitate the often negative construction of Black girlhood? Is such "rehabilitation" even possible?

Feminist liars. Did feminists of yesteryear lie to women of modern times? Or did they simply leave something for us to experience? Ann-Marie Slaughter recently wrote the provocative piece stating that feminists were wrong. After all, based on her experiences women still can’t have it all. Where did she read this in a feminist text? Which feminists is she referring to? Many have critiqued Dr Slaughter. I actually commend her for being brave enough to put her business out there. That takes a level of honesty and comfort that many of us don’t have. How many of us are willing to publicly say “I messed up”? How many of us are willing to say, as a mother I struggle? Next week I’ll write more on motherhood and struggles. Don’t get me wrong. While I commend Dr. Slaughter I also have many criticisms of this piece. As I read this piece I was reminded of some Christians. Some read the Bible and pledge their lives to God with the expectation that life will now be easy. All illnesses, trials and tribulations are expected now be no more. Many ask “why me?” It seems to me that Dr. Slaughter held a similar belief. Her claim that women still can’t have it all is also reminiscent of how some students and their parents approach higher education. “I paid so much money now where is my A+. Or we paid thousands of dollars, why doesn’t my son or daughter have a job—more specifically a job paying six figures? These are some comments heard by my colleagues and I. There is a sense of entitlement (a false sense of entitlement) running through these claims—by Dr Slaughter, Christians and students. They are operating from a particular view of the functioning of society. The equation works like this:  

If I engage in certain actions + behave in a certain way = A good life, free of conflict and all that I want, will be readily available.  

This is a rather Eurocentric understanding of the good life. This critique of feminism is filled with the ideology of “the world owes me as opposed to what is it that I owe to the world.”

The Congressional Black Caucus. Attorney General Holder was recently found in contempt by Congress. He was found in contempt for refusing to turn over documents relating to “Fast and Furious”. As he was being charged the Congressional Black Caucus walked out as a show of “contempt.” Many have asked does this action make the CBC relevant in this so-called new era of politics. I think it depends on how we define relevant? It also has to do with what we want from politics: symbolic or substantive politics and policy.

What do you think?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Whispers in the Wilderness: Black Women and Mental Illness

I grew up with the issue of mental illness front and center in my household. My mother was a mental health nurse for 35 years. Mental health was not something I was scared of. Neither was it something that I didn’t understand. I watched my mother work to develop a community mental health program in Barbados. Often in the summer we would travel around with her to visit her patients. Many of these individuals became known to me and not simply as my mother’s patients. Years later, although now retired, my mother still gets calls and is stopped in the street by someone wanting to say thank you. Just last year while I was home the phone rang and I answered. I heard “May I speak with Nurse Harper”? Many still refer to my mother by her maiden name; some even called my father Mr. Harper. He would politely smile and answer without offering a correction. Back to the call—she wanted to tell my mother that her son had passed. My mother helped her and her son some 30 plus years earlier. Witnessing my parents’ interactions with the mentally ill has greatly influenced how I view mental illness. However, over the years, I’ve had to reconcile that the dignity and respect I observed with my parents’ interactions and relationships with the mentally ill was not common. 

Erica J. Kennedy

The recent passing of Erica J. Kennedy, author of Feminista and Bling, has many in the twitter world speculating about her death. Some suggest that she was battling depression and this might have contributed to her death. More specifically some are suggesting that she didn’t reach out. We had a similar conversation when the famed singer Phyllis Hyman committed suicide. I didn’t know Ms. Kennedy neither did I know Ms. Hyman. As such, I’m in no position to speak to their mental well-being. Instead, I thought that I would write about the question that always seems to follow such incidences, “Why didn’t they reach out?”

Phyllis Hyman
In response to this question, I silently reply “would you have listened even if they did?” As a community, we are not open to hearing about other’s struggles and particularly their struggles with mental illness. We ask “How are you?” But we never really stop to listen. We don’t look at people’s faces neither do we read their body language. In fact we often don’t bother to get to know others. We follow them on twitter, stalk them on Facebook, and get linked with LinkedIn. Of all of those that you follow and those that follow you, who do you know? We live in the crevices of our lives not taking a risk for fear that someone might “dump” their problems on us. After all we have our own problems and as such have no desire to collect more. We also live in the crevices of life because of a desire to portray that all is right in our world. Should someone mention a crack in theirs, it might just force us to stop and think that we are overly stressed and might just be at a breaking point ourselves.

We want stories of strength and stories of triumph. Just read either Essence or Ebony magazine; they are filled with such stories. We only seem to want to hear about mental illness when someone has “overcome”. We in the Black community need such stories to survive! As such we don’t give others permission to claim their dignity when we perceive them as challenging our façade of strength. Well some people never overcome. Some folk live in institutions and some live on medications all their lives. This is their means of overcoming. We need to learn how to interact with such individuals. We need to learn to see their dignity. We need to not only give them permission to speak, but we also have to give ourselves permission to listen.

So, if either Ms. Kennedy or Ms. Hyman had publicly displayed their challenges with mental health, would we have stood there and listened? Would we have afforded them their dignity? Would we accept them for who they are or would we marginalize them and walk away with our eyes cast down shaking our heads? 

  •  Depression rate among African American women is approximately 50% higher than that of Caucasian women.
  • Black people account for approximately 25% of the mental health needs.
  • Only 2% of the nation’s psychologists are Black.
My next post will explore the factors behind these statistics. In the meantime let me know your thoughts. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Supreme Reign: Contrasting the Queen’s Jubilee and the African Women Decade

I find myself particularly annoyed with the incessant coverage of the Queen’s Jubilee and the actions of the Royal Throne to (re)invent itself by sending Prince Harry and Prince William, along with his new wife, all over the globe. All of this hype about Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Crown lacks serious critical analysis. As we celebrate her 60 year reign, we also have to ask at what and whose expense has this reign been allowed to perpetuate through time. Lost in this analysis is what it means for the Queen and members of her family to “pay” homage to their colonial subjects in places such as Jamaica. What’s also interesting to me is that we are now in the second year of the African Women Decade (2010-2020) yet there is minimum conversation about what this means and how we can encourage and support African women to achieve equality.

My annoyance with the Royal Throne is not new. I can remember the Queen’s visit to Barbados when I was an elementary school girl. Like so many other schools on the island, students from my school were to stand along the route the Queen would travel. My only exposure to such an event was via news coverage where they showed boys and girls smartly dressed in their uniforms standing erect and waving; waving to a woman who sat behind a class enclosure looking out upon them with the slightest movement of her wrist. I was not impressed. I asked my dad, “Why do we do this?” I could not understand why this woman was of such importance that I had to stand in the hot sun waving at her. I also asked my father, “did I have to wave?” My dad had a way not with words, but with smiles. He smiled down at me and I knew that I didn’t have to wave. So I stood there on the side of the road hands at my side wondering why.

Maybe I was just a weird little girl. Maybe I sensed the simultaneity of my hypervisibility and invisibility. I was present on the side of the road, but I was not seen for my humanity. I was part of Her Royal’s subjects; although Barbados had been previously “emancipated”. All of the hype around the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee brings to the forefront the tension with the simultaneity of Black women’s hypervisiblity and invisibility. It brings to my mind the subjectivity of Black women. As we celebrate 60 years of reign, we are also in the midst of the Decade of African Women. The Decade of what you ask? 

The African Women Decade is designed to address issue of equity for African women. It’s much more than that but that is a central goal of the mission. As the Queen and her protégés visit her former colonial subjects, we are made aware of the stark contrast of privilege and access—access to health, wealth, and education. Many of the Black girls and women who dance and entertain her Majesty and those who, like me, stand alongside the roadways lack basic human rights. Although the African Women Decade is conceptualized as advancing equality for African women on the Continent, I’m thinking of this decade in Diasporic terms. 

Prince Henry with maids in Jamaica: People Magazine 2012
Prince Henry recently visited Jamaica and ran with Usain Bolt. In his duties, he sat among Black girls and as some in the media said he showed his ability to “connect” and seemed “at home”. What we didn’t see is that behind those smiles are countless Black women for whom the legacy of colonialism and imperialism continues. Black women and men in Barbados harvest the sugar cane for the sugar that is only sold in England, while Barbados imports sugar. In Jamaica “adolescent females (10 to 19 years old) are 2.7 times more likely to be infected [with HIV/AIDS] than males in the same age group. Young women are particularly at risk because they find it difficult to negotiate whether and when to have sex and how to protect themselves from pregnancy and disease.”
A number of African countries, including Sierra Leone, Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, The Gambia, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, Malawi, Uganda, Sudan and Egypt were colonized by Great Britain. Women in many of these nation states suffer extreme poverty and political repression—legacies of colonialism. 

“The face of poverty in Africa is female,” says Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region. According to her, the typical poor African youth “is 18.5 years old. She lives in a rural area. She has dropped out of school. She is single, but is about to be married or be given in marriage to a man approximately twice her age. She will be the mother of six or seven kids in another 20 years.” African girls and women are in a perilous position and Great Britain with the blessings of the Royal Throne is partly, if not wholly, responsible. 

Yes, Great Britain underdeveloped Africa. And now as an African descended woman I’m expected to stand on the side of the street and wave to a woman who sees me but does not see me.

Instead of serenading the Queen, I’m left to wonder what types of conversations might we have if African women were seen in their totality. What conversations could we have had Her Majesty say, instead of the pomp and circumstance and the millions of pounds spent to recognize the Royal Throne, how about we commit some time centering the lived realities of African women?

African and Arab winners of 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Source:
Black women are asserting themselves in the global arena. Just last year, two African women, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first democratically elected female president and her countrywoman Leymah Gbowee, a peace activist who challenged warlords, won the Nobel Peace Prize. These women like countless others who remain faceless are actively fighting for the humanity of African women. Like them we cannot sit back and wait for others to plan our “jubilee”, we cannot sit back and wait for others to simply stop waving at us and sit in critical dialogue with us. We have to do this on our own. We have to celebrate our triumphs and approach, head on, our challenges. We have to reign supreme in our quest for equality. What will you do during this Decade of African Women?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Questions Regulate/ Knowledge Radiates: Black Girlhood in Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths

Ruth Nicole Brown--Guest Blogger

Just because we use the language of Black girlhood to organize SOLHOT
Doesn’t mean we operate within fixed identity politics. My name is Ruth Nicole
And I am serious about our beautiful complexity and our beauty.
When asked to write a guest blog, even though I am not a blogger, I said yes because I appreciate Dr. Julia Jordan-Zachery’s observation that we do not intentionally focus on Black girls enough.  In many conversations, organizing efforts, and academic reports I have learned not to assume that there will be a focus on Black girls, even if the topic is youth, gender, age, black people, hip-hop, organizing, arts, and/or producing knowledge. If I am wrong and Black girls are taken up as the focus, sometimes the images reflected back to me are so distorted that I do not recognize myself and the Black girls I know in Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT). SOLHOT is my practice of Black girlhood, a space consistently made to celebrate Black girlhood with Black girls and beyond in all of our complexity. What I know about Black girls, and how I give shape to words and images I create is informed by almost six years of doing SOLHOT.  Surely, this means that I do not speak about Black girls as a monolith nor as a generalization but rather when asked to share what I have learned about Black girlhood by doing SOLHOT, I am referencing a very specific group of people.  My hope is that in the lack of focus, intentional and unintentional misreadings, your practice of celebrating Black girls, and ours in SOLHOT, we can come to something most important that must be spoken, and written, and shared in preparation for something bigger, which we, as a whole, wide world, have yet to be.

The language of Black girlhood in organizing SOLHOT is insufficient mostly because it’s a misnomer. Those who do SOLHOT are not all Black girls, nor do some Black girls who do SOLHOT think that this is the most important thing about them. Nonetheless, I find Black girlhood discursively useful.  I have found that when we organize to create a space to celebrate the complexity of Black girlhood, the look received is of surprise, uncertainty, and a bit of skepticism, which is exactly the space out of which SOLHOT is intended to operate. Something for me? For us??” are typical responses that instigate delight, wonderment, and excitement.  I mean we make it as big as we want—that is our right—but the idea that my Black girl existence is not an adjunct to someone else’s, presumably more important, is still a current idea even as the Combahee River Collective stated so in the1970’s. Certainly, one of the best things about doing SOLHOT and using the language of Black girlhood is that when breathing in the space of a Black girls’ gaze returned and turned out on you, critical knowledge, sacred relationship, and creativity flows over in abundance.  We do our best, when we live out of this space. Justice.

Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths (SOLHOT) is a visionary space of Black girlhood liberation. We compose and choreograph Black girl poetics and we speak and enact Black womanists/feminists sensibilities and actions. The echo of June Jordan, Audre Lorde, Sakia Gunn, our mothers, aunties, and so many others is very present with us, you can hear what they taught us when we speak, as we write, in our practice. There are more than 3015,021,009 plus infinity ways of doing Black girlhood, Black girls in SOLHOT are clear about this, and there are seemingly just as many programs (too many of which focus on Black girls only to further control and discipline them).
But there is a space called SOLHOT- that is very much not a program, and I have a few stories that are mine to tell about it. As I do SOLHOT, I have become more aware that the conversations I prefer to have, cannot always be. For me this is particularly challenging because as I write this, I cannot be with you, see you, and ask the question, so what kind of conversation are we prepared to have today, among each other about Black girlhood? If we have decided that we should focus on Black girls, I want to know what informs your seeing and/or lack of vision.  When you see something, or in this case someone as a Black girl, I wonder if you presume to know them. For what purpose is your focus, and how does that implicate who we are, all together, and apart? Whose Black girl voice sounds your image-making mind? What kinds of actions does that sound move you to make? These kinds of questions are becoming increasingly important to me as a foundation for proceeding to discuss the issues that give meaning to Black girlhood, and to focus on Black girls in good faith.  But this medium, much like SOLHOT, does not provide for an uncomplicated knowing of where you and I stand, or an articulation of who is standing with me and who is with you. I proceed anyway. 

Kind of like the Black girl who shows up to SOLHOT for the first time, my check in is short and deeply observant- I’m watching you, reading me, and I decide on poetry. I share this poetic narrative as a way to highlight the work of SOLHOT as a methodology of Black girlhood that insists on valuing Black girls’ lives. Like many a first timer to SOLHOT, I am unapologetically and intentionally vague, however what I know about doing SOLHOT over the years is that even my critical Black girl cynicism offers you something to work with because it is above all else, a promise that my hand is extended out to you with an interest in being together, reaching toward some space beautiful that I can not get to alone.
Saving our Lives Hear our Truths (SOLHOT) is what we call the work we do when we gather with Black girls to organize, work together, and be. I suggested it as an idea because I noticed that in too many girl programs, Black girls were always getting in trouble for exercising skills which the program professed to value, like having and using a voice, being in one’s body, and exhibiting willfulness. I suggested SOLHOT as a way to organize with Black girls to create a creative space where we could come together and do something that was useful to our beloved communities and for us. The structure and content is decided by those who show up and is shaped by our individual and collective gifts in conversation with the issues that arise as significant in the places we live, work, and study. There have been hundreds of Black girls and women, at least between the ages of 11 to 55, who have found SOLHOT positively productive, but that is not really the point.  The point is that SOLHOT makes possible conversations and actions that depend on listening, compassion, and a sincere appreciation of what Black girls know. SOLHOT is not for those who know better, perfect people, or anyone interested in etiquette. SOLHOT is for those who can maintain a beginner’s enthusiasm even after five years and know that they do not know so they must unlearn.

SOLHOT feels as if it’s a new idea every Monday evening, every Tuesday after school (2 different places at the same time), and every Friday just before the weekend begins. If it didn’t occupy my thoughts daily, every minute, every hour, you could reduce my rush to get snacks--cookies and chips because that’s what they want and strawberries, grapes, and water because that’s what I need— to disorganization. But I arrive to the place we gather every time fully expecting a miracle.  I just know that she, he, and ze are going to be there and surprise us all with a word, a dance move, or/and a shrug of the shoulders. I am not disappointed.  We are abundantly miraculous. In spite of being called the visionary, it is always what I did not see coming which absolutely makes SOLHOT a personal lesson in the power of unpredictability. And a lesson in why and how not to get caught up on form.  And a lesson in knowing yourself, being well, so that you can share freely.

As of late, the sessions seem hard. Well, at least for us who are the oldest and have been socialized the longest to equate control with awesomeness, a followed agenda with success, replication with normalcy. We have gathered for almost six years now to celebrate Black girlhood and we learn in and out of celebration. The girls teach us how to make meaning in the double—the entendres, the Dutch ropes, the meanings, the takes, the whammies, the dashes, the steps, because they do know even as they insist, “I don’t know” and because “she ratchet,” really mans that non-sense is where it is at and time does not exist. SOLHOT is so contrary, so anti-, really not about the easy answer, the short cut, the product, the shiny happy faces, and the manufactured one-dimensional success stories. This is the thing, SOLHOT never meets our expectations and that is wonderful! We defy description, even this one, every time. If you have not already noticed by now, SOLHOT is not a program, but an opportunity to live. In the moment. Black girl to Black girl. Alive. 
What we do is what needs to be done — talk, make art, process, produce, get crafty, perform, gossip, read poetry, socialize, write, dance encourage, motivate, give hugs, receive, think twice, combat fear, grow, experience disappointment and non-satisfaction, laugh hard, organize, intend, and come to something specific. We lie, make fiction, write on paper, take photos, sit quietly, talk over people, question, critique, criticize, smile, high five, act on impulse, and share our wisdom. We relate, fight, disown, and become one. It’s nothing really, if it weren’t everything.  Love is at the center, regardless. That is enough.

Questions regulate: Are you a foot doctor? What are we doing today?  What’s for snack? How many real friends do you have?  Why Trayvon’s killer walking around here like he didn’t do nothing wrong?  Can you be my mentor? What do you think about that? Who want to fight you? Why they act like they better than everyone else? What he got to do with me?  Where the lady with the dreds? What is racism, like how do you define it and know if it is about race and not something else?  Let me see your nails? What you doing this weekend? Who is CeCe McDonald?  What can I do? Who do she think she is? Why? When we gonna do this again? What she say? How come? Who is that? Why? Who me? Why not?

Knowledge radiates: Sometimes I am the problem so it would best if everything were not up to me.  I’m gay and if you don’t like it, oh well.  Grown ass women know and respect whose land they are on and who was there first.  Just because I like bad boys doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. Don’t let the devil use you.  My name is a combination of my mother and grandmother’s — that’s what my daddy wanted. I am not ghetto. It is always the person defending herself that is caught and punished — not the one who started it. She ain’t SOLHOT. Don’t be messy. I am no one’s second choice. It is time to reconnect. I can’t tell you that.  Lemmme wwrriittee it lik dis cuz it ain’t meanttt for yuh to kno. I am not from this planet, but beyond.
There is a kind of Black girl who can handle Saving Our Lives Hear Our Truths.
There is a kind of Black girl who liberates us all in SOLHOT.
There is a kind of Black girl who says that SOLHOT did as it’s name implies, saved her life and facilitated the speaking, hearing, and sharing of her truth.
There is a kind of Black girl who rarely shows up— middle to upper class, and/or overly scheduled, and/or raised by non-Black parents — we just have not had the honor of her presence in SOLHOT (that I know of).  
 There is a kind of Black girl who decides that SOLHOT is not worth her time. Much more regular are those who know mama, and mama as grandma, and grandma as the center of the universe. Those who participate are self-directed in every way, they who come skip volleyball to do so, or recognize SOLHOT as their first choice. These Black girls, most of them, anyway, question more than they claim to know except when it is about family, honor, reality, and themselves. Sometimes they appear disinterested even as they swore by pinky and intimately crossed their heart to be there, consistently without apology, taking up all the space and then some.

In the doing, I have met more than a few super Black girl womanist feminist scholar performer poet doer visionaries. Artists. They give. Collaborate. Think fast. Feel. Love always. They make the space of SOLHOT happen. They know full well the power of having a self and being selfless. They are for sure labeled “crazy” by those who are skeptical of their divinity exercised — but they are well, with haters and all, and in their right mind. They say to me, and mean it, “I love the girls, I love the homegirls, I love you, and I love myself.”  Not in this order and, as my own daughter always reminds me, not above who they know god to be, but the point is they mean love and practice it, at least every Monday evening, every Tuesday after school (two different places at the same time), and every Friday just before the weekend begins. 
But you do not know us and you don’t know this work.  As a rule, we resist being known completely. Black girlhood demands this of us.  SOLHOT would not want it any other way.  Possibility, connection, inspiration are found in the iterative process of coming together in company of Black girls who are also doing the same thing in her own where—our higher selves on higher ground, not alone.  In SOLHOT we delight in the complex genius of Black girls and beyond. We call on some of everybody to be right there with us, and we call them by name to be known and remembered.  Sometimes we fail in SOLHOT, and that is okay.  Sometimes it seems like it is falling apart, except that somebody came to SOLHOT who needed a hug and by the end of the session they received at least one. We learn as we teach— shells of memory and stories of re-memories push and pull us on the shoreline of survival towards liberation. Black girl genius remains obvious to us in SOLHOT in the distance and in the very middle of it.