Wednesday, January 9, 2013

We've MOVED!

Today is my blog's third birthday, and we have a big birthday surprise! I'm Such an Afroholic has MOVED! I am now using a new blogging platform and hosting my blog on my very own domain like a grown-up blogger! 

So, without further adieu, I am proud to present to you, on this ninth day of January, 2013, the new and improved:

Blogger has served me well for the past three years, but we're overdue for a change. This will be my last post on I look forward to seeing you all commenting and following on the new site! 

Peace, love, and hair grease,


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Under Construction

A week from today, I will have been writing this blog for three years. We've been through a lot of changes in this internet space, from the name change (shoutout to people who've been following me since this was called AFROdisiAccordingtoMe) to all sorts of mood shifts. Blogging has helped me get through and document two major moves, getting into and out of various relationships, writing a thesis, and coming to understand Princeton as a place of the past. Getting into the "reblog" about a year and a half ago has helped me to feel like I exist in a community of scholars, thinkers, wonderers, and change-makers. This space has grown from a platform for introspection to a platform for celebration and for feeling celebrated. I am a blogger, and that's not going to change anytime soon, but a lot of things about my particular corner of the internet are going to change.

So please bear with me as I take a week-long hiatus to get everything ready for our dramatic 3 year blogaversary unveiling. I'm Such an AFROholic will return next week with all sort of nifty new trimmings!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Daylight and "safety in numbers" are not guarantees.

I've walked around this city for slightly over six months now, at all hours of the day and night, without ever once feeling concerned about my personal safety. A friend of RG's was shocked to learn that I didn't carry mace on my person, and gave me a pink keychain-sized can of it to keep in my purse in the fall. I laughed her off, but kept it in my bag, as sort of a well-since-I-have-this-I-might-as-well-make-it-useful thing. I've never felt the need to use it.

But now twice in the past two days, I've had my personal space or my physical person intruded upon by a man I did not know. 

The first incident happened in broad daylight, around 4pm on Sunday as I walked to my house from the metro station after a trip to Target. There was a man walking in the opposite direction of the way I was walking, coming towards me, and from the way he was sort of half-stumbling, I knew that he wasn't in a normal mental state. Maybe he was drunk, maybe he had a disorder of some sort--I didn't know. I just knew that I wanted to get past him and continue on my merry way home so that I could make my bus to go to yoga. I decide to give him some major leeway and veer to the right, walking along the curb on the other side of a sign post to pass him, and he veers in the same direction, coming to stand less than a foot from me on the other side of the sign. I freeze. I am carrying too many things from Target to dig for my mace if I wanted it, but up close I can see that he seems to have some sort of disorder and that he doesn't seem malicious, so I try just saying, "Excuse me." He smiles absently and waves his hand in my face and says, "Hi." I say hi back, and he moves out of my way. 

Nothing happened, but it was so easy to see how something could have.  I didn't really have time to process it, though, because I had to rush home to get on my bus to go to yoga, and yoga makes my mind and body better places to be.

I had kind of forgotten how shaken up I was about it until last night. After we all brought in the New Year at a club in Adams Morgan, RG, CO, and CO's cousin decided to hit up a hookah bar. I can't be around tobacco smoke--yay asthma!--so BC and I went to McDonalds to split a 10 piece chicken nugget meal. When we were making our way down the incredibly crowded street when all the bars closed at 2 to meet the others, a Latino-appearing man in a group that was approaching us, in one very fast and fluid move, bent down and leaned over towards me and grabbed my thighs. One minute I'm walking down the street next to BC trying to find this hookah bar, and the next, some man's hands are on the bare skin of my thighs just below the hem of my dress. He probably only touched me for a few seconds, but as soon as I'd processed what had just happened, I spun around and yelled something to the effect of, "Don't you fucking touch me, nigga! Who the fuck do you think you are? We don't play that shit, nuh-uh!" People kind of cleared a wide berth around me, and a white guy who was passing by had his hands up in the air and said, "I'm sorry he touched you. I'm not going to touch you," as he passed. 

My mom and dad both told me to be safe. My dad added on, "There will be a lot of crazy people out tonight. There's crazy people out every night, but especially tonight." I told them I would be safe. That I would be with BC and/or RG all night, names that comfort my mother. That nothing would happen to me. But I was with someone and this guy still felt that he had a right to put his hands on my body. 

Again, what happened was pretty tame, but it was too easy to envision it having been a lot worse. To his credit, when I told RG about it once we met up, he wanted to go find the guy and beat the shit out of him. I appreciate his protectiveness, but there was nothing to do by that point. I can't think of anything to have done in the moment either, besides have had a fast enough reaction time to knee him in the face or something. A short dress is an invitation to nothing, and all the fault for this encounter lies with that random guy. I know that. I have no doubts or questions about that. 

But what does that mean I'm supposed to do? Because few things that have happened to my physical person have scared me like that. The entire encounter was maybe 15 seconds of my night, but it will probably be my most vivid memory of NYE 2012. We were walking back to CO's car and RG put his arm around my shoulders and I pushed him away--I didn't want anyone to touch me. After I sent him to bed on my couch last night, I just curled up in the middle of my bed and cried. If I can't walk down a crowded street filled with policemen on the busiest night of the year with another person and be guaranteed my personal space, what am I supposed to do?

Monday, December 31, 2012


Reblogged from WYSIWYG
"White American children in this country who become victims of gun violence are a sign of shattered innocence, an anomaly that must be analyzed and dissected to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Black and Brown American children who become victims serve as an indictment of our communities, our homes and our parenting."
--Kirsten West Savali

(via RiotsnotDiets

Sunday, December 30, 2012

"How much of human life is lost in waiting?"
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

*drops mic, walks away*

Reblogged from Free Bird


Reblogged from come correct
Betty White, you are my hero.


Reblogged from Lavender Labia

"People are trapped in history and history is trapped in them."
--James Baldwin

"With you, intimacy colours my voice. Even 'hello' sounds like 'come here.'"
--Warsan Shire

"Somebody told a real life woman that her skin was too brown to play an imaginary creature. That basically in the whole fictional world of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, where you have dragons and trolls and talking trees, where you draw the line, where imagination is capped out, no more room, is for a brown hobbit.
"Like, fiery eyeball thing, no problem, but don't even try to imagine a Samoan elf. That shit will blow your mind."
--Wyatt Cenac

So much greatness in one place

Nikki Giovanni, Toni Morrison, and Angela Davis talking and laughing about something. Reblogged from Racialicious

"You are not responsible for the programming you picked up in childhood. However, as an adult, you are one hundred percent responsible for fixing it."
--Ken Keyes, Jr.

(via Tudo Bom(b))
"Twenty-two children injured [by a knife attack in China]. Versus, at current count, 18 little children and nine other people shot dead. That’s the difference between a knife and a gun. Guns don’t attack children; psychopaths and sadists do. But guns uniquely allow a psychopath to wreak death and devastation on such a large scale so quickly and easily. America is the only country in which this happens again — and again and again. You can look it up."

(via Tudo Bom(b))
"Imagine you are Emma Faye Stewart, a thirty-year-old, single African-American mother of two who was arrested as part of a drug sweep in Hearne, Texas. All but one of those people arrested were African-American. You are innocent. After a week in jail, you have no one to care for your two small children and are eager to get home. Your court-appointed attorney urges you to plead guilty to a drug distribution charge, saying the prosecutor has offered probation. You refuse, steadfastly proclaiming your innocence. Finally, after almost a month in jail, you decide to plead guilty so you can return home to your children. Unwilling to risk a trial and years of imprisonment, you are sentenced to ten years probation and ordered to pay $1,000 in fines, as well as court and probation costs. You are also now branded a drug felon. You are no longer eligible for food stamps; you may be discriminated against in employment; you cannot vote for at least twelve years; and you are about to be evicted from public housing. Once homeless, your children will be taken away from you and put in foster care.
"A judge eventually dismisses all cases against the defendants who did not plead guilty. At trial, the judge finds that the entire sweep was based on the testimony of a single informant who lied to the prosecution. You, however, are still a drug felon, homeless, and desperate to regain custody of your children.
"Now place yourself in the shoes of Clifford Runoalds, another African-American victim of the Hearne drug bust. You returned home to Bryan, Texas, to attend the funeral of your eighteen-month-old daughter. Before the funeral services begin, the police show up and handcuff you. You beg the officers to let you take one last look at your daughter before she is buried. The police refuse. You are told by prosecutors that you are needed to testify against one of the defendants in a recent drug bust. You deny witnessing any drug transaction; you don't know what they are talking about. Because of your refusal to cooperate, you are indicted on felony charges. After a month of being held in jail, the charges against you are dropped. You are technically free, but as a result of your arrest and period of incarceration, you lose your job, your apartment, your furniture, and your car. Not to mention the chance to say good-bye to your baby girl.
"This is the War on Drugs."
--Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, pg. 97-98


Reblogged from Tudo Bom(b)


Reblogged from WYSIWYG
Part of me is uncomfortable with images of captured Africans being used to prove a point about anything today because it's seriously incomparable, but a small part of me is all, HOW YOU LIKE DEM APPLES?!?
"We all have a blind spot around our privileges shaped exactly like us.
And I’m telling you guys, we’re never fucking going to get anywhere as long as our economies of attraction continue to resemble more or less the economies of attraction of white supremacy. Finding people who practice decolonial love is as hard inside of a vast movement as it is outside. The actual standard of decolonial love, how little discussed, how little understood, and yet in many ways is the great test of who we are and of our praxis and of our communal praxis."
--Junot Díaz, Keynote Speech at Facing Race 2012

I have as many speeches from this conference as are available on YouTube queued on my Watch Later list. Expect way more quotes at some future point.
"The important thing is that we cease treating sex as something shameful, and an aspect of life separate from all the rest. We need to make decisions about sex and evaluate them in the same framework which we use to judge worth of our other capacities, be they our intelligence, intuitions, physical stamina or prowess, or other special talents."
--Lester A. Kirkendall, Premarital Intercourse and Interpersonal Relationships (1961)

"...harsh mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders have been consistently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. In 1982, the Supreme Court upheld forty years of imprisonment for possession and an attempt to sell 9 ounces of marijuana. Several years later, in Harmelin v. Michigan, the Court upheld a sentence of life imprisonment for a defendant with no prior convictions who attempted to sell 672 grams (approximately 23 ounces) of crack cocaine. The Court found the sentences imposed in those cases 'reasonably proportionate' to the offenses committed--and not 'cruel and unusual' in violation of the Eighth Amendment. This ruling was remarkable given that, prior to the Drug Reform Act of 1986, the longest sentence Congress had ever imposed for possession of any drug in any amount was one year. A life sentence for a first-time drug offense is unheard of in the rest of the developed world. Even for high-end drug crimes, most countries impose sentences that are measured in months, rather than years. For example, a conviction for selling a kilogram of heroin yields a mandatory ten-year sentence in U.S. federal court, compared with six months in prison in England. Remarkably, in the United States, a life sentence is deemed perfectly appropriate for a first-time drug offender."
--Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, pg. 90

Saturday, December 29, 2012

"I will have an undergraduate class, let’s say a young white male student, politically-correct, who will say: “I am only a bourgeois white male, I can’t speak.” … I say to them: “Why not develop a certain degree of rage against the history that has written such an abject script for you that you are silenced?” Then you begin to investigate what it is that silences you, rather than take this very determinist position-since my skin colour is this, since my sex is this, I cannot speak… From this position, then, I say you will of course not speak in the same way about the Third World material, but if you make it your task not only to learn what is going on there through language, through specific programmes of study, but also at the same time through a historical critique of your position as the investigating person, then you will have earned the right to criticize, you be heard. When you take the position of not doing your homework- “I will not criticize because of my accident of birth, the historical accident” - that is the much more pernicious position."
--Gayatri Spivak

"The 'drug-courier profiles' utilized by the DEA and other law enforcement agencies for drug sweeps on highways, as well as in airports and train stations, are notoriously unreliable. In theory, a drug-courier profile reflects the collective wisdom and judgment of a law enforcement agency's officials. Instead of allowing each officer to rely on his or her own limited experience and biases in detecting suspicious behavior, a drug-courier profile affords every officer the advantage of the agency's collective experience and expertise. However, as legal scholar David Cole has observed, 'in practice, the drug-courier profile is a scattershot hodgepodge of traits and characteristics so expansive that it potentially justifies stopping anybody and everybody.' The profile can include traveling with luggage, traveling without luggage, driving an expensive car, driving a car that needs repairs, driving with out-of-state license plates, driving a rental car, driving with 'mismatched occupants,' acting too calm, acting too nervous, dressing casually, wearing expensive clothing or jewelry, being one of the first to deplane, being one of the last to deplane, deplaning in the middle, paying for a ticket in cash, using large-denomination currency, using small-denomination currency, traveling alone, traveling with a companion, and so on. Even striving to obey the law fits the profile! The Florida Highway Patrol Drug Courier Profile cautioned troopers to be suspicious of 'scrupulous obedience to traffic laws.' As Cole points out, 'such profiles do not so much focus an investigation as provide law enforcement officials a ready-made excuse for stopping whomever they please.'"
--Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, 71-72


Reblogged from Lavender Labia
On the 57th anniversary of Rosa Parks's refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus earlier this month, President Barack Obama visited this historic bus at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History in Detroit, MI. He sat in the seat she, a revolutionary staunch political activist (not the feeble little lady most of us have been brainwashed into conceptualizing her as) wouldn't get out of. We went from it being against the law to sit at the front of the bus when there was a White person without a seat to re-electing a president of African descent in 57 years. 

That's within my father's lifetime. I hope he sees this photo and remembers taking me to sit in that seat when he lived in Detroit. That was 2005, and I was overwhelmed by our progress. Now it's 2012 and I'm so torn between wanting to cry in celebration of how far we've come and wanting to cry in desperation at how far we have left to go.

No one has ever said this to me, but I would GO. OFF.

Reblogged from Tudo Bom(b)

I don't understand why Bill Clinton is a political figure I'm supposed to like as a Black person.

I'm not even going to touch on the RAGE that overtakes me whenever anyone refers to him as the first Black president (or when someone refers to Obama as the first LGBT president). I'm just going to put a few paragraphs from Michelle Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (pg. 57-58) here for you to ponder.
" 1992, presidential candidate Bill Clinton vowed that he would never permit any Republican to be perceived as tougher on crime than he. True to his word, just weeks before the critical New Hampshire primary, Clinton chose to fly home to Arkansas to oversee the execution of Ricky Ray Rector, a mentally impaired Black man who had so little conception of what was about to happen to him that he asked for the dessert from his last meal to be saved for him until the morning. After the execution, Clinton remarked, 'I can be nicked a lot, but no one can say I'm soft on crime.
"Once elected, Clinton endorsed the idea of a federal 'three strikes and you're out' law, which he advocated in his 1994 State of the Union address to enthusiastic applause on both sides of the aisle. The $30 billion crime bill sent to President Clinton in August 1994 was hailed as a victory for the Democrats, who 'were able to wrest the crime issue from the Republicans and make it their own.' The bill created dozens of new federal capital crimes, mandated life sentences for some three-time offenders, and authorized for than $16 billion for state prison grants and expansion of state and local police forces. Far from resisting the emergence of the new caste system, Clinton escalated the drug war beyond what conservatives had imagined possible a decade earlier. As the Justice Policy Institute has observed, 'the Clinton Administration's 'tough on crime' policies resulted in the largest increases in federal and state prison inmates of any president in American history.
"Clinton eventually moved beyond crime and capitulated to the conservative racial agenda on welfare. This move, like his 'get touch' rhetoric and policies, were part of a grand strategy articulated by the 'new Democrats' to appeal to the elusive White swing voters. In so doing, Clinton--more than any other president--created the current racial undercaste. He signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, which 'ended welfare as we know it,' replacing Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with a block grant to states called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). TANF imposed a five-year lifetime limit on welfare assistance, as well as a permanent, lifetime ban on eligibility for welfare and food stamps for anyone convicted of a felony drug offense--including simple possession of marijuana.
"Despite claims that these radical policy changes were driven by fiscal conservatism--i.e., the desire to end big government and slash budget deficits--the reality is that government was not reducing the amount of money devoted to the management of the urban poor. It was radically altering what the funds would be used for. The dramatic shift toward punitiveness resulted in a massive reallocation of public resources. By 1996, the penal budget doubled the amount that had been allocated to AFDC or food stamps. Similarly, funding that had once been used for public housing was being redirected to prison construction. During Clinton's tenure, Washington slashed funding for public housing by $17 billion (a reduction of 61 percent) and boosted corrections by $19 billion (an increase of 171 percent), 'effectively making the construction of prisons the nation's main housing program for the poor.'
"Clinton did not stop there. Determined to prove how 'tough' he could be on 'them,' Clinton also made it easier for federally assisted public housing projects to exclude anyone with a criminal history--an extraordinarily harsh step in the midst of a drug war aimed at racial and ethnic minorities. In his announcement of the 'One Strike and You're Out' Initiative, Clinton explained: 'From now on, the rules for residents who commit crime and peddle drugs should be one strike and you're out.' The new rule promised to be 'the toughest admission and eviction policy that HUD has implemented.' Thus, for countless poor people, particularly racial minorities targeted by the drug war, public housing was no longer available, leaving many of them homeless--locked out not only of mainstream society, but their own homes."

It's an Audre Lorde kind of day.

*Correction: Every day is an Audre Lorde kind of day.
"Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You [white women] fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you; we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying."
--Audre Lorde, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference”