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April 30, 2009

Videos to think about (Final Blog)

First off after class today and talking about whether or not there was any new and uplifting progressive rap and it made me think of this video that I read about by a kid at NYU, it's really awesome!!

If this is what heard and starts to "infiltrate" (for lack of a better world) the mainstream media I think rap and hip hop can have so much to offer and go back to the idea of using rap as a way to rebel, speak out, motivate, and being more conscious.

This is the link. (Sorry, I don't know how to do videos in the blog-o-sphere)

One last think I'll mention is that I guess there is a new movie coming out that is staring a pornstar and it's a film about an escort and her relationship and how her business is. It looks interesting, I don't know how I feel about it, but it brings up some good discussion I think.

Anyway, so I hope people find the above interesting.

Also while I was reading Gawker I also came upon some other stories that people may find interesting....one is a show on PBS is discussing the injustice going on with rape kits and how many of them aren't being used and just sit in freezers or something. Here is the link for that story.

Final Blog

As a final blog, I wanted to comment on the last full book we read by Keith Boykin. I was impressed with the amount of work that went into digging up all of the facts and statistics that went into Boykin's arguments on the spread of HIV/AIDS and its connection, or lack thereof, to the down low and to African American women. His arguments gave insight into the real important aspects of the transmission of AIDS; it's about protecting yourself, regardless of your partner's status or identity. We need to stop hiding behind labels and labeling other people by accepting the responsibility of talking about sex. Sex education needs to be more than abstinence only and it needs to be a requirement of schools. With better education of EVERYONE and open discussion about sexual acitivities and knowing how to get tested and protect yourself, the whole "down low myth" will disappear, whether or not people still continue to live on the down low. Living on the down low has little to do with the spread of the HIV virus. We need to be advocating for better sex ed. for schools and easier access to protection for safe sex as well as easier access to clean needles. Prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS is a more pressing issue than stopping drug addicts because dirty needles obviously do not stop the addiction. We need to start changing our focus and work to make a difference instead of placing blame.

Nelly defends tip drill

I also found this interesting video on the web . We watched this yesterday at our presentation also. It is interesting because we were just talking about how rappers will sometimes do things that are good things, like Nelly talking about bone marrow donation, but on the flip he is also causing many black women pain. Why doesn't he answer any of the questions? What do you guys think? Here is the link-


No! Presentation

I wanted to let everyone know that we had a great presentation on Tues. We did have three guests, one of which was a man! We were able to get into a really good discussion about violence against black women. We talked a lot about how media and music influence this type of violence. The guests that came had also never seen the tip drill video so we watched a part of that as well. Tyler, who was the one guy that came, talked about how men need to really think about how they use their aggression and how that affects women in a larger context. We also talked a lot about how the history of black women plays into the rape and abuse of women of color. One of the guests, her name was Samantha, said that she has never thought about being white and then being a women which is one thing that was mentioned in the film. Many women of color are taught that they are black first and women second and that really impacted Samantha. I am excited to talk to the class about the experience and I hope you all at some point have a chance to see this great film!

April 29, 2009

"Hip hop has run out of ideas"

Hey I was browsing on MSN and came across this article today from the root.

It is about hip hop has set the cultural agenda for African Americans, but has now ran out of creative ideas and been lacking. He offers giving black rock a chance (as well as other black music) "To reclaim our place as musical innovators, we need music that's up to the task. We need artists who have the courage to explore new sounds and ideas. But there's no way today's artists can do that if their grasp of music history only extends to the latest ‘80s record Diddy sampled.

Its a really good article...nice, short, and to the point.

If you do read it, I'd be interested to hear what all of you think about it.

the link is: http://www.theroot.com/views/rock-black-music-too?Gt1=38002


April 27, 2009

Aurora Center Event

Just to let all of you know about our last event for Sexual Assault Awareness Month...it is a panel discussion on sexual violence on campus and what we as a community can do to prevent it and to create a supportive environment for survivors. It is going to be in Wiley Hall Room 20 (West bank), from 7 to 8:30 PM and there will be refreshments served afterward.

April 22, 2009

Letters, continued

Okay everyone. I know that the Daily thing has been quiet for a while, but I wanted to update you all in case you are interested. I and others are going to be doing some sort of letters to the Daily. I went online and looked at past Network columns - some are much worse than the one I wrote my original letter about. Here are links to some of them:

4/07/09 - the column that the original letter was written about

4/13/09 - calls us whiners for pointing out sexism

4/15/09 - "Network is not sexist" - other crap

3/30/09 - slutty girls need to keep their panties on

3/24/09 - Network comments on misogyny, kind of saying it's wrong, but then
calls women the weaker, softer gender

3/23/09 - calls a woman a dumb whore

3/08/2009 - calls a girl who sleeps around a whore...again

If you're interested in helping write letters or anything, feel free to email me at wazla002@umn.edu.


April 16, 2009

Heteronormativity and Heterosexism (Blog 5)

When we did the ice-breaker interruption game last week, it got me thinking about different ways that heterosexism imposes itself upon our lives, whether by culture or by comments of other people, it is something that we will seemingly never be able to escape. I have been thinking about this specifically in regards to my participation in rugby through high school and on the team here at the U. One stereotype about women rugby players is that we're all lesbians. Through this assumption, I think that I have experienced a different form of heterosexism. I personally identify as heterosexual, but many of the women on the team are bisexual or lesbian as well. One thing that I have experienced going out with them is a desire of men to "turn the lesbians straight," as if their sexual orientation is something that can be manipulated by hyper-masculine, egotistical men. I have a hard time understanding their logic, and sometimes wonder if they are trying to be funny. Either way, I think it is inappropriate and degrading to the women who are lesbians, as if their sexuality is not heteronormative, and therefore not acceptable.

Another experience I have had from my years of playing rugby is the assumption that I am a lesbian. I actually had a guy say to me once that I am too pretty to be playing rugby, only ugly lesbians play rugby. I have also had guys who do not want to hang out with me and some of my rugby girls because they assume we are all lesbians, so why should they waste their time? These assumptions and stereotypes drive me crazy. Who cares about sexual orientation when you are just hanging out? I love all the women on my rugby team regardless of who they choose to date; why do all women have to be potential sex partners to be interesting? The heterosexism in these comments and actions are overwhelming and frustrating. If we can work towards something like Patricia Hill Collins's new gender ideology, maybe we can move beyond this negative attitude surrounding non-normative sexualities.


Hi Everyone,

Some of you expressed interest in reading/commenting on some letters that I have written to the MN Daily in the past week. Here's the first: http://www.mndaily.com/2009/04/12/degrading-network-comments and here's the second one: http://www.mndaily.com/2009/04/14/network-just-doesn%E2%80%99t-get-it. These are about some sexist comments made in Network's column. I get that Network is a joke and all that (it''s been pointed out several times to me) but I still felt compelled to comment, and think it is valuable to consider what is appropriate to joke about and print and what wouldn't be. I think that the drama and comments that my opinion have elicited are interesting given what we were talking about today in class, that if you don't like something turn it off, or in my case, silence it by calling it names and other things.

Obama a "Side Kick"? (Blog 5)

After reading Patricia Hill Collins and discussing the “side kick” I started wondering, would Barack Obama be considered a “side kick”? Collins discusses how most African American politicians becomes a “side kick” because they tend to shy away from issues that affect the African American community. Does Obama defy this? He did go back to Chicago and became a community organizer who, from what I have read and heard he was deeply involved within various communities in Chicago. Will he move away from this now that he has much more power and in a position with a much bigger profile?

Or is it that only time will tell and we will see if he addresses specific issues concerning the African American community?

I guess this is a more question that I have been wondering to myself more than anything else, but I do think it will be very interesting to see what is going to come in the next 3-4 years (hopefully next 8). I hope that Obama is able to make the change that he has promised and that we will see a more popular discussion of issues such as the issue with African American men and the incarceration rate, teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, etc. I’m also very interested to see what will change simply by having Obama as president and if this will change the perceptions of tropes and images people when it comes to African American masculinity and what it means to be an African American man (same goes for African American women with a women like Michelle Obama in the white house).

April 15, 2009

Post from Diane White, Homothugdragsterism

I was intrigued by Joel Barraquiel Tan’s take on the Black, GLBT Community in Homothugdragsterism. Particularly when he goes into feeling almost too exposed in his own skin, suggesting something has been lost in his community’s departure from the underground. I thought this notion connected particularly well to our discussion of the authenticity of rappers but in a much more complex and contradictory way.

It seems as though the other authors we’ve read such as Mark Anthony Neal and Keith Boykin advocate for the hyper-visibility of Black, gay men to contrast a seemingly White-only gay image. Though I don’t think Tan completely detaches his writing from this train of thought, in my opinion, his piece does suggest that a certain positive, perhaps individualistic element is lost when Black gay men come out of the closet. When we think of the various undergrounds present in the hip hop culture, words like authentic and real come to mind, which leads me to believe there has to have been something appealing to being underground at least to a certain extent. Perhaps it was the wide acceptance that Tan felt in his own community that led him to these feelings of longing for more conflict, something to fight against. It seemed as though he was pretty well situated within this community’s movement and it’s likely that the view point would be drastically different for someone more isolated geographically or socially. This piece is told from situated knowledge of an individual’s lived experiences that are contradictory and complex; holding true to hip hop itself.

Lil Wayne video

So, apparently Lil' Wayne was on Jimmy Kimmel and talked about his experience losing his virginity at age 11. It's interesting because it's all a big joke and if you listen to his description, it sounds like sexual assault. I've put up a link to the video and to an article written about it...the article brings up interesting points about women as perpetrators and how race might play into everything. Discussion of this starts at about 2:45 in the video. I don't necessarily agree with everything that is said, but it is interesting to consider what happens when the victim of sexual violence is a young black boy.
Here's the link: http://thecurvature.com/2009/03/20/when-a-man-is-the-victim-a-second-study-in-rape-apology/

April 12, 2009

Mark Anthony Neal, Patricia Hill Collins and Tip Drill

While reading Mark Anthony Neal's New Black Man, there was a section that made me stop and scratch my head a little bit. During discussions of representations of the pimp and women in hip hop videos, we explored meanings and agentic possibilities that are often ignored in mainstream conversations about hip hop. This is certainly a valuable lesson, but it seems to me that there are limits to a woman's agency in regards to hip hop representation. Specifically, in regards to Mark Anthony Neal, I found his deployment of Patricia Hill Collin's analysis a little troubling.

On page 144 - 145, Mark Anthony Neal references Collins' ideas about Beyoncé and other musicians in light of the historical legacy of women such as Sarah Bartman or Josephine Baker. He then writes,

Indeed with so much of the commentary about the "Tip-Drill" focused on the act of that credit card being slide through that woman's ass, little attention was paid to what that ass might have been articulating. Hill-Collin's analysis asks us to consider that ass as part of an effort to "rescue and redefine sexuality as a source of power rooted in spirituality, expressiveness, and love" that creates "new understandings of Black masculinity and Black femininity needed for a progressive Black sexual politics."

I found this use of Patricia Hill Collins' to be troubling on several levels. First, singers like Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé are always their own bodies and presences in their products -- they can very literally speak through their products. Through the use of incessant tropes in music videos, the agency of video models is undermined. Sharpley-Whiting outlines a hegemonic beauty ideal prevalent in hip hop videos in her piece on diasporic sex tourism and hip hop -- 'Generation Ethnically Ambigious,' etc. Granted, while not all music videos utilize this precise trope, it is utilized enough to be documented and hegemonic. Furthermore, the increasingly pornographic nature of videos like Tip Drill is also hegemonic, as it reduces the ways in which women can speak. It seems, to me at least, that in order to construct a progressive Black sexual politics, as Patricia Hill Collins writes about, would require change from this as status quo, not more of the same.

Furthermore, I think Kate touched on this in an earlier blog about "recognizing agency." While authors have pointed out that many video models do not view themselves as "video hos," they are not really in control of this aspect of representation. Meaning is mediated not just through the actions of a woman and a given artist -- it is mediated through the text and through the viewer as well. Kaila Adia Story, for instance, takes a different stance on the 'Video Vixen,' writing that "Similar to Baker, Video Vixens become content with the exploitation of themselves because they feel in control. In this regard, capitalism yet again becomes the driving force for young Black women and men to exploit themselves, giving credence to Hattie McDonald's old adage: "I'd rather play a maid than be one" (244).

While I don't want to negate the agency of women who perform in videos such as Tip Drill, I would contest the notion that this kind of performance is contributing to a progressive Black sexual politics, particularly given it's reliance of tropes that have been used to systematically classify, medicalize, and oppress Black women in the past. Furthermore, I question the degree to which someone can have agency in a medium in which representations of seemingly endless numbers of women of color are able to be reduced to so few roles.

April 9, 2009

hip hop for kids meals?

I was watching vh1 last night and this commercial came on and reminded me of how embedded hip hop is in our culture...using rap to sell big kids meals :p

just figured I'd share it and see what you guys thought.

April 7, 2009

For Colored Boys by Deep Dickcollective

Bakari Kitwana Responds to Rihanna and Chris Brown

- Forwarded message ----------
From: Julie C
Date: Fri, Mar 20, 2009 at 11:15 PM
Subject: [Frontline] Hip Hop Organizing and Domestic Violence?
To: NHHPC-Discuss@yahoogroups.com, frontline@lists.hiphopcongress.com

These thoughts flowed forth from reading Bakari Kitwana’s ,“A Hip Hop Response to Chris Brown and Rihanna". Kitwana’s basic premise was that the Hip Hop political organizers could transform this incident into an opportunity by launching a public policy campaign around domestic violence. This got me to thinking about the issue, the Women in Hip Hop surge, and whether or not this is evidence that such a campaign could be effective.

Hip Hop needed its woman’s movement, and the last few years have been a blast. We needed our voices heard. We wrote books, dropped albums, made documentaries, launched initiatives, built youth programs, nonprofit organizations, conferences, shows, support networks, and Hip Hop Association even declared 2008 the “Year of the Woman in Hip Hop.”

We gotta keep it connected in '09!

Add me:
AIM & Yahoo: JulieChang206
Facebook: Julie Chang Schulman

It was inspiring. I don’t know how many records or books it sold or how many careers it launched, but I know we all got a little more press. I also know that programs were funded, stipends were dished out by universities, and all of a sudden, everyone wanted a token woman in Hip Hop at their fund raising dinner. I also know that women who were the most active in their communities realized there was a whole network of sisters doing just the same all across the world, all because of this “Women in Hip Hop” spotlight. Was it self-empowering? Yes it was. Did this at all have an impact on domestic violence numbers? I’m guessing not at all.

The reason we have fallen short on impacting public policy is because we let misogyny dominate the conversation. It’s not exactly our fault; many of us didn’t know it was happening. Journalists wanted to know what parts of ourselves we were sacrificing to be in Hip Hop, feminist and women organizations wanted us to generate youth interest, colleges wanted us to speak on the subject, and we were caught off guard. But now we have to come back and face the consequences. In the field of the Hip Hop movement base -the artists, the hood, there are places where this conversation has not only alienated our male counterparts, its reinforced divisions between organizations and individuals on the local level, and even blocked open honest dialogue on sexuality and relationships amongst women ourselves. Here is why:

Liken misogyny in Hip Hop to domestic violence in relationships. Now, look at the detrimental impact that compartmentalizing the issue of domestic violence has had on families, especially in the case of people of color and immigrant communities in the criminal justice system. I was in court earlier this week and a Bosnian woman crying while pleading the judge to release her husband in custody. She said, “In my country when you call the police, they help. Here they don’t listen.” It’s also been show that public financial assistance programs also have divisive consequences in the relationship of parents, reinforcing a negative cycle of unhealthy relationships. Thus, the human rights advocacy and service provision framework that centralizes women as victims of either her partner’s abuse or his inability to provide is unhealthy because it is divisive in real life application. Likewise, focusing on misogyny is incorrect for the Hip Hop movement base because it removes real life women artists and activists from their relationships, family, and community context.

While I agree that Americans need to think change their thinking about dating violence, domestic abuse and gender equity, we need a holistic, empowering approach to reach the masses and address the root causes. For women in Hip Hop, in the context of the broader movement, this means refusing to let the misogyny and domestic violence discussion further criminalize our brothers, sons, cousins, and fathers, who are already either disproportionately imprisoned, or out dying on the streets. For a Hip Hop public policy initiative on dating and domestic violence to make real changes, we can’t replicate the flaws of the criminal justice system and the state. We need to turn our energies toward healing our families and communities as one.

Check my Blog and These:


April 6, 2009


So all this talk last week reminded me of this T.V. show that I love called "OZ" Its a HBO show that used to be on the air a few years back. I think it is an amazing show and I appreciate the point of view that it shows about prison life. It is based on a federal prison and in multiple episodes it deals with the topics that we are talking about with Asha Bendele's book. It has to do with violence and violent acts, love, crime and punishment, the prison system, guards, religion, inmates and a whole slew of other things. It is extremely graphic (including nudity) and violent, so if you don't like watching things like this it isn't for you, but I would hope that you would watch part of it to see what it is about. It really has challenged the way I look at many different things in my own life. It deals with gangs and struggles of minorities within the prison system as well as middle class people who get caught up in legal trouble so I think that it tackles a lot of what we discuss in class. Baby mamas/daddies, sex, pimps, violence, racism(s) etc. but it in no way glorifies prison life.
I attached a link that has the producer's take on the violence in the show and the reaction of some of the actors. There are some recognizable faces (mostly from Law and Order) as well as other famous actors that you may recognize. There are six seasons of it so if you have the chance to watch the whole thing, it is amazing and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is willing to see it!

Queer Women of Hip Hop Readings

Download file

April 2, 2009

thank you

I have got to say a huge thank you to all of you that shared your stories with us over the last couple class periods and through out the year. I really appreciate it and it adds so much to the story when there are personal accounts to go with it. It made the "Prisoner Wife" that much more deep with everyone's honest toward prison, murder, and love. For me I do not have or have had anyone in the prison system so I found myself not relating to that part of the story as much.
Parts that I did relate to were the aspects of love and found it very interesting that we started to get into that in class. It is not very often that I run into that in my other classes. Emotions seem to not be addressed or talked about critically--especially love. I wonder why that is? We all experience it in one way or another. Maybe it is the fact that we all experience it in different ways and because of it we have a tendency to be defensive of our view point. Who is to say who can be loved or not?

Still Black - A Look at Black Transmen - Blog #4

Still Black is a movie I watched last night in my GLBT social movements class. This is a movie about black transgendered/transsexual men. The movie talks with six of these men. One of the overarching themes these men talked about in the movie was that of the black male identity. A few of them mentioned the struggle and differences between being black females and now transitioning into black males. They mentioned the difficulty of not being socialized as black men when they were younger so some of them have a hard time moving within society because they don't have the social skills of other black men. Many of them also came to recognize the new privileges they have by transitioning. This was seen especially in regards to many of the men previously identifying as lesbians. These men mentioned not being as welcome in lesbian spaces anymore because of their privilege of being men. They talked about the difficulty in finding a community or somewhere they felt they belonged. A few of the men could identify with the hip-hop, religion, or disability communities but none of these communities really spoke to their gender and not usually to their sexuality either.

Something else a lot of the men spoke to in this film had to do with the media representations of black men. Some of them struggled with not being a thug or a middle class black man and since these are the only media representations we get, it was hard for them to find a place where they fit in and where they could make their identity work. I think it's interesting to look at the experiences of these men as having been socialized as women but not identifying with the female body and now going through a transition into being a man. I feel that if some of these experiences were brought to the table and discussed, there might be more understanding from men and women within the Black community about the struggles each has to deal with on a daily basis. These men have had a chance to see things from a female perspective and a male's perspective and that knowledge can be vital in changing some of the ideas about what and who black women and men are.

There is also a website you can go to and check out more information out about the movie. It's www.stillblackfilm.org.

The Prisoner's Husband?

I've been thinking about the idea of having a spouse in prison and am wondering what it would be like if the woman was in prison and the man was not. I found some interesting information about prison marriages, but it didn't really say much specifically about men marrying women in prison. (check out: http://marriage.about.com/od/prisonmarriage/Prison_Marriage.htm). I'm sure that a man's experience would be similar to Asha's in some ways, but I think it would be different too, especially with notions of masculinity and femininity, taking care of children, communication, etc. Any thoughts on this or do you know any men who are going through this experience?

Prisoner's Wife from Latressa Bagley

Asha Bandele's book A Prisoners Wife has many different aspects to it from what it means to really love someone to dealing with past hurts. In the book, I came across a quote that really stuck out to me on page 114 "I think that the greatest gift that can be given to someone you love is to give them the gift to see themselves as you see them".

This quote resonates with me so much because my fiance tells me that all the time. Whenever I have an issue with myself he would always say "babe, I wish you could see what I see...I wish you could see the person that I fell in love with and stop beating up on yourself" I would always just brush it off when he said it but after seeing it in the book I began to realize that that could possibly be the greatest gift you can give the person that you love. How can you love someone when you don't love yourself? That's the question I struggle to answer everyday but this quote has opened my eyes and made me want to look at myself from the outside and try to see what it is that he sees and then maybe I will fall in love with the same girl he did.

LaTressa Bagley

What is love? (sorry if you get the head tilting song stuck in your head)

Near the end of class on Tuesday, we started briefly discussing what love is. What makes love? Who/what can you love? Is love always healthy and rational? And so on and so forth...

It got me thinking about whether people judge love's validity based on their feelings or the actual context that the relationship is taking place in. I also wonder if love can be applied to objects as well such as family heir looms or someone's brand new Rolls Royce in the same way that love can be applied to another person. I looked on dictionary.com and found that there are over 20 definitions for love. Since there obviously is not a clear solid single definition for what love is, my question is whether it is really possible to invalidate someone else's love, regardless of the context that it happens in? Can Asha's love for Rashid be as strong as another woman's love for her husband who is NOT in prison? Are Asha's friends and family correct in questioning their love because of the context of which it is happening in? People often talk so freely about how important and fulfilling love can be, but are they only talking about the stereotypical, heteronormative version of love? The reason that I started to question the context of love in the first place is because people form their own personal definitions of love based off what they see as love around them, so how can someone surrounded by hatred ever quite grasp what love really is? Some people DO love hip-hop in the same way that I love my family. Some people also love money and things of monetary value in the same way that I love my boyfriend. Is it rational, no maybe not, but it is realistic.

The only conclusion that I have come up with thus far is that love is unexplainable. It is extremely easy to judge and scrutinize Asha and Rashid's love, but does that make it invalid? Does that make it not love?

From Diane White -- On the Prisoner's Wife

cannot help but relate some of my own experience’s to Asha Bandele’s in “The Prisoner’s Wife,” having dated someone who went through a series of legal issues including a three-week stay at a county work house. Though the situation was nowhere near as intense, from my experience, I was able to relate to the difficultly in transportation, communication with an inmate and the financial aspect for both parties involved.

Also the ridicule that comes with dating someone who has a criminal past; it’s very difficult to endure and it feels as though you’re involved in a constant process of legitimizing that relationship. Luckily when I had this experience, I was working with my boyfriend at the time so we were able to see one another at work since he was given permission to work while serving his time. My boss at the time took it upon himself to confront me about how it felt “dating a felon,” in front of our other coworkers. Bandele’s passage, “It’s their willingness to cluster all prisoners into one simplistic stereotype never leaves any space for Rashid’s humanity,” (114) really speaks to this issue. Though these men committed a crime (though in some cases, inmates a wrongly accused) they are still human beings and likely had intersections in their lives that led up to their crime. Through discussing her relationship with Rashid, Bandele humanizes a group of people who lack the power to do so themselves, I really appreciated the thought and attention she draws to some of these issues.

Pimp's Up?

After our class discussion on the pimp archetype, I couldn't stop thinking about how our generation has glorified the "pimp". I spoke to several of my friends on the subject, without telling them about the class lecture (the idea that the "pimp" was just a facade), and asked them what they thought of a pimp. A few thoughts they brought up were self-aggrandizing, desirable, detached from women and social construction, composed, put together, canes, feather hats, "a guy on his game", fancy accessories, nice shoes and nice car. Our generation seems detached from the roots of which the pimp was created, which makes sense, because a lot of us didn't witness it. We also seem to happily glorify the act of pimping women as something to be proud of. My friends and I discussed the transformation of a pimp into "that's pimp": an adjective describing something that is cool. I think it is so interesting we don't recognize the pimp uses his outlandish features to hide his poverty and to transcend the law.

Bandele's Husband

For those of you who maybe curious as to what happened after the book or if she stayed with Rashid...here is a website with some pictures and bio of her husband.


April 1, 2009

prisoner's wife

I left class on Tuesday thinking about the way much of the class seems to be reading Bandele and her relationship with Rashid.

As I read the novel I too feel like there are aspects of her past that need to be dealt with in order for her to fully take part in a healthy relationship, and I have found myself putting her and Rashid in the same cycle of dependence that she put on the men who abused her and her need to be loved. But it took the discussion we had in class for me to think that maybe there are more layers to it than that, and I was able to better realize my own limitations in understanding their intimacy. This book is laden with passion and love, and though I have never felt that does not mean that I can’t accept it or recognize the legitimacy in what another person is going through. My only insight into their experience is this novel, I am reading this woman’s truths and I respect that for what it is.

I have a roommate who has another love interest every month, and he is enamored with these girls when he meets them. When it eventually fails, which seems to be the trend, it doesn’t take long until he is madly in love with someone else. Though I roll my eyes at him and often tell him he’s a dumbass, I still believe that his feelings are genuine. I believe that this novel is a genuine account of what Bandele experienced and how she knows this man and their love.

Even though I don’t think that a love affair like this is something that I will, or want to experience I am enjoying reading about it. I also like that this novel takes on things that I am not always comfortable with. I feel as though I have been exposed to a little bit of enough to rethink a lot of the normative structures and ideals that marginalize various groups or individuals, but I haven’t really thought about the complexity of who it is okay to love. When Bandele writes about facing the fact that Rashid is a murderer I can only imagine what that would mean to me personally. “Rashid’s tongue is lined with the unmistakable salt of blood. We kiss and both of us drip red.” That is a powerful thing to think about, and I believe that it was Heather that was talking about the weight of trying to deal with that kind of knowledge about someone you loved. When I think about the people that I love, I think that I could do it, and that I would.

I would like to read the next novel, I did some creeping and there is another one. I don’t think it turns out happily ever after though.