“Ignorant White Girl”: One Man’s Attempt to Defend his Sexism

We’re pleased to feature this special guest post authored by Muhlenberg College (and Contemporary Racism) alum, Brittany Smith (’17). Brittany is at Columbia University pursuing an MPH focusing on health promotion and children’s health equity. A few weeks ago, I went dancing at a few bars with some college friends who were visiting. I also encountered one of the most fragile and aggressive examples of masculinity I’ve ever seen. (And, as a woman who dates men, I’m no stranger to fragile masculinity.) When analyzing the situation, I found myself thinking about intersectionality; coined by feminist legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, intersectionality … Read more

#NotYourMule

This idea that Black women are the perpetual mules of everyone else has been ingrained in our society. We see it in the media when all we see are Black women marching for Black lives. We see it portrayed in the media with Black women playing the help, the nanny, the supporting motherly character, or the best friend used simply to illuminate the main actress’s character. The image of the Black woman has been, historically speaking, the strong backbone, always working behind the scenes, sacrificing for the cause, or overextending herself for the sake of the family, without reciprocity. In … Read more

Gender, Queerness, and Performative Masculinity as an Escape: An Analysis of Moonlight

In her essay “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe”, Hortense Spillers argues that the gendered configuration for Black people through slavery and its afterlife is “the dehumanizing, ungendering, defacing project of African persons” (Ziyad, 2017). She points out that, historically, Black gender has not been used to indicate a shared womanhood or manhood with people within white society, but to highlight how black people are out of step with womanhood and manhood. Essentially, Black gender can never be done “right” (Ziyad, 2017). Moonlight expands on this as it captures the life of a black boy named Chiron as he grows into adulthood. … Read more

“The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity” – Viola Davis

Stereotypes of gender and race permeate our everyday discourses from classrooms to politics and throughout the media. When we aren’t viewing individuals through the impressions granted by stereotypes, we are commonly white-washing our outlooks across matters; from mental illness, physical health, poverty, education and so much more, we downplay the intersections of race and gender. There is typically little room in society for minority groups to speak up for themselves, to challenge the stereotypes allocated to them and to reinforce positive change; in the case that this does happen, societal ignorance hinders our ability to listen and understand. More often … Read more

Could Be “Crazy In Love,” But Only If You’re…

I recently read an article from the website Ebony that began circulating after the Grammy’s which features an interview with Mathew Knowles, father and former manager of Beyoncé and Solange Knowles. The first part of the interview discusses Mathew Knowles’s internal struggle with “colorism”, which can essentially be described as prejudiced treatment or preferential treatment of individuals of one’s same race based on their skin color. I had personally never heard this word before, but have always wondered if this was ever an issue within minority groups. After reading further regarding this term and its significance, I imagine this is … Read more

Social Stigma Against Black Men and Mental Health

After engaging in an onstage rant and ending his concert prematurely, it was reported in November that rapper Kanye West had suffered a “nervous breakdown.” After going on a lengthy tirade about a personal conflict with Jay-Z and Beyoncé, West warned, “Get ready to have a field day press, ‘cause the show’s over,” dropped the microphone, and walked offstage. While the rapper’s antics have become rather commonplace and even expected, something was different this time. This time was different because he was immediately admitted to a hospital – reportedly for a psychiatric evaluation – thus, bringing about a nationwide conversation … Read more

Contesting White Feminism

In my feminist media studies class, we’ve moved into the topic of the representation of black women in the media and how mainstream feminism is essentially white feminism, and neglects to acknowledge women of color. Over the last few years however, Beyoncé has really been promoting feminist ideas in her work, becoming a strong feminist voice for women of color. She has always championed the strong and independent woman even back in her TLC days, but her feminist messages have recently become more explicit. This is most notable in her song Flawless, where she uses sound bytes of a speech … Read more