The Black Girl Project’s Sisterhood Summit 2014: This Weekend

“You must learn her.

You must know the reason why she is silent. You must trace her weakest spots. You must write to her. You must remind her that you are there. You must know how long it takes for her to give up. You must be there to hold her when she is about to.

You must love her because many have tried and failed. And she wants to know that she is worthy to be loved, that she is worthy to be kept.

And, this is how you keep her.”  ― Junot Díaz, This Is How You Lose Her

Sisterhood Summit Image

 

BEEN A MINUTE…

October has been an incredibly fulfilling and intense month so far. Aside from writing and teaching, I’ve been updating my blog here with a new header that speaks to my work on YouTube.  I’m on the job market seeking a full-time position in digital media studies, ethnomusicology and/or African American/women’s studies.  I attended the critical and intense Town Hall for Girls of Color hosted by Girls for Gender Equity and Kimberle Crenshaw’s African American Policy Forum at Columbia Law School two weekends ago in honor of The International Day of the Girl. And there’s a lot of new things happening with my collaborative ethnography team of undergrads. We start collecting new data on adolescent and teen blacks girls who broadcast while they twerk for my research and their Anthropological Analysis course and training.

All that said, this post is about another project that has inspired my work.  This weekend, Saturday October 25th, 2014, Founder and Executive Director Aiesha Turman and the advisory board of The Black Girl Project hosts the 4th annual Sisterhood Summit at Empire State College from 10am – 6pm.  I would love it if  shared this post on your Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram or your Twitter!!

THE BLACK GIRL PROJECT: SISTERHOOD SUMMIT #BGPSS14 

View the day’s program here.  The theme is “Treat Yo’Self: Healthy, Whole and Free Black Girls.”  Come volunteer for the morning (10-2) or afternoon (2-6pm) sessions! The girls and women attending need your support!! If interested, DM me at kyraocity at gmail.

Love, peace and hairgrease! All the ladies say “He–alth!”

 

YouTube & the Counterfeit Currency of $tereotypes about Black Girls

“Le racisme est la dévalorisation profitable d’une différence” ou, plus techniquement, “le racisme est la valorisation, généralisée et définitive, de différences réelles ou imaginaires, au profit de l’accusateur et au détriment de sa victime, afin de légitimer une agression.”

“Racism is profitable devaluation of a difference ” or , more technically, ” Racism is the development , widespread and ultimately, real or imagined differences in favor of the accuser and to the detriment of the victim, in order to legitimize aggression.” (Google translation).

- Albert Memmi, Racism

 Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 12.12.03 PMScreen Shot 2014-10-03 at 12.12.15 PMScreen Shot 2014-10-03 at 12.12.34 PMScreen Shot 2014-10-03 at 12.12.45 PM

Value in Making Fun of Black Girls’ Identity on YouTube

In the last few years, I’ve taken to avoiding use the conjunction “but”. It has nothing to do with my research on twerking or feeling I could if it was even possible inspire all the other people who use the term to stop doing it by erasing the term, like naïve notions of erasing race by not talking about it. The intangible meanings of race, blackness or jokes about black butts do not disappear from individual behaviors in a world of 7.1 billion people or even more than 3 million Americans. When studying black girls on YouTube I’ve realized that I must confront the fact that we live in a world defined by bottomlines, by numbers. We are still a minority group. Our music still generates a great deal of revenue for companies not run by women or black folks.

The bottomlines or numbers game is both good news and bad news depending on how your frame it. The objective data I am gathering is demonstrating a perspective that cannot be seen by casual viewing of YouTube videos or ogling that a view went viral.  Yet, we are being seduced by such views.  The seduction of not only our attention but our cultural views are at stake. The “context is decisive.” as the saying goes, in any situation when dealing with bottomlines. So, let’s explore the “value” of representations of black girls on YouTube for a minute or two.

How are teenagers’ views of themselves affected by others in the disembodied online environment? Do teenagers take the attitudes of the anonymous others seriously in online interaction, or do they merely regard them as part of an entertaining and inconsequential role-playing game? (S. Zhao 2005, 389). Link to article.

I have a bold claim here. The value of being a black girl in the YouTube community of vloggers is not afforded to black girls themselves. It seems that others gain currency, get lots of views and traffic, when we girls/women who are deemed “African-American,” “ghetto,” “ratchet” or some other stigmatized identification, are the butt of a vlogger’s joke in YouTube videos. This one is about naming practices among black girls and it has accrued over 30 MILLION views!! 

During a great conversation with sociologist Margaret Hunter the other day, I articulated a trend from our Watching Black Girls Who Twerk on YouTube dataset. The trend is that others are gaining the most value (economic and social currency) from making fun of black girls and women.  The trend is profoundly encapsulated by Nicki Minaj in an on-screen interview from The Ellen Degeneres Show (Nov 2013) just after MileyGate:

“If a black person do a black thang?!? It ain’t dat poppin!” – Minaj

Her use of the colloquial term “poppin‘” in all its multiple meanings boils to one–a common hip-hop lyrical and music video trope: popping a women’s booty to make it rain. It also refers to seducing viewer’s attention which is critical in popular music media culture as well as to cause a stir or create drama such that people are talking about you (think Miley Cyrus’s “We Can’t Stop” or Minaj’s “Anaconda” video). It’s all about the Benjamins, right? Dollar, dollar bills, y’all!

I don’t have much time to say much more but I wanted to open a conversation with my students and with the wordpress community and my followers. (Aside: I am thinking of moving this blog over to Tumblr because there are more black girls there online than here. Would you all be ok with that?).

The Counterfeit Culture of Black Girling Video View$

I’ll close with two quotes from two disparate but tangentially related camps. One is the Race Traitor community that has mounted a new abolition movement to end white superiority in our cultures.

Race Traitor: “We do not hate you or anyone else for the color of her skin. What we hate is a system that confers privileges (and burdens) on people because of their color. It is not fair skin that makes people white; it is fair skin in a certain kind of society, one that attaches social importance to skin color. When we say we want to abolish the white race, we do not mean we want to exterminate people with fair skin. We mean that we want to do away with the social meaning of skin color, thereby abolishing the white race as a social category. Consider this parallel: To be against royalty does not mean wanting to kill the king. It means wanting to do away with crowns, thrones, titles, and the privileges attached to them. In our view, whiteness has a lot in common with royalty: they are both social formations that carry unearned advantages.” - Noel Ignatiev [8]

I first heard about them 8-9 years ago when the use how counterfeit money or currency works in the U.S. as a metaphor for disrupting the system of white privilege. The US government must vigilantly fight against counterfeit dollars because 10% of more would corrupt our currency. The whole system would crumble — partly because, in my thinking, that if 10% of the population couldn’t tell the difference between the real and fake money, and that 10% told 20 people, the exponential impact would be seen within weeks. So you must guard against tainting the supply.

How to Detect Counterfeit Money (U.S. Secret Service): “The public has a role in maintaining the integrity of U.S. currency [could you swap "whiteness" and "patriarchy" here]. You can help guard against the threat from counterfeiters by becoming more familiar with United States currency [or the social system of white privilege or patriarchy]. Look at the money [value] you receive. Compare a suspect note [non-white/female] with a genuine note of the same denomination and series, paying attention to the quality of printing and paper characteristics [think YouTube views as currency]. Look for differences, not similarities.”

All this has me speculating. Do videos like the one above devalue what it means to be a black girl on YouTube? Is there is any value left on YouTube when you can generate traffic exponentially by “black girling” your content? But when it comes to the real thing, “it ain’t dat poppin’”!

I am using “value” here in the sense of monetizing your content as well as  gaining social currency as a viral video. Does the video above taint the integrity of what it really means to be a black girl. How will viewers get the difference since the authentic version is rarely given attention.

What kinds of video do girls need to make to be more than a $tereotype that generates traffic by always being the butt of jokes including the drama that surfaces in discourse around black girls’ booty-shaking. Even there I have evidence that white girls get much more attention and views for doing what black girls do. Even Miley Cyrus can trump Minaj, Rihanna or Beyoncé on YouTube. Not combined by Iggy and Cyrus can step in and step out. Do the counterfeit moment and jump back into whiteness for profit.

What is the true value of broadcasting black girlhood?

How do we see or better yet, trust, the true value of being a black girl with these counterfeits of currency circulating on YouTube — the most public, public on the planet as Mike Wesch articulated in his YouTube ethnography.

We had the amazing blogger interested in digital black girls Hannah Giorgis visit our ANT4800 class this week. I audio recorded her visit. I may upload it if she gives us permission. She opened up a dialogue with a provocative quote from Junot Diaz, whose work I have yet to discover but if this is any indication, I am way behind the curve and will be catching up. And from this quote I got deeply connected to that my Black Girls YouTube project on twerking is very much about making some new mirrors for girls and for us women, too.

“You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?” And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.”

Junot Díaz

MORE TO COME:

Stay tuned for a new vlog of mine on twerking and a video from my distinguished lecture at Rollins College last week.

Paulo_Freire

GONE? Handclapping Games, Suggestive Lyrics, and Social Innovation

When we think of African American popular music, our first thought is probably not of double-dutch: girls bouncing between two twirling ropes, keeping time to the tick-tat under their toes. But this book argues that the games black girls play –handclapping songs, cheers, and double-dutch jump rope–both reflect and inspire the principles of black popular musicmaking. – Kyra D. Gaunt, Ph.D.

Depardon, Harlem 1981

BLACK GIRLS, HANDCLAPS & A DOUBLE-DUTCH ROPE

I was searching through my YouTube messages and subscribers today. Never even looked at who’s subscribed to my YouTube account before. Still learning the ropes of the YouTube community. I lucked upon the channel of EbonyJanice Peace who subscribes to my channel. I subscribed to hers and checked out her videos. Lo and behold, she is talking my talk–handclapping game-songs and the underlying meaning of the lyrics we chanted day in and day out.

Joan Morgan’s seminal text When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost inspired EbonyJanice to vlog about several handclapping game chants unpacking the suggestive meanings in all.

She says:

         I thought it was incredible that
0:15 black girls in Chicago, black girls in Virginia, and black girls in Ohio and
0:21 black girls in California
0:23 all had learned these sing-song handgame rhymes
0:26 how did that happen who was transporting these
0:30 messages from Virginia to California
0:33 Miss Mary Mack, for example , who taught black girls in Virginia
0:36 little black girls in Idaho, Miss Mary Mack?

 

She asks the question that guided my work for my book The Games Black Girls Play. She asked

it made me think about the conversations
0:52
that are… are just in our DNA or something(?). How do we just know these things?
Check out my book for my answers. (see below for links to reviews). Suffice it to say, it’s not DNA (exactly). It’s learned.
The Games Black Girls Play illustrates how black musical styles are incorporated into the earliest games African American girls learn–how, in effect, these games contain the DNA of black music. Drawing on interviews, recordings of handclapping games and cheers, and her own observation and memories of gameplaying, Kyra D. Gaunt argues that black girls’ games are connected to long traditions of African and African American musicmaking, and that they teach vital musical and social lessons that are carried into adulthood. In this celebration of playground poetry and childhood choreography, she uncovers the surprisingly rich contributions of girls’ play to black popular culture.

 
 

WHAT HAPPENED TO HAND GAMES?

One is that the grapevine of Twitter is not the first time we were so hyperconnected. Patterns of segregation and the impact of patterns of desegregation have led many black families to remain connected in their private and public lives because they were and are still not fully accepted in the public sphere of accomondations. Plus all our folk back in the 1970s were still back in the South or in segregated communities and still are. But the games are not as significant. YouTube videos and online videos on Instagram and VINE have become the 21st century games.
EbonyJanice goes on to say handgames live on and they will be here forever. Well? I haven’t been convinced over the last five years or so. I would suggest that girls handgames ARE declining in significance. They are being replaced by handheld mobile devices and a much more sedentary lifestyle which is not necessarily good for any of us much less black girls.
Black girlhood is changing and my theory about it from studying black girls who twerk from their bedrooms on YouTube is that we are no different that the rest of the wider (whiter) population. Our patterns of participation are online. We moved from the read-only culture of previous music media (BET, Soul Train, radio and TV shows) to read-write culture but black girls tend to not create, invent, or riff as much with their online video production. They don’t even talk as much it seems.

 

BLACK WOMEN OVERSHADOW BLACK GIRLS
(Think #BlackTwitter)

What complicates things further is that within this category “black girls” are women of various ages who endearingly call themselves “girls” or “gurl” and the demographic categories of adolescents and teens are being drowned out by us.
The games represented, for me, the kind of social innovation that marks the revolution of networked individualism, hyperconnectivity and social media like Black Twitter.
I was an early adopter of the #BlackTwitter hashtag and moniker. I blogged about it first in 2011 with about 12,000 reads on the TED Fellows blog to speak out against the prosecution of Kelley Bolar-Williams, a single mom who was sent to jail after my post, for sending her kids to a white school district and being found guilty.

 

LOVE & LOSS – WHERE’S OUR DIGITAL DOUBLE-DUTCH?

There is so much work to be done about the loss of culture due to changes in social media. While we are highly active on social media, on mobile media–I just read a report that said black teens interact with celebrities on the Twitter and other social media accounts much more than whites, I think I am as good as an example as most black female teens in that making/creating media vs. consuming media is not our first action.
I am thinking about all the time I spent reading about #Ferguson and black men or women killed by the police the last 7 days. And how much I’ve written or published online myself other than short media. It’s time to reinveest in the creative culture we already have. To convert it into new media. To create more voice, original content, remix, and other from black girls–and I mean black teens and adolescents as well as black women, particularly online video.
More to come as this fall I teach my Anthropological Analysis course and resume by Black Girls Twerking on YouTube project.

 

Book Reviews: The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop.

  1. Review-a-Day: bitch, Sunday, August 20th, 2006
  2. Review by Matthew Somoroff from Mark Anthony Neal’s MAN-in-Exile Blog.
  3. AllHipHop.com Review by Nadiyah R. Bradshaw

And consider purchasing the book at The Games Black Girls Play: Learning the Ropes from Double-Dutch to Hip-Hop

2007 Alan Merriam Prize presented by the Society for Ethnomusicology
2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Book Award Finalist

Immersion & the Great Escape: Is Queen Bey a Surrogate Reality?

74% of young girls say they are under pressure to please someone.
― Eve Ensler, I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls, 2010

Loneliness, Cacioppo points out, has nothing to do with how many people are physically around us, but has everything to do with our failure to get what we need from our relationships.”
David DiSalvo, What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite

Cherish your solitude. … Say no when you don’t want to do something. Say yes if your instincts are strong, even if everyone around you disagrees. … Decide if fitting in is more important than finding out what you’re doing here.”
Eve Ensler

Screenshot 2014-08-07 11.35.56

I’ve been thankin’

This past weekend I attended an amazing training during which I discovered that I tend to misinterpret my assessments as results or reality. It’s not something I’ve ever noticed or understood about myself before. As a professor, this can be harmful to myself and to the people I train to think for themselves. It’s also costly in doing research on YouTube. I also learned that how I best learn is from thinking and reflecting. So what I have started to do as a habit is whenever I get upset, I go to reading something outside myself or getting out of my head (trapped in my ego) to learn something about what I am struggling with — alone.

If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.
– Isaac Newton

Yesterday, after being in a tailspin about a decision I made, I went to my Kindle Reader and opened Chapter 5 of What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite by science writer David DiSalvo. The chapter is titled “Immersion and the Great Escape“.

DiSalvo discusses how our brains have the capacity to split and collapse two “existences” — or role-playing in immersive e-media like Twitter and Facebook  and our face-to-face interactions. Pre-digital era days we played with multiple existences such as in playing Dungeons and Dragons or for girls playing with dolls or putting ourselves in Diana Ross’s place while practicing the choreography of The Supremes with your female playmates. I remember playing with my two female cousins and one of their best friends. We played with heternormative roles. Who was married to which Jackson Five.  The most ambitious girl to yell first got Michael. Sometimes it was the oldest girl. Sometimes it was the girl who say “let’s play” whatever game that was invented from our imagination.

Does Musical Immersion = Identity in 21st Century?

DiSalvo suggests that this two existences we now contend with–online role-playing in immersive e-media like the interactions around the recent audio remix released by Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj and face-to-face connections off-line.

DiSalvo provides  scientific data from pscyhology and neuroscience that suggests loneliness (feeling lonely vs. being alone) is correlates to a strong desire to create social conflict. We then adapt to a need for this kind of engagement as dopamine is released in our brains. Then those of us who are lonely using online immersive media as a surrogate for real connections will often seek more of that kind of engagement. Engagement or social conflicts that are not good for us.

Online we seek the rewards of likes, our brain gets lit up when we check FB or other social media like our YouTube videos to see how many views we have. We get more value in such a context from our human-digital interface. Your favorite mobile device carried 24-7–always one is your BFF mediating conversations about stars like Beyoncé that seem really relevant to our reality.

What’s Real vs. Relevant?

In this context, our  brain suffers a kind of reward-distinction blindness–for our online connections that is increasingly indistinguishable to our brain from F2F contact and this is a problem. It can lead to compulsive/addictive behavior. Many of our brains may be seeking the wrong kinds of rewards (socializing online more and more and diminishing our F2F connections daily). This is happening with YouTube videos on FB and on YouTube itself as well as other networks where online video takes our focus and attention more than other kinds of interactions. Hypernetworked sharing is seduction because of its immersiveness in our daily lives today. Our brains are seeking the surrogate relationships online and preferring them over face-to-face according to a number of studies DiSalvo references. This got me thankin’.

What if you and I began to unhook from social media? Would you be willing to test out possibility of confronting this kind of compulsive blindness to digital interactions? How often are you immersing yourself, isolating yourself primarily to online surrogate relations an hour? There are only 24 hours in a day. That’s 1440 minutes. Most of us should be spending 7-8 of those hours (420 – 480 minutes) sleeping and about 3-5 hours (180 – 300 mins) preparing to eat and eating. That leaves about 600 minutes. If you work  8 hours a day + travel if you don’t work at home, that’s 600 minute more leaving only 60 minutes remaining IF you are doing one thing and one thing only at a time. I probably spend the rest and some checking Facebook and email daily.

Are Black Girls Online Actually Lonely?

I read in a study that I don’t have handy that black youth spend more time alone than any other demographic. Strange, isn’t it? And don’t forget that being online is still being alone. Could we be masking our feelings of being alone with our surrogacy of social media? I been thankin’. Can’t speak for you but i know this is something to think about and strategically change as a habit.

What would you be willing to do to insure face-to-face interactions have more time, are more compelling, in your life each day?

I remember in my childhood my mother and the black women in her network would meet at my aunt’s house on a Saturday night to play pokeno. Check out this video of an elder black women teaching a group od sistas how to play.

I think I need more face-to-face play like this. More house parties. More dinner invitations for others to come chat with me. But I’m gonna start slow. I’m trying one social gathering a month and one meetup with another person or two a month. I think I’ll also vlog about the experience too.

“We have to create culture, don’t watch TV, don’t read magazines, don’t even listen to NPR. Create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you’re worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you’re giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y. This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told ‘no’, we’re unimportant, we’re peripheral. ‘Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.’ And then you’re a player, you don’t want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that’s being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world.”
Terence McKenna (this is from the YouTube video below. WATCH IT!!)


KYRAOCITY ask:

What are you creating? Content is becoming your identity? Your bottomline. Don’t trip!  Create & Share! and Un-hook once a day!

Borrowing Black Girls Snaps & “Yo Mama Jokes” to Sell Kmart’s Layaway

… the appropriation of black culture by white suburban youth as being not only racist, but sexist….the phenomenon is definitely racist and simultaneously sexist. It creates a need for competition between the two races to maintain a hypermasculinity that is damaging not only to males, but females as well, on the basis of degradation of women by men that is further promoted in a manner in which females become willing participants in their own objectification and denigration.

A metamorphosis is then created whereby white supremacist assumptions about black culture are perpetuated and masculinity, as a performance, further marginalizes women and creates a movement of regression in response to advancements achieved by feminism. (Lemley, 2007)

Using our Bodies to Sell Us Out: Borrowing the Vernacular & Black Female Atttitude

My Mama utilized KMart’s layaway plan when I was in 7th grade. I remember she let me put a pair of brown cordoroy bell bottoms on lawaway — my first. A Senegalese man I dated said they also wore them in the 70s. The Francophone African culture called them “pattes d’éléphant” or “pattes d’eph”  (meaning elephant feet or bell bottoms). Back in 1976, I was heading to a new school district entering junior high school. I’d moved to different schools since 4th grade so having the right clothes to fit in really mattered. It seemed like I was one of the last kids to catch on to the bell bottom fashion trend. Waiting for them was torture. My frugal single mom was working two jobs–one at Geico and the other at a liquor store in suburban Maryland–to pay off the balance. By the first week of classes, she made it happen. I had what I “needed” or wanted to fit in and thus began the adolescent socialization process of establishing friends (or not) and having the clothes that marked you in the right clique. I wanted to be part of the black girl clique from my neighborhood where lunchtime was card playing time. Spades every day! I still remember the underclass shaming among black kids that came with having to use layaway.  My mother like most of our moms used layaway plans because they were being smart shoppers using the mechanisms available to them to access school clothes they could never buy outright. Other budgetary priorities were in demand. And my mother met all her bills on time.

BUYING IN TO FIT IN: KMART RELEASES “YO MAMA” AD

The youth culture at school–on the playground and in the hallways–on the other hand was about who got them first which was a sign of how facile your family was economically. Like it meant something to kids who earned NO MONEY to play the game of how much–pardon the pun–”booty” your family had. Did you have to wait to get your clothes or did you have the latest fashion sold? So it troubles me to see this new KMart advert where 2 urban-dressed black girls and 4 boys (South Asian, Latino and white) diss one another in black English vernacular “Yo Mamma” jokes revamped to laud the frugality that most kids have been socialized BY THE MEDIA to not even participate in. They are all about WHAT’S NEXT? What’s the latest fashion generally. And the pull of that consumerism is hard for most kids to resist in social settings like on the playground. I post it here inside of watching Black Girls on YouTube and inside of thinking about the work of Douglas Rushkoff. I was reading his 2000 London Times article “A Brand by Any Other Name: How Marketers Outsmart our Media-Savvy Children” published on PBS’s website.

The liberation children experience when they discover the Internet is quickly counteracted by the lure of e-commerce web sites, which are customized to each individual user’s psychological profile in order to maximize their effectiveness. [Read more here.]

KYRAOCITY ASK:

Is this type of advertising annoying or empowering?

Will Black Girls Make it Rain, too? #ContentCreation #YouTube

Girls are not passive recipients of these cultural messages. Girls are active agents. We know from developmental cognitive psychology that young boys and girls, once they know what their gender is, are very motivated to be the best example of their gender. And if the examples of femininity around you are a sort of tarted up, pornographied sexuality, then that’s what you’re psyched to be.” Tomi-Ann Roberts

INTRODUCING

Join me as I launch my first missive to YouTube from my Black Girls Twerking Summer project with 19 students at Baruch.

Your thoughts and reactions are welcome! Your sharing with your network of teens of both sexes, parents, teachers and folks in black studies, girlhood studies, black feminist studies, anthropology, ethnomusicology and media studies is respectfully requested.

THE HONOR OF YOUR SHARING THIS IS REQUESTED.

Always…Like A Girl #likeagirl #bottomlines #twerkit

The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says: It’s a girl.
– Shirley Chisholm

“The greatest weapon in the hand of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed.”
― Steve Biko

Always.com (ads for maxi pads) are selling a message that follows yesterday’s post on period parties.  This is the kind of work we need and I hope to do about twerking on YouTube. Revealing the ways we see and talk. Uncovering our internalized biases begins with a kind of inner warrior work we are not teaching ourselves or young people today. What Audre Lorde called the radical political work of “self care.” Glad some commercials are trying lead us to think and do this kind of work. #werkit

Last year in March, I saw a music video featuring Nicky Minaj soar to 1 million views overnight primarily because the song had a familiar Jamaican riddim (“Murder She Wrote”) and her breasts were fully exposed on YouTube. I refuse to repost it as I don’t want to add to its traffic.  It’s nice to see a video that is not about the sexualization of girls and things girls consume on YouTube (explicit raps by male pop idols) have better currency and reach on YouTube in just a few days.

This video was released on June 26, 2014, three days ago, and has over 6 million views. Goodness can pay off!

Perhaps we should recreate commercials like these in our home communities as a viral video meme?

 

Kyraocity Asks:

  1. Do you like that products advertise values you can get behind? If yes, why? If not, why not?

#BlackGirlsMatter: Consuming Black Thots on YouTube

Showing women as consumable [as discussed in Think Progress in 2012] tells us things about how we perceive them and what we want from them, not about who they actually are.

 

TALKIN OUT OF SCHOOL: Coding YouTube Videos of Black Girls Who Twerk with my Anthro Students

Go to 0:53

My summer session students and I are coding 200 videos of young black girls who twerk on YouTube and man–, is it both interesting and complicated as a site of cultural analysis and ethnography.

I don’t have much time to chat.  Revising and resubmitting an article calls. So I am procrastinating right now. Yesterday, in class I discovered some new local knowledge about youth culture online in the form of new discourse — words used to exchange ideas. The discourse included

  1. dub” meaning grinding your ass on someone in a video or in person. I suspect it’s a diminuative version of “rub-a-dub” from early local Jamaican dancehall and street culture
  2. hmu KIK me” which means hit me up and contact me on the app KIK me which a biracial black man student in my class was for picking up girls.
  3. She’s a thot” which is an acronym for “those hoes over there”. The same male student above used it to suggest that he considered a young dark skinned hispanic girl in another video we were watching in class a ho or whore based on her carefree (or careless) public and highly erotic display of ass-shaking.
  4. soffe shorts” for girls worn as pajama shorts. A popular brand of shorts for cheerleading and dancing that reminds me of skimmies worn under your cheerleading outfit or tennis gear when I was a teen. Girls often twerk in them.
  5. faded” which means drunk. The twerking video above features a song by Tyga called “Faded”.

What I left our lively and engaging conversations about young black girls twerking with was a new insight I had NOT ever thought about before.

It’s Code

Took my name, my site, my song
Been trying to find myself all day long…

[Chorus]
Oh baby, it’s code
I want you to hold me, and love me until I want no more

We are coding data into a Google Docs spreadsheet I got from digital ethnographer and master professor of digital media in anthropology Michael Wesch. We are coding titles, subscribers, upload dates, during, style, demographics of age, race, and class, each subscriber’s views and channel views and other behavior including ranking their dancing. We are also analyzing the sexually objectifying comments below each video.

The OMG moment came when I noticed lots of “KIK me” comments and phone numbers by males with and without profile pics. My brain would have never imagined that this was a sign of hookup culture that begins to explain a conundrum I was having: Why wouldn’t these girls disable all the sexually objectifying language in the comments? The male student who defined the discourse of KIK me led me to conclude that this is a serious form of black girls’ hookup culture.

Had an idea to call those numbers in the comments and record them and remix them with the videos. This is really complex, curious, disconcerting and an awesome research project. I am glad I fought my disdain at first to pursue all this.

Today’s kyraocity: Piggybacking on “thot”:

A though on thot: them hoes over there. Have you ever considered the amount of money rap artists are making piggybacking off videos by young girls like this in a digital media ecology that is always perceived as a site of empowering ordinary users to make money?

The first video I posted above has over 28,000 hits but it also has an immersive ad for selling Tyga’s rap single. The record company and the artist gain identity. The two girls lose marketplace identity not only in the exchange on YouTube but also IRL.

 

MUSIC BREAK: Grown Black Girls Rock the Mic

Janelle Monae speaking to sway on women, sexuality and sounding and acting grown. Cuz she is!