Feeling Insecure? Learn To Love Your Body and Your Soul!

 “And who will join this standing up
and the ones who stood without sweet company
will sing and sing
back into the mountains and
if necessary
even under the sea:

we are the ones we have been waiting for.”
June Jordan

Screenshot 2014-08-09 20.06.42


Meet Miyya (pronounced like Maya). I watched this amazingly courageous black girl on Facebook today.I’m supposed to be on my way to the Bronx for an annual jam session and BBQ at my friend Benny’s place. But this video lingered on in my mind. This video is not yet available on YouTube. It surely will be soon.My friend (in real life and online) Bill Lamond wrote this about Miyya after I posted her video on my wall.
I transfixed by this…better than any movie I could have gone to see. More riveting. More alive. More gripping. More entertaining. More. Just more. This is a being who has mastered Divine Compassion with a Mother who knew that the only way through was to get over herself and get beautiful. I found the simple message, “I lived” an opener to my heart.  In a world of whining and complaining and Whyme’ing, I found this intoxicating. Thank you.
16 hrs · Like 5
YouTube is a distribution platform for many other platforms. But this video from FB is so—- courageous and an inspiring example of the power of online video for black girls out there who would otherwise never have such a public audience before digital media changed everything for youth of color.

It’s amazing when you can introduce people to the audacity of humanity via socially-networked media. Before I share it with you one word about owning your body online.


Earlier today, I was writing about black girls who twerk after what was projected as the end of the Digital Divide. I was preparing another manuscript to be submitted for a peer-reviewed journal review. This one is about the so-called freedom of YouTube and its digital seduction 50 years after the sit-ins and freedom rides that marked the protest by youth for Civil Rights.

Back then a black body was “owned” in the worst kinds of ways in public. Sitting at a lunch counter in Greensboro in 1960 to gain access to public accommodations was a radical public act. The Freedom Summer of 1964 became a deadly act for those whose bodies and person were identified as black and female or male between 13 and 24.

On YouTube today and other online video platforms, showing your adolescent or teen female body is not always privileged when it comes to twerking especially compared to non-black bodies. In other ways, black bodies rule, they are privileged, but more often than not it is negative or dysfunktional, as my friend Robin Kelley called it. Now, they call it ratchet.

BEARING WITNESS: One’s Body as a Testimony

Miyya (pronounced Maya) gives a whole different interpretation to using the body in her online video. She’s facing the camera as opposed to backin that thang up.  Let me stop you in caseyou worry, I am not interested in diminishing the social value and play of twerking. If I were a teen, I’d been doing it today. My scholarly interest is in helping young girls and women understand the implications of broadcasting yourself while claiming to “own their own body” in ways that are not so free.

Miyya flips any script about the lack of agency among black girls owning their body, broadcasting from a recording webcam.
I couldn’t download this video. Haven’t figured that out yet on Facebook but if you click POST below you can watch it. You will feel blessed to have clicked it. Don’t wait! No need to imitate this one. It’s rare!! It’s absolutely incredible to behold and to learn what courage looks like.
 Screenshot 2014-08-09 20.08.11

CLICK HERE FOR THE VIDEO> Post by Miyya Ulove.


U.G.L.Y. – U Gotta Luv Yourself

This video and photo project  by a friend Lacey C. Clark with Sisters’ Sanctuary in Philly is an empowerment project for black girls. The artist she uses as a soundtrack is captivating. The singer @Anhayla reminds us in the song U.G.L.Y. that You Gotta Love Yourself!! So I added her YouTube video below that because it speaks directly to those who feel insecure.

I did once. Sometimes still do. Anhayla paints a big picture to help young and old understand–it ain’t personal! It’s human.

Phenomenally U Photo Phestival


Beyond the Body? bell hooks + Eve Ensler

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” ― Alice Walker


Tuesday, November 5, 5:00-6:30pm
Beyond the Body? 
A public dialogue between bell hooks + Eve Ensler 
Tishman Auditorium, The New School
66 W 12th St
New York, NY 10011

I’ve not posted much this semester about our project and perhaps that has been good in that chaos lives in the beginning of anything new  and not everything needs to be broadcast I have learned (the hard way). This is particularly a concern I have been pondering relative to black girls on YouTube–girls and women. The limitless audiences who see our thoughts, feelings, actions and beliefs, those audiences are not always aware of any historical context of our lived experiences nor are they willing to do that work in the current pace of entertainment-as-news or the sharing of must-see-TV and tweets that serves as a constant distraction to the extreme self care everyday people need to be attending to. But that is another blog post.

[NOTE: This is the first of three parts about the event. The last will feature the video itself so stay tuned.]

Q&A on hyper-sexualization

This post about a  1-1/2 minute video clip recorded with my iPhone. It was in response to the first question from the audience after an amazing dialogue at the New School between cultural critic bell hooks [who always spells her name in lower case] and V-day founder and Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler. I am in the process of editing the video and preparing to share it with my research assistants in my Black Girl You Tube Project course (aka ANT4800 Anthropological Analysis).  The video will definitely be posted on YouTube so you can share. But first I transcribed the clip and wanted to share the text. Why? 1) Because I think that visual media has stolen or at least it’s dominating our critical thinking of late; and 2) Because it might serve as an experiment for you to notice and reclaim how reading is an equally engaging and transformative media of shared culture and visual culture to which I am returning. 

IMG_8449Mine was the first question in the Q&A. Stepping to the microphone I announced myself as Kyra Gaunt, professor at Baruch College-CUNY and  purposefully broadcast to the hundreds attending [see panorama view] that I was doing a project called the Black Girl YouTube project.  Then I succinctly asked bell and Eve, “Could you speak to the hyper-sexualization of teen girls in our media today?” 

The clip captures their amazing response which I have transcribed here:

0:00″  Eve Ensler:  [I’ve been traveling around the world] in the States and in Paris, and I’ve just been around a lot of teenage girls looking at this kind of insane pressure of over…of [the] incredible sexualization that is happening, that is making them feel as if somehow they are empowered.

:20″ Eve: It’s this weird flip but which is actually…it’s kind of like a… disempowerment within an empowerment…façade.

:30″  Eve: Watching girls who are not actually inhabiting their bodies but inhabiting a performance idea of themselves which has been projected onto them by the media and

:40″ Eve: I look at it with my granddaughter who is 17. I look at it with teenagers all the time and I see this…it’s almost like you have to become this girl in order to be somebody in the world.

:53″ Eve: This very sexual, this very performative, and somebody who is not actually in your body, but announcing your body, or demonstrating your body or…

           1:02″  bell hooks interjects: Or worse yet, Eve, offering your body…

Eve: [reiterates bell] offering your body

hooks [takes the stage and the proverbial mic]: … as a living sacrifice.

Eve [passes the space to bell; they swap positions with little tension]: Yes, that too.

1:06″  bell: I think that we are demanding of girls that they offer their bodies as a living sacrifice. And of course the sacrifice is to the institution of patriarchy. And the message to grown women is that if you won’t offer your body, we will take … the bodies…of daughters…and  [1:28″]  other people  who have the unclaimed bodies. I mean the 27,000 kids. [end of clip]


Dr. Gaunt aka @kyraocity on Twitter.