EARTHA KITT CONFRONTS LBJ




On Jan. 18, 1968, singer and actress Eartha Kitt spoke the truth at a White House luncheon meeting on crime and juvenile delinquency. Kitt was asked her opinion and she stated that it was not an issue of “delinquency,” instead young Americans were: angry because their parents are angry . . . because there is a war going on that they don’t understand . . . You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed. They rebel in the street.

The retaliation for her honest critique of the war was so swift and strong that within hours her career in the U.S. was ruined for 10 years. The C.I.A. watched and tried to undermine her.

Kitt said she never regretted the stand she took that day, but learned that: …if you tell the truth – in a country that says you’re entitled to tell the truth – you get your face slapped and you get put out of work.

 

FABULOUS FRANKE

AMERICANAH | CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE

Phenomenal novel. I am so late to this one.The parts about Obama, the Presidential candidate, are great too.

5 Mad Stars! Now going to read everything else by her. Had already read We Should All Be Feminists and Dear Igeawele, but never her fiction. SO GOOD. Especially, listening to the great British actress, Adjoa Andoh (above), narrate it on Audible.

The only reason you say that race was not an issue is because you wish it was not. We all wish it was not. But it’s a lie. I came from a country where race was not an issue; I did not think of myself as black and I only became black when I came to America. When you are black in America and you fall in love with a white person, race doesn’t matter when you’re alone together because it’s just you and your love. But the minute you step outside, race matters. But we don’t talk about it. We don’t even tell our white partners the small things that piss us off and the things we wish they understood better, because we’re worried they will say we’re overreacting, or we’re being too sensitive. And we don’t want them to say, Look how far we’ve come, just forty years ago it would have been illegal for us to even be a couple blah blah blah, because you know what we’re thinking when they say that? We’re thinking why the fuck should it ever have been illegal anyway? But we don’t say any of this stuff. We let it pile up inside our heads and when we come to nice liberal dinners like this, we say that race doesn’t matter because that’s what we’re supposed to say, to keep our nice liberal friends comfortable. It’s true. I speak from experience.

Dear Non-American Black, when you make the choice to come to America, you become black. Stop arguing. Stop saying I’m Jamaican or I’m Ghanaian. America doesn’t care.

If you’re telling a non-black person about something racist that happened to you, make sure you are not bitter. Don’t complain. Be forgiving. If possible, make it funny. Most of all, do not be angry. Black people are not supposed to be angry about racism. Otherwise, you get no sympathy. This applies only for white liberals, by the way. Don’t even bother telling a white conservative about anything racist that happened to you. Because the conservative will tell you that YOU are the real racist and your mouth will hang open in confusion.

Alexa and the other guests, and perhaps even Georgina, all understood the fleeing from war, from the kind of poverty that crushed human souls, but they would not understand the need to escape from the oppressive lethargy of choicelessness. They would not understand why people like him who were raised well fed and watered but mired in dissatisfaction, conditioned from birth to look towards somewhere else, eternally convinced that real lives happened in that somewhere else, were now resolved to do dangerous things, illegal things, so as to leave, none of them starving, or raped, or from burned villages, but merely hungry for choice and certainty.

COVER TO COVER

I love this so freaking much! Jenny Volvovski redesigns the covers of books once she has read them. For a book cover lover like me, I find this utterly fascinating.

HYSTERICAL STRENGTH

When I hear news of a hitchhiker
struck by lightning yet living,
or a child lifting a two-ton sedan
to free his father pinned underneath,
or a camper fighting off a grizzly
with her bare hands until someone,
a hunter perhaps, can shoot it dead,
my thoughts turn to black people—
the hysterical strength we must
possess to survive our very existence,
which I fear many believe is, and
treat as, itself a freak occurrence.

Nicole Sealy | Hysterical Strength

JO Barrios | Flores, 2020

FABULOUS FRANKE

MEMORIAL DRIVE | NATASHA TRETHEWEY

My whole life people have wondered “what” I am, what race or nationality. … It’s happened again and again: someone looking at me furtively, or calling me “exotic” and asking me “What’s your heritage?” Once when I was making a purchase in a department store, the white salesman behind the counter was too nervous or too polite to ask–most likely not wanting to offend a white woman by assuming that she was anything but white. He needed to write on the back of my check the additional identifying information required back then: race and gender. Hesitating, his pen hovering, he tried to look at me without my notice. I watched his face as he deliberated after a second and third glance at my features, my straight, fine hair, my skin color and clothing. He must have considered, too, how I had spoken and whether any of those factors matched his notions of certain people–black people. I stood there and said nothing as he scribbled the letters WF, the designation for white female. In the same week, with a different clerk, I had been given the designation BF. That time I had not been alone: I had been standing in line at the grocery store with a friend who is black.

For my father, the myth of Cassandra had been just another way he sought to guide me toward what he thought I needed to know. In some versions, Cassandra’s fate is that she is merely misunderstood–not unlike what my father imagined to be the obvious fate of a mixed-race child born in a place like Mississippi. “She was a prophet,” he told me, “but no one would believe her.” Over the years, though, this second naming would come to weigh heavily on me. It was as if, in giving me that name, he had given me not only the burden of foresight but also the notion of causation–that whatever it was, if I could imagine it, see it in my mind’s eye, it would happen because I had envisioned it. As if I had willed it into being.

Later that night, you hear your mother’s voice as she tells Joel, “Tasha knows.”

You are ashamed and you don’t know why. The need in the voice of your powerful, lovely mother is teaching you something about the world of men and women, of dominance and ssubmission. You hear it emante from the most intimate of space, the bedroom with its marriage bed. Your shame and your sadenss are doubled. You hear in your mother’s words a plea to get him to stop. You hear her desperate hope that his knowing you know, knowing you listen, will put an end to the abuse. As if the fact that you are a child, that you are only in the fifth grade, will change anything at all.  And now you know that there is nothing you can do.

YOU KNOW YOU KNOW YOU KNOW.

LOOK AT YOU. EVEN NOW YOU THINK YOU CAN write yourself away from that girl you were, distance yourself in  the second person, as if you weren’t the one to whom any of this happened.

No longer was I content to describe my days, to begin my entries, “Dear Diary,” to write as if to an intimate friend, a second self. Instead, I turned the page on my notion of privacy, certain that he would read whatever I wrote, and began again.

“You stupid motherfucker!” I wrote. “Do you think I don’t know what you’re doing? You wouldn’t know I thought of you like this if you weren’t  reading my diary.” Each entry thereafter was a litany of indictments, my accounting of all the things he had done. Not only had I stopped expecting that my words could be private, but also I had begin to think of them as a near-public act of communication, with a particular goal, and that there could be power in articulating what I needed to say. Even more there was something powerful in writing it. In my first act of resistance, I had inadvertently made him my first audience. Everything I’d needed to articulate came out in those pages, raw and unfiltered, and I felt for the first time in this new voice I inhabited a profound sense of selfhood. I could push back by not holding inside what might otherwise have continued to divide and erode me.

FABULOUS FRANKE

THE ONLY STRATEGY LEFT FOR DEMOCRATS

After this week, the mandate is clear: Make people’s lives better. And stop trying to placate Republicans. 

THANK YOU, Rebecca Traister!

DICKINSON




I love this show!

ARTICULATED

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I say authors should be free to create from any and all perspectives – Totally not down with the activists on this one

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FABULOUS FRANKE