This is Not Racist: Halloween Edition

How-to: Do Halloween Right

This Halloween I’m dressing as Don Draper. It’s my take on irony, because I know no one will get it: I don’t have Draper’s habits, his personality, a sense of the world he inhabits, I’m also NOT a white man…But I have a suit, and I got the idea from an old GQ post, that said if you have a suit you can be Don Draper too.

What’s Not-Racist about that?

Why do so many costumes tend to take a wrong turn when anyone can get away with wearing a suit; being Elliot Stabler, SuperMan, Richie Tenenbaum, Steven Colbert..? Seems there’s a lack of established character here not unlike my minimal knowledge of Draper- charisma.

But there is a way to get that kind of character development and depth, and maybe the acting skills to take on stoic-like 70s character costumes; by facing Halloween. That ultimate character arc only comes along when you have the right tools and means at your disposal. And Halloween is your stage.

This is Not Racist- is a guide away from gaudy costumes, through your own character arc. Build the kind of confidence you need to challenge racism, and avoid all other manner of underbelly costume gimmicks.

What’s the Big Deal with Being Racist on Halloween?

It’s really old. About as old as stealing land with a double barrel shot-gun and calling it discovery. *pinch*

Hurts doesn’t it? Maybe not so much anymore, look at that you’re already over it. Unfortunately for other people racist Halloween costumes, parties, and themes aren’t a pinch, it’s more like the ghosts of dead coming back to haunt us, then learning how to use Facebook. Isn’t it about time for all of us to move on? Move into some *other respectable adult costume* that includes suits, lots of alcohol, bad puns, and maybe rap music without making half the country mad at you?

Eleadah R. Clack is Author of This Is Not Racist; a How To Guide on Anti-Racism for White Culture

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The Patriarchy is Personal

This article on street harassment is a little bit different, and I’m hoping that the context will change the conversation. 

When I see women in the street, I’m insulted. Beautiful women command your attention. Taking time out of my day just to ponder the mystery of beauty, the possibility of limitlessness. It feels like disaster, and neurons crashing into each other and yes I enjoy every second of it. Yes, women make me feel like that. And yes, I fall in love at least once a day. 

Not love at first sight. Not puppy love. Real love. It’s true. That kind of love that shows you yourself, is honest about flaws and still loves on. Women every day all over Beautiful Brooklyn give me this, and they don’t even know it. As a woman loving woman, this is real love. As a masculine body this poses a problem. I’ve had to question every street interaction I’ve had with women since really coming into myself. 

See even as a woman I can’t make all of the compliments and thoughts of first dates into a coherent line, and bring it to another woman without her being put off. 

And I really thought it would work whenever, because I’m a woman. But it doesn’t. Rarely. Yet I’m still drawn to them, that doesn’t go away. And I’m torn between the feminism yelling at me it’s street harassment and that feeling of living life on the edge that says just go after what you want. 

Just for clarification: There’s a difference between going after what you want, and going after everything you see just to go after something. 

Still I want to win, she got my attention so I want hers. If I never open my mouth will she ever know how utterly beautiful I think her hair is today?

If I never stop and holla will she ever know that I think she’s attractive? 

Yeah, right. I know my own endgame. There’s always more wrapped in a compliment coming off the street. And the bottom line is, if she’s as flawless as I’m making her out to be, she has someone, multiples probably, telling her this already. And if she’s anything like the women I actually want to date, she does not need me, a stranger, to tell her in public. People that know her, care about her, and are in her life let her know.And unfortunately if she’s really, Gawd, sooooo beautiful, she’ll also be catcalled by someone else, today. 

That’s the reality. I’m never going to be the only one saying it. I’m ‘competing’ with men of all types, guys she knows at work, people in her neighborhood. Fine. I try to talk myself up anyway, because I’m a woman, it’s different. 

I’m different, because I want to make black women feel special. But really, that’s not any better. The problem is patriarchy. That sense of entitlement that comes with a dick, that I can impose any thing I think, feel, or feel obligated to say, onto any woman at any time, in any place with no consequences. Even when it’s obscure, patriarchy is threatening. 

I’ve done it recently. I guise myself, thinking it’s better coming from another woman, but I still have the privilege of walking home at night and not hearing cat-calls and not feeling the very real danger of rape. As long as that exists, in the everyday environment, none of my comments will be welcome. 

As sociologist I’m fascinated by the exchange. What goes through me, every time I see women that stop my entire world that I want to stop theirs. Isn’t once enough? In other situations I’ve actually stepped in when women were being catcalled. When I’m with my friends its gross. There’s a part of me that is *still patriarchy, ready to protect or at least deflect when I assume women I don’t even know are threatened.

There is potential in every meeting. Unfortunately women aren’t allowed to take it, because it could be roofied. We of the masculine persuasion kill it all the time. I’d love to live in a world where women walk up to me, ask for my number based on my attractiveness and her feeling just right. That could exist! But in this world, why the hell would women ever feel comfortable everything that comes out of a man’s mouth is condemns masculinity? 

So the ultimate question for me and maybe some men, is what to do? I know that we actually can make a difference and offer security when asked, or when harassment happens around us. We can also keep hollrn and keep trying to make the magic happen. But really ‘how many times has it actually worked’, and after that, how many times has it worked out. 

The conversation between brothers, of all types needs to happen now. As long as public spaces feel unsafe for #yesallwomen we’re all losing. For now I’m keeping my urges where they need to be, off of the public streets and into mutual places where women can opt-in to my conversation. In the meantime I hold on to the complements and the suave, because the right time and place is never on the street.

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TED Ideas in Business aims to shake up the same old thinking on professional development

Originally posted on TED Blog:

TED Ideas in Business are playlists that bring together talks of interest to professional audiences. Here, the art for "Hidden Trends and Systems" and "Skillful Presentation."

TED Ideas in Business are playlists that bring together talks of interest to professional audiences. Here, the art for “Hidden Trends and Systems” and “Skillful Presentation.”

For many, the words “professional development” conjure up memories of sitting in a human resources office, watching a series of awkward training videos and then taking a mandatory quiz. The TED Distribution Team realized: it doesn’t need to be this way. Earlier this year, they started to think about how companies could use TED Talks to get people thinking about their professional lives.

The team is now rolling out TED Ideas in Business, a collection of 25+ playlists curated around big topics in the professional world, like effective leadership, career development, the future of work, and good decision-making. The playlists range from “The Psychology of Success” to “Democratizing Innovation” to “Invasion of the Cyber-Workers.” Each list contains talks that can help crystallize goals, start…

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Reality is a Work in Progress

  • Right now humans are more advanced than we’ve ever been technologically
  • We are also vastly unequal when it comes to sharing the resources of life and opportunity
  • Despite money and success people are more socially isolated  than ever before, especially in the western world
  • There are dangerous changes in the environment brought on by careless over-development

And yet, this is not the picture of reality that’s presented in media and in every day encounters. We live as if our positions are fixed, natural. Our actions only serve to sedate our fears.  Deep inside us is the awareness that nothing is stable, and that we could all be in another’s shoes.There’s a handful of billionaires and tyrants with the kind of stability that offers true peace of mind. And they have it because the vast majority of the world doesn’t. The first step to confront and change this reality is by admitting it.

It seems hopeless to look out and admit that everything you have could be taken away by one fell swoop of a teetering economy. New perspectives are daunting but isn’t that reason enough to risk it for something better? Take two or three steps back from your individual standpoint to look at the bigger picture. Think about consequences and the social reality we live in.

I write to face reality. My words will free the world.

How to Take Advantage of Sunlight in February

Since the sun was out today, I rode my bike somewhat aimlessly through BedStuy. There was just enough shine to warm you up.  I biked down Lewis, back up Marcus Garvey, to Fulton St., then back down Marcy all the way to Flatbush and back. 


Exclaimation marks, mark real live sites of gentrified violence. The projects across the street from the beginning of Williamsburg, nestled in between brand new buildings on Myrtle ave.

Nostrand Ave is a fucking wreck but Bedford Ave, one block up, has brand new smooth  bike lanes to match the sparkly new shops. Every corner I turned there was either trash mixed with the melting snow, or those cute chalkboards in front of cafes with cute people looking very cosmopolitan in the windows. I came to the crossroads that gentrification in BedStuy is like a bike ride on a sunny day in February:

  • white women walking on the same side of the street as some project buildings
  • project buildings right across from single family condos
  • white fathers pushing their strollers past loitering black guys
  • white teens, casually walking past forgotten and boarded up buildings

These situations draw me in because I know if the races were reversed in any of them the sunny day is all of a sudden…muggy. Here is your reverse racism; I’ve colored the conquistadors as white again. Have I? Or have we all assumed? What if my bike notes looked like this:

  • Black women walking down Lexington avenue
  • Single family condos built in between a detention center and an empty lot
  • children, coming from brunch with their parents
  • nannies picking up their kids from daycare
  • Black teens, casually walking anywhere

Did you racialize who belongs in these spaces?

It’s okay, we’re all socialized to accept some things as natural and others as signs of trouble. White flight happens the same way as gentrification. A few right moves into the wrong neighborhood, until a  critical mass is reached. At gentrification’s Critical Mass property values increase, followed by rents. Boutiques, specialty wine shops and high priced real estate offices become the norm

The bottom line of the gentry is top of the line appliances. They pass boarded up buildings down one block and but high rises on the next without blinking. It’s ignoring the possibilities of rebuilding value in the community and opting for the profit potential of something ‘better’  instead. Value and profit are subject to change based on  assumptions of what’s ‘worth it’. When some skins mean value and others do not, gentrification becomes racial.

What I saw today was the front line of the frontier. Before the critical mass hits and there’s just the discomfort of pending invasion, ‘Scouts’ come looking for that new place that they just  have to experience. They often seem out of place but keep squeezing into the role for the sake of illusions. We’re all human, looking for places to belong. Yup.

The difference is who can afford these places.  We all can’t afford $4.00 for 16oz of cold brewed, fair trade coffee. Those who can afford the luxury take advantage (including cheap students who’ve learned how to budget). Soon overcrowding and saturation by  all us gentrifiers makes a difference in stabilizing prices. When values are down and everyone’s brown, money is equal. I can afford it on weekends, but definitely not every day.

Home of the Best French Toast in BedStuy

Saraghina Brooklyn, home of the best French Toast in BedStuy

I like quiet, low-key places with cheap prices and yummy food. Everybody likes that. Yep. I’m excited to get out in BedStuy; to make the most of my free time, support black and small businesses. And like everyone else, I like the excitement and the possibility of finding my own haunts.

So I take a few reflectory steps back, as I examine my role in this complex saga of finding and belonging. Why is the line drawn between me; a young, but educated, queer woman of color and a white middle class family moving in down the block?

The difference is not just phenotypical or prix fixe, its in the physical protection. Which bodies will be allowed to thrive and succeed in this space? Which bodies are contributing to the perceived increase in value of the space and which ones are used as the scapegoat for deterioration? (hint. It’s the same ones who use a higher SPF). When some skins are a flag for open territory and others are not, gentrification becomes racial.

Gentrification is violence in subtlety. When white bodies move in, black, women’s, poor, youth, POC, immigrant, bodies are displaced. This happens succinctly. White people gentrify with certain knowledge that a way has been paved for them to be there, and be completely comfortable. Without questioning their role in gentrifying, they begin to take up more space in coffee shops, on sidewalks, in community board meetings.

Contrast that with the experience of POC in every other social institution; where we have to fight to be visually represented, fight for our needs to be written into policy, and fight for respect and recognition; where our very act of existing is a cause for backlash.

There is no fighting when white people come to town. In fact, some businesses from the community can and do take advantage of the increased security and rising chances that they’ll  make it into the black.  Spaces with the right marketing strategy, the right look, the right products, and the right location live to see the neighborhood evolve into one that would prefer a young, rich, and white clientele.

The gentry just takes advantage of what already exists: a few hours of beautiful weather, low-priced land, willing businesses. It works best on those sunny days in February when they can pretend to be part of the neighborhood just enjoying the weather, ignoring what was there before, ignoring the bodies moved out in the night. They can rest assured that by summer the block will be a little cleaner, brighter, ‘safer’.

*also on Medium

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It’s Time To Talk About Depression in Hip Hop


Self care is the ultimate revolutionary love. Black people, men, oppressed people: we gotta love ourselves and each other enough to care..

Originally posted on Rediscovering New York:

Danny Brown’s disturbing tweets were either unreported or written off as just another Twitter rant by most of the major music websites. It’s important to take a closer look.

[Trigger Warning: Suicide]

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