Archive for January 16th, 2014


January 16, 2014

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News and Events from The Black Star Project



Black Males





Freed slaves in 1865 better-off than most young U.S. black men today

January 16, 2014

By Editor


There are more black men in US prisons today than there were slaves in 1850 (The New Jim Crow – Michele Alexander)

By Phillip Jackson

Panama City, Panama (Latin America)

Many young Black men graduating from college today in the United States are less prepared to succeed in American society than their forefathers who were released from slavery in 1865.

When Black men were released from slavery in 1865, they became blacksmiths, bricklayers, carpenters, merchants, teachers, doctors, lawyers, farmers, ranchers, cooks, soldiers and more. They built houses, towns, communities, businesses, families, schools, universities, institutions and futures. Most of these men had less than a third-grade education. Given today’s astronomically high unemployment rates for Black men in some cities, even Black men with college degrees might not find suitable employment, ever.

One hundred forty-nine years after slavery has ended, sixty years after the Brown versus Topeka Board of Education Supreme Court ruling and twelve years after the No Child Left Behind legislation, only 10 percent of 8th-grade Black boys in public schools across America read at or above a proficient level according to the 2011 U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The failure of Black boys in American schools is an unaddressed, undeclared and uncared about national disaster in the United States!

Not being able to read at an 8th-grade level means that young Black males in America have fewer options than their forefathers who were freed slaves. They do not have the option to attend college, or enlist in the military, or even to earn a living wage! Their lack of school success directly contributes to their super-high unemployment rate, their hyper-incarceration rate in the prison system, the vicious breakdown of the family unit, the social and economic decay of the Black community, and the crippling, senseless violence that has over taken many Black communities. In fact, as many of these young Black men cycle into the criminal justice system, they find that they have virtually re-entered a slavery system similar to the one their forefathers left-modern prisons.

There is no positive future in America for young Black men who cannot read at an 8th-grade level. They will have trouble working, living and surviving legally in America, and in most of the developed world. Truth be told, they are not better-off than their forefathers who were released from slavery. Appallingly low percentages of 8th-grade Black males read at or above a functionally proficient level according to data from the U.S. Department of Education:

2011 Reading Levels of 8th-Grade Black Males

from 15 Low-Performing American School Districts*

CityPercentage of 8th-Grade Black Males Proficient in Reading

Milwaukee – 3%
Cleveland – 3%
Detroit – 5%
Washington (D.C.) – 6%
San Diego – 7%
Dallas – 7%
Baltimore City – 7%
Chicago – 9%
Jefferson County, (KY) – 9%
Atlanta – 9%
Los Angeles – 9%
Philadelphia – 9%
Austin – 9%
Houston – 9%
Hillsborough County (FL) – 9%

There is nothing more important to the future of Black American communities than to ensure that Black boys can read proficiently. The education of Black boys is too important to leave solely to schools and government. For young Black men to continue to exist and to begin to thrive as viable human being, parents, families and communities must take control of their learning. Black communities are responsible for teaching young Black men to read, to think, to build, to father and to love!

Black communities must open their own reading academies in churches, community centers, libraries and parks to ensure that young Black men will learn to read well before the 8th grade. Black communities must create their own mentoring, tutoring, employment, entrepreneurship, technology, and father development classes for young Black men and boys. We can no longer afford to wait for America’s solution to this catastrophe. Constructive help is not coming! The destruction of Black males in the U.S. can no longer be considered an American problem. These horrific statistics are evidence that America does not care–or worse!

* Source: Minority Students and Public Education by Dr. Michael Holzman

This entry was posted on January 16, 2014 at 3:49 am and is filed under Achievement Gap, Black History, Black Males, Education, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

BLACK SKINNED BEAUTY GABOUREY SIDIBE WINS GOLDEN GLOBE AWARD!-continue breaking the-skinny-no-shape-white-girl-glass-ceiling WITH YOUR BLACK BEAUTIFUL SELF!

January 16, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Gabourey Sidibe’s Dress Debacle and Being Visible and Fat

[Content note: fatphobia, body shaming]

There’s been a lot of talk about Gabourey Sidibe’s dress at the Golden Globes and the negative reaction to it. There’s been even more talk about her pitch perfect Twitter response:

To people making mean comments about my GG pics, I mos def cried about it on that private jet on my way to my dream job last night. #JK — Gabourey Sidibe (@GabbySidibe) January 13, 2014

Obviously, I was thrilled to see her shut down the critics like this. In fact, I’m not sure I could conceive of a better response if I had a think tank of 100 feisty fat ladies and 8 hours to brainstorm together. It is playful, as to not give their ridiculous comments any real merit. It’s funny so that her personality shines through. It’s delightfully snarky as to remind everyone that she is a successful actress. And it highlights that no matter what people might say about her clothes/body, she’s living a happy life.

Like I said, perfection, so Sidibe doesn’t need me to come to her defense or any such nonsense. But this is a very clear example of what fat ladies in the media face when they dare to be visible and fat, so I’d like to dig in a little.

Firstly, let’s examine the actual backlash that Sidibe’s dress inspired. I believe it highlights intersecting oppressions–specifically because Sidibe is a fat, black woman. She was accused of “eating the Golden Globe” and called things like “chubby Casper.” So while some might argue that all celebrity women face criticism for what they wear at awards shows, I’d like to make it crystal clear that what people were specifically criticizing here is Sidibe’s body. Contrast that with thin actress who wore unpopular things on Sunday (Emma Watson, Paula Patton) where the garment was the object of disdain.

Sure, I’d like to shift the focus away from women’s clothes/looks in general, but if you can’t see the difference in the way Sidibe was treated, you are lying to yourself.

I think that one of the things that Sidibe probably took the most heat for was that she was sporting VBO:


[Image text: Sidibe in her white dress on Sunday on the red carpet.]

If you’re not familiar with the term, VBO in fatshion/fat positive spaces is “visible belly outline.” It’s kind of the biggest no-no of dressing as a fat person in our fatphobic culture (well maybe short of fatkinis.) We’re constantly told that we should pick “flattering” outfits, where flattering really means clothes that hide the shape of our stomachs or other “problem areas.” As any fat person knows, especially those of us who carry weight in the middle and aren’t “hour glass” shaped, wearing something with VBO will get you comments about how the clothes don’t fit or aren’t “meant for your body.”

But really, all that wearing an outfit with VBO is doing is wearing a form fitting garment, and our form is what people have a problem with. Thin people wear similar things all the time without anyone batting an eye.




[Image text: Taylor Swift, Halle Berry, and Scarlett Johansson all with VBO.]

Because these thin bodies are seen as better, VBO is not even a thing that anyone would think about. But when Gabourey Sidibe wears something that clings in the same way on her body, people got up at arms. It’s like certain dresses are reserved for particular body types only, and frankly, I call bullshit on that.

People should be able to wear what they like. Clothes are about self-expression, for each individual person. If you don’t like what you’re seeing, look another direction.

Sadly, as Ragen Chastain wrote at Dances With Fat, often the strongest criticisms come from other fat people.

I’ve seen so much advice about fashion given by fat people to fat people insisting that we should ALL use fatshion to look as thin and young as possible. Every time I’m told that I need to choose something “flattering to hide my problem areas, and not look too old” or am encouraged to buy something to try to squish my body into a more acceptable shape, I can’t help but feel that it is buying into and reinforcing the social stereotypes that are already used to shame, stigmatize and oppress me every day.

Gabourey Sidibe is one of the very, very, very few fat people who have made any kind of traction in Hollywood. She has publicly had to deal with health concern trolls and fat bashers every step of the way (not to mention the racism that she has to deal with as a Woman of Color in a racist world). I don’t understand why other fat people can’t allow her to dress as she wants without negative comments and offering to be her stylist like she isn’t smart or savvy or fashionable enough to get the job done on her own – like the fact that she is talented and has succeeded despite the bullshit that she has had to deal with means that she owes every fat person their definition of fashionable or she deserves to have her choices picked apart and criticized publicly. Y’all, could we not?

AGREED. And I would double down on the message that everyone needs to back off of the unwarranted comments and feedback about what fat ladies choose to wear.

Like Chastian mentioned, Sidibe is one of the few fat ladies who is visible in Hollywood. I will never perceive negative statements about her clothes, size, shape, etc. as harmless or neutral fashion critiques. Of course, I wish that we could back off of these comments about anyone, but you better believe I’m going to go to bat extra hard for fat gals.

Please see the commenting policy before replying to this post.

Posted by A. Lynn ⁠ ⁠ at 12:00 PM

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