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prelude, by Nate Marshall

he must’ve moved out
the neighborhood when i was little.
when he was here i bet he could ball,
probably could dunk.
maybe he rap now.

maybe he is the boy on every wall.

we ain’t got graffiti over here
like for real art stuff but maybe
in the 80s he was optimistic. this was his all
city attempt all over the hood.

maybe he ain’t a he.

in the time before the Folks
Nation ran everything over here
maybe the presiding clique was RIP.

i see it everywhere:

                RIP Pierre
                RIP Bird
                RIP D
                RIP Man Man

maybe RIP is a girl.
i see her name next to all
the bad boys. all the big boys
my mama told me not to fool with.
maybe she’s all they girlfriends
at once. but they all
gone. no wonder
she keep finding new boys
to kiss.

[published in Anti- issue 13]

A nostalgia-inducing collection of some of my favorite photos I’ve ever taken while traveling. Locations: Bangkok, Thailand; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Algonquin Provincial Park, Canada; Paris, France; Mexico City, Mexico; Antigua, Guatemala; Marrakech, Morocco; Hope Town, Bahamas; Essaouira, Morocco.

Anonymous asked: I think you are amazing. Why don't you agree with Don Lemon's views? Thanks in advance.

You anonymous question-askers are always so kind and polite. Thank you so much for the compliment :)

For a long time before he became Captain Respectability, I just thought Don Lemon was a lousy news anchor. Which… hey. It’s CNN. My expectations are low. But in the last year or two my chief complaint with Lemon has been his insistence on promoting what we can broadly call a politics of respectability as a solution to the social challenges faced by Black people in America. 

Respectability politics, broadly defined, is the idea that the way we address problems like violence, drug use, unemployment, or the dropout rate is to ask Black people to be more “respectable.” A common example: complaints about sagging. “Pull up your pants!” is supposed to be the first step toward getting a job and avoiding arrest. Bill Cosby has sort of become the OG of respectability politics. 

Here are the issues I have with Lemon’s argument that Black people need to solve their problems by learning to “speak well” and “dress appropriately”:

1) This argument ignores the role that blatantly racist institutions play in causing and perpetuating inequality, and instead turns inequality into a personal problem. It shifts the blame and the attention away from bigger issues like unequal schooling, the prison-industrial complex, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, police violence, et cetera.  

2) It is based on absolutely foolish assumptions that how you speak or dress will save you from getting discriminated against, harassed, or murdered. Any Black person reading this either has experienced or knows someone who has experienced discrimination or brutality despite being plenty “well-dressed” and “articulate.” Educated Black people who speak Standard American English face harassment and violence in this country every day. 

3) It pathologizes Black people, especially Black youth, as though this isn’t a nation full of people of all races acting foolish and ignorant on a daily basis. When a white teenager walks down the street dressing or acting “inappropriately,” rarely is that fact identified as the source of a fundamental social problem. 

4) I think ideas about what constitutes “appropriate” dress or speech are often racist and problematic (and sexist and misogynistic… but that’s a different post). We end up with nonsense like schools banning dreadlocks and afros because there is a cultural bias against African-American modes of dress and speech— until, of course, it’s time to appropriate cornrows or grills.

For more on why Don Lemon is a goober, I recommend this video by the ever-astute Jay Smooth, or this thoughtful essay by Mychal Denzel Smith.

Thank you very much for your question!

I grew these little orange babies.

I grew these little orange babies.

"And when we call for education we mean real education. We believe in work. We ourselves are workers, but work is not necessarily education. Education is the development of power and ideal. We want our children trained as intelligent human beings should be, and we will fight for all time against any proposal to educate black boys and girls simply as servants and underlings, or simply for the use of other people. They have a right to know, to think, to aspire."

- W.E.B. Du Bois, Niagara Movement Speech, 1905