Last week, a 16-year old girl from Houston, Texas was mortified when photos of herself half-naked and drugged after an alleged rape, went viral. “Jada” allegedly went to a house party, remembers being handed a drink of some-type, and then blacked out. Days later the photos circulated online amongst gossip, and the obvious presumption that she was assaulted. Houston Police are “looking into” the allegations, but in the meantime, some young boys (and men) decided to cyber bully Jada by re-enacting her “pose”, laid out unconscious.
Nigerian officials have officially called off the search for the missing girls. That’s right, after international outcry and frustration, the Nigerian government has resolved to stop searching for the over 219 missing girls kidnapped on April 14 while in school in Chibok. The captors, Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, have a history of brutal and bloody attacks aiming to carve an extreme Islamic state in a majority Muslim area.
In a decision that frustrated women’s rights supporters everywhere, the Supreme Court voted to strike down the Massachusetts law to keep a 35-ft buffer in front of abortion clinics. The buffer area typically serves as protection from anti-abortion protestors that find it their moral responsibility to shout their beliefs at women seeking abortions. The plaintiffs, that call themselves “sidewalk-counselors” can now walk directly up to women and scream/push signs/ cast judgement counsel women, citing their right to free-speech. This 9-0 (unanimous) decision comes after two shooting sprees in 1994 and violent harassment reports that put the 35-ft. buffer ruling in place to begin with. The decision stemmed from the ruling in the newest McCullen vs. Coakley case, brought by Eleanor McCullen, a 77-year old grandmother who wants to “talk” to women before they enter the Boston clinic.
“The buffer zones burden substantially more speech than necessary to achieve the Commonwealth’s asserted interests,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote on behalf of the Court in McCullen v. Coakley. He conceded that Massachusetts has “legitimate interests in maintaining public safety on streets and sidewalks and in preserving access to adjacent reproductive healthcare facilities,” but ultimately “impose serious burdens on petitioners’ speech, depriving them of their two primary methods of communicating with arriving patients: close, personal conversations and distribution of literature.” (MSNBC)
This ruling may allow extremists to harass women at an even MORE uncomfortable level, directly in their faces, when attempting to have an abortion. Abortions (voluntary) remain individual decisions that have recently come under attack though protected by law. The Supreme Court should be extremely supportive and have the utmost reverence for the process and all rights therein surrounding a woman’s decision to choose what is best for her body and fetus. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has a complete constitutional buffer zone surrounding the building… no protestors allowed to pitch tents on the steps and harass them for their rulings. *Fingers to temple* Everyone has an opinion about what women should do with their bodies, particularly white men in governmental power or religious extremists, yet women are berated for seeking government assistance, ignored or forgotten about altogether when children are born to the most strenuous conditions. It’s a ruling indicative of the lack of concern for the rights of women in this country, or at least the lackadaisical measures to protect choices that differ from the religious norms. Similar to terrorism, localized legislation that prevents women from having equal rights (or pay) or autonomous control over what they do to their bodies… is a blatant attack. This news comes in addition to a string of attacks on abortion clinics and women’s access to them via a series of laws passed across over 27 states. Aiming to restrict abortions, the laws are known as “Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers” or TRAP. No secret that these decisions (TRAP moves) can grossly affect women of color or from lower socio-economic backgrounds first. All women should be concerned at this point, as it would seem that the hard work of women’s rights and progressive legislation to support our rights are slowly being reversed. We should start paying more attention, pushing back, and supporting women’s (our fellow sisters) right to choose. It’s YOUR life girl, no one should infringe upon how you live it nor feel it justified to harass or humiliate for your choices at an abortion clinic. Peace, Dawnavette
Well, once again… it looks like Hollywood got it wrong. This week it was announced that Disney star Zendaya Coleman, 17, was cast to play the late superstar Aaliyah Dana Haughton in a Lifetime Network made-for-tv biopic tentatively titled Aaliyah Princess of R&B. The production is already receiving public pushback, and it’s not hard to see why. Five reasons I’m not here for this Aaliyah Struggle Film:
5. They Need A Stronger Plot – Most fans are familiar with Aaliyah’s rise to fame and quick landing as urban culture royalty. A talented kid that sharpened her skills while attending a performing arts school, an uncle in the record industry and a life-changing meet-up with R. Kelly are the basic ingredients for a decent movie. However, Aaliyah’s personal life was (arguably) far more interesting and juicy than her pop star career. Will there be exploration into her pedofiliac marriage to Kellz? What about the fact she was rumored to date both Dame and Jay-Z? How did she feel about the many artists that tried to emulate her style or only getting noticed by Hollywood towards the end of her short career? The underbelly of her story is what they should angle for, share something we don’t know about her celebrity to prevent another (boring) tale of an artist gone too soon.
4. A Better Way To Pay Homage – Is creating a made-for-network film always the best option? Everyone had their doubts when VH1 announced the TLC Story, but it came out shockingly tolerable considering all the elements (suspect casting, watered-down plot, Pebbles, etc.). Outstanding stars of our throwback years, particularly the fallen, deserve preservation of their legacies. Aaliyah’s memory seems deserving of something… greater. A tribute relative to her musical impact. Why haven’t they considered a documentary with interviews from producers, artists, family etc. that worked closely with her? Why not a televised concert where new artists perform some of her greatest hits? Now is a great time for something different that truly showcases the art and influence of the past for newer generations. No hologram tho.
3. Disney Disconnect – My niece, 7, was thrilled to hear that Zendaya has a new movie roll, as she’s a SUPER fan of the actress from “Shake It Up” on the Disney channel. I had to Google Zendaya Coleman, clueless to her influence on the younger generation, and imagine that many of my peers that grew up listening to Aaliyah had to do the same. My niece gave me a blank stare when I told her who Aaliyah was, and her influence on R&B/hip-hop/pop music. Sure Zendaya’s a great actress and the babies love her which will draw ratings to the TVMovie; ratings matter. True fans of Aaliyah, those that left High School in the 90′s (or 2000) however, don’t know Zendaya from a can of paint. There’s a gross disconnect. Zendaya can Google and watch plenty of archive clips, but if you didn’t grow up styling belly shirts and baggy jeans, break a sweat mimicking video choreography, swoop that bang to the right and wear down the MAC Chestnut liner trying to achieve the “Aaliyah lip,” honey… you need more people. Trust.
2. Lack of Receipts – The Houghton family, Aaliyah’s nearest and dearest, are said to be protesting the making of the film. Allegedly, they knew nothing of the Lifetime Network’s development deal, are not fans of Zendaya depicting the role, and they preferred an Aaliyah movie be made for the big screen. There is also an internet protest circulating from fans demanding that Lifetime Network either re-cast or stop film production altogether. Um, seems like Lifetime either needs to produce some supportive receipts or take the L, as there is already drama during the first week of media announcements.
1. Where is the authenticity? – Lifetime Network really tried it by casting a suspicious mulatto “but my father’s black and I will get a tan…” to play the undeniably BLACK artist Aaliyah. True fans admired her throughout adolescence because Aaliyah was the relatable, ever-cool, standout Black girl in a sea of bubblegum blonde pop acts. Aaliyah had her own androgynous style, but it was everything urban. Translation, she didn’t start out as a crossover or Disney-esque act. Robert Kelly produced her first album, remember? Young Black girls are watching and it’s damaging to their self-esteem that Black girl beauty is constantly overlooked to promote European standards of beauty and culture. It is not okay to cast different races to play in Black biographies as though our representation doesn’t matter or is interchangeable. That is not reality, and it’s past time the collective Black community stopped being so passive about it. Different race casting happens in no other communities’ biopics but ours; ruining our cultural legacies. NO one should be okay with a Latina actress playing Nina Simone either. Listen. All these Black actresses in the world looking for work and you mean to tell me that we couldn’t find ONE to play Aaliyah?? #WhatTheJoeJacksonHell
Two weeks ago, over 200 girls between the ages of 16-18 were kidnapped from their school in Born Nigeria. Believed to be held captive by an extremist terrorist group called the Boko Haram, they are allegedly very violent, dangerous, and intent on making these young women porters, cooks, and sex slaves. What’s worse about this story? Virtually NO MEDIA coverage or attention has been given. *crickets*
Initially it was reported that 85 girls were missing from Chibok, a remote area on the Northern side of Nigeria. Parents told the governor that officials would not listen to them when they drew up their list of names of missing children and the total reached 234. students are believed to be “somewhere” in the Sambisa Forest that boarders the area, but there has been no certain capture or location of the young women or the terrorist group. Parents and other town residents have joined in the search for the students as one van of young girls managed to escape but the remaining 200… unaccounted for.
The Nigerian military is claiming to be hard at work trying to locate the young ladies, but it’s been over a week and the facts continue to change without a solid lead. Bill Ross reported in a BBC interview that parents are growing agitated, loosing compete faith in the government.
Why would the Boko Haram terrorists, whose nickname means “Western education is sinful,” want to kidnap innocent young women? Allegedly, the Islamic extremists are responsible for several horrific attacks in villages and schools across Nigeria, but the abduction of this magnitude is unprecedented. The school’s principal has stated that she believed at least 23 girls have escaped, but that number changes (decreasing) according to various news reports with misinformation. Bottom line: there are STILL at least 200 girls unaccounted for and as as each day passes hopes for their safe return diminishes.
Documented horror stories about the treatment women in capture across African countries in civil unrest are plenty. Boko Haram threatened to kill the girls and their parents if rescue efforts continued, but the gross lack of attention to the situation across the globe cannot be ignored. Twitter activists frustrated with the lack of attention to the story began tweeting #BringBackOurGirls and on last Thursday the topic began trending. Unfortunately, the girls still have yet to be located, nor are there any updates on their whereabouts.
The lives, bodies and livelihood of Black girls DO MATTER. Mainstream and Western media’s ignoring the situation does not make it go away, instead it validates the notion that few care about our young girls in the Black diaspora. A sad reverb to the constant negative media imaging promoted surrounding our images and likenesses. The affect trickles down. Consider that if no one cares about young Black girls in Nigeria, why would anyone care about young Black girls in America? Media representation matters. Everyone watches what is being broadcasted and what is being ignored. Our young girls digest the overwhelming apathy and it is later manifested in development impacting self-esteem and self-worth. Why should they care about themselves if the collective doesn’t care? We MUST do better. Demand media coverage. Bring attention to this SERIOUS matter of life and death… our girls DO MATTER. #BRINGBACKOURGIRLS
Huffington Post video details more about the Boko Haram: