Blog #5

In chapters 11 and 12, Patricia Hill Collins discusses Black feminist epistemology and how it relates to Black women’s empowerment. She defines epistemology as “an overarching theory of knowledge” that “investigates the standards used to assess knowledge or why we believe what we believe to be true” (270). Collins argues that the dominant epistemology of the United States, and much of the western world, has been defined and validated by elite, white men. According to the chapter, both chapters 11 and 12, Black feminist epistemology challenges and gives a different outlook on the hegemony or dominant ideologies created and validated because it makes the readers and followers of Black feminist thought more aware of them, thus creating consciousness and enlightenment (so to speak) about the matrix of domination governing Black women in this country, as well as the global matrix of domination that controls women of African descent around the world.

 

Blog Post #4

The author opened chapter 9 with this quote, “Sara Brooks is not typically seen as a political activist. Her long hours as a domestic worker left her little time to participate in unions, community groups, demonstrations, or other forms of organized political activity. Her lifelong struggle was not for political causes but to garner sufficient resources to reunite her children and provide a home for them.” Sara Brooks is a U.S. Black woman that has struggled and survived her struggles with oppression and began to resist the oppression. She recognizes the intersecting oppressions that affect her and other black women in the Unites States and started speaking of the oppressors. Her resistance is, according to Collins, actually a form of activism. Despite the acknowledgement of these actions amongst feminist scholars, Brooks actions of resisting the controlling images used to label her and other black women is her way of fighting against them. It depicts the strength and resiliency of the Black woman’s character. These characteristics were and still are critical to guarantee the Black woman’s survival in the United States. Networking and forming groups in the communities for support also aid in their ability to keep going despite the condition they face. Collins and other Black feminist scholars she cites in the chapters stress the need to reexamine, rethink, and reconceptualize Black women’s activism.

In Chapter 10: U.S. Black Feminism In Transnational Context, Collins stated that race, class, gender, and sexuality are some of the intersectional paradigms that work together to construct systems of oppression. However, these intersectional paradigms have made two important contributions to understanding the connections between knowledge and empowerment. Number one, they stimulate new interpretations of African-American women’s experiences. The second contribution was that they shed new light on how domination is organized. Collins discussed this idea of a “matrix of domination.” This type of dominance has occurred in schools, housing, employment, government, and other institutions that regulate patterns of oppression that U.S. Black women encounter. Collins also stated that the shape or the form of dominance changes over time. Before, it was slavery, but now that black people are “free” in took on another form that is not as easily recognized. This is way it is important to rethink oppression. There is also a “global matrix of domination” in which women of African descent around the world deal with intersecting oppression. Nation is another form of oppression, we have realized and because women are capable of becoming mother, they are central to the three elements of nationalist thinking. However, black women are now being judged by their ability to raise law-abiding citizens. Collins goes on to talk about the fact that Black women are demeaned because some of them take handout from the government. The author goes on to stress the fact that the struggles of Black women in American are related and intertwined with those of other nations. It’s a transversal pattern.

Semiotic Analysis of a Contemporary Television Show

evelyn-lozada-basketball-wives1For this Semiotic T.V. Show analysis, I chose two shows (I will explain why later) Basketball Wives – the original Miami series – and Iyanla Vanzant: Fix My Life!

For those who watch Basketball Wives, the original Miami series, Evelyn Lozada is a T.V. personality we are all very familiar with Basketball Wives is a reality television show series that is televised on VH1. The cameras follow the lives of six women that are or were associated with NBA players and their involved in the “basketball world”. Some are wives (hence, the title of the show), ex-wives, engaged-to-be-married to basketball players, or “baby’s mothers”. The relevant cast members are Shaunie O’Neal (ex-wife of Shaquille O’Neal), Evelyn Lozada (ex-fiancé of Antoine Walker and now ex-wife of Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson), Jennifer Williams (soon to be ex-wife of Eric Williams), Tami Roman (ex-wife of Kenny Anderson), Royce Reed (mother of Dwight Howard’s son), and Suzie Ketcham (ex-fiancé of Michael Oluwakandi and mother of his children). Each of these women have different personalities which collectively, makes for good T.V. They all have their own hustle and use the shows to broadcast their activities and is using the show as a platform for them to expand their fifteen minutes of fame.

Evelyn Lozada is a feisty Puerto Rican woman from New York, currently living in Miami, and is the source of most of the show’s infamous drama. When the show first aired, she was a single mother who gave birth to her daughter, Shaniece, when she was only sixteen years old. She was once a welfare mother. Not only was she a single mother, at one point, she had to depend on the government for assistance. The controlling images associated with that of the welfare mother. The welfare mother is typically portrayed as an unwed mother who does not have a male figure assisting her, a lazy woman who cannot or does not work to provide for her children. This is evidence of the intersecting oppressions we discuss in class. “The image of the welfare mother provides ideological justifications for intersecting oppressions of race, gender, and class.

She doesn’t hold her tongue. She says what she wants when she wants, and has no filter. She has a bit of temper and hit her boiling point last season, causing her to nearby hurt a cast member. She is also known her promiscuity, which is why she had an altercation with that cast member last season. Her promiscuity ties into the controlling image, known as the modern day jezebel. It seems as though she does not care what others think about her sexuality. Towards the end of season and season 3, she and Tami Roman had issues because of her past with Tami’s ex-husband, Kenny Anderson.

A jezebel, women with excessive sexual appetites, is synonymous to whore or “hoochie”. Women who are extremely flirtatious towards men were also jezebels. During the slavery days, the white male assaults were seemingly justified because of the supposed sexually aggressive women. The modern day jezebels are women, like Evelyn Lozada, that do not suppress their sexuality. Video vixens, exotic dancers, and certain types of models are modern day jezebels. The difference between the two is that now, women are proud of their freeness. It is no longer suppressed.

The themes represented in this television series are fame, money, glamorous lifestyle-living, extravaganza, fashion, independence, and motherhood. All of them are Black women (Evelyn Lozada is afro-Latino). They are portrayed as being high maintenance and materialistic, messages that media constantly and consistently pushes in front of us. The media uses things like CDs, films, and television shows (reality TV, included) to perpetuate these controlling images, today. Popular culture promotes it and popular culture consumers, knowingly or unknowingly embraces it.

98c81a6fcc850ed2cb7119a1a0f5a7ceIyanla Vanzant is a motivational speaker, spiritual leader/counselor, and life coach. On her show, airing on OWN Network, she assists people who want to make a change in their lives for their own well-being. They see that the lives the lead may not be the most positive, so they want to change their lives and she guides them through the first steps on the road to health, overall well-being, and positivity.

After watching herself on season four, Evelyn Lozada realized her behavior on Basketball Wives is unacceptable. She stated in various interviews that she had an epiphany when she watched herself on television with her stepdaughters. It was the episode when threw the bottle at Kenya, a woman who was maliciously speaking ill of Evelyn and her promiscuity. She said that her stepdaughters laughed and that it was funny. She, on the other hand, was extremely embarrassed of her behavior. That was a pivotal point for Evelyn. She appeared on two one-hour-long special on Iyanla, Fix My Life! In first episode, she talked to Iyanla Vanzant about her character on Basketball Wives and gave a little insight to her relationship. She was subject to many inquiring questions by Iyanla. Questions about the sincerity of her relationship with her then husband, Chad Johnson, questions about her upbringing, which gave us, the viewers, a little more understanding as far as her temper and how her upbringing plays a part in her temperament. Iyanla Vanzant gave her spiritual counsel and pulled many emotions out of Evelyn. Evelyn talked about the hardships she faced when she had her daughter. She also talked about her fear of failure. She explained to Iyanla that she is the first person in her family to reach the height that she has reached. She is now on this public platform, in front of the world, and doesn’t know what to do or think. She is afraid. One of the most important things Iyanla was able to pull out of her was accountability for her own behavior and her own actions. The lesson was that drama surrounds those whose attitudes or energy exudes drama. You get what you put out there. Iyanla also told her that everything she’s done is going to cost her something and that something, she is going to find out, eventually.

abc_evelyn_lozada_wy_120830_wgThe second episode came after the altercation that eventually led to the assault on her from her then, husband, Chad Johnson. At the end, she realized what her behavior cost her. Going back to controlling images, the media perpetuates the bad and shed very little light on the good. These controlling images justify the stereotype America has about Black women. And because of this, people feel the need to embarrass themselves on television just to stay relevant, even if it will cost them. I am glad that Evelyn Lozada realized her behavior wasn’t the best, wants to change, and use her platform to be a better role model, which could help (even a little bit) to change the stereotypes of Black women in this country, as well as transnationally.

Blog Post #3

Blog Post #3

In chapters 3 & 4, Patricia Hill Collins discusses the relationship between work, gender roles, and the negative representations experienced by Black women throughout the history of the United States. The stereotypical images of Black womanhood in this country have … Continue reading

Blog Post #1

In chapters 1 and 2 of Patricia Collins’ Black Feminist Thought, she articulates that Black women collectively have a distinct “standpoint” from which they view the larger society. “…while common experiences may predispose Black women to develop a distinctive group consciousness, they guarantee neither that such a consciousness will develop among all women nor that it will be articulated as such by the group (Collins 28).” What she is articulating is that every Black or African-American woman has an opinion about their roles in society and how they are treated in society. Many women might have similar standpoints. When Black women speak to one another about society, some of them tend to connect with one another based on the common past experiences that they share. However, not all women have the same distinct standpoint. There are things that some Black women experience that others don’t. Experiences also vary, depending on neighborhood, national location, family background, socioeconomic status, skin color, and other intersecting oppressions, etc. I’d like to think that all Black women indeed, share this same perspective. I definitely agree. Every woman has probably faced common experiences with the next woman. However, I can confidently argue that each individual woman has not had all of the same experiences. It is important for Black feminists to maintain an “intersectional” framework when analyzing the lived experiences of Black women so that their approach maybe accepted by all African-American women. There are a variety of factors that come in to play when discussing Black women’s experience such as age, sexual orientation, social class, region, religion, etc. I can also add education to that list. This goes to say that all Black women won’t have all of the same experiences, but they might, however, share common experiences. And at that same time, every black women doesn’t have to experience being judged by their hairstyle or followed around in a department store for them to be able to relate to the next woman. I think it is important that Black women as a whole understand the factors of oppression that Black women collectively face and not just be passionate about the factors that affect them. Change comes from awareness, awareness comes from education, education comes from us passing along knowledge.