Navigate / search

Somebody “Fixin’ to be killed”


A Review of

We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement


Mississippi: Armed SNCC members abduct white night riders and release them after giving them a warning. A white cop gets knocked unconscious by a black man for slapping a 14-year-old black girl. Armed brothers do a citizens’ arrest when ambushed by the Klan and deliver one of the attackers to his father, the chief of police.

Before you start to romanticize about the good ole days, I should remind you that life in the South for black folks was dangerous and volatile. Any challenge to the traditions and system of white supremacy was met with raw violence. And Mississippi? Well, there’s a poignant reason why Nina Simone penned a song titled, “Mississippi Goddam.” People – mostly black – lost their lives in the freedom struggle as they fought to break down barriers to voting, employment, public accommodations and other aspects of life that were forbidden to African Americans because of racism. This is the backdrop for We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement by Dr. Akinyele Umoja. Read more

Trayvon Martin: Opening day to justice

George Zimmerman trial

It’s been over a year since Trayvon Martin came into our living rooms. The black teen was gunned down by George Zimmerman, a self-styled vigilante, as he made his way back home from the store. A national outcry to the killing is the reason why there’s a trial.

This shouldn’t be seen as a slam-dunk. Three big reasons: one is that Trayvon can’t tell his story;  two is that we have a basically white jury of women; and three is that the Stand Your Ground is also on trial (and Florida loves it racist laws). There is plenty of circumstantial and forensic evidence that should prove that Zimmerman’s life was not in jeopardy and that, in fact, he was the aggressor. Over the years, I have been in many courtrooms and witnessed less than just outcomes. Read more

Heels: How high is high?

graphic of high heel

Women’s high heels are higher than ever. Women have internalized the notion that high heels are sexy but watching them walk in the 5-6 inch heels is anything but pretty. It’s painful to watch. It’s more painful to walk in those suckas.

At the Affirmations Women’s program, the issue of health problems associated with high heel shoes was the center of lively debate.

In an UNSUNG episode featuring famed percussionist Sheila E, the danger of heels re-emerged. The talented musician, who once played with Prince, collapsed one day and couldn’t get up. In fact, she couldn’t walk even when someone got her up. Luckily, the prognosis was good.  After years of performing and playing drums in high heels, the damage to Sheila E’s legs caught up to her. It took months of physical therapy for her to learn how to walk again.

The history of high heels is interesting. According to Willam Kremer of BBC News, clunky heeled shoes were worn by European men centuries ago and were essential to stable horseback mounts and dismounts as well securing a soldier’s stance when he had to stand up in the stirrups to aim his bow and arrow or his gun. Men in heels enjoyed a brief style trend. As the use of horses as a major mode of transportation begin to fade along with other class-related factors, so did heels. They were no longer practical.

Here’s where it gets real-l-ly interesting. The re-emergence of heels for women came in the mid-19th Century with pornographers. Their nude women models sported high heels. And the rest is history or the present–however you prefer to look at it.

Finally, as if women need some more stress and pain–90% of the nearly 800,000 surgeries associated with foot problems are women.  Over $2 billion is spent annually and that doesn’t include the $1.5 billion of lost work time.

Sistas have allowed men to dictate what makes them look good as opposed to what is good FOR us. Let’s take a deeper look inside and see what’s there that can be lifted up.