"I have been described by you, for hundreds of years. And now, I can describe you. That’s part of the panic."
James Baldwin (via jessehimself)
Personal growth is the name of the game. Here's my journey in videos, pictures, music, and my favorite - words.
In the 19th century, the father of modern gynecology, J. Marion Sims, conducted his research experiments on enslaved Black women. Sims performed the invasive and torturous procedures without anesthesia. J. Marion Sims’ justification for choosing not to anesthetize his test subjects was that he did not believe Black women felt pain at all. In an 1857 lecture, he stated that it was “not painful enough to justify the trouble”.
The Tuskegee Institute and the Public Health Service began a study of the natural progression of syphilis involving 600 Black men (399 with syphilis, 201 uninfected) in 1932. The infected men involved in the study were never made aware of their condition upon diagnosis and believed they were being treated for “bad blood”. In exchange for their participation, the men received free medical examinations and burial insurance. They were never treated for the disease. These trials went on until 1972 when the study was exposed by The Associated Press. The remaining victims and their family members won a $10,000,000 reparations settlement which guaranteed them lifetime health coverage and burial insurance.
The Pellagra Incident
Pellagra is an ailment commonly caused by a lack of niacin (vitamin B-13) in the human diet. The symptoms include skin lesions, sunlight sensitivity, dementia and ends in death. At the turn of the twentieth century, millions of people in the United States died from this disease. Scientists claimed that the cause of the disease was a toxin found in corn. In 1915, the U.S. Surgeon General ordered government funded experiments on Black prisoners afflicted with pellagra. Poor diet and niacin deficiency was found to be the cause. However, these life-saving findings were not released to the public until 1935 because the majority of Pellagra-induced deaths affected Black communities.
In 1945, African-American Ebb Cade, a 53-year-old truck driver, was secretly injected with plutonium, the substance used to make nuclear bombs. After breaking several of his bones in automotible accident, he was rushed to the emergency room. Unbeknownst to Ebb Cade, he was in the care of doctors that were also U.S. Atomic Agency employees. For six months, he was held in the hospital under the belief that they were treating his injuries. During that time, he was injected with more than 40 times the amount of plutonium an average person is exposed to in a lifetime. The doctors and researchers collected bone samples and extracted 15 teeth to monitor the effects of his exposure. Ebb Cade grew suspicious of his broken-bone treatments and escaped from the hospital. Unfortunately, Cade suffered from the brutal effects of intense radiation until he died from heart failure eight years later at the age of 61.
In the early 1950′s, the United States government conducted an experiment to see if mosquitoes could be weaponized. The CIA and the U.S. military released nearly a half million mosquitoes carrying yellow fever and dengue fever viruses into several Black communities in Florida. In the predominantly Black community of Avon Park, dozens of Black people became ill, eight dying as a result of this government-issued mosquito attack.
In June 1990, more than 1500 six-month old Black and Hispanic babies in Los Angeles were given what seemed to be a standard measles vaccination. The parents were not told that this particular vaccine, Edmonston Zagreb measles vaccine (EZ), was still in its research phase and not approved by the FDA. The EZ vaccine already had a reputation in Senegal, Guinea Bissau and Haiti, triggering an increased death rate among infant girls, most not living past the age of two. The Center for Disease Control would later confess that the infants were injected with an experimental vaccination without their parent’s knowledge. Presently, it is believed that many of these families are still unaware that their babies were used as guinea pigs.
In the year 2000, Federally funded researchers from John Hopkins University, the EPA, HUD, The Kennedy Krieger Institute and Department of Agriculture spread sludge from a sewage treatment plant on the lawns of nine low-income families, and a vacant lot in Baltimore and East St. Louis. The families and residents were told the sludge was safe and not informed about the toxic mixture of human and industrial waste the sludge contained. The research was conducted to see if the toxic waste absorbed into the water supply could effectively reduce lead levels in children.
In December 2012, at least 500 children in Gouro, Chad were forcibly given the MenAfriVac during school resulting in dangerous side effects including convulsions, and paralysis. Parents were not notified of any plans to vaccination their children at school and parental consent was never requested. The forced vaccinations were part of an aggressive healthcare initiative sponsored by several internationally revered organizations including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization and UNICEF.
Several of these are way too recent.
I don’t know if you know this about me, but I have the power of invisibility. Quiet as a mouse, I can slip in and out of your sight and mind unnoticed. Even when I want to be.
When I was younger, I always had a habit of having crushes on boys who didn’t notice me. The pretty boys, the popular boys - the boys who didn’t know that I existed. I was the shy little bookworm who was liked by all of the teachers but few of my peers. Especially the boys. Until I was 14 I was super skinny and wore a training bra all through middle school, during a time when boobs were pretty much the only value that girls had. In high school I expanded to a C cup, but also gained more weight than I should have and found myself a poor, dark-skinned Black girl in an upper middle class majority white high school. During a time when girls should be taught that they have value, I was dropped into an environment where I had none.
And to protect myself, I became invisible.
What that means is that aside from answering required questions from teachers, I was silent from the beginning of the school day to the end. I only made a couple of acquaintances in high school and they were rarely in my classes, so this was the case for my first three years high school. In my senior year, I had earned all of my credits except for one required class and was allowed to join a work release program so I could work full-time at Target, where I was forced to interact with people.
Despite the ghost act, I still had crushes on boys. They just didn’t know that I existed, and were way out of my league.
College wasn’t much different, romantically. I gained a few close friends, but I still had crushes on guys who barely knew who I was, and who I was afraid to show myself to.
After I graduated and moved to New Orleans, I resolved to never go without telling a man how I feel about them. I failed at that only once, with someone who was my boss. But my attempts at recognition with men who catch my fancy generally fail. No matter how much mutual flirting has occurred, they never are interested in more.
As an adult, I’ve been searching for my people. Kinda nerdy, weird, goofy people like me who feel like family. Any man who I have a long-term relationship with needs to feel like family. And so I seek those men, regardless of their looks or social status. But when I find them…nothing.
I very recently let a guy that I’ve been crushing on know how I felt in a simple, to-the-point text message. Nearly 24 hours since, he has yet to respond. He’s one of my people. Very much like me - awkward, introverted, highly intelligent, loves to read and write. I like him a lot. But the rejection stings. And I can’t help but wonder if I’m still the girl that I was over ten years ago, completely unaware that the men who I want to pursue will never want me the same way.
And my girlfriends, of course, say he and the other little devastations I’ve had over the years are fools, and that they’d be lucky to have me. And when I’m feeling confident, I agree. But when I’m not, I can’t help but wonder if the more logical answer is that there is something wrong with me.
Because why they wouldn’t they recognize one of their own?
"As writer Zetta Elliott pointed out in a Bitch conversation with Ibi Zoboi, “In the white imagination, the dystopian future involves white people living through the realities that people of color have lived or are living through right now!"
"The hardest period in life is one’s twenties. It’s a shame because you’re your most gorgeous and you’re physically in peak condition. But it’s actually when you’re most insecure and full of self-doubt. When you don’t know what’s going to happen, it’s frightening."
Helen Mirren, Esquire interview (via rosyblooms)
Twenties have sucked to the point that I’m excited for my thirties…
A look in my dream house.
The books organized by color are very satisfying to me.
I WANT that window seat like burning
These are the best things in the world. (both the books and the comfy places with close access to books)
I’m awake at 4:18am. My reasons for still being awake tonight have nothing to do with my current struggles with restless sleep. Tonight, after my internship shift at The New Movement Theater and The Megaphone Show, a bunch of us went down the block to Iggy’s, a neighborhood bar in the Marigny. Right before my friend Jessica and I entered the bar it started raining, and almost everyone started heading inside. We were standing in the bar for less than five minutes when someone started shooting.
For me, it was like time slowed down. I knew it was gunfire. I knew I should hit the ground, as everyone else around me was doing. But I paused for, in my opinion, way too long before I got down. Everyone else ran to the back of the bar or dropped where they were. From my spot on the floor I watched a bunch of people who had been outside run into the doorway. I don’t know if the first one tripped or decided to drop where they were, but in about a second there were four people piled on top of each other, huddling with their arms around each other.
I only heard two shots, but apparently there were more like eight. **Note: This is why eye/ear witness testimony should not be admissible. Once it was over someone who had either ducked outside or in the doorway came and yelled at some of the people who’d ran to the back that one of their friends had been shot. Most of us were still on the ground afterwards. There was an old guy at the bar telling us that everything was ok now. I think that my friends and I were trying to figure out what we were supposed to do now. I and a couple of other people called 911.
An aside: This was only my third time calling, second in New Orleans. When I was a kid I saw a Metro bus driving around with the “emergency call 911” banner scrolling across the front. My mom argued with me that it was probably just a mistake that the driver had made, but I figured there was no harm in making sure. The second time was a few years ago, when I witnessed a rape on the front porch of a house on Bienville Street, right across from the non-profit I worked at at the time. Yes, you read that correctly. Some fuckwad raped a woman in broad daylight on a porch facing a fairly busy street.
What I don’t remember from that last time was being asked to choose between police or paramedics before I could speak to an operator. The auto message must’ve repeated that question five times before I realized that I had to make a selection before speaking to a human.
My friend David appeared in the doorway, ushered us out, and told us to get back to the theater. David is apparently exactly the person to have with you in a fucked up situation where you can’t think straight. As I ran down the street, I could hear some of the women who knew the victim wailing. Back at the theater, I sat in shock for a few minutes while everyone talked/cried/texted, until David drove me home. I live 2.5 blocks away, but I was really fucking happy for that ride offer.
The first person I could think of texting was my play father, Curtis. He lives in Brazil, though, and can’t accept texts. So I texted my ex, who I’d just spent the first half of the day with. We’re still friends, and he’s a native, so it felt like he’d know what to say. He’s heard/witnessed three shootings before. He said the women crying are always the worst part of it. I think he’s right.
So I can’t sleep. Part of it was waiting up to find out whether the victim died. He did. One of my friends saw the shooters wearing masks. I feel bad for him, and the woman who loved him and was still holding him when the paramedics arrived.
Thoughts that I’ve Thought
I finally got to sleep between 6 and 7am by going downstairs to sleep on my roommate’s couch. And then I woke up around 11. Thankfully, I have a day full of fun things instead of responsibilities, so it should to easy.
I can also report that I’m no longer suicidal, because I’m so fucking happy to be alive.
|Eating Disorders Hotline:||1-847-831-3438|
|Rape and Sexual Assault:||1-800-656-4673|
|Runaway:||1-800-843-5200, 1-800-843-5678, 1-800-621-4000|
|Exhale:||After Abortion Hotline/Pro-Voice: 1-866-4394253|
The thing is: This “we” is mostly African-American women – doing the fighting, the organizing, the praying, the rearing, the fussing, the protecting, the loving. And the losing. Black women have been their brothers’ biggest and best keepers.
But when black men occupy space at the center of the discourse, black women lose critical ground. I wish these struggles did not feel like zero sum struggles. I wish that black men — Barack Obama included — had the kind of social analysis that saw our struggles as deeply intertwined.
According to the African American Policy Forum, black girls are suspended at a higher rate than all other girls and white and Latino boys. Sixty-seven percent of black girls reported feelings of sadness or hopelessness for more than two weeks straight compared to 31 percent of white girls and 40 percent of Latinas. Single black women have the lowest net wealth of any group, with research showing a median wealth of $100. Single black men by contrast have an average net wealth of $7,900 and single white women have an average net wealth of $41,500. Fifty-five percent of black women (and black men) have never been married, compared to 34 percent for white women.
This situation is dire at every level. But perhaps the most troubling thing of all: The report indicates that while over 100 million philanthropic dollars have been spent in the last decade creating mentoring and educational initiatives for black and brown boys, less than a million dollars has been given to the study of black and brown girls!"
I want my father in my life. I want to be able to stand bold in the face of the men who hurt me and say that I don’t fucking need them, I have a father. Often times I wonder what made my father leave me? I have been with many men trying to find my father. With each stroke of a man’s penis inside…
Same here. I’m just beginning the process of finding my father. The only thing that keeps me optimistic is that he probably doesn’t know that I exist, and the fantasy that he’ll be happy when I find him.