Archive for community

4. Contemporary Black Feminism

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis

“Contemporary Black feminism is the outgrowth of countless generations of personal sacrifice, militancy and work by our mother’s and sisters.”

What does this look like?  Here’s what we think:

Here is an example from Lenelle Moise:


Here is a collage by Lex

Send us your visions and illustrations as .jpgs at


9. The Only Ones

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis

“We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation are us.  Our politics evolve from a healthy love for ourselves, our sisters and our community which allows us to continue our struggle and work.”

Write a poem for someone you love using at least 4 of the words in the above passage.

Post your poems as comments below or email us at!

For example radical anti-racist educator Tema Okun wrote the following poem for her students:

Tema Okun

Tema Okun

Combahee Love

We realize

that in America

the right to be uninformed

is holy ground.

This is a love letter to us, then,

the only people who struggle consistently

to be so careless with our love.

I am witness to how we revel in our lousy politics.

I wish for us instead

a healthy love,

one to usher in our liberation

from ourselves and

into community, into enough.

-Tema Okun November 2008

Aiden Riley Graham

Aiden Riley Graham

And radical archivist and trans-activist Aiden Riley Graham wrote this amazing poem for his comrade Noah Blose:

Why we’re so important to me…

When I feel unseen by the rest of the world, you see me

A mirror to find myself in

Walks toward liberation found in our talks

Simple-complex conversations

Grounding me in love and compassion,

Shaking me from everyday painful reactions

Learning to love myself, through loving you

Replacing individual failed expectations

With dreams of collective possibility,

Painful shared rememberings

Bring our communal struggle into relief

Standing “Eye to Eye” in the spirit of Audre

We’re everything we need to be

The only ones

And only one of many

A transformative justice we forge

Daily, weekly, monthly

They’re just phone conversations

And oh so much more

Aiden Graham to Noah Blose

11. Struggling With…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 4, 2008 by alexis

“We struggle together with Black men against racism, while we also struggle with Black men about sexism.”

There’s a long history of black women bringing up the gender question and it being ignored or even dismissed by black men. How do we move this conversation forward? Some of us are writing love letters to misogynists and patriarchs within our communities. We are writing letters to black men that not only tell them about themselves but also offer resources to expand their thinking on the issues we deem important. (email for more info!)

What men in your world do you know in your community who could benefit from some feminist intervention?

What about their behavior needs to be challenged?

How could you and like minded individuals approach them to make that happen?

Would you write a letter? Have a meeting?

For example:

This letter was written by Nia Mclean in response to a Hip Hop song called “Hot N Tot” by Sir Will. To listen to the song and watch the performance, click here: “Hot N Tot”

The Saartjie Project is an artist collective that is exploring the fascination with the black female form.
Open Letter to Sir Will and the producers of “Hot N Tot”

Dear Sir Will,

Your MySpace page has a banner that says “Stop Whack Hip Hop”. As a lover of hip hop I totally agree with you. I often question “why is Hip Hop in such a dismal state?” At any given time I can’t listen to the radio for 15 minutes without feeling like I’m nothing more than my sex and more specifically how good I am at it. Misogyny and objectification of women – particularly black women, has run amuck within the culture that you and I care about.

Your MySpace page initially caught my attention because of your song “Hot N Tot”. Sir Will there is a LOT of painful history behind that term, much like the word Nigger. I am hoping that you and your producers are just ignorant about its history and not just ignoring it.  I am a part of The Saartjie Project, an artist collective that is exploring the fascination with the black female form and bringing dignity and light to the legacy of Saartjie (Sarah) Baartman, more popularly known as the Hottentot Venus, the same term you reference in your song.

In the early 1800’s as a young South African woman, Saartjie Baartman was paraded around Europe like a freak of nature by a white man, Dunlap to show off her “Hottentot“, her “Jungle Booty” as you put it in your song. People were so fascinated with her behind that they paid money, not just to stare and gawk, but also poke and prod w/their hands, umbrellas, or whatever they had available. Upon her death, her “Hottentot” was dissected in public, put in a jar of formaldehyde and displayed in the Musee de Paris, as if it were a medical oddity – up until the 1970’s! All because she was seen as erotic and exotic, which denied her (in the eyes of those who exploited her) the ability to be anything else (ex. Smart, loving, maternal, strong).

Sir Will, please don’t dismiss this letter by thinking that Saartjie’s story is one in a million. Her tragic legacy is alive. Today, almost 200 years later we are still being exploited and reduced to nothing more than body parts. You and I both know this. We also know that much of hip hop profits from expressing tired myths about black male and female sexuality.

Know that I write out of frustration, but also out of love. Love for myself, Saartjie, all the sisters I am writing on behalf of and for artists like you.  Sir Will you clearly have talent; yet you are taking the easy way out by rhyming sexist lyrics over catchy beats.  There is a consequence to this. The demand to demonize the black female body is what gave Saartjie her unfortunate career and it killed her. The next time you perform “Hot N Tot” think about Saartjie Baartman. Learn more about the woman your song is named after. Consider the “video vixens”- the ladies dancing on your YouTube video – who are presumed to the interchangeable with cars and other material trappings of success. Who can say for sure why these women have chosen such a station? Perhaps to validate their beauty and the prospect of living the “good life”? Consider the young black girls who misguidedly look to these vixens for cues on who to dress, act, and present themselves in the world. Saartjie was also mislead, she began her journey believing that it would bring her a better life, not lead to her private parts swimming around in a jar of formaldehyde.

My point is, there has to be more. You can do better. Instead of condemning you, I am challenging you to do just that. I challenge you to make good music that responsibly speaks of women, glorifying the whole being, not just parts of her.

So if you really care about hip hop (and I hope, Black women) dare to be different. Dare to break out of the cookie-cutter mold of entertaining at the sake of your sisters, your mother or your partner.

Words are so powerful. Use yours wisely.

Thank you for reading, Sir Will. The Saartjie Project would love to hear your thoughts.

Nia Mclean

The Saartjie Project

Use this space to answer these questions and devise a plan to approach them and a time line for action. Let us know how it goes!

Comment here or email us at!