This blog post was going to be my last here on Before and Afro.

I don’t even know if it’s possible for me to explain to you what these last two weeks have been like. I’ve been living in The Afro Twilight Zone, ending with a horrifying Hurricane Sandy. One minute I think I should just stop blogging altogether because it’s been a complete emotional drain to address all these concerns, and, well, highly questionable for my career. Then the next minute I re-read your comments and feel I could honestly help change the status quo with my pure and honest love for the fro. But then no, this controversial blog isn’t the way! People will always have negativity to share here and that’s not what I ever wanted. But what a waste of SEO! And I have been educating so many clueless white people! But no, I should just let the whole thing blow over now and go back to normalcy. Figure something out in a few weeks. For my personal health and to honor those of you who hold the fro dear, on Friday afternoon, I started to write a goodbye post.

Tears rolled down my cheeks as I peered into the gloomy abyss of a failed attempt at expressing myself on the internet. “Alright, guys. I give up. I can’t do this anymore…”

Womping away, I met my family for a birthday dinner at Daniel Boulud Bistro Moderne, and couldn’t even smile. I faux-grinned for my cake pictures, my face drained of color.

Lobster Risotto Daniel Boulud

But obviously, I still took a photo of my lobster risotto

After dinner we headed to what was supposed to be a festive occasion: A broadway show. We had gotten last minute tickets for Bring It On the musical. I walked in thinking it was going to be a rah-rah-shish-koom-bah reenactment of the movie.

But WHOAH. As it turned out, for this one night, the Broadway gods had gathered on my behalf and delivered an omen for Michelle Joni; a musical made just for me.

Since most of you have likely not jaunted to the thee-ATE-er for the musical rendition of a chick flick released over a decade ago, let me tell you how the story goes:

Bring it on Truman girls

Campbell, the preppy white blonde protagonist (second from the left) just became captain of the cheerleading squad at Truman High. Woo hoo!!! Now SHUT UP. She and her white cheer friends started to annoy me fast. All I could think for the first fifteen minutes was: UGH, I knew we should have spent my dad’s retirement savings on Book of Mormon.

Cheerleaders in Bring It On the musical

Then, one day, Campbell and her perfect little high school life got redistricted… to… DUN DUN DUN, Jackson High… the “ghetto school.” Guys, you would have not liked this part of the show at all! If you are offended by me, you should have seen all the stereotypes flying around this scene. Dark-skinned students walking around throwing rapper symbols. Campbell’s even whiter and blonder friend Skylar wishing her luck on her first day of school: “Don’t get shot!” Blasphemy! My commenters would not be pleased. 

Jackson High Bring It On

I will admit, the moment Campbell walked into Jackson High, my spirit lit up. Thank god we’re done with that stuffy white girl schoolyard. Look at those outfits! There was even a tranny with a fro!! WERQ.

Fro in Bring It On

The show became instantly more interesting. I realized at that moment maybe that’s one of the things about me – I grew up in Whitey McWhitey land… maybe I just got bored of whiteness. I’ve been over-saturated in monochrome my whole life. I never set out to appropriate anything (I just loved wearing a damn wig), but you’re learning along with me here. Maybe I subconsciously developed white cabin fever.

Anyway, on her first day at Jackson High, Campbell makes an all-too-familiar mistake: She very accidentally offends a group of black people. Whoah. Babygirl, I feel your pain! She made a reference to “my people.” What she meant was “my cheerleading squad” but that came out all wrong and all white. She serious? Did she just GURL me? Who does this new bitch think she is!?”

Jackson high dance crew

Campbell felt horrible. It was not what she meant, oh no, no, no. She proceeded to become a baffooning mess trying to explain herself and make it up to them.

Campbell apology, bring it on the musical

This situation grew especially unfortunate for Campbell because the people she offended happened to be the dance crew, which she so desperately wanted to join.

White girl tried everything. Finally after a large kind gesture, the captain of the dance crew Danielle gave Campbell a chance to prove herself worthy! But it was not exactly a dignifying chance: She had to show her dancing chops… wearing a full-on leprechaun mascot suit. Like, with a giant fabric leprechaun face.

Campbell agreed to the embarrassing challenge. She would do anything to prove she was sorry and win over their love… even if it took dancing in an oversized costume of an Irish folk character. BRING IT ON.

bring it on leprechaun dance

And you know what? Homegirl broke it down. Killed it!! Even with a face like that and shoes too big, she shook that green little tush and stole the show. The dance crew was quite impressed. In a heartfelt ::magical:: moment, Danielle forgave Campbell for her earlier misstep, and invited her onto the dance crew. Everyone became best friends and life was happy again. Even the tranny with the fro loved her now!


THIS WAS IT. Yes, THIS was the answer to my troubles. If I am going to win back the love of those I have offended, I must put on a giant leprechaun suit and dance. My mood from earlier did a 180. Surely this obscure musical script held the holy grail to solving my life problems!!!

And so, without further adieu, I present to you: Michelle Joni’s Leprechaun Dance.

Yay! I’m so glad we cleared that up. Now we can move on, right?

There’s another whole act after the Leprechaun Dance which I won’t ruin for you because you REALLY should go see it, but just know it’s chock full of life lessons that seem to have been tailor-made for me in the situation at hand. Who knew Bring It  On would bring THIS on? This sense of hope? This reborn feeling that I need to continue this journey, and honor it?

At the end, Danielle relays the most beautiful line of the entire show:

“Campbell, I used to think you were a spoiled little white bitch. Now you’re just white!”

And they all lived happily ever after.

The end image

So we’re all good here, right?

In all seriousness, guys… we just experienced one of the most devastating natural disasters of our time. I’ve had a very hard time blogging because of it (mentally), which is why this post took forever. Sandy has really put things into perspective. My street is fully underwater. Businesses cannot operate. Our fellow people have lost their homes, their vehicles, and their dear, dear loved ones. We have joined hands to help one another, opening our homes to our friends and neighbors, offering prayers where we cannot help.  I am so very proud to be a New Yorker – and an American – right now.

It shouldn’t take a tragedy to bring us together, but the way I see it, it doesn’t. We have come so far in oneness in our daily lives, and I feel it every day. There is love in the air. Breathe it in with me! That LOVE is available to you at all times. It is in you. You can attain it and spread it. You are love.

Petty differences have been cast aside in the wake of devastation… let’s remember this feeling. We are one. As one, we don’t merely survive… we thrive.

Bring it on the musical

It’s going to take far more than a leprechaun dance to fix the damage wrought by Sandy’s fury – or anything for that matter – but it never hurts to start with a smile.

186 thoughts on “BRING IT ON.

  1. a summary for the tl;dr crowd:

    Hey guys (What? It’s not PC to call people “guys” now? O-VER-SENSITIVE!!!)! I was totally about to acknowledge all the shitty, ignorant things I’ve said and done and broadcasted to the world via this blog, but then I had a fancy birthday celebration with my family (the tab for which assuredly amounted to more than an entire month’s rent for most people in public housing, lol!) and I realized that EVERYONE SHOULD STOP OPPRESSING ME FOR MY WHITENESS BECAUSE THERE WAS A HURRICANE. GOD.

    did i get it all?

  2. Just heard about this on NPR. I’m soooo supportive! Do not stop with your insights. This is an important blog. This is, quite frankly, what blogs should be about. People need to pay attention. You insights and the comments you get are pushing the envelope of discussion about how race can make people really kooky. Bring it on! Yup!

    • Race makes people kooky?! I’m sorry, but when was it wrong from someone to speak up for themselves when they were being offended? You know what the key to ending racism? Stop doing what ever offends POCs. Literally just THAT! She should stop. You should not support her cause supporting her is supporting racism and, do you REALLY want to support racism?! Do you REALLY?!

      • I’ve never been so fascinated by the limits of language. Does anyone understand that we’re talking about fictions here? All the scumbag, idiot, asshole racists of the world are fed by people who let lies and distortions govern their behavior. The fight is not here. Love is here, whether you see it or not. Love is not a fiction. It can set you free.

      • David, please shut up. You and all your Kumbayah brethren, just shut up. For my sanity and others’, just shut up. Just shut up. Shut up. SHUT UP.

      • I for one think its always wrong for people to “speak up for themselves when they were being offended”. You being offended by what someone else does is your business, not theirs, or mine. Offense is something that exists purely within the mind of the offended, you can only be offended if you choose to be offended by something. As such, you should never feel the need to express that offense in public. Your offense doesn’t give you to the right to tell other people what to do.

      • “I for one think its always wrong for people to “speak up for themselves when they were being offended”.

        Are you hearing yourself?! Do you understand how insensitive and heartless that sounds? Perhaps empathy isn’t your strong suit, but seriously man, WOW.

      • No DJ there is nothing heartless at all in what I said. If you are being offended by what some stranger has done, you have psychological issues that you need to discuss with a therapist, not random people online nor in any public forum. Those are your issues. Your emotional and psychological baggage is a private matter, not something to air in public.

      • Greg, you seem to enjoy speaking in absolutes. But that’s fine, I still believe that the flat out dismissal of someone’s emotions is heartless, further to suggest that psychiatric help is needed is heartless, smug and obnoxious. Look, I’m not sure how things work on your planet, but the inability (or unwillingness) to display emotion, seems like a more pressing reason to see a psychiatrist (not a psychologist, considering drugs may be in order). I don’s know how old you are, but we don’t live in the 50s anymore, choosing to be emotionally frigid is no longer considered healthy.

        I dunno, maybe I’m psychotic to assume that we all kinda owe each other an ear whenever someone dares to display offense (gasp!) toward that which legitimately bothers them, or even in your case, when you choose to inject yourself into an emotionally charged discussion. If you find that kind of sensitivity to others repellant, why don’t you just leave? Considering, your attempt to patently dismiss this whole dialogue as “wrong” has not stopped the presses, so what are you still here for?

      • djblackbetty is right, once again: “I dunno, maybe I’m psychotic to assume that we all kinda owe each other an ear whenever someone dares to display offense (gasp!) toward that which legitimately bothers them.” I apologize for injecting myself into an emotionally charged discussion with a oh too common level of Caucasian “emotional frigidity” and much less sensitivity than it deserved. I am sorry I didn’t listen first. I have listened now and I have learned. I thank you for patiently and persistently explaining that which my white privilege prevented me from considering. I hope my apology doesn’t sound trite or phony. This is no Kumbayah, and I don’t expect any of you to acknowledge or accept my apology. I am apologizing because I want to grow and it’s the right thing to do…

      • Right on Jane! Right the fuck on! Thank you sincerely, for sticking it out. I wish these things didn’t get as ugly as they sometimes do, but I think these discussions are worth having. Only time will tell, I suppose. But thank you again, this made my whole day.

      • Here’s what I didn’t get before djblackbetty was patient enough to explain until my emotional frigidity thawed enough for me to “lend an ear” and hear what POC were saying.

        Before djblackbetty, I was trapped in the one-sided conversation that was my privileged white understanding of the afro.

        I made the mistake of equating Joni’s wig with an actual afro which it is not.

        I made the mistake of calling someone’s natural beauty a mere symbol when the afro would have never even been a symbol without racism because it is one of the most obvious symbols of race in a country where race is everything…

        Without racism, the afro would have had the luxury of just being called hair.

        In another universe, it wouldn’t have even had to be called “afro,” because even that word means “other” here in Amerikkka.

        When I started to process djblackbetty’s experience-laden wisdom, I saw so many aspects of the hairdo formerly known as the afro (if Prince can change his name, why can’t the afro?) that I missed, simply because my wisdumb was not experience-laden.

        In my mad rush to form an opinion on Joni’s “afro,” I missed the point that Joni’s wig is not an “afro” at all…

        That would be like saying that, when a biological male tucks his male genitalia so
        that he can wear women’s clothing, he suddenly has a p*ssy.

        But a tucked penis does not a p*ssy make…

        I hate to keep comparing the whole cross-dressing thing to this topic, but the analogy seems to work (until someone else’s experience-laden wisdom helps me see otherwise)…

        So, that being said, here is my newfound understanding of why the whole wigs=bad perms=good point makes perfect sense…

        Slapping a dimestore wig (“piece of Halloween costume”) on your head cannot be considered flattery because it takes no effort and true imitation takes effort (think how long it takes Drag Queens to get ready– now THAT is imitation AND, flattery).

        Donning the dimestore ‘fro (which we have been asked not to call an afro, because, likewise, afros also take effort) takes NO EFFORT. It is minstrelsy, which IS racist, and racism is NEVER flattering…

      • DJ there is a big difference between “emotion” in general and one specific emotion, moreover there is a big difference between airing your emotions in a public forum and doing so privately among friends, family, etc. One is appropriate, the other is not. When discussing negative emotions, like anger or hatred or offense, it is not only inappropriate but rude to express them to a total stranger in any forum, but most certainly in a public forum. These are basic rules of civility. You don’t yell and scream or even approach to reproach someone who happens to be walking down the street at the same time you are just because you don’t like their clothing choices, that is rude and most importantly, none of your business. That is roughly the principle here. Anyone who feels the need to blurt out their every emotion at every stranger they happen to see who elicits an emotion in them quite realistically most likely has a diagnosable behavioral or psychological disorder. Moreover, anyone who allows some random stranger to cause them offense also has significant boundary issues and most likely psychological problems as well. Offense is never an appropriate emotion to share and is one to be avoided feeling at all times through self-discipline. It has no place in a free society.

      • Jane, that is among the most sarcastic posting I’ve ever read. That DJ missed the fact that you were dripping sarcasm initially was hilarious enough, but your most recent post is too much. Well done. I bow to your superior awesomeness.

      • Greg YOU are the poster child for emotional frigidity, if ever there was one. If you bow to me, then I know that I am doing something wrong…

    • Who knew wearing a bad wig and offending large amounts of people were what blogs should be about! Racism! It’s so insightful and important!

  3. keep going…for the sake of Creativity. And the rest of the country is sending sweet and safe prayers NYC’s way. I would follow your blog for the title alone.

  4. I swear you think you are living in a Broadway show. (BTW…..I don’t think I will like the Broadway show? White Girl Problems) . This isn’t going to end with everyone going “Oooooooh …..I totally get it now…lets be besties! “. No. Because you aren’t starting a conversation or any other clever thing. You are amusing yourself.

  5. I really can’t believe the outrage over this. I’m white and I wore an afro wig occasionally in high school during the EARLY 70’s y’all. Big Deal. Has anyone seen “Hair”? Have we really not evolved as a society since then? Should white women be offended when black women wear long, straight-hair wigs? Come on, there’s WAY more important things out there to be outraged over. This is not it.

      • So, lets all write to Beyonce and tell her how insulting she is to black women everywhere because she rocks white girl hair. I mean, whats good for the goose, is good for the gander….

      • Total bullshit. People are offended because they CHOOSE to be offended.
        The pain is self-inflicted. Nobody and no group “owns” the “afro” hair style. If you have a problem with someone’s hair style it is YOUR problem, not theirs.

      • Michael: Thank you, I’m glad to see someone else making some sense here. People get offended because they choose to be offended by stuff and they comment about their offense because they feel some base urge to control other people’s behavior.

    • “I really can’t believe the outrage over this. I’m white–”



      You never do, and likely never will. You are not listening to us now. You are NOT.

      • I have never read a more racist statement in my entire life than what you just wrote Frayed Wafer Edges. First off there is no such thing as “white people” knowing or not knowing anything. White people don’t all know the same stuff. Indeed, there are as many different viewpoints and knowledges among white people as there are white people. Similarly there are no “black issues”. There are issues that some, indeed in some cases a majority, of black people have/experience, but I can guarantee that there is not a single issue that every black person shares with each other. If you think of either group as being “anything” then you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

        And I for one read everything people like yourself (i.e. people offended by what Michelle is doing) have posted on this blog and I can tell you it isn’t that I don’t want to listen, or even that I don’t listen, its that objectively the objections voiced on this blog are irrational and usually pretty racist.

      • You seem to misunderstand what “racist” means… instead of hurling it at everything you disagree with, why don’t you ask questions, try to understand some of the frustration displayed in these comments “project” (on both sides of the color line might I add).

        Instead, you dismiss the entire discussion as irrational and racist (again, an incorrect use of the word), all the while, implying that you want to listen, but we ruined it, by passionately stating our position. And what is this solution you speak of? Are you saying that if we keep our heads down and remain silent to blatantly offensive behavior, everything will be just fine?

        That, sir, is not how the world works.

      • I don’t call anything I disagree with racist, I call racist things racist. Anything which judges people, or divides people or views people based on the social construct known as “race” is racist. Plain and simple. Anytime someone says “white people do X” or “white people think X” that is being racist. Anytime someone says “black people feel X” or “black people experience X” or “people of color anything” that is being racist. You are deciding, a priori, what someone’s experience, knowledge, thoughts, acts, or emotions are based on their skin color. That is racist. Plain and simple.

      • The gigantic EGO of the people so HIGHLY offended by this is symptomatic of the narcissim that flows so freely in society today. Me, me me me me, my pain, me me, me me and me. Get over it. This is 2012. Want equality? Start behaving “equal” , drop the victim mode, quit making excuses , look past the diversions, and live.

      • Ashley: You want me to listen to people spouting racist identity politics nonsense? No thanks. Moreover, you realize that internet postings, as a typed medium, don’t have the problem of someone having to shut up in order to listen, right? I am fully capable of reading what others wrote and then writing a response myself indicating what parts of their arguments make non sense to me and why I find their conclusions to be spurious. Say, in this case, the fact that Frayed Wafer Edges is being just about as racist as anyone you’d see at a Klan rally…or Republican convention. You get that, right?

  6. It’s about time you quit this. The more you post the most obvious you make it that you don’t understand privilege of any kind. You are completely insensitive to racial concerns and the way your throw around the word “tranny” is as horrible as your hair.

    You are not going to bring about any change with this blog. You are offensive to (now) multiple groups of oppressed people. Please stop talking and let people who understand the experiences you are trying to exploit have a voice. They’re been telling you to shut up for weeks. They’re right.

    • She is identifying the fact that because she is white, blonde and from a privileged background, she is being told to ‘shut up’ and she is having her voice silenced. These are her experiences. She is living them in the NOW. The only oppression taking place is by those who choose to bully, insult and silence, Michelle. To judge is to be judged; to listen is to grow.

      • Actually Michelle faces NO oppression. Just as she has the right to wear the wig and post idiotic and offensive things on her blog, others have the right to tell Michelle that what she is doing is idiotic and offensive.
        You are denying centuries of racial oppression and oppression of sexual minorities to relate to someone who is doing something that they have been told repeatedly is offensive and hurtful. How many people have to say “this hurts me” before Michelle considers anything other than her need for attention?

      • OMG. I cannot believe the audacity of these people. I’m choosing to believe these are just her sock puppet accounts. I refuse to think there are this many people who lack critical thinking skills and empathy of any kind.

  7. I’m biracial (black/white) and came up dealing with questions regarding my racial identity. Light skinned w/a fro. Yeah, it’s complex. Fascinating. Moving. Tragic. Transgressive. Exotic. Whatever. I wouldn’t change my physical self for anything but only a person privileged to not have to deal w/the shit on a daily basis would think it fun to go there. Just stop already. And don’t drag poor hurricane victims into the storm of your self-centered insanity, poor logic and general melodrama.

    But also… your attitude toward your fake fro seems intentionally provocative. It’s hard for me to believe you are a real person. I can’t help thinking this is an elaborate publicity stunt. Who would be this continually stupid/casually insulting? Is this deliberate? Do you sit back and laugh at the response to this blog, knowing that your scheme is working? You tried to get famous before ( But now you’ve hit on a better formula and you’re not about to let it go. Well good for you, I suppose. Probably won’t help you on your spiritual path though, if that’s what you’re truly after.

    • Please stop this project. It’s doing a lot more harm than good, especially coming from the fact that you never were pressured into relaxing your hair to conform to beauty ideals of another race. Or that having your hair in its natural state could limit your chances of getting a job, going into the university of your choice or rent an apartment…. and that people automatically assume your hairstyle is a political statement…. I wish the best for you making it through Superstorm Sandy, but it isn’t an excuse for the ignorance you’ve been pushing and trying to justify.

  8. I’m a black girl and glad you’re doing this. I heard you on NPR and it almost made me cry. You seem pretty cool, and I’m glad you think the fro is fabulous, it’s about time someone did, lol.

  9. Stop calling people “tranny”.
    It is like calling people “n*****”.
    It is not cute. It is not accurate. It is not acceptable. You are doing a bad thing. Every time you call someone that, YOU ARE DOING A BAD THING.
    Your definition of transsexual isn’t even correct. You don’t know what you are talking about.

    Delete “Joni Dreams of Drag”.
    Stop calling people “tranny”.

  10. A friend called me today to tell me about your interview on NPR. I just came out of a hellish experience of being crucified for using the word “Squaw” as part of my blog name. I opened my home up to Apartment Therapy, who mentioned my blog, and got a deluge of criticism about my family, my life, my art, my choice of words, etc etc. The comment forum got so heated that someone took the topic to a Nobel Prize-nominated Native American specialist at Stanford and discussed it in an educational setting. WHAT???!!! We are all entitled to our feelings and experiences but it is fascinating what happens when you unintentionally set off cultural boobie traps. I appreciate what you have discovered about yourself, it’s unfortunate that people can’t see what you are really doing, which is celebrating the beauty of a cultural symbol. Keep rocking on, even when it hurts.
    xoxo, glamoursquaw

      • I cannot believe these people. I really just CANNOT. There are people, ACTUAL BLACK PEOPLE, telling you this is hurtful and offensive, and they say, “Keep doing it, it’s so progressive and insightful!” What is wrong with you. WHAT. IS. WRONG. WITH. YOU.

    • Here, let me cry for your ass. All this ~hate and ~oppression you face when you disrespect PoC and then ignore them when they tell you to stop. Trolls like you and Joni can forever miss EVERYONE with your transparent bullshit.

    • I’m a mixed white/aboriginal person who grew up in a mostly indigenous community in a mostly white town. Where I come from, blatant racism is the norm, and squaw is a racial slur, period. It is an emotionally charged word, and in my old neighborhood you’d get the crap beaten out of you for throwing it around like it means nothing. Whoever “crucified” you, i.e. called you out on your racist blog name, was absolutely right. Discussions of privilege and appropriation are worth having. Why is it so important for you to keep a name that has a racial slur in it? If you didn’t know it was a racial slur, I’m informing you now that it is, and apparently I’m not the first to do so. Change it. It’s offensive.

      And as for this afro blog, omg, just stop.

  11. Who attempts to define what is beautiful? What is ugly? Where do these ideas come from? Who promotes those ideas amongst the populace? And for what gain?

    I think we need direct our anger at all forms of media which brainwash people into adopting THEIR ideas as to what is beautiful. Form your own thoughts. Turn off the TV, stop reading magazines, stop listening to other women/men who are trying to define who or what you are. I think black hair is beautiful and I am white. I think instead of being angry at this woman, we should direct our anger at the persons responsible for planting the wrong idea that only white people hair is beautiful.

    • Shut up and stop telling us where to direct our anger. If you ever actually observed black social discussions, you would know that it is already there. In fact, IT’S THE VERY REASON WE ARE ANGERED BY THIS.

      Just go away. You do not care about any platitudes you are dribbling out. Your only vested interest is defending this idiot’s purposeful mockery.

  12. wow. i’m black, i was offended by the afro wearing and fro’d chicken incident, and i agree for the most part with the anger expressed by commenters on past posts. i’ve said that on another post. however i DO NOT understand the vitrol from commenters on THIS post. i don’t believe her earlier missteps as spectacularly horrible as they were, disqualifies her from blogging. i, for one, am now intrested in this girl, and her growth as a person, and will continue to follow this blog. i don’t understand the thought process that would lead people to feel they want michelle to go away and never post again, that seems extreme. i mean if michelle joni bothers you so much, many of you along with hundreds of others have said your peace. why not move on, why continue to follow the blog for now weeks if you hate her, and see no redeeming qualities in her? seems mean spirited.

    now michelle, i didn’t make myself perfectly clear in my comment on the drag post. honestly i didn’t feel it was needed to address the “tranny”(sorry guys, i had to say it just so she knows what i’m talking about) comments because i figured that would be better handled by someone in the LBGT community. but now that you seemingly don’t get that, and you think i’m wonderful ( thank you, btw) i’ll give it a shot. honey, have you ever heard black people use the n-word? i know you have. now i’m sure you understand enough about racial politics in america, to know that you shouldn’t use the word yourself. just paying attention to pop culture over the past decade should tell you that, even if you don’t know why you shouldn’t say the n-word, you still know you shouldn’t.

    kind of the same with the word “bitch” (i hate that word and am much more comfortable saying the b-word). girls say it to each other all the time nowadays, as a term of enderment to friends. (i sooooo don’t get it.) BUT no girl EVER wants a man to refer to her as a bitch, that’s a whole different ball game, the word bitch said to a female from a male mouth is the ultimate insult.

    what do all these words have in common? they have each began life as insults, disgusting and hateful, hurled at marginalized groups. both in everyday life, and during the commission of hate-based murders. it has taken years, decades even, but as each of these groups has fought and clawed their way towards equality, they took back the words used to hurt them, attempting to neutralize and neuter the words. i don’t agree with this at all, i believe in letting the words die. but even when the word has been successfully neutrailzed, it can still cause a great amount of pain falling from the lips of people who look like their oppressors. which is why, out of respect and empathy for the oppressed, those resembling the oppressors shouldn’t say them. it has nothing to do with fairness, or the fact that you yourself never owned a slave, never beat up a trans person. just out of common decency, empathy, respect for the feelings of another individual, just don’t say them.

    your gay friends and trans friends cannot give you overarching permission to use the t-word. anymore than your black friends can give you universal permission to use the n-word. no matter how sweet and well meaning you are (both qualities i see in abundence in you.) you look like a classic oppressor. your friends know you and love you, and those words falling from your lips may not hurt them because they know your heart. but a stranger overhearing the exchange may be deeply hurt, devasted even by your casual use of these words. your gay friends and black friends are NOT the collective voices of their cultures, they do not speak for everyone, so they cannot give you permission and magically keep your words and actions from causing pain.

    honestly my dear, i’m beginning to question your friends and their mindsets, more than i question you and yours. i believe i now understand what was happening with you. not knowing any better. but your friends, who should have stopped you, who i know damn well knew better. to let you embark on this afro laden gay slur spewing journey believing you weren’t doing anything wrong. unbelieveable. not the actions of a group of people with your best intrests at heart. if i were you i would think long and hard and really consider that.

    i didn’t mean my comment to be this incredibly long, lol. i hope you, michelle, have read it all and that you are really considering my words babygirl. i didn’t write all this for my health. i wrote it for your benefit becasue these are things you needed to hear, that apparently no one in your real life has had sense enough to tell you. i don’t believe you are evil. i believe you really didn’t know these things, and now that you do you are having trouble processing the information. understandable.

    please don’t end the blog. i want to watch you grow. the bring it on musical didn’t look intresting to me. i loved the movie, but the rewrites seem stupid and a tad bit racist for no reason. i’d have much rather heard about the book of mormon, i’ve been dying to see that. but as commentors mentioned i’m one of those who would never be able to afford going to the theater. 😦 oh well, i don’t begrudge people that can, and that doesn’t mean that you can’t share your experience. i just get to look thru your eyes on this one. 🙂 the point of following a blog. i’m glad you enjoyed it. and i’m sorry about sandy, here we didn’t get hit as badly as ny/nj and what i’m seeing on cnn is horrifying.

    • Hey Michelle.

      Glad you are okay. I get that you are a sensitive soul on so many levels. I think you are really deeply lonely. So sorry that you felt attacked via the web. I agree with Shannon on all points, and I don’t like the fact that your “bestie” Michael calls you a tranny. Yuck. Take care of yourself. Thanks for sharing your life. I hope you find shelter : )

  13. I’m a white Jewish girl and I think you are making a fucking idiot out of yourself. First off you use a slur against trans* people and then you proceed to dehumanize and degrade the actual concerns of PoC. You’re not a good person. You are a self-righteous piece of shit who uses other people’s real life experiences as your little science project. You are a disgrace. Fuck off forever. You’re part of the problem. And you always will be.

    • WOW! you people are ANGRY! there’s just no need for all this hideousness. If you don’t like what is going on with this girl’s blog, move on. People out there are engaging in much much worse activity, like child pornography……put your efforts where it matters. Peace Out!

      • What do you mean, you people?! Just kidding. Look, I’m going to try to keep this short:
        1. I (and pretty much anyone with a pulse) can be concerned about more than one issue. It’s not that hard.
        2. You have no right to tell me or anyone else where our “efforts” should to be focused; and you have no right to prioritize what matters for anyone else.

        You may think you’re being rational and objective about the whole situation, but your response basically boils down to: This debate is insignificant, your feelings are insignificant.

        Empathy, child. Try it some time. In the meantime, have a seat.

      • She thinks all white people think like her, if what she does when she’s not staring at her own reflection in a mirror can be called “thinking.” God I’ll gladly go rip off the top layer of my white skin if it separates me from idiots like this. Educating people my ass!

  14. Haha – Heard you on NPR, so like a true troglodyte, I thought might pruriently oggle your images. And let me just say – you are no Esperanza Spaulding – I’m dissapointed.

  15. I am grinning from ear to ear since I heard you on NPR today ! What a breathe of fresh air you are, Michelle. I have been married to a black man for over three decades. He had a fro when I met him. Hell, everybody black did. I wanted one, but I am white and these cute wigs were not available in the Midwest back then. lol As for all of the people who are giving you a hard time for your funky hair and social position here, well, screw them. You aren’t hurting anybody. It’s the 21st century and it’s time for people to raise their consciousness beyond the stumbling blocks they flaunt to make society notice them. It’s time for all to get busy working on with their lives. The main thing holding any group of people down are…..themselves….with their narrow-minded, negative attitudes. Everything is not all about race!
    Your hair style is a wonderful commentary not only on what’s attractive, but where people need to open their minds. Freedom for everybody is just a short step to acceptance of everything. Watch the walls fall down….


      This is so sickening. No doubt you are reading all my comments for your amusement, Joni, but hell, I don’t care at this point. I’m tired of idiots like this running all over us, then attracting a crowd of fools who crown them (and in some cases, give them money) for it.

  16. You are pretty much the whitest person to ever have existed. You are so sheltered and your opinions are fucked up and stupid. You think that the color of you pasty skin somehow validates your opinions which is wrong. No one cares what you think of afros or that you can spot blantant racism in a play. You are obviously blind to the pervasive racism you live out in your everyday. You are obviously very dumb so taking this all in will be hard for you, but subtle racism (like your jacked up wig) is still racism. Congratulations for alienating and hurting the people you seem to sickly idolize. This is why no one likes white people.

    And fuck you for calling someone a “tranny.” That’s a slur and if you opened your eyes and mind to how other people felt you’d never use such a word

    • There is something wrong with being white and/or sheltered? Isnt this exactly the same sort of insult that you suggest she makes towards black persons and transexuals? Walk the walk or shut up.

      • You’re an idiot, Edie. I have no patience to explain why, but look up “false equivalence.”

      • Frayed, get over your self importance. We all put our panties on the same way, I dont care what culture you are. There is ONE RACE of H s sapiens, educate yourself.

      • @ Edie,

        While Frayed Wafer Edges might be voicing her/his concerns a tad fiercely, the meat of all the comments here remains the same. Loose Lips above:

        “You are denying centuries of racial oppression and oppression of sexual minorities to relate to someone who is doing something that they have been told repeatedly is offensive and hurtful. How many people have to say “this hurts me” before Michelle considers anything other than her need for attention?” You’re doing it too, Edie.

        We all belong to the same race, but denying that racism, discrimination, and the complex symbolism of black hair don’t exist is simplistic, socially ignorant, and over-the-top whitewashing (no pun). These issues exist. Saying they don’t doesn’t help.

        My words will, of course, go unneeded.

  17. MJ,

    I love your energy and support your afro. Please continue rocking it, as the movement has only just begun. stay strong, and continue to be yourself. you can be considerate, but ultimately you have to do what feeds your own soul, and surround yourself with love.

    and for those of you who don’t like this blog, you have the choice to discontinue reading, it’s a simple as that. don’t put energy in bringing other people down, regardless of the situation. it’s just not worth it.


    p.s. I totally had those sunglasses.

    p.p.s happy birthday, my libra-scorpio sister, with much love
    venus has returned.

  18. I seriously suggest you look up the Anti-Racist Alliance, a subsidiary of the People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond, and take an Anti-Racism Through Race & Power Analysis workshop. In fact, Urban Bush Women (a Brooklyn-based dance company) is co-hosting one in January. Check out for information. You still don’t get it… and I don’t think the comments on this blog will ever seep in because its easy to dismiss faceless naysayers. If you are serious about your experiment and your profession, then you need to seriously reflect & refine your approach in a critical way. Until then you are nothing more than an offensive minstrel show- outdated by about 300 years!

  19. You’re not really a native New Yorker, though, so don’t pat yourself on the back too hard. Oh, and if you were REALLY interested in the plight of people of color, especially those who are less fortunate, you might have taken the time to acknowledge the devastation Hurricane Sandy wrought in the Caribbean…. Not just on your own island, mental and physical.

  20. No need for the “soul-searching” season finale, girl, just go quietly into that good night. You still don’t get it and I understand why. But I truly hope one day you meet someone who can break past that iron gate of white privilege and mix you a cocktail of truth and sanity. Who knows? Maybe the gravity of the situation will seep into that ungodly plastic-looking abomination on your head, because only then will you be able to “[educate] so many clueless white people!”.

    Because from where I’m standing, you’ve clearly missed the opportunity to educate your own clueless white self.

  21. I wish people would get over themselves long enough to get past being angry at words. So what, shes wearing a fro. As a white woman does this mean I should be angry and insulted by Nicki Minaj wearing a Malibu Barbie Platinum Blonde wig or Beyonce with her white girl straight,blonde hair? Should I scream how it is an insult to my grandmother who was almost killed escaping from Russia or how it is demeaning to my Scots relatives who had to fight tooth and nail to scratch out a living once they came to the USA and who still can’t wear a kilt without hearing a plethora of deragatory terms? Instead of just letting it be, being an adult, and moving towards our goals without allowing our race/creed/history get in the way ,we have to get all pissy about what “he/she/they’ are allowed to do. Using the word “Tranny” seems to have burnt a new hole in the brains of some. How many use the words whitey, cracker, hillbilly, Miss Ann, honky, wigger without giving it a second thought? If we suddenly all decided that these words dont really matter, imagine how freeing that would be!
    Honestly, if our attitudes changed as quickly as politically correct words do we would be a hell of a lot further along than we are now. Are we really gonna get our 2012 panties in a bunch over this? Do we want to cling so desperatly to where we’ve been that we forget about where we are going? Seems to me there are plenty of other things to get upset about. How about directing all this attention to ratification of the ERA or feeding starving kids in the USA? (does anyone even know about the ERA anymore?) People that make it in this life are a lot less sensitive than those clinging steadfastly to the past. Rather than allow the love of a fro be devisive, why not allow it to bring us together?

    • Edie, I don’t use any of those words. I don’t use slurs based on characteristics people can’t control. But there is a difference between using a slur against the dominant majority and a minority whose members risk being beaten to death every time they use a fucking public washroom. In 2012. Today. Right fucking now.
      The fro and Joni’s language towards trans* folk are separate issues, but your approach to both are wrong for the same reasons: these are not ancient issues, words matter, symbols matter.

      • There may be a difference, but a slur is a slur. You don’t get a free pass on directing slurs against some particular group. And wearing an afro is not a slur against anyone. If you take it as such it is YOUR projection. Own it.

      • They only matter if you let them matter. Live life as a example, without boundaries, without labels, and see how fast you embrace the greatness of our world. We get locked into all these LABELS because we humans LOVE to classify people. Shes trying not to do that, and taking a beating for it. We can all dwell in where we have been OR we can collectively move forward into a new way of being, where labels, and gender, and wigs and words are not going to hold us back. Are you in?

      • @ Edie,

        So what you’re saying is that if I, a black woman, wear my hair out and proud and natural to a job interview and the white interviewer, after taking a long look at my hair and going through the motions, decides that all of my qualifications can’t make up for my coils and gives the job to a white candidate–it only matters if I let it matter or bother me, because there is no discrimination? FYI, this happened to me 6 times when I was trying to change jobs about 6+ years ago. At the first interview where I’d pressed my hair and Americanized my British-African accent, I was offered the job. Had 2 more offers–with pressed hair. Not scientific, but I think we can all see.

        Or you’re saying that racism today is the fault of POC because we just won’t get over it?

        Hmm. Guess so, Edie. It must all be in our collective head. Documented proof that racial prejudice is on the rise TODAY–see discussion @ NPR’s ” Is Racial Prejudice On the Rise?”–must all be hooey and poppycock. Right?

      • You blame your hair, how do you know it wasnt your attitude, your lack of work experience, your accent, your nationality, your clothing, your shoes, your voice and can you honestly say with certainty that white candidates were not elminated just like you were? Can you honestly say that you had exact same response or “vibe” with both hair styles? Can you look within and say that you had attitude with one look or the other? How we feel about how we look greatly affects our performance during an interview. Thats not my opinion, thats science. Regarding your thoughts on whitey white folks always having a leg up, well, you have never been white, you are on the outside looking in. You assume its all grand and fabulous and a piece of cake. How racist is that? I can count more times than not when my extremely fair skinned blonde blue eyed daughter was deliberately not chosen due to her look, while darker children were. Did we get our panties in a bunch over it? No, I taught her to press on and to understand that if she was not picked due to her look, then she probably did not want to be around that sort of person anyway, and to seek those who were more awakened. The facts are that…Beautiful people get jobs, plain people dont. Tall people get jobs, short people dont. Healthy looking people get jobs, handicapped people do not. Men get jobs, women do not. Clean looking people get jobs, tattooed and pierced persons do not. I could go on and on about why employers hire and don’t but thats life. Does that mean we point fingers and cry like babies and blame our hair, our skin, our weight, our height, our whatever? Those who succeed press on and get where they are going despite the challenges that face every single human on the planet.

    • Seriously? Don’t bother trying to justify the perversion of something you don’t fully understand. The afro is not “just an afro”. It’s a symbol, a political statement…. and has been since the civil rights movement. If you have no interest in or knowledge of our history, your opinion carries no weight. Sorry.

      If you want to take offense to the hairstyles of Nicki Minaj and Beyonce you are obviously within your rights to do so, but do you have a legitimate justification for it? I’m willing to bet that you don’t. If you do, I’d like to hear it.

      ALSO, be honest with yourself, 90% of those who use pejoratives for white people anymore are other white people.

      • djblackbetty, your points are well-stated and you are correct– the afro is a symbol. period.

        but no single group of people holds a monopoly on how that symbol may or may not be invoked or utilized…

        likewise, a symbol’s meaning is completely subject to interpretation and, again, no single group maintains the monopoly on that symbol’s meaning in any given context.

        if you are implying that they do, that is just intellectual fascism…

      • @ Jane – The afro may be a “symbol. period.” to you, but its more than that to the people who’ve bothered to respond here. To deny it’s history just for the sake of looking “fashionable” is problematic. When a member of the majority attempts to appropriate the culture of the minority, work is required… which includes the often messy process of recognizing socio-historical circumstances as well as the significance of these “symbols. period.” so as not to perpetuate unfair power relations between the minority and the majority.

        I understand there’s a thin line between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation, but this girl remains aloof and largely dismissive of the slew of legitimate concerns and frustrations. That is unacceptable. I have the same criticism for people who wear war bonnets and bindis (etc.) without knowledge of the cultures they’re taking them from.

        @ Edie – I love how you’ve managed to demonstrate that the feelings of this blog’s detractors (including myself) are inconsequential to you in one sentence. Empathy may not be your strong suit, but it wouldn’t kill you to try.

      • She has acknowledged its history. She never mentioned fashion anywhere in her NPR interview or this blog. Joni’s fro is about freedom, which all of you are denying her…

      • As we all know the scientific facts are that there is ONE SPECIES AND ONE RACE of H s sapiens, so we are talking about culture here. If persons that are called white got upset every time someone of a different culture tried on “white” hair there would be riots in the street. Nicki Minaj, Rhianna, Beyonce, Faith Evans, Keri Hilson, Nene Leakes, all like their Barbie Blonde but you dont see anyone white screaming about how their heritage has been stolen. Why do we all insist on being in our little boxes with labels? Doesn’t anyone see that is what is holding us apart? Yes, we are all magnificent , and today people are shouting from the rooftops just how magnificent they are, and how hard it is to be ____________ (fill in the blank) but seriously, thats exactly what we need to let go of. Enjoy our roots, but don’t let them stand so strong that they block the road to freedom.This young lady rocks.

      • Frankly, the last thing this girl has been denied is freedom. One might even argue that it comes with the privilege of being a relatively wealthy Caucasian female (the second most privileged group on earth behind Caucasian males). Besides, it’s not like she’s getting thrown in Guantanamo for this… she has the freedom to do what she wants, and alternately we all have the freedom to tell her how we feel about it.

        And to my earlier point about fashion, from the horse’s mouth: “Lapidos says she had no intention of starting a conversation about race when she started wearing a black Afro wig and blogging about it. She just “thought it looked cool, straight-up.”” (

      • To don an afro and then claim that you had no intention of starting a conversation about race is total bullsh*t…

      • This whole let’s hold hands and sing kumbaya because “we all bleed red, man” is a crock of shit. Come find me when you’ve been called a nappy-headed nigger to your face. But that will NEVER happen to you, because you’re white.

        And guess what? Barbie blonde is not a symbol for anything, except (ironically) white America’s idea of classic beauty. Frankly, I’m curious whether you “walk the walk” and spout your nonsense in your daily life, not on the internet. Likely you don’t. But one day I hope someone tells you to your face how blindingly out of touch you are with reality. And if I’m lucky it’ll be a white person.

        It’s funny how it’s almost always white people who want to deny the real emotions and concerns of PoC and AT THE SAME TIME champion this idea that if we all just “get over it” the world would be a better place.

        Oh, YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO TELL ME how I should “enjoy my roots” to use your ridiculous parlance. You don’t have the right to reduce my identity and culture to a “little box with a label”. You don’t have the right to tell me that I shouldn’t speak up about racial insensitivity. If you don’t care about it, fine. Kumbayas won’t erase the real lived experiences of the minority communities in this country, but maybe you can consider how myopic and arrogant you sound, stop running your mouth and just listen to us.

      • dj: Ask yourself the same question, if you please. What legitimate justification can you find in taking offense by anyone’s hair styling choices? If there is something more inconsequential, minor and entirely one’s own business than their hair-do I don’t know what it is.

      • Greg: it has been repeated over and over and over and over and over in these comments. Honestly, I could give two shits about this girls wig (I wish she wouldn’t call it an afro, because its not) but, it’s more the blatant rejection of legitimate concerns being raised here.

        Not everyone is foaming at the mouth, demanding this girl’s head, but some of us just want to have a discussion about how cultural appropriation without reverence is wrong. I am one of them.

        If you don’t believe that cultural appropriation without reverence is wrong, then we have nothing more to say to each other.

      • djblackbetty– at last you and I agree. “cultural appropriation without reverence” IS wrong. Since imitation IS the sincerest form of flattery, and flattery IS reverence, your argument is now a moot point…

      • Let me rephrase, cultural appropriation without REFERENCE or respect is wrong. An adult wearing a costume is not reverence, thus it is not flattery. Do you think women who choose to wear a “Sexy Squaw” costume for Halloween are doing so out of respect for Native American culture?

        If Michele had chosen to perm her hair and tease it into an afro, I would have nothing to say, because the effort and dedication would be there; the reverence and respect would be there. Saying you love someone doesn’t necessarily mean that you do. There is work and effort that needs to be there, for the claim to be taken seriously. There is no effort here, all she did was put a piece of a Halloween costume on her head.

      • And now we agree even more. You are 100% right. The effort IS lacking here. I totally get what you’re saying. Thank you for saying it. Now I get it…

      • DJ: I don’t believe in anything that requires post modern humanities/social studies type infantile reductionist thinking to explain or justify and I can point to the sokal affair or Cicire’s recent bizarre attacks on statistics as rather obvious examples of the flawed methodology employed to create post-modern humanities/social studies conclusions.

        I disagree there is such a thing as “cultural appropriation” in the first place. All human cultures are inherently cobbled together from aspects taken from other cultures and melded together. What you call cultural appropriation, I call “culture”. Moreover, people “educated” in post-modern ideologies generally seem to worship the concept of culture as some be all and end all of human existence, it isn’t, its merely the form out universal desires play themselves out in at a certain time and place and among certain groups of people. Any feature of any individual culture at any individual time is most likely taken from some other prior or concurrent culture and will be taken by some other concurrent or future culture. To claim a white jewish woman (and recall that many jewish people have naturally curly hair such that they can form what are colloquially called “jew-fros”) wearing her hair in a way that both black and white people have worn theirs in the past is some kind of negative cultural appropriation of something uniquely black feature is roughly equivalent to claiming that black people speaking english is a negative cultural appropriation of Englishmen’s heritage.

      • dj your argument is now that your objection is because she bought a wig rather than got a perm? Seriously? Post-modernism makes even less sense than I thought. I give up.

      • I can’t help you then. Just shamelessly hold on to your short-sighted ideals and things will continue as usual. You’ve given up? Please. There’s no point arguing with a brick wall.

      • DJ: Its always astounding to me how the ideological, be they right wing ideologues or left wing ones constantly engage in quasi-Freudian projection. You claim I am a brick wall? Now you know how I feel trying to rationally discuss an issue with someone who A. insists on making specious illogical arguments from emotion and B. makes wild and downright weird statements (perm = good wigs = bad) without any reasonable explanation other than “perms mean you tried harder” even though a wig could very well cost more than a perm. (and since wealth stems from labor the expenditure of wealth is the expenditure of more preserved labor, hence “trying harder.” For more on this topic I direct you to Henry George).

    • Honey, here’s a news flash for you: Just because you were forced to swallow your injustices and smile at your oppressors doesn’t mean that we’re going to do that. I think that’s part of America’s problem. We’re forced to swallow our anger at injustices that have been perpetuated by our oppressors, and then we get mad when other people call us out for oppressing them.

      • “Oh, please, that was a long time ago. So what if we do it? Get over it already, and YOU’RE the racist for not taking my crap, anyway, cos I’m in touch with my beautiful insides.”

        Yep. Classic white privilege cop-out.

      • Vic: I’m sorry did you just imply that all white people currently alive are responsible for what some white people have done over the course of centuries? I am no more guilty of what my forebears did than Germans are guilty for what their ancestors did in the 1940s. Moreover, I have never done anything that in any actual way oppressed anyone. Generally people cannot be oppressed by words or even self-contained actions. To be oppressed someone has to actually physically cause you harm or artificially limit your freedom of choice. Michelle wearing a wig does nothing like that. Me saying you are being silly and childish doesn’t oppress you. It may bother you, it may even offend you, but it doesn’t oppress you. Nor does someone choosing to wear the subjectively ugliest hairstyle known to western man.

  22. This whole mess of an experiment/publicity grab brings to mind a quote from James Baldwin in The Fire Next Time: “… it is not permissible that the authors of devastation should also be innocent. It is the innocence which constitutes the crime.”

    You would do well to add this text (and some basic American history, especially the history of racism in the country) to your reading list and to keep in mind that, as you go bumping and bruising your way around in the dark in search of understanding and/or notoriety, it’s fellow human beings you are banging into and hurting along the way.

    If you really want to find the answers and understanding that you say you do then please understand that stopping the offense is the first step in that process and that it’s all much more complex than choosing a clever blog name.

    • Thank you, Christiana, for that thought-provoking read. Baldwin paints a picture that holds true today:

      “Now, my dear namesake, these innocent and well meaning people, your countrymen, have caused you to be born under conditions not far removed from those described for us by Charles Dickens in the London of more than a hundred years ago. I hear the chorus of the innocents screaming, “No, this is not true. How bitter you are,” but I am writing this letter to you to try to tell you something about how to handle them, for most of them do not yet really know that you exist. I know the conditions under which you were born for I was there. Your countrymen were not there and haven’t made it yet. Your grandmother was also there and no one has ever accused her of being bitter. I suggest that the innocent check with her. She isn’t hard to find. Your countrymen don’t know that she exists either, though she has been working for them all their lives…You were expected to make peace with mediocrity…I know your countrymen do not agree with me here and I hear them saying, “You exaggerate.”…Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority, but to their inhumanity and fear…Many of them indeed know better, but as you will discover, people find it very difficult to act on what they know. To act is to be committed and to be committed is to be in danger…Any upheaval in the universe is terrifying because it so profoundly attacks one’s sense of one’s own reality.”

      If these “innocents” existed so soon after Emancipation, when whites shouldn’t have even been trying to white-wash the issues, they certainly exist today.

  23. the fact that all these comments are moderated means princess bland is deleting a hell of a lot of criticism. typical.

    • she’s not, she just reads them first. read the comments on her other posts, if she was deleting some, how would any of those have made it in?

  24. I want to preface this by saying I’m a white, cis women, and am aware of my privilege, I haven’t commented yet, though I’ve followed this saga since the beginning.

    You’re a disgusting waste of a human being, and a very bad, nasty person.

    STOP using the T word. It is NOT a word for you to use because it is a SLUR regardless of your intent.

    Your intent does not stop the fact that that word is covered in so much trauma and bloodshed (YES! Trans men and women are MURDERED, BEATEN AND RAPED regularly simply because they are who they are). That word is literally infused with hate and negative power which you are strengthening with your ignorance.

    You are a cis white woman. Probably the second most privileged group of people (after cis white men) You are not Trans* so you can not use that word.

    STOP trying to justify your actions. You fucked up. If you want to move on, and you want people to stop coming here with ‘negativity’ (because when you hurt people and they try to tell you so that’s negativity?) ACCEPT IT, ADMIT IT AND STOP JUSTIFYING YOUR SHITTY ACTIONS.

    You haven’t educated anyone, no one is better off for your writing. If anyone has, it’s been from the many many awesome comments of people showing you the error of your ways.

    The only outcome I can see this blog having, while you’re running it is giving more stupid ignorant white people justification to continue to act like shitty people.

    We are one? Start acting like it and stop being offended because a group you don’t belong to has told you you can’t have or use something that belongs to them.

    • Thanks for the try.

      But she’s not going to listen to you, and neither will these blockheaded “progressive” folk who expect us to fall upon the floor singing “We are the World” and kiss their feet because they’ve shared their privileged “wisdom.”

      This is a publicity stunt.

    • I’m sorry but since when is “tranny” a slur? I mean, the only context I’ve come across it is one where it is used as a synonym for any of the other words with no other connotation beyond “woman born with a penis” or “man born with a vagina”. I mean, if you can point to a situation where its been used (in print media) in a way which goes beyond what I’m talking about, I’d appreciate the citation.

      • Yea I asked for a citation to an example of that term being used to mean anything beyond “person born with the genitalia of the opposite sex” not the entirety of GLAADs website on all transgender issues everywhere. How about, you actually provide examples, or at least link to the relevant page within GLAADs website. Your link is practically the same thing as just saying “” i.e. failing to comprehend the burden of proof. You are asserting that it is a slur. I am asking for evidence of it being used as a genuine slur, since I’ve never come across said use. You now are supposed to give me that evidence, specific evidence mind you. As in a news article where it was used to derogatorily refer to a transgendered person, some youtube video of someone using it that way, etc. It is on you, in this case, to actually at barest minimum look through the link you provided and provide specific links to specific subpages dealing with this issue. In other words, you are being unbelievably lazy and are doing harm to your own position’s credibility.

      • Yes, of course I did, hence my entire comment about how linking me to a site that contains a whole bunch of transgender issues rather than the one specific one we are talking about was lazy and downright condescending on your part. I looked at it enough to know that you seemed to expect me to dig through the site, hit further links, open new pages, etc. in order to find the very simple thing I was asking for. No thanks. That’s your job as the person making the affirmative claim here. As I said, what you did was little better (and actually maybe even less helpful) than linking to google.

      • Here…let me help you. About 3/4 of the way down that page, right below the picture of Chaz Bono, is a section called “Why is Using the Word ‘Tranny’ Offensive?” Go ahead…I will wait..

      • Or you could have skipped all this and just given that information directly. You know, like a not annoying person.

      • Jenny, I just read that supposed “citation” to occasions of people using it as a slur, and it isn’t one at all. Its just a statement asserting that its a slur and that people hear it before they are attacked. Not a single bit of evidence is supplied to support that notion, not a single example of it being used as such, etc. In other words, your link is entirely 100% non-responsive to what I asked for and instead is precisely what I said I had already encountered, activists claiming it is a slur. What I was looking for was evidence of it actually being used as such, something which you haven’t even remotely provided. I must conclude based on your insistence that a 3 line paragraph saying and I summarize: “it’s a bad word” is “evidence” of it being used as a slur that you have no such evidence and can provide none. From that I will take it that this is just like all of the other examples of the hyper-PC crowd calling wolf, rather than an actual legitimate claim that the word is a pejorative. I shall, as such, continue to use it. Thank you for helping me confirm my suspicions that there is nothing actually “wrong” with using it. You’ve been a big help.

        Also I must say, if that is what passes for “evidence” among the negative commenters on this blog I truly and utterly despair over the quality of our education system in teaching critical thinking and epistemology.

      • I googled a bit and came across

        Which while arguing it is a slur, e.g:
        What is missing is that in my personal experience as a trans woman, “tranny” is a form of hate speech. The last person who called me it literally
        spat on me.

        also admits:
        See, the word “tranny” gets used with alarming regularity in the media, and I’m not sure it actually registers that it is a slur.

        Some cis people may truly just not know that the word is problematic. I have had many friends tell me that they had no idea that the word was offensive.

        I take “tranny” to be in a gray area. A sensitive person might avoid it because some people take it as an insult. A reasonable person hearing should NOT take it as automatically an insult because it is often used innocently.

        Language shifts. Nigger used to be a perfectly acceptable word used in polite company.

  25. Humility is the only framework through which human beings of various victimizations and life experiences can truly honor each other…

    To the girl in the fro– I get that this is your best effort at humility and addressing white guilt for white privilege. What EVERYONE seems to be missing here is that, donning the fro in THIS country, more than any other, IS about offering yourself up as a proverbial sacrificial lamb– with the intent and specific purpose of being that societal scapegoat– expressly because both racial poles have the potential to turn on you with the vengeance we have seen here.

    Here in Amerikkka, the color lines have been drawn clearly in the sand– each side taking a defensive stance in a divisive battle that’s not even about color, really.

    But, as a white person, I can’t tell a Black person ANYTHING about their own experience of being Black in this country. I must defer to their expertise on EVERY level.

    By the same token, I AM an expert on being white in Amerikkka, so Blacks can’t tell me a darn thing about being white. They must defer to my expertise on this subject on EVERY level.

    However, neither experience or level of experience amounts to a hill of beans without the other. Black is not black without white. White is not discernible without black.
    Contrast is context for both experiences. Without contrast, race is a hypothetical exercise at best.

    From my white vantage point, perched high atop of the mountain of personal experience I gleaned from being raised in a Confederate flag-laden-Archie-Bunker-
    wannabe universe (no joke), I can tell you that white people are quick to turn on those denounce their perceived innate right to white supremacy.

    It’s so innate, that they treat defectors from its mandate worse than Blacks, if that’s possible.

    I know Black people will find this hard to believe, but it’s true.

    Whites treat other whites, who refuse to uphold and actively participate in the
    systemic racist infrastructure that is the scaffolding of our society, worse than
    Blacks, themselves.

    A white person who aspires to be an anti-racist is a pariah…

    In the white world, no one is more despised than the “N*gg*r-Lover.”

    I am an expert on all things white, and I swear that this is true.

    To the girl in the fro–

    Your fro tells white people that you denounce white privilege–a dangerously noble gesture in Amerikka.

    My guess is that you didn’t intend for your fro to say anything at to or about Black
    people AT ALL!

    Black people will never believe that because their expertise tells them that being
    Black always has penalities, spoken and unspoken. And who are we whites to say
    that it doesn’t? We can’t say speak on that at all. It simply isn’t our area of

    But we CAN speak on what we KNOW…

    Any white person in Amerikka’s experience with white people has taught them that identifying or sympathizing with Blacks ON ANY LEVEL places a bull’s eye on you and makes you a target for, not only racist backlash, but everyday-run-of-the-mill-average-white-person backlash, as well.

    Because for every dyed-in-the-wool racist in this country, there are 10 whites that
    will look you in the eye (NOT) and swear that they don’t see color and that they
    aren’t racist at all.

    They will thump their all-white neighborhood, church and country club membership
    handbooks and invoke the ever popular, “I don’t care if you’re blue, green or purple
    polka dot,” rhetoric and swear that they are not racists. But if there son or daughter
    brings home a Black friend or, worse yet, significant other, they invoke the even
    more popular, “I am not prejudice but think of how hard it will be for the children,”

    If you try to talk to them about white privilege, they will balk and invoke every hard-
    luck-bootstrap-lifting story they ever heard.

    One of the hardest things a white person can do is try and get another white person
    to cop to racism– their own or systemic. In white culture, being an anti-racist is the
    ostracizing kiss of death…

    So now let’s get back to Joni and her innocuous fro…

    What I want to ask this envelope-pushing white Jewish woman is: WHY?

    Why would you serve yourself up to whites in this way to be scapegoated for certain

    What is it in your makeup that cause you to want to be sacrificial lamb of the
    anti-racist-fro-loving omniverse?

    What is it in yourself that seeks the lash of proverbial plantation-overseers

    Why would you dare to pose the life-altering questions that question the status quo?

    Why would you take it on?

    Why would you ever attempt to carry such a heavy load?

    For those of you who are so far off the mark about Joni’s motives for choosing to
    live a fro-licious life in Amerikka, despite its inherent dangers– those of you who
    have speculated about her shameless attention-seeking addiction to fame, as
    opposed to delving into her deeper masochisms and martyr-complexes, I say, you
    know nothing of scapegoats and sacrificial lambs. Your own privilege, white or
    Black, simply hasn’t afforded you the context for such selflessness.

    In 1984, when Whoopi Goldberg first donned her notorious blonde-hair-swishing-towel and put on her valley-girl-voice, no one accused her of anything.

    In 2012, twenty eight years later, Joni can’t wear an afro wig because someone is
    narcissistic enough to take that personally…

    There is a whole lot of talk about narcissism regarding Joni and her supporters, but
    I am not sure that the word is being applied where it should be…

    The people who claim that Joni’s dime-store-wig has been an assault on their
    heritage and an affront to their history should RUN not walk to their nearest
    Barnes and Noble and get a book on symbolism or they can simply google the word

    In Joni’s context, the fro is a metaphor.

    Ray Charles could see that.

    If this dime-store-metaphor causes your racially-induced wounds to bleed as
    profusely as you claim it does, then perhaps you are using this cheap wig
    as an excuse to keep bleeding.

    Since Blackness is not my area of expertise, I can only speculate as to what your
    motives for blaming Joni’s afro for a host of social ills, as you have done.

    My guess is that you are suspect and critical of any white metaphors anywhere.

    My guess is that your own bias has precluded you from conceding that you
    subcribe to the prohibition of any whiteness anywhere, playful or otherwise,
    until you feel like the karmic debt of whites to Blacks has been paid.

    And to that I say Here! Here! Let the debt be settled once and for all, but not at
    the expense of Joni’s synthetic weave.

    If Joni wants to metaphorically denounce her white privilege and symbolically
    speak and tweak her whiteness to other white people, at the expense of her own white privilege, that is her perogative or stupidity, as the case may be.

    More or, rather, LESS power to her, as that is how it is going to play out for her.

    I have trained to be a facilitator of Community Wide Dialogues to End Racism here
    in New York State, and my training has taught me that we can’t call the Black
    equivalent of racism racism because racism is about systemic power, which Blacks
    in this society simply don’t have.

    But we can call it ignorance. By any other name, a rose is still a rose, and
    intolerance stinks…

    • Let me burst your bubble right here.
      People aren’t up in arms because we CHOOSE TO BE offended at the idea of her wearing the Afro. People are up in arms because people who have NATURAL AFROS GROWING OUT OF THEIR HEADS are still ridiculed and discriminated against for choosing to wear THEIR OWN HAIR, and she’s walking around wearing this like it’s NBD.

      • yeah but that’s not Joni’s raggedy dime-store wig’s fault, Andrea. Joni is just rocking a symbol of whatever the repective fro-bearer is conveying. women are getting raped everyday everywhere, yet we let the incredibleness that is the p*ssy be sported by everyone and anyone who wants to rock one because not even women hold a monopoly on its iconic-ness…

        NO ONE owns the fro.

      • Actually yes, you choose to be offended at any ideas you are offended by. That’s how the concept of offense works. Moreover, anyone who ridicules someone for having not straight hair is insane and a moron and you give them power by caring what they say or think. Idiots who make fun of people aren’t the problem, people who get all offended by them and thus give them power are the problem.

  26. This blog is truly inspiring, and those who are able to keep an open mind can see the beauty in American society, New York City and the American women.

  27. I am so tired of this. My soul is so tired. They just don’t get it. When are these people going to stop excusing their behaviour? When are they going to stop coming into our spaces and telling us how we should feel when they ridicule our efforts to empower ourselves? When are they going to stop with this absurd fauxpologies?

    I have tears in my eyes. My spirit is exhausted. I can’t do this anymore.

    • +1, less the tears. Mine cannot be wasted on such persons.

      And it’s not even a fauxpology; she’s clearly telling everyone who doesn’t kumbaya with her to kiss her ass.

      I just listened to her on NPR and was not-so-amazed at how she emerges as Mother Theresa with finger-snapping sass. Oh, did you hear? She was an equal-opportunity racist for Halloween. She said it, not me.

      • I’m done with this soul-crushing shit, now I’m just angry. This woman needs to have some sensible folk to come collect her before she hurts herself, because anyone with more than two lonely neurons rubbing together to keep warm finds her unapologetic minstrelsy utterly apparent and utterly unhumourous. The only thing “illuminating” about this ill-conceived grab for celebrity is how is truly how stupid people are, how obdurate, and how committed they are to their ignorance, especially when it makes them feel good. About ninety-percent of the commenters here need to come back to to reality and stop patting themselves on the arses for being ignorant, passively racist pieces of human refuse.

      • Wow. OK.

        We can all go home, everyone. The White Man has spoken!

        Look up the Clark Doll Experiment and shut the hell up.

      • To equate people having chosen different colored dolls as preferable some 60-70 years ago being probably a bad thing to discussing a vague and pointless issue as “empowerment” is rather absurd. That study, assuming its methodology was valid (which given the sample size at least at the time it was used in Brown v. Board of Ed is questionable), pointed merely to the fact that black kids at the time preferred white dolls for any of a host of probably pernicious and invalid reasons. That is entirely irrelevant to the fact that I believe people who say such silly sounding things as “empowering [them]selves” deserve ridicule. Its a made up concept stemming from new-agey pseudo-intellectual drivel. Anyone who says stuff like that instantly sounds like a motivational speaker, and a bad one full of cliches at that.

      • Your ignorance is showing. The Clark Doll Experiment is not something from “60-70 years ago.” It has been done TODAY, IN MODERN TIMES, MULTIPLE TIMES, with children of all colours, and the result is the same. I would write a thesis about colourism and the stigmas and psychological pain associated with “good hair” and “bad hair,” but what is the point? You are convinced of your rightness. Go ahead–you’re right.

        Just don’t be offended and start castigating me for my ~racism and ~ignorance when I say, “White people don’t listen.”

      • Excuse me for referring to the initial research the actual Clark doll experiment, and not someone replicating the original methodology (which isn’t the “clark doll experiment” but a replication of that methodology which is properly referred to by the scientist who conducted the replication). Your ignorance of proper naming conventions led to a misunderstanding. Once again though, if those results can be replicated the obvious conclusions are that there is still a rather strong paucity of self-esteem among young african americans or that there is some innate concept of aesthetics that leads to a preference for fairer skinned play things or that young african americans dislike the appearance of other african americans while enjoying their own appearance. All of those three are possible explanations of the phenomenon (and each has its own explanations for how it could come to be). I fail to see how any of that has to do with “empowerment” though. Most little girls don’t seem to choose their dolls based on the perceived “power” of the doll, otherwise Hillary Clinton action figures would massively outsell Malibu barbie.

        The “good hair” “bad hair” argument again misses the entire point in this context. Right here, in this discussion, I am questioning the use of the term “empowerment.” That is this discussion here, you and I have other threads within the comments on this post where we are discussing other issues, but here, it is the claim that “empowerment” is a thing/a desireable thing that I am pushing back on, specifically I am claiming it is a meaningless and pseudo-intellectual term.

        But to humor your non-sequitor on that “good hair” “bad hair” thing why is it you posit that straight hair is a “white” thing? I know far more white people with curly hair or wavy hair than I know east asians or south asians or middle easterners with curly hair. Of course straight vs. curly hair comes and goes as a fashion, with people with straight hair often perming their hair (particularly during the 1980s) at certain points in time and people with curly hair straightening their hair at other points in time. If curly were universally derided as bad, why would the perm have been invented and used with high frequency? Why would curlers exist? Why don’t we see curly haired people of all self-defined racial groups complaining about the tyranny of straight haired people? I grew up with very curly hair (it has since naturally straightened) and I never experienced any oppression by anyone because of it. So the question is, is it the curly hair that is the cause of your perceived oppression or is it something else?

        I can posit that some of the whole “job interviews go better with straightened hair” thing isn’t remotely a racial thing at all but is a matter of demonstrating effort put into your appearance at the interview. If someone shows up in their “natural hair” it shows they didn’t really try to spruce up their appearance for the interview. If I show up to an interview with my “natural” hair I most likely wouldn’t get a job. But if I show up after having trimmed, brushed, and styled my hair, I’m more likely to get that job, as I show I have taken the interview seriously enough to go to the trouble of making my hair look professional.

  28. Wow. This is just. This is amazing.

    How anyone can be this wilfully ignorant is beyond me. But all right, I get it. Gotta keep hawking for that book and or documentary deal that will come from this, right? Doesn’t matter how many people you hurt, or how many people tell you you are hurting them.


  29. So you appropriate something significant from black culture because you were bored of your white life and felt entitled to everything, decide to see a musical that caters to white bitches like you, use transphobic slurs in your post about “can’t we all just get alone and let me violate your shit because it’s ~exotic~”, then proceed to take all blame away from yourself and concerns that people have because you survived the “worse natural disaster of our times” – you know, forgetting the tsunamis that devastated entire nations and killed thousands, or hurricane katrina (no, this was clearly much worse because rich white New York!!!)…

    You need to go some where. Too bad your daddy’s money can’t buy your white ass human decency.

    • A. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
      B. Its “appropriation” to adopt any aspect of any so called “culture” other than your own? So I am appropriating “Mexican culture” when I eat a taco? or black people are appropriating “white culture” when they play sports invented by a white person or wear suits (which, of course, are as much a part of “white culture” as afros are of black culture, i.e. fashion statements traditionally associated with certain socio-economic classes within said “culture”)?
      C. You are aware that there is actually a rather large debate among transsexuals regarding whether said term is a “slur” right? It certainly isn’t a “transphobic” statement regardless as anyone using it as a slur is unlikely to be afraid of trans people but rather if using it as a slur are meaning it as an insult rather than a statement of fear.
      D. How is it “violating {someone’s} shit” to wear a frakking wig? That is pretty melodramatic of you and honestly demonstrates that you seem to think that there are no bigger battles to fight than to object to some chick wearing a wig or saying a questionable word. Seriously, my take away from you and others attacking Michelle Joni on this issue is that america’s problems with race are clearly basically solved if people think that there are no better uses of their time and energy than attacking someone for wearing a wig. I guess things are alright afterall if this is the biggest of your concerns.
      E. New york is “white” now? Umm…new york is the most culturally, ethnically and racially diverse city in America and among them in the world (yes I know LA has a higher “minority” population but if you look at the sheer breadth of NY’s various groups it comes out ahead on diversity). Also I’m pretty sure the parts that were hardest hit by Sandy were some of the poorer parts of the city populated by many non-white people.
      F. It is the worst disaster of our times within the United States, which, as an American, Michelle Joni is fully entitled to focus her attention on, since its, you know, the country she lives in and all. (I do not define 2005 as being part of “our times” any longer, I realize that might sound odd but there has been a titantic shift in american culture, history, economics and politics since then sufficient to define it as being in the previous period of american existence. Essentially 2005 was still part of the gestalt defined in the last quarter of the 20th century. 2012 is clearly part of the first chapter of 21st century american life.)
      F.1. Also if you weren’t aware it is a fairly strong current in modern colloquial American English to engage in hyperbole. So the “worst disaster of our times” is a way of saying “a total and utter shitstorm.” This is a common enough mode of expression these days that anyone who has current knowledge of American english understands the meaning behind hyperbolic statements such as that. When people say something is “the worst ever” or “the worst of our time” they no longer mean that literally but instead are saying that to indicate that it is a severely negative event.
      F.2. Also generally any natural disaster is the “worst ever” from the point of view of its victims (unless those same victims have been victimized by worse events still within the recent past).
      G. and Finally, there are many brands of decaf coffee on the market that are just as good as full flavored these days, you should look into them.

  30. I am 23 years old. Although young, I am aware enough to understand, that you, at whatever age you are as a white woman raised however you were raised, will not, and can never TRULY understand the angst of myself, and those much like me. I cannot truly fault you for not knowing, many of us are so bitter that we understand that you cant, and will never understand our feelings and our struggle, but will still harass you about it. This journey of yours was.. ill guided, but at least you attempted to appease the angry masses after we ragged on you, those of us with or without relaxed hair, color complexes or general angst towards “whitey” or even “not black enough-ey” will have our own hang ups, and will use those to pick apart what you have to say. You will never get ahead in this race conversation, and I want you to know that it is perfectly okay. Please feel at peace. Quit while you’re behind love, and save yourself some stress, because people will never be satisfied with what you have to say about it, regardless of how hard you try.

    Our struggle isn’t yours to have, It’s ours for you to respect.

    • I usually find that whenever anyone claims that someone else cannot “truly” understand them, they simply are individually incapable of explaining themselves.

      • You are incapable of listening. Seriously. Look at your comments. All they are is constant dismissals. You even have the gall to call natural black hair “the ugliest hair style known to man,” and then you wonder why people are mad?

        You really are trolling, aren’t you.

      • No, I can listen perfectly. Yes, they are constant dismissals, because I disagree with the entirely ideological underpinnings of the claims you and the other commenters who share your ideas are basing your arguments upon. Because the entire premises of your argument are flawed, rooted in some amount of bigotry and a rather severe inferiority complex, and deserve scornful rejection by all people capable of logical or rational thought.

        Yes I do wonder why people would get mad at someone having a personal aesthetic different from your own. I find messy hair unappealing, I find hair that doesn’t have a “soft” or “flowing” texture to be unattractive. The afro (which last I checked isn’t purely “natural black hair” either, I’m pretty sure people have to use combs etc and that fros do not form entirely without effort on the wearer’s part. I have never seem one in photographs of people living in a non-industrial society, which leads me to believe that there is some upkeep that is necessary which requires a greater expenditure of time than non-industrial people generally have to spare) is the precise opposite to my aesthetic preferences. Therefore it is the ugliest hairstyle imaginable by me. I expect many others to disagree. I don’t see why anyone would ever get upset over me having a different set of aesthetic criteria than they do though. I mean seriously, I most likely think your clothes are hideous too. (Not a racial thing, I think most people generally dress hideously) So what? What difference is it to you that I think that? That is my entire point here. Why do you care what I find aesthetically pleasing? For that matter why do you care what I or anyone else thinks about you at all? How low is your self-esteem that you care about other people judging you?

  31. Michelle – I have been reading your blog from the beginning and I really would like to have a conversation with you. From one white cisgender woman to another, can we talk?

    I truly do believe that you have good intentions here – but intentions, unfortunately, mean nothing to the people who are hurt by your actions. Lets start with the word tr*nny – a word that, historically has been all tangled up in hate and pain. A word that has been spat and screamed at transgender people, sometimes alongside physical violence. When you use that word you are not using it to hurt, I know that, but it hurts all the same. For someone who has had that word thrown at them like a weapon your use of it, even in the most affirmative way, can bring back that pain and feel like a dagger. This is why slurs, like tr*nny, CANNOT be reclaimed by people who have not been on the painful side of that equation. You and I? We have no experience with that pain, tr*nny is just a word to us not a weapon… which is why I really feel like it is a word we shouldn’t be throwing around.

    Its the same thing with race. I’m sure you know by now that the afro is more than just a hairstyle – it is tied up in the struggle and pain that characterize race relations in our country. The term “Afro” is derived directly from the term “Afro American.” This hairstyle, for awhile now, has represented a political statement on the part of many black individuals – a reclamation of their natural hair texture in a culture that tells them that sleek, straight, shiny hair (the kind of hair that you and I have naturally) is the ideal.

    For many people with natural afros the process of getting hair like yours and mine is intense and DANGEROUS and expensive. It involves cancerous chemicals and many hours of commitment… but many black women feel that they have no choice. Our culture makes them feel that way as it is harder for a black woman with an afro to be taken as a serious professional – in this day & age there are STILL people who feel that the afro is too “casual” or “political” a hairstyle to be worn on a day to day basis. Hiring managers who won’t hire someone with “hair like that.” Can you imagine how that would feel? To be told that the hair growing out of your head was too political for society?

    You can take the afro off. You can decide to stop blogging and walk away from the criticism. A black woman with an afro? A transgender person? They can’t walk away from the stereotypes and judgement attached to their identity. Not ever. So when you put on the afro to feel more sassy and fun – you hurt them, by flaunting the fact that you can take the good parts of the stereotypes and pain they live with every day and use them to spice up your life… all the while leaving the bad parts (the racism, the judgement, the toxic chemicals…) at the door.

    You keep saying you want a conversation. This is good – I want you to have that conversation… but I don’t think you know what that conversation looks like yet. People with privilege tend to be blinded to the myriad of advantages that they have because of that privilege – this keeps us from having meaningful conversations unless we are willing to do a hell of a lot of listening. REAL listening. If you want to have this conversation in a powerful way you need to take off the afro, sit down, and listen to the people kind and courageous enough to share their pain and frustration with you. Then, you need to STOP HURTING THEM.

    Don’t want to waste the SEO? Keep this blog – use it to learn and listen by interviewing and amplifying the voices of those who are still oppressed in this society. Learn people’s “hair stories.” Do something good… but before you can you have. to. listen.

    I know I wrote a novel here… I wish this could be more of a back and forth, but thus are the limitations of blog comments. I would love to hear your thoughts though & I hope your street is dried-out soon.

  32. On the bright side, the dialogues happening in the comments are more interesting, insightful, and educational than anything Michelle is capable of contributing to this conversation.

      • No. I am not thanking this dumbass woman for her mockery. POC have been talking about this since time immemorial; they are not “dialogues that needed to be started.” They were already happening, they are STILL happening, and you and people like you are still putting your fingers in your ears. Just move on with your neoliberal social justice garbage, because the only interest you serve is your looking “intellectual” and “conscious.” Nobody has time to hear you or your nonsense. Go donate to KONY 2012 or something.

      • Wait, aren’t you the same one who said the fro is “just a symbol”! And black people were simply being “narcisstic” for being offended?

        I C A N N O T with you.

      • Dear Chest High– your comment is missing some words and is hard to decipher. Kindly proofread it and get back to me…

        I didn’t say the fro was JUST anything. The afro is many things to many people. I said it was symbolic and metaphoric and iconic.

        I cum-pared it to the p*ssy in its iconic-ness, as every Tom, Dick & Tranny is free to don one & we NEVER EVER give them the grief you are giving this button-pushing “fro-ron.”

        I said that NO ONE, not even women, own the p*ssy and NO ONE owns the fro…

        I said that there is no way that Joni can don an afro and claim to NOT have wanted to start a dialogue on race.

        Usually people who have no argument have to resort to name calling.

        Is that what this has cum to?

  33. I cannot believe the volume of “Kumbayah we are one race” white people coming out in this post. I really cannot. I’m actually laughing right now.

  34. The fact that it takes a white girl wearing and afro and trying to talk about these issues (as ineptly as she is) for people to pay attention at all, after the people who deal with them first hand have been talking about them for years, underlines just how ubiquitous racism and white privilege is.

  35. If you want to have a conversation on race, by all means, start one. You will find quite a few interested parties. Just don’t make fun of other people in order to get the magical 1,000,000 unique views every month.

      • Nope, not even remotely. Well “some” people probably always think your feelings are stupid and in your particular case Frayed Wafer Edges, they are probably correct.

        That said I fail to see how some bigoted “threat” you may or may not have experienced has anything to do with someone wearing a frakking wig. Its a wig, its not a crowbar she’s about to hit you in the knee with. Its not a repossession notice, nor even is she slandering or libelling you. So, how is this a “threat”? I have to say, that you feeling threatened by a somewhat vapid twentysomething who possesses no significant political, economic or physical power over you is really quite telling as regards how much you value yourself.

      • FYI, Greg: I decided not to bother engaging with your “arguments” around the point when you asked for a citation for the fact that the t-word is not nice.

      • Because you cannot supply said evidence? Seriously, this isn’t me being purposefully dense, the only contexts I’ve come across the term are with it being used as a colloquial and informal synonym for transgendered (as it is clearly simply a shortening of said term), somewhat similar to the diminutive version of proper names (Shelly for Michelle or Lizzy for Elizabeth), and with it being stated to be slur by activists. I seem to have missed the step where it was used as a pejorative by non-activists. That was what I was asking for. Your unwillingness to supply such examples lead to the obvious conclusion that either there is a paucity of such examples and you/others like yourself are making things up or you are exceedingly lazy and unwilling to support your claims. Since I prefer to assign people the benefit of the doubt, I don’t know what to do, as I’m unsure whether being intellectually dishonest is worse than being intellectually lazy. So help me out and demonstrate which it is.

      • I’m going to straight-up say it’s because I’m lazy. It’s like asking for proof that fa**ot is used as a slur. If you seriously have to ask for it, your head is so far up your ass it would take an essay, PowerPoint, your written consent, a crowbar and half-liter of Vaseline to free it and… well, obviously I’m floating on some spare time here, but not that much free time.

      • If someone had never encountered “fa**ot” being used pejoratively and asked for examples I could provide an epic number of examples very readily and believe you me, I would, since that is an issue rather close to my heart. So yes, this is you being lazy rather than providing someone seeking more information assistance so that they can understand a claim you are making. Glad we cleared that up.

  36. you probably don’t intend to offend anyone but rather than engaging your criticism in a thoughtful way, you just chalk it up to people not understanding you are having fun! and finding yourself! i’m a performer and i wear a lot of wigs so i understand the allure of having an alter-ego to experience the world through a new lens. but when many people are telling you that what you are doing is perceived as appropriation and hurtful, you and your critics would benefit if you really addressed the issues they are raising. one way might be to invite guest bloggers of color to engage in this conversation with you. i think discussing the problems/concerns/history around afros and hair would have more of an impact than just blowing off critics as haters.

    the wonderful thing about the internet is that any person with access to a computer can tell their own stories and express their thoughts (like you!). and people who have been historically silenced now have a place to be heard, to tell their own histories, and to object to hurtful and exploitative words and images which contribute to ongoing bigotries in regard to race, gender, sexuality, ability, etc, in daily life and in institutional settings. the open dialogue of online criticism can be a truly powerful way to understand the experiences of others and find a common ground. especially when there is true engagement and listening rather than explanations and defense.

    and because you must not know, the word tranny is a complete slur. trans person, transwoman or transman are accepted words to use. trans discrimination continues the cycle of violence that affects trans people around the globe and the continued casual use of the t-word, continues to de-humanize a marginalized group of people. more info here:

    • I had a very interesting back and forth dialogue here with DJ Black Betty not too long ago. She helped me broaden my understanding of this issue beyond the narrow scope of my very narrow and privileged Caucasian experience. At that time, I told her that I had finally gotten it and I promised to persevere to talk less, listen more and become informed. I came across this article today and really, really got it. This article expresses loudly and clearly exactly what I think most people have been trying to get us white people to understand about the Black ‘fro experience. I didn’t get it at all at first, but I get it now. I am still reeling from this article and I am so sorry for my earlier ignorance dismissing the afro as just fashion…(hey betty, thanks again, jane)

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