Posts filed under feminism

Her Name: Kim King

One year after the death of Kim King, Hands Up United leads a vigil to Say Her Name & Ask: Who Killed Kim King.

IN BROAD DAYLIGHT: Tribute by Dontey and Bud Cuzz of Lost Voices - Saint Louis, MO

September 19, 2014 Kim King, a 21 year old and mother of 2 was arrested for a street fight by the city of Pagedale.  Kim had traffic warrants which caused her to be held by the Pagedale PD. The city of Pagedale along with St.Louis county said Kim King hung herself with a T shirt within 10 minutes of her being in the cell.

A year later and we are still asking the same question. ‪


50 Shades of Black reporting from Saint Louis.

Posted on September 23, 2015 and filed under activism, art, community, feminism, race.

BLACK AMERICANA VOL 1: Amore of the Diaspora

Amore of the Diaspora

As an artist and scholar I want to redefine and re-appropriate Black Americana to reflect, and highlight the positive contributions of people of African decent in the Americas and through out the diaspora. The first installment of the project or BLACK AMERICANA: Volume One explores relational dynamics between black men and black women at various points within the African American historical timeline looking to quantify and establish what it took for one black man to love one black woman in the past and what it takes now and cast vision for it will take generations to come. My hope is to create a body of work that encourages healthy dynamics within the Black nuclear family and helps us identify with the love that sustains us in our darkest moments and inspires us during our best, and brightest. The mixed media creative work spans multiple creative platforms, including a coffee table book of fine art photography, scholarship and documented accounts of the lives and love of real black American couples and includes contributions of notable visual artist of color selected by myself working together to expand and nuance the conversation around the legacy of Black American’s, exploring both the pain and pride in our collective stories.

Using the same two subjects, myself and Atlanta based artist, activist, and cultural influencer Devan D. Dunson we seek to embody the "black lovers” who meet at pivotal moments within black history and various meta moments within black consciousness. Visually and creatively placing ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors, experiencing and connecting with truths and moments they endured and discovering "the love" over and over again. Let our collective knowledge of black history, esteem and honor for the countless black couples and families who’s love stories are the foundation for our own be increased as we unearth the SUBSTANCE and fiber of our communal connection. What it is that binds and bonds us as a community, as brothers and sisters, as man and woman? What is the soul, spirit and dynamic power of black love? So few of us are taught, have modeled or EVER really get to experience what LOVE looks and feels like when its healthy because "our love" story has had to unfold in the midst of injustice, poverty and a racially toxic society, to me the art and the artist are one, as I seek to unlock and creatively express what is contained in my own heart, my own pride and pain found, I hope to heal and celebrate the beauty and spirit of "our stories" and find the “love" in our legacy.  

-Tanisha Lynn Pyron

Stop Telling Black Women to BE STRONG

Has anyone else noticed the high profile suicides of some notable black sisters this year. Positive sistas who seemed to have it all? For Brown Girls blogger Karyn Washington and Titi Branch of Ms.Jessie are both examples.The myth of the STRONG black woman is literally KILLING sista's.

Why do we sisters wear our strength and independence as a badge of honor? Is it because it hurts to acknowledge few answer the call for help? Why are we culturally esteemed and marveled at for our ability to absorb and tolerate negative situations and trying times? You wanna know a secret. I actually take offense when people worship my black girl strength because it means they NEVER have to acknowledge my need for help or correct ill treatment, or advocate for justice on my behalf. Real family and community both glean and offer strength to those they love. I ask for support and help when I need to. Do I get it? Rarely...(low key I can't even get those I'm in community with to like a facebook post or AMAZING PHOTOGRAHY and my sh*t is DOPE. I guess they are too busy watching me work and marveling at my resilience. lol) But I ask any way.

EVERYTHING in creation has inherent to its design both STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES. -Tanisha Pyron

I cuss and cry when I need to (I get it out.) I pray AND I get counseling when I need to (cause I ain't got all the answers Sway ) I tend to my heart and those who love and support me acknowledge the truth. That EVERYTHING in creation has inherent to its design both STRENGTHS and WEAKNESSES. It is balance. We handle things we perceive to be strong differently. We apply pressure and heavier weight because we think it can take it. That pressure produces STRESS and TENSION and if we judge incorrectly that which we thought was strong collapses under pressure. We all know what STRESS and TENSION does to the body and mind. Sisters out here having heart attacks, strokes, break downs, or rendered NON functional, or becoming addicted to drugs simply because life handed them more then they could bear, a DISPROPORTIONATELY HEAVY LOAD and no one reached out to lend a hand. Support ya sisters. Gentleness and hugs work wonders. Black women need help too!!! Independent women need support too. Strength is balanced through weakness. 

Tanisha Lynn Pyron

Posted on January 23, 2015 and filed under art, current events, feminism, Identity, personal stories.

Can We Men Finally Admit That Misogyny and Street Harassment Are Real Problems?

By now, you've probably seen anti-street harassment organization Hollaback's new viral video of actress Shoshana Roberts walking the streets of Manhattan for 10 hours and being hit on, catcalled or even followed by random men throughout her day of what could best be described as stranger danger for adult women.

While it's sad and disheartening, it's also not that surprising that many of my fellow men across the nation responded to the video with outrage and mockery. In conversations with some of my guy friends about the video, I was glad to see sympathy from some of them who understood just how disturbing it was to see a woman be heckled and followed for simply walking by herself. But what I also heard and felt from comrades and strangers alike on the internet was a strong resistance to the idea that Roberts, and every other woman who has experienced street harassment, had a right to share their fear and frustration with the world.

All across the web, I saw responses such as "we men only do that because women respond to it" or "what those guys were saying wasn't that bad" or "this is just another feminist attack on men." It seemed as though, to these angry men, the idea that a woman would question how they aggressively hit on them was a greater act of disrespect and unfair judgment than visual proof that women are literally being harassed in broad daylight.

However, any so-called "attack" or critique against men doesn't at all compare to the response Roberts got after starring in the video. In a recent interview with Anderson Cooper, Roberts shared that she's received everything from rape threats to death threats for her role in exposing the terrors of street harassment.


Another argument against the video was the editing of the footage, which seemed to leave out much of the catcalling from Roberts' white suitors and left mainly jst the catcalling from her black and brown suitors. Clearly, such a racialized omission just adds to the stereotype that men of color are sexually aggressive beasts and Mandingos. And that in and of itself is a cause for outrage and concern.

But it also doesn't negate the fact that women, whether black, white, Latin, Asian, etc., are falling victim to street harassment that's being perpetuated and protected by the misogynistic and patriarchal mindsets of men of all colors. And that point was made clear in a recent CNN panel discussion between CNN anchor Fredericka Whitfield, comedian and TV personality Amanda Seales, and Steve Santagati, the author of "The MANual."

In the discussion, Seales, who is a black woman, explains why street harassment is disrespectful, oppressive and disturbing, and why men should be receptive to women telling them this fact. However, Santagati, who is a white man, trivialized her concerns and, instead going along with the idea of better educating men about women, explained that violence and aggression are tools women should use to respond to these men who are "obviously" of a "lower class."


And the deflection and mockery from men has continued throughout the week as videos have popped of about "10 Hours Of Walking Around In Skyrim (While Wearing Skimpy Armour)," in which a gamer seemingly mocke the original street harassment video. Or, "3 Hours of 'Harassment' In NYC," which shows an attractive male model getting hit on by women and even more so aggressively by other men - which, ironically enough, shows another way to look at the aggressive and sometimes inappropriate way in which many men catcall and harass people they find attractive on the street.

However, unlike the 27-year-old Detroit woman, Mary Spears, that Seales spoke of, who was gunned down for turning down a man's advances, we doubt that this male model, or most men for that matter, have to consciously worry about the idea of being physically threatened, raped, or even killed for turning down any of the women who tried to hit on him on the streets.

But getting back to my original point, street harassment is a real issue and I don't have to look far or look at the news to see it. All I have to do is look at what my female friends and relatives have to deal with on a daily basis. All I have to do is look back on the many times my sister asked me to accompany her to the store during her late-night grocery runs because she was afraid some man may approach her sexually or attack her. Or I can look at the numerous times I've been out dancing with my female friends and I've literally had to act as an intimidating physical barrier between them and other men who just won't take no from them as an answer because, in their minds, these women don't have a voice; they're just an object to be claimed. But when I tell these men to back off of my friends, they respond with regret, as if they're sorry for trying to take my "property," all the while still ignoring the fact that my female friends are really the ones they have disrespected and mistreated.

I understand that most men don't want to think of themselves as sexist or misogynistic. They don't want to see themselves as "that guy" violates women. But hate and oppression doesn't have to be manifested as violence to be real. Sometimes, often times, it's manifested through privilege and willful ignorance. And for men to continuously ignore and diminish the concerns of women and try to vilify and attack them for speaking out about their oppression is nothing short of an act of privilege and sexism.

To think about it another way, it's the same hate and oppression that black people complain about when we say that white people ignore our problems and then attack us for speaking out against racism.

it's the same hate and oppression that LGBT people complain about when we say that heterosexual people ignore our problems and then attack us for speaking out against homophobia, biphobia, transphobia.

It's the same hate and oppression that Native American people complain about when they say that the rest of America ignores there problems and then attacks them for speaking out against racism and systematic oppression.

At it's core, it's all essentially the same thing and it all screams of privilege. And privilege is comfortable and it is blinding and it is unequivocally reserved for men in this nation when it comes to gender roles.

But it s also a trap that keeps men and women of all backgrounds trapped in this seemingly endless cycle patriarchy that has left women targets for disrespect and violence for simpy getting out of the bed in the morning and walking out onto the streets to get along with their days.

So can we men PLEASE stop shirking our responsibility in this matter, stop trying to make it seem like our problems are worse, stop trying to attack and vilify women for speaking out, and finally just listen to them when they tell us that how we act and speak has an effect on them and that it hurts them? Can we finally try to walk in their shoes and try to make things better for all of us?

Nicholas Harbor

Freelance Journalist, storyteller and blogger for 50 Shades of BLACK

Damaged Goods: Being Hurt By Men Is Not Why We Love Women


I was raped by someone that I knew and trusted back in 1999 and until this pivotal moment I never had the strength to stand up and admit that this had happened to me. My face didn’t look remotely close to the women who stared back at me on local commercials who were calling out their attacker. So like every other black woman I knew, I adapted the ability to accept what has been dealt to her and move beyond it. So when I finally came to terms with my sexuality a few years later the response from my friends and family wasn’t the best. In fact one of my very close cousins at the time told me that “ I know why you do what you do--it’s because of everything that men have done to you. So I understand. And I want  you to know that I defend you when everyone else doesn’t understand”.

Oddly enough I didn’t know if she was truly in my corner or if I should’ve been offended. At the time she didn't know much about the things that had happened to me in the past but I felt like she assumed that maybe because my relationships with men were a dead end--I had chose an alternate route all in a conscious effort to be loved. Sounds a whole lot like desperation to me--all of which I was not.

More often than not people assume that you turn to the same sex relationships for love and compassion when all else has failed with the opposite sex. Almost as if it’s an act of desperation.

The truth is that being a lesbian is not the easier route--it’s the harder route. The myth that “women understand women” better is a lie because being misunderstood or being treated poorly can happen in any relationship. In fact--you haven’t known hurt until you have been hurt by a woman. Women can be clever and witty creatures who have mastered the art of lies and deception in a way unlike any other. And when you have had your heart broken by one--it cuts much deeper than a knife. In fact--it seeps into your pores, peels the weight off of you and cuts into your sleep. It’s very similar to the pain you read about in books as a young adult. Yet--you keep trying again and again because no matter how painful this roller coaster is you’re addicted to her smile, her supple breasts and nurturing characteristics. You love the way her skin feels against yours and how her cologne/perfume dances around the room long after she’s gone.

So trust me when I say I have been hurt by women in ways that men never have.

damaged good1.jpg

It would be so much easier to get a boyfriend and waltz off into the sunset in my beautiful wedding dress while being accepted by the world than it could ever be trying to build a life with a woman. Not only is our relationship not accepted by the government but it’s not respected nor honored by various people on different platforms. We’re often ridiculed because of the kind of love that we choose to display and given dirty looks by onlookers as we shop in the local stores. Why would I choose a life so difficult for myself?

Being sexually assaulted or abused doesn’t make homosexuals nor do failed relationships with the opposite sex. Most of us already know that we are gay before we can even identify what sexuality is and some of us have chosen to live openly rather than to live a lie.

Believe it or not--more women come out of the closet and divorce their husbands than are accounted for. Most of them prefer to wait until their children are older so that they aren’t faced with a situation where the relationship with their children are possibly damaged and the foundation of their family is destroyed. It’s not that they don’t love their husband--it’s more so along the lines that isn’t what their truth consists of and at some point she finally decided to live her life without destroying someone else's. I always speak about living your truth because it takes such great strength to do so. Living a lie is the easiest route and it’s the road that traveled most. How often do we want people to look us in the eyes and tell us the truth but we stare at ourselves in the mirror and lie to ourselves on a daily basis?

lie to me.jpg


At the end of it all--

Being sexually assaulted/abused doesn't make a person gay.  It makes you someone who has been violated. There are just as many heterosexuals that have been violated as homosexuals--so ultimately no situation can turn a person gay. Either you are--or you aren’t.

I wrote this because there are so many parents who are angry because they feel that their daughter's/son's partner “turned” them the way they are and because they cannot accept the truth--they’d rather banish them all together.  There are other people who think that you are damaged goods which is why you turned to same gender relationships. And other are other parents who recently found out that their child was recently sexually assaulted who wonder if they would have known, could they have saved them from the clutches of homosexuality. Would they be different? Could they have fixed them? Did they let them down?

The truth is that sometimes life deals us some crappy cards and no matter if we like it or not we have to play the hell out of them. And as much as we wish that we could save our loved ones--it’s just not always possible. Whether your life is perfect or not who you are is destined to be is based on two factors:

1. How well you were able to turn your negative aspects into positive ones

2. How you define yourself and not how others define you.


Those moments no matter how horrible they were don’t make you--but they mold you. You we’re never broken so you don’t need to be fixed or saved. Remember who you are and never forget that your past does nothing but create another road on the map of your life but the ending destination depends solely on you.

This is for all of the beautiful ones--

People like you--and I

Posted on February 9, 2014 and filed under feminism, Homophobia, Identity, LGBT, personal stories, sexuality.

Hip-Hop, Bitches, and the adage "Cock Sucker" Pt 1

Words are important. As an 80s baby, I find myself forever connected to Hip Hop, its culture, its faces, its raps, and it as an identity. I own it. We own it. It’s ours. We made it Pop after it was created by older brothers, sisters, and intersex people (recall Mr. Cee pioneering influence on hip-hop) .

On J. Period’s Abstract Mix tape, Q-Tip (Abstract) called "Hip Hop ignorant; coming from an age of revolution both sexual and civil…an ignorant group looking to express itself used what they had – language over loops". While rapping is something that is done, Hip Hop is a bonafide culture far greater than rhymes over loops. 

Beyonce via ArtInFact Mag

Beyonce via ArtInFact Mag

Fast forward 30 years: the most influential black rapper of all time married the most famous black woman of our time. They flaunt their power by solidifying the word "Bitch" into our everyday language while ironically endorsing the fragrance of an openly gay man. [Jay-Z doesn't pop molly, he "rocks Tom Ford" and Beyonce is a "Bad Bitch" from the "H-Town".] This is nothing new, as their cultural forefathers propelled the use of nigga into our every day vernacular through Blaxploitation, R&B, and so many other cultural strong holds. It all originated from and manifests itself in the most modest of social interaction: our neighborhoods, out friends, and our families.

Transgender Male via Z107.9

Transgender Male via Z107.9

Culture is personal: So, I think about the so-called "niggers and bitches" I encounter in my life. I’m reminded of a group white tranny kid’s -powdered white faces, red lipstick, and black leather kufi to match their black leather jogging pants. I met these high teenagers one night at the Cafeteria Restaurant in New York City as they were calling each other “my-nigga” just before they invited me to sit with them in the 3AM line for an overpriced $25 plate of waffles and chicken. These "sort-of" boys, had horrible conversation, mostly about knife-fights and former lovers. One talked about his girlfriend getting lost in the club which shocked even me. A girlfriend!? The others gave me a one over and asked about sharing my taxi ride. They were aggressive like tiny dudes, because they were tiny dudes. They were also "bitchy", especially the mulatto kid who called himself “Queen B” after Beyonce. Mostly, they were bitchy about standing in line at 3AM after a night of dancing on MDMAs and other drugs. 

As a "Bitch", Beyonce would have to be glamorized like a Diva: a bitch that can get away with it...or plainly Bad in order to validate her inherent wretchedness: an unfortunate state. Unlike the popularized slang "ratchet" which misuses the name of  a mechanical hand-tool to suggest a person as being belligerent or ignorant. In Hip Hop and society our gender reality is such that even the woman who holds that "girls run the world" is deemed unfortunate for her uncontrollable gender status. Everything unrelated to a chauvinistic God-like hetero male figure is wretched. Cocksuckers and those who fantasize about fellatio are forever burdened by the fact that their deemed submissive acts, add them to the category of the inherently weak or wretched. While it’s unlikely that we’ll remove "bitch" from the cultural clichés of the day, it’s necessary to acknowledge it as a heuristic

Today I was invited to a group on LinkedIn called Reaching Out MBA for LGBTQ people with Masters of Business Administration degrees. For the unfamiliar, MBA’s are the most formidable and ambitious people with training on the planet, they hold more offices of power than any other discipline. These are not the punks of their generations and cultures. They may even be sociopathic cannibals. Luckily society has Jurist Doctorates to curb their enthusiasm.

In the United States, the formal tolerance of homosexuals at the Supreme Court after its DOMA and Porp8 decisions is actively changing the perception of women’s inherent weakness. While tolerance is a desirable first step for civil rights wins, acceptance is the end goal. We are different; and actively recognizing our individuality as it's own niche. Further it brings into question all of the ignorant language of machismo that Negro culture’s spawn shoots from the hip. Hopping from man to woman to other is still considered a scandalous act, but it’s an acknowledged and accepted reality of the feminine sexual prowess in 2013, even the black and effeminate. What will happen when we live in a post tolerance world that actually accepts the ideal that feminine and effeminate people who have a preference for fellatio aren’t actually bitchy, but formidable. I suspect, nothing much. 


Jimmy II Sticks
writer, cultural critic, special contributor to 50 Shades of Black
Creator of Moral PromiscuityMemoirs of a Black Polyamorous Bisexual Man

writer, cultural critic, special contributor to 50 Shades of Black

Posted on November 30, 2013 and filed under music, sexuality, feminism, Masculinity.