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Shaninun Pittman
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secular humanist, social scientist, southerner...
secular humanist, social scientist, southerner...

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Black porcelain pieces from sculptor, Phoenix Savage's latest body of work, Beautiful Ruins, Ceramics in Two Acts: Where Mississippi Meets Africa. Ms. Savage's work is for sale and will remain on display through early August at Pass Christian Books/Cat Island Coffeehouse – 300 East Scenic Dr. Pass Christian, Mississippi.
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No doubt there is an interconnectedness amid the Civil and Gay rights movements. It is for me and I suppose for others too, an interconnectedness undeniable. 

Yet, when filmmaker Yoruba [I bow before Her Majesty's Excellency of Speech] Richen says "…Black and Latino LGBT folks were at the forefront of the [Stonewall Riots of 1969]," I have a real hard time subscribing to her intimation -- that is, in consideration of the images with which we are confronted here: (https://www.google.com/search?q=stonewall+riots+images&espv=2&tbm=isch&imgil=tEqvJU9AEU9EYM%253A%253Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fencrypted-tbn3.gstatic.com%252Fimages%253Fq%253Dtbn%253AANd9GcT8zN57c59u808zPeLqEvx_L1T2nPGNHDn6n2PDofos8XnR3Ejn6Q%253B447%253B358%253BVNGz5AFttOdTvM%253Bhttp%25253A%25252F%25252Fen.wikipedia.org%25252Fwiki%25252FStonewall_riots&source=iu&usg=__Jazuwkd2TNREU6F7uIG69Tm1Z5I%3D&sa=X&ei=E1ubU_2UJcXL8wH6r4CoDg&ved=0CB8Q9QEwAA&biw=1280&bih=675#imgdii=_).

While Richen ventures further to say "it's an interesting example of the intersection of our struggles against racism, homophobia, gender identity and police brutality," three questions remain in my own mind anomalies: 1.) Who were some of the Black and Latino heroes of Stonewall? 2.) What are we to make of the media and the manner in which it chose to frame the movement? 3.) Is the erasure of minority participation in those riots as legible as the "intersections" Richen so eloquently highlights for us? #TalkToMe

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So, I offer opinions most folk find disagreeable. Yet, I don't have an opinion about marriage equality – at least not at the moment. But I can certainly appreciate Prime Minister Rudd's response…that poor pastor though, he didn't have a sound enough theological leg to stand on holy ground, even before Rudd commented: "because some Paul says in the New Testament, slaves be obedient to your masters, and therefore we should have all fought for the confederate army in the United States Civil War. I mean [throwing his arms up] for goodness sake. The human condition and social conditions change…"

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As one who professes a politics both founded and grounded in Womanism, I like to think I harbor similar sentiments as women of color aligned with us and or with some other feminist critical thought and practices. In her film criticism, Lee Daniels' the Butler Serves a Mixed Plate, Stephane [I love her brilliance] Dunn makes it a brief, passing point to tell us that "...the black female servants are absurdly hardly visible." Dunn's statement reminds me of that not-so-distant-time-ago, when Tate Taylor (director of Kathryn Stockett's multi-million-dollar-monstrosity, The Help) COULD have chosen to celebrate Black men, to tell our stories, to examine either or both the handsomeness and hideousness of being Black and male – never mind the race and racially-laced politics of living and working as a Black domestic in Jim Crow Jackson, Mississippi…Journalist, Karen Hunter, in an interview on Esther Armah's Wake Up Call, felt Stockett did a bang up job writing The Help and went on and on to explain how she remained riveted right up to the murder of Civil Rights leader, Medgar Evers. I also recall Hunter admonishing an enraged and outraged Black America to write, to pen our personal narratives, to produce our own films if we felt the whole Stockett/Taylor enterprise failed us…I now agree, although at the time, Hunter's commentary was a really big horse pill for me to swallow. But such is the unsolicited advice I am offering to critics who feel Lee Daniels is purposefully PUSHing black female servants to the periphery. Really? Please go see this film, which despite the validity of flaws Dunn convincingly points out, Lee Daniels' the Butler is so-obviously NOT about Black maids.

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Precisely the points at which I become desirous to examine the disconnect between voice and body, Marques Toliver's live performance, Magic Look, obliterates the very thought of putting forth such a premise. Still, I am wondering whether it is fair or even fruitful to make clear, some critical distinctions between swagger and Toliver's body language @1:35-4:00…In my unfinished collection of essays, "…sweet to kiss like chocolate rain…": Gender Bending Performances and the Performers Who (En)gender the Androgynous Self, Judith Butler's notion(s) of gender performativity beckon me to pause… #ThatIsTotallyNOTtheTitle

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White writers who attempt to articulate in a literary way the Black and or African American experience tickle me…And musicians like Lake Street Dive? They either give us swagger or put themselves out there entirely amiss…Lead singer, Rachael Price, is not too difficult on the eyes; perhaps her vocals compensate for a lack of attributes fierce and fly. But for watching Price (#notLeontyneDontTrip) emote, observing the cultural characteristic, non-soulful manner in which she moves, from the torso, neck and head simultaneously allowing her curls to blow in the mild wind before returning to the microphone – the place where she achieves an almost perfect combination of tone and swagger – I might have almost believed she had a bit of hood somewhere in there. But don't get me wrong, the nasally-raspy sound of Price's voice and the tight harmonies of the group are distinctive enough. In fact, so much so, I could not resist temptation to stop and comment.

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I try very hard, never to forsake reading work by Ta-Nehisi Coates and this New York Times op-ed, Beyond the Code of the Streets is no exception. Mr. Coates writes as usual, with an open-ended candor. I succumb to the persuasive lyricism of his language and am challenged in both my personal and literary pursuits to always write from the most honest, interior places and spaces. For me "the code of the streets" is not something we want to examine only within the confines of our social media circles (Oops...did I say circles? I really meant "cliques") – social media cliques merely appearing to be about inclusion.
Feminist thinker/intellectual, bell hooks, puts word out there like this: "Exclusion and isolation, whether they occur through overt or covert acts, have always been useful tactics of terrorism, a powerful way to coerce individuals to conform, to change." As a southern writer indisposed to use tactics of terrorism, strangely, I identify with Mr. Coates when he says: "I have all the repressed rage of a kid who was bullied — except now I have some size to match. At that moment, violent fantasies, wholly unmentionable, were dancing in my head. Contributing to those fantasies was a simple maxim inherited from childhood: “Thou shalt never be found a punk.” #never.

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I love it when an artist's swagger arrests me. Behold Britain's Laura Mvula...She maketh me to lie down in a green garden.

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Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe's literary sensibility greatly impacted international consciousness in ways not often acknowledged. My personal relationship with Achebe's, Things Fall Apart, actually began in high school as required reading assigned by Mrs. Barbara Hilliard...Long story short: Who introduced you to Things Fall Apart and how did the novel intensify (or not) your love for all things literary?
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