In These Times: The chronic stress caused by racism and sexism is killing Black women

For several months last year, I worked diligently to write a longer piece on potential solutions to the chronic stress that impacts Black women — most notably discussed in the context of Black maternal morbidity and mortality. I was astounded to learn that Black mothers in New York City are six times as likely to die from complications from childbirth as their white counterparts and that throughout the U.S. that number is three to four times as likely.

I read a lot of literature and journalism that pointed to the impact of something called allostatic load — for U.S. born Black women and even African immigrants new to this country — which is essentially our bodies breaking down from the wear and tear of racism and sexism. Basically our bodies can’t handle the onslaught of microaggressions, aggressions-aggressions and being in a state of hypervigilance all the time before the protective aspects of our immune system begin to fall apart or contribute to weathering.

If you are a Black woman or you know and love a Black woman, I think these are things that are evident but they’re still tough to know how to handle, or process. I wrote a piece with that in mind that’s up at In These Times now. I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or experiences with some of what’s raised in the piece, particularly around repressing anger.



Thoughts on ‘Us’

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I wish I knew how to talk about Us in a way that makes it clear that I love the aspiration but the execution was both confusing and intriguing. I tried to do that here, but I’m not sure it worked. If you’ve seen the film, I’m curious to hear what you think.

Horror is not really my jam — I believe being a Black woman in America is scary enough, TYSVM — but when I saw “Get Out” in Harlem, the folks on either side of me were screaming at the main characters and cracking up in the right parts and groaning when the white father mentions his liberal bonafides a little too pointedly. The feeling in the theater was, “This is so good this is so good this is a movie for us.” And the cheering that commenced at the end was phenomenal, unforgettable. We felt not just that we had been vindicated, vicariously, of course, through the main character, but that we all knew a woman or a story about a woman, about a family, like “Get Out”’s chief villain and the side pieces too.

OK, back to “Us.”

A young Adelaide Wilson wanders off from her parents into a house of mirrors off the Santa Cruz boardwalk in 1986. What she discovers in this creepy place is a reflection of herself that turns out to be a hostile doppelganger, which will turn out to be not just her own problem as we find her, present day, returning to a summer home with her husband, the adorably clueless Gabe (Winston Duke), and their two children, a boy, Jason, and a girl, Zora.

They seem to have everything — they are beautiful, they are talented, and they are just regular Americans. The biggest challenge the Wilson family seems to have at first is that Gabe gets a new boat (true story: it’s like, a dinghy) and he can’t seem to figure out the engine situation. Things get weird again when they end up back on the same beach in Santa Cruz where Adelaide first encountered her evil look-a-like.



Content is a Dirty Word at SXSW | March 8 & 10th

The word content has always bothered me, even though I recognize its utility as a shorthand across platforms, brands and markets.

It turns out that the gig economy, which is only making up more and more of the work in the global marketplace, loves this word, content. Some of that may have to do with the fact that according to a 2018 survey by Prudential, Sales, Art & Design are the top two contributions that millennials make to the gig economy — and said millennials are most likely to believe that 75% of all available employment in the future will be in the gig economy as independent contractors. This matters because across generations, more and more people are becoming self-employed and contract out their services without the benefits of full-time employment, including retirement, health insurance or any semblance of financial security. Especially in this context, being told that what you create is content instead of positioning it as work that has unique value, work that takes time to create, refine — quality over quantity, in other words — is particularly damaging.

On Friday, March 8th & Sunday, March 10th, I’ll present a few ideas on how creatives can position themselves for greater success in this swiftly changing marketplace that devalues unique work that (regardless of how often you hear people drone on about content) has tremendous value that not just anybody can make, or make well.

Links below for those of you attending South by Southwest Interactive. The sessions will not be videotaped, since I didn’t coordinate that myself, but if you’ll be at SX and you want to create Instagram stories/take photos, etc., I’m into it.