How I Identify Is Not Your Choice

In April, several months before Rachel Dolezal became head jester of racial appropriation court, Rush Limbaugh called celebrated black image activist and feminist Michaela Angela Davis, “a mixed-race little orphan Annie.” The statement was shockingly ugly, a blatant reminder from the court’s self-appointed king that,… »11/10/15 2:15pm11/10/15 2:15pm


How Sex Workers Taught Me to Hustle

Twenty years ago, Friday and Species were blowing up at the box office. Groove Theory’s “Tell Me” and Notorious B.I.G’s “One More Chance (Remix)” were in heavy rotation on my Sony Walkman. I had just graduated from high school in Philadelphia and was finally dealing with my sexuality. This was the summer sex workers… »8/21/15 4:03pm8/21/15 4:03pm

The Sexual Politics of Playing Mas in Brooklyn


With Brooklyn’s spring thaw in full effect, I’m having lots of conversations with my girlfriends about warm weather activities: like long bike rides, picnics in Prospect Park, and, unfortunately, the inevitable uptick in sexualized street harassment. Just last week, I heard myself saying, “I want to be respected in… »4/25/15 3:19pm4/25/15 3:19pm

The Sockman and Me: Encounters With a Friendly Neighborhood Fetishist

Recently, my sister forwarded me a picture taken of me in the summer of 1986. I'm standing in front of my parents' pool, holding out a fish I had caught earlier that day. I have one hand on my hip and I'm leaning to the side so as to keep the fish up. What most struck me about the picture were my socks. They cover my… »4/02/15 10:45am4/02/15 10:45am

My Year Ripping Off the Web With the Daily Mail Online

On July 11 of last year, I arrived to work at the MailOnline newsroom in New York City and saw Keith Poole, our managing editor, standing outside smoking a cigarette. Even from a hundred yards away, it was clear that Poole—a generally pleasant Englishman who was the managing editor of the Daily Mail at the time—was… »3/04/15 5:50pm3/04/15 5:50pm

Storytime With Mom: A Genealogy of Rape

"If two people come together," my mother began, "who've never had any power except by the way of abuse, it's going to be bad. Both of us had power exerted over us as children. I eventually learned that as an adult, I was still doing the dance, seeking out abusive relationships. That doesn't mean it was my fault. But… »3/01/15 3:13pm3/01/15 3:13pm

Students' Stories of Depressingly Common Run-Ins With Campus Cops

Saturday night, after reading Times columnist Charles Blow's account of his son's detainment at gunpoint by Yale campus police, I was transported back to my own run-in with UCLA campus police in 2009. It was a typically relaxed Sunday evening, and I was headed home from the library. As I passed Ackerman Student Union… »1/27/15 4:49pm1/27/15 4:49pm

How Should an Abortion Be?

A pregnant woman I didn't know struck up a conversation with me at a party recently. We chatted amicably about the weather (bad), the Golden Globes (fine) and the food at the party (great) before the conversation turned—inevitably, it felt—towards birth (hers). She told me she was nervous but excited, that she could… »1/23/15 11:50am1/23/15 11:50am

When the Opera Acts Like It's Never Seen a Black Person Before

The man at the opera tells me I'm disgusting, but in a lot of ways, he's lucky. There is no moisture in the air. I slept the night before in braids. It's a matinee, so I'm holding a very strong day vibe: more Tracee Ellis-Ross in Black-ish than Diana Ross's 1983 Central Park performance. My hair is being tame for my… »1/20/15 12:10pm1/20/15 12:10pm

My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK

The fourth time a Poughkeepsie police officer told me that my Vassar College Faculty ID could make everything OK was three years ago. I was driving down Wilbur Avenue. When the white police officer, whose head was way too small for his neck, asked if my truck was stolen, I laughed, said no, and shamefully showed him… »11/30/14 2:30pm11/30/14 2:30pm

NYPD Harassment Stories: Feeling Helpless When an Officer Hits on You

Amid the police terror that has swept the nation these last few months, there has been a missing facet from the conversation: the fact that women are brutalized by cops just as severely as men. For every John Crawford and Ezell Ford there is an Ersula Ore or a Marlene Pinnock (you can view the footage of Pinnock's… »9/16/14 4:59pm9/16/14 4:59pm