Rev. Irene Monroe

Recent Articles

Black children are beloved and beaten


”Beloved and beaten” is a phrase that best depicts how many African American children — past and present — are disciplined. It is an authoritative type of African American parenting discipline style that is painfully revered. Yet, in too many incidents, it continues to be uncritically passed along generationally. When Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on allegation of child abuse, he admitted to using the disciplinary methods passed down by his father. ”I have always believed that the way my parents disciplined me has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed as a man,” Peterson said in a statement. Continue Reading →

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African American sisters aging with HIV and co-morbidities

Imani (not her real name) was 32 when she contracted HIV. Surrounded by sister-friends who died from the virus, Imani did not expect to reach middle age. Now in her fifth decade of life, Imani has new and multiple challenges. She self-manages her HIV — along with her diabetes and hypertension — while searching for employment. The result of these stressors is depression. Continue Reading →

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Desecrating Maya Angelou’s funeral

When news circulated that the notorious Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, was planning to protest the “home-going” service of our nation’s most beloved citizen, poet, author, civil rights activist, and sister-sage to us all, Dr. Maya Angelou, there was a collective gasp of disbelief. Rev. Fred Phelps’ legacy, to no one’s surprise, is hate. And his signature stamp is turning funerals into circuses by exploiting the First Amendment. He elevated his hateful platform onto a national stage in 1998 by picketing Matthew Shepard’s funeral with homophobic epithets and his signature “shock and awe” placards of lewd and sexually graphic distortions of gay men. When the notorious demagogue died this March, many thought the seeds of hatred he sowed died with him. Continue Reading →

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Military’s ban on nappy hair

African American female service members comprise the highest percentage of women in the military. And with these sister servicewomen enlisting in the military at higher rates than their White, Asian and Latina sisters to serve and die for our country, the last thing the military should be squawking about is our hair. In March the Army released an updated policy on appearance and grooming, titled ”AR 670-1,” limiting or banning hairstyles — braids, twists, cornrows, and dreadlocks — inimitable to African American women. The Congressional Black Caucus outraged sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stating ”that the Army policy’s language was ‘offensive’ and ‘biased.”

While many sisters today might use a hot comb on their hair, hot combs (also called straightening combs) were around in the 1880’s, sold in Sears and Bloomingdale’s catalogs to a predominately White female clientele. Madam C.J. Walker, the first African American millionaire for her inventions of Black hair products, didn’t invent the hot comb; she popularized its use by remedying the perceived ”curse” of nappy hair with her hair-straightening products that continues to this day to bring comfort to many Black women. Continue Reading →

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Que(e)rying Michael Sam’s timing to come out

When NBA center Jason Collins came out last year, it was the moment the professional sports world had been waiting for: a gay athlete currently playing in a major league who comes out publicly. And what many may not have known is that the professional sports world had also hoped it would be an African American male. What the African American community and the professional sports world of football and basketball (which is comprised of a brotherhood of predominantly men of African descent) desperately needed was an openly gay male professional athlete, one who would bravely dispel the myth that there are no queer athletes in those sports, while assisting the NFL and NBA leagues in their attempts to denounce homophobic epithets, bullying and discrimination. With Jason Collins, the NBA got their Great Black Hope. And if Collins had any worry of what his coming out moment would do to him career-wise he didn’t say. Continue Reading →

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Robin Roberts loosens the grip of Black homophobia







While I will continue to argue that the African American community doesn’t have a patent on homophobia, it does, however, have a problem with it. Black homophobia still has a deadly hold on African American life. And while I would like to say its oppressive grip only impacts lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people of African descent, in truth, Black homophobia maims the entire community. For example, to date more than a quarter of a million African Americans have died of AIDS — both straight and gay. There are many persistent social and economic factors contributing to the high rates of the epidemic in the African American community —racism, poverty, healthcare disparity, violence, to name just a few — but the biggest attitudinal factor still contributing to the epidemic and showing no sign of abating is homophobia. Continue Reading →

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2013: The Right’s war on Christmas continues

For the past decade now, when this holiday season rolls around we can always count on a yearly kerfuffle from someone from the Right — the continuing war on Christmas. That this annual present comes this year from a host on Fox News is no surprise. On her recent show The Kelly File, Fox News Channel host Megyn Kelly ignited a conflagration when she stated that both Jesus and Santa Claus are White. Kelly’s assertion was a response to Aisha Harris’s (African American, and Slate culture blogger) contestation that the commercial image of Santa Claus, in this day and age, should no longer be a White man, but rather a penguin. ”Two decades later, America is less and less White, but a melanin-deficient Santa remains the default in commercials, mall casting calls, and movies. Continue Reading →

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Monogamous: To Be or Not to Be?

The one thing you don’t expect to see in any of the Bible Belt states (where most have amended their constitutions to define marriage between one man and one woman) is an organization promoting polyamory. Last month at Atlanta’s Pride Parade the group Atlanta Polyamory Inc. did just that — and in the wide-open light of day. The result was the shock, awe, and disgust of a mixed group. Atlanta Polyamory Inc.’s purple-lettered banner read, “Polyamory: having simultaneous close emotional relationships with two or more other individuals.” While many religious conservatives might argue that the legalization of same-gender marriage and shows like HBO’s Big Love — about a fictional polygamist Mormon family — plant seeds to destroy the conventional family unit, we have to ask ourselves is monogamy a natural instinct in us or is it a social construct, which was obviously devised to protect and to regulate the institution of heterosexual marriage? To be non-monogamous in this culture carries pejorative and judgmental connotations for both heterosexuals and LGBTQs. Continue Reading →

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