Saturday, October 4, 2008

Man Beats Black Woman in McDonalds: Silence, Submission and Golden Arches

Trigger Warning: Physical Assault.

Imagine that you are a 16 year old girl in a busy McDonalds with your cousins.  Imagine that you are all that is standing between them and danger, when you look over and see a grown man verbally abusing them.  With no thought for yourself, you step up to the plate and inform this man in no uncertain terms that he needs to check himself.  Now is not the time for you to think about the language that you are using. You are direct and to the point.  When he threatens to hit you if you swear again, you square your shoulders and call his bluff.  Then the unthinkable happens. In front of his children and the family that you were protecting, he viciously physically assaults you.  As you lie there unconscious no one but the little girl that you rushed to protect comes to your aid.....a busy packed McDonalds has just witnessed a grown black man repeatedly punch a young black woman, and no one, not a single person intervenes.

Though I have embedded this video, a more accurate one can be found here. 

The police response, "these are tough times and I am sure that he was upset at something,  and to have a little self restraint probably would have been a better idea. "

How many times are black women to be treated like this? How many times must our bodies bare the brunt of male violence and aggression?  Black women have bled rivers of blood at the hands of men both black and white, and yet still no one can see this for crime that it truly is.  Though the police are searching for him, how high of a priority is this case if they are already forming an excuse for his behaviour?  Yeah the suspect was upset...

He was upset because a black woman had the nerve to stand up to him.  He was upset because a black woman like so many before thwarted the rules of race and gender, and dared to address him as an equal.  Violence is a real and ever present danger in the lives of WOC.  That we continue to find the strength to fight back in the face of it, is a testimony to our strength.

  1. Globally, at least one in three women and girls is beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. (UN Commission on the Status of Women, 2/28/00)
  2. Among African American women in contemporary U.S. society, most rapes are intraracial, that is Black-on-Black assaults, rather than interracial, as is the case for most racial/ethnic groups, including White American women. Although Black women have been raped by strangers, more often their perpetrators were acquaintances and current or former intimates, such as cohabitating partners, dates, and boyfriends (Pierce-Baker, 1998; Robinson, 2002).
  3. The number one killer of African-American females, ages 15 to 34, was homicide at the hands of an intimate partner or ex-partner (Bureau of Health Statistics, 1994; Sullivan and Rumptz, 1994)
  4. Black women comprise 8% of the U.S. population, but account for 20% of the intimate partner homicide victims (Homicide Reports, 1976-1999)
  5. For every African-American/Black woman that reports her rape, at least 15 African American/Black women do not report theirs (Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report, Hart & Rennison, 2003. U.S. Department of Justice)
  6. Approximately one in three African American women are abused by a husband or partner in the course of a lifetime, (US Department of Justice, Findings from the NVAWS, July 2000.
  7. African American females experience intimate partner violence at a rate 35% higher than that of white females, and about 2.5 times the rate of women of other races, (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2001)
  8. Approximately 40% of Black women report coercive contact of a sexual nature by age 18. (National Black Women’s Health Project)
  9. African Americans have the highest rate of violent victimization of any racial group (31.2 per 1000) (US department of Justice)
  10. Researchers have found disturbingly high rates of rape among impoverished Black women. As evidence, 42% of Black women residents in a low-income housing development had engaged in unwanted sex because a male partner had threatened or actually used force to obtain sexual access (Kalichman, Williams, Cherry, Belcher, & Nachimson, 1998). In a community sample, more than half (67%) of the low-income, welfare dependent Black women had experienced a previous sexual assault (Honeycutt, Marshall, & Weston, 2001). It appears that Black women recognize their vulnerability. In Wyatt's (1992) sample, the majority (76%) of African American survivors attributed their rape to the riskiness of their living situations (e.g., “I was living in a bad neighborhood”). For example, poor women may have jobs that demand long and inflexible hours or rely on public transportation, which requires them to travel through public housing or high crime areas at night.

This is daily what we open our eyes to every single morning, and yet we are routinely told don't get angry, don't you dare express rage, this is your lot in life.  Our role is to be the social punching bag of all, and smile with pleasure with each fell of the proverbial lash. Thank you sir may I have another, is the fantasy of men when they see us, and for black women it is the soundtrack of a living nightmare from which there is no release.

That we continue to maintain our sanity in a society that views us as little more than prey is a testament to our inner fortitude. Inside though, in the dark places that we fear to visit, the pain is real and ever lasting.  We cannot afford to publicly weep, we cannot afford to allow our bruises to see the light of day, for who will care and who will wail at the site of our brown bodies laid waste in the sun?  There is much lip service to ending violence against women, there is much lip service to ending racism and yet daily the markers of racism and sexism are burned into our flesh; a living reminder that the world still views us as less than.

I dream of the mountaintop.  I dream of the day when I shall grasp the hand of my sister and in the other the hand of my foremother with the knowledge that we have been redeemed.  I dream of the day when the wind will no longer carry our song of anguish and the earth that our blood has nourished becomes fertile and lush. Such is the whim of my fantasy that in face of what can be deemed no less than calculated genocide, that I should look still look upon this earth with hope and love.

 


Friday, October 3, 2008

Tookie Williams: A martyr for the struggle

Workers World book review

By Larry Hales

Published Oct 2, 2008 9:02 PM

“My rage was nourished by the hate I saw and felt from mainstream society and white people, a hate based on my black skin and my historical place at the nadir of America’s social caste. I was filled with hate for injustice. Yet my reaction to the hate was violence directed only toward blacks.”

Stanley Tookie Williams’ “Blue Rage, Black Redemption” is a story of the seething rage within him and the heroic task he undertakes to understand that rage and place it in a historical context.

He begins this process while on death row, where his life has been given an end date. And though he conveys that he knows the system has every intention to fulfill the barbaric sentence, while deepening his political understanding and self-actualization he gives the impression of always looking forward, beyond the conditions of prison, the hole and the death sentence hanging over him.

By writing his memoirs, he intends for his life to be an example, a warning sign for other oppressed youth to not diverge down the same path that he took.

In the introduction, Tookie says: “The title of this book represents two extreme phases of my life. ‘Blue Rage’ is a chronicle of my passage down a spiraling path of Crip rage in South Central Los Angeles. ‘Black Redemption’ depicts the stages of my redemptive awakening during my more than 23 years of imprisonment on California’s death row. These memoirs of my evolution will, I hope, connect the reader to a deeper awareness of a social epidemic that is the unending nightmare of racial minorities in America and abroad as well.

“Throughout my life I was hoodwinked by South Central’s terminal conditions. ... From the beginning I was spoon-fed negative stereotypes that covertly positioned black people as genetic criminals—inferior, illiterate, shiftless, promiscuous. ... Having bought into the myth, I was shackled to the lowest socioeconomic rung where underprivileged citizens compete ruthlessly for morsels of the America pie—a pie theoretically served proportionately to all, based on their ambition, intelligence, and perseverance.”

Tookie begins the book at his birth on December 29, 1953, at New Orleans Charity Hospital, recounted for him by his mother, with the words, “I entered the world kicking and screaming in a caesarean ritual of blood and scalpels.” He relates how his mother endured the ordeal without anesthetics, which were denied to her because she was Black, and that to try and dull the pain in her mind she sang the Christmas carol, “Silent Night,” over and over again.

His birth foreshadowed his life and death, because, though lethal injection is touted as being quick and painless, because of a botched procedure during his execution Tookie languished, struggling for life, for 30 minutes. In the epilogue, Barbara Becnel, Tookie’s friend, advocate and co-author, who witnessed the horrifying ordeal, describes: “The midsection of Stan’s body did not stay still. It began to contort, caving in to the point of distortion—his stomach appeared to have been sucked dry of all internal organs, as it sunk so low it nearly touched his spine. And his convulsing continued for a while. At the sight of Stan’s monumental struggle to die, I thought that I heard an audible and collective gasp fill the room.”

But the recollection of the difficult conditions of his birth also portend his life, because it points to the toll racism takes on the Black soul—the real effects it has on everyday life, the damage it does to the Black psyche and the ramifications of a colonized mind.

In “Black Skin, White Masks,” Frantz Fanon, the Martinique-born Black revolutionary theorist, wrote: “A drama is played out every day in the colonized countries. How can we explain, for example, that a black guy who has passed his baccalaureate and arrives at the Sorbonne to study for his degree in philosophy is already on his guard before there is the sign of any conflict?” Of course, the situation depicted is different, but the meaning is that it is with great reservation and tenseness that an oppressed nationality steps out into the world, because of the history of wealth built off the backs of those of darker skin and the history of genocide, theft of land and slavery.

The rage of the first half of the book comes from the conditions imposed upon oppressed Black youth in South Central and of the inferiority complex pressed upon them because of the whitewashed view of history taught to U.S. society.

The rage, however, manifested in a self-hatred: “Unlike those ashamed to admit their motivation or too blind to recognize it, I forged through much of my life locked into a hostile intimacy with America’s wrongness. Conditioned and brainwashed to hate myself, and my own race, other black people became my prey and the Crips my sword. Though I cannot condone it, much of the violence I inflicted on my gang rivals and other blacks was an unconscious display of my frustrations with poverty, racism, police brutality, and other systemic injustices routinely visited upon residents of urban black colonies such as South Central Los Angeles.”

Seeking self-worth and the protection of other street organizations of Black youth, Tookie, Raymond Washington and their friends built the Crips and consolidated many of the other gangs into the fold. He states that they were not aware of the Black Panther Party or other militant and revolutionary organizations, but that if they had been, that perhaps their energies would have been directed towards the struggle and that he and his friends would have been ready and willing foot soldiers.

Real material conditions bring about phenomena. Tookie is a martyr for the struggle for a better world. Not only was he victimized by the conditions of exploitation, but, facing certain death, he transformed himself and sought redemption from the oppressed around the world by using his life as a guide, exposing both the ugly and his many mistakes, the camaraderie of himself and his fellow inmates—the inescapable beauty of life.

His memoirs, which also uncover the frame-up that sent him to be executed—a state-sanctioned murder—belong in the pantheon of other autobiographies of Black heroes like “The Autobiography of Malcolm X.”

Stanley Tookie Williams, ¡Presente!


Articles copyright 1995-2008 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Feministing And Sexism

I hate to do it, really I do, but if we really believe that sexism is wrong, then we need to point it out no matter who is doing it.

image

I went over to read the comments at Feministing after the debate and I was greeted with this image. It was created by Ann.  Feministing is excellent when it comes to pointing out sexism against women; however making an image like this and posting it on a site that is so influential sends the message that feminists are okay with a double standard.

If this same thing had been done to Palin or in fact any woman, the feministing ladies would be throwing vitriol. If it is not okay to sexualize a woman in this way then it is simply unacceptable to do this to a man.

Feminism is not about creating two different sets of rules.  If we believe that women deserve to be treated with respect and as equal beings, then we as feminists need to refrain from performing the same sort of sexist behaviour that we regularly accuse men of.

I simply cannot imagine what was going through her mind when she decided to post this. It is not ironic, it is not amusing, it is simply put sexist.  If we can agree that sexism needs to end, then we should all commit to making sure that we are not practicing it ourselves.  I am disappointed feministing.....you are capable of better.


Rags To Pads

A healthy period is a western luxury.

Oprah says we should celebrate our periods. Which is easy to say when a healthy period is only a trip to Walgreens away. But in rural India, the cost of your box of Stayfree can be three full days' salary. So with tampons and pads out of the question, many rural Indian women control their flows by stuffing dirty rags up inside of them.

Sorry to be so graphic. But that's how it is. And it means that poor Indian women risk vaginal and urinary tract infections (and thus illness, incontinence, and infertility) during every period from puberty to menopause.

But today you can help solve this problem by donating seed capital to a small-scale, market-based pilot effort to create affordable pads.

Help create health and opportunity -- at the same time.

Your donation will help the
Pardada Pardadi Girls School create a business that a) provides extremely low-cost pads and b) creates employment opportunities for women in a region that has almost none. The money we raise will:
  • Buy a machine that makes sanitary napkins
  • Buy a year's worth of raw materials
  • Support two graduates' efforts to make the business profitable

This will cost $5,000, or the equivalent of twenty-five iPhones. Here's how it'll work.

Your donation will not create a not a charity. This program aims to create a self-sustainable business.

How you can help.

We suggest you consider $40, which is perhaps what you spend on pads over the course of the year. In a region where $2.50 a day is considered a good income, the money you spend for a year of healthy periods might change some lives for a lifetime.

Please see this site to donate


Who Is Afraid Of The Big Bad Penis

image

This is a photo of American Indian-inspired statue of a humpbacked flute player that was on display at Edge of the Cedars State Park in Utah.  The park, in Blanding, is the site of an ancient Pueblo Indian ruin, as well as the modern-day museum. It has been on display for the last 19 years and was made by Joe Pachak.  I actually find the image quite compelling but apparently some people were offended because it has obvious male genitalia.  Ooooh big scary wooden penis.  Well the puritans caused such a stink that the sculpture which depicts a Hopi clan symbol  was removed from the public gaze and placed behind the museum.

Somehow for the last 19 years this statue has managed to be on display without corrupting society.  The world did not come to an end.  This is not some work by Maplethrope which I do believe has a time and place. How is the world damaged because of a piece of wood symbolizing a penis; unless we are meant to all be socially threatened by a penis?

What I find disturbing is that culturally we constantly display women's bodies. In fact the female body is often either overly sexualized or strangely disembodied. Culturally the female nude is not understood as problematic, but yet the mere symbolic reference to a penis is deemed disturbing.  

The female body is to be displayed because it is assumed to always be available for consumption; whereas the male body is covered because patriarchy is the oppressor.  Nudity in this way is understood as vulnerability.  Since males dominate the world the idea that even symbolically that a male could be seen as vulnerable is threatening to patriarchy.  This is not about morality this is about gender and power.

All bodies exist with power but not all bodies exist with equal power. Patriarchy controls not only what is seen but what is not seen.  By controlling our view we are forced to see the world through a male guided lens.  It is only when we take the time to deconstruct the unseen that we can truly conceptualize what is behind the desire to take any action.  People are continually attempting to express power or act in maintenance of it.  Power is an element in almost every action.  When the kind of suppression occurs we should all pay attention because incidents like this are an exercise in male power. When we think of the world and how it is organized we must all consciously be aware that what seems like an act of instance is often fraught with much larger implications.

 


Want To Win Visitation, Demean Women: MRA's and Bullshit

A regular reader sent me a link to Jugs for Justice.  It is a site claiming to advocate for mens rights to joint parenting.  As a mother, I am of course sympathetic to the cause of men wanting to be with their children.  I feel that unless a parent is abusive a child gains from having both mother and father intimately involved in their lives.  No child can ever be loved too much. There are of course some provisos to my support.

What I find disgusting about sites like this is the way that they have a tendency to dismiss why the current bias in the family court system exists to begin with. Lets not all have collective amnesia and ignore the fact that child rearing has historical been a responsibility abdicated by men.  Despite the so called heroics of the men in question on sites like these, women continue to be the primary caregivers to children. SAHM's still out number SAHD's, and when both parents are working outside of the home, mothers routinely perform more domestic labour than fathers. That's right domestic labour because child rearing includes having a clean home, clean clothes and meals prepared.  Remember the whole public/private sphere divide, it certainly wasn't women that created that.

Most lawyers and judges are men, so railing against women for sexism in the court system is fruitless. WE DO NOT CONTROL IT.  Just look at the male to female ratio on the supreme court. I don't believe that anyone could call  the judiciary an example of matriarchal tyranny.

The fathers rights movement could take a feminist approach to this issue but instead it insists on being combative towards women. A lot of these men who profess such undying love for their children have no problem demonizing their ex wives, who btw are the mothers of said children, and relying on misogyny to support their claims.  They could rightfully claim that this is a perfect example of how sexism hurts men to but instead they dedicate themselves to spewing vitriol at all women because  the imaginary vagina conspiracy is ruining them.

They further refuse to acknowledge the ways in which male bodies exist with privilege. How many men have you heard whining and complaining about having to pay child support?  How many men have you heard questioning where the money they are paying is going?  Hello, if the woman uses the money to pay the water bill or the electricity bill in a home that your child lives in, then the money is going to support your child, or do you think that child would be better off in a home without electricity and running water?  On average it costs 125,000 to raise a child to age of 18 and that is not including University. Why should the woman have to shoulder that expense on 77 cents to every dollar a man makes when she clearly did not produce that child on her own?

When I see sites like Jugs for Justice, I do not feel compelled to offer any kind of sympathy.  They are just another MRA group, intent on using sexism to assert a "right" that men continue to run screaming from.  If you can stand clicking on the above link that I provided what you will find are pictures of breasts and stories about men that have been discriminated against. How does sexualizing the female body link to parenting? It seems to me that the only link would be that menz are upset that there is an area in which patriarchy has not yet seen fit to allow them to dominate.  So why not just show a few tits, along the way slut shaming women because real mothers would be submissive and pure. Real mothers would subjugate their will to fathers.  It doesn't matter if you no longer co-habitate with a man, if you share a genetic link with him through a child he should retain the right unto death to control your life.  If that means he needs to slut shame you to get his way so be it.

Groups like this are divisive because they continue to use misogyny and irrationality to support their arguments.  It does not support children to spew hatred at their mothers.  Exactly what good is a father to a daughter if he continual spews hatred and bitterness towards women? Is he not teaching her that on some level that there is something despicable about her as well?  Not a single one of these groups will make substantive gains until they can check the sexism that runs rampant in them.  The hatred and naked anger are obvious to anyone with eyes to see it.  If you truly love your child, you will not resort to misogyny to gain visitation.  

 



H/T Deliliah of Mothers are Vanishing

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Mayor Mel Kuhn Dolls Up In Drag and Black Face: Isn't He Lovely?

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When I came across this story at Pandagon I immediately wanted to check the year on the calendar.  Seriously WTF.... Mayor Mel Kuhn of Arkansas City Kansas, won a beauty pageant fundraiser last weekend, dressed in drag with black face. 

According to the NAACP, Kuhn participated in the Men in Tights, drag queen contest that has become an annual fund raiser for CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates. The agency supports foster children in the court system.
Kuhn named his character "Smellishis Poon," and the name appeared on programs and was announced during the event. He also had back up dancers for the talent portion, and called them his "Red Hot Puntangs."

This is yet another example of the greater good ideology.  He was fundraising for a worthy charity; and therefore in his mind it was okay to be racist as well as display trans bigotry.  This kind of thing is quite common in our society.  PETA is the perfect example of a good cause that routinely resorts to sexism, or racism. The ends do not justify the means if the end result is that segments of society are demeaned. 

Blacks and specifically black trans people are a particularly marginalized group in society.  They are subject to gross personal violations, violence and economic disparity.  To make a mockery of their life struggles to make money for a charity further places them in a position wherein their social position is reified.  One social injustice does not trump another and to utilize racism or trans phobia in this way creates a hierarchy of oppressions.

When confronted by the NAACP, Mayor Mel Kuhn offered the following apology.

"It has been brought to my attention how offensive this was and I absolutely agree that it was shortsighted of me not to see that in the first place. I am sincerely sorry and I sincerely apologize for the offensive nature of my actions. This was not CASA, this was of my own volition, and I take full responsibility for my actions. The buck absolutely stops here". - Mayor Mell H. Kuhn

The fact that it had to be brought to his attention is particularly problematic.  How is it in the year 2008 someone needs to be told that it is not appropriate to dress in drag and black face to make a mockery of someone else's lived experience?  Of course to a man existing with cis and race privilege the 'other' can be deemed comedic because they have not been normalized.  Everything around him daily affirms that his existence, and way of life are to be envied, while anyone else falling short is less than is some way.  It is time we begin as a society to move beyond our individual privileges and recognize the degree to which the maintenance of said privileges constitutes the violation of the rights of other beings.  As I have said on many occasions all people matter and until we can socially agree on this we will always have a society where injustice is the norm. 

 


Palin Can't Name A Supreme Court Decision

CBS finally revealed the much talked about segment of the interview where Palin once again revealed her inadequacy.  No one could possibly be this dim. What is she, the female Forest Gump?  I am starting to believe that this is some sort of weird set up, to make us have low expectations for her when she debates Biden.

She didn't know what the Bush doctrine was, gave a rambling answer when she was asked about the bailout, and now it has been revealed that she could not could not come up with a single supreme court decision that she was in disagreement with.  All poor Couric could do was blink her eyes at Palins incoherence.  I didn't think it was possible but slowly she making George Bush look intelligent.  I simply do not see how it is possible for the GOP to continue to defend her and claim that she is ready for the responsibility that comes with being the VP. 


Chris Rock: Kill The Messenger, Too Bad It Wasn't The Gong Show

image Well Tami, of What Tami Said definitely has the right to say to anyone that watches Chris Rocks latest HBO special I told you so.  I don't know if Rock has suddenly become more ageist, sexist, fat phobic, and classist, or my understanding of isms has grown over the years.  I know that I was not fond of how his last special because the last 40 minutes or so were dedicated to misogyny.

This time around not only was Chris decidedly unfunny there were times when he was downright offensive.  I spent two hours listening to his infantile jocular humour trying desperately to stave off sleep.  Had I paid for this, Chris would owe me a refund, as it is I am down two precious hours of my life that I could have spent with my children.  That is two hours I could have spent cleaning my house, or feeding my sick addiction to reality tv.  This special sucked so much shit that I don't think that even if you combined all of the weed I smoked in my pre parent days, that I could get high enough to have one honest to goodness pee till I almost wet myself laugh.  The damn munchies would have gotten to me long before I was amused by a damn thing he said.

What I saw on that stage was not a man that is happy in his life.  What I saw was a man who despite his successes and wealth, is decidedly unhappy.  This time around what clearly came through is his pain.  I don't know exactly what is troubling Chris, but Tami is right he needs to take his issues and run, not walk to the nearest therapy couch.

When he started talking about McCain and Obama I thought I was in for some succinct hard hitting commentary only to hear some tired old ageist garbage.

John McCain is 72 years old, he was to old ten years ago. John McCain is so old that he used to own Sidney Portier.

How are you going to make decisions about the future when you ain't gonna be here. He's old, the motherfuckers to old.

You see how he hired his nurse to be his vice president.

 

Right John McCain is too old to be useful.  There are many things on which to critique McCain on, frankly the man is an easy fucking target, so why lower yourself to focusing on age, thus creating a whole group of people as other? You would think a stubborn bulldog, with grandiose ideas on American power,  who has a penchant for calling his wife a cunt would open a myriad of opportunities for legitimate humour.

Well political commentary done..moving on to the next easy target, BLACK WOMEN.  GODDAMN how many times are we supposed to sit there and laugh while black men display their hatred of us?  Of the three standard stereotypes Rock went for the ABW (angry black woman). He went out of his way to praise Barack Obama but had no problem constructing Michelle as an ABW. He went as far as to suggest that if Barack were to win Michelle would turn him into cuckold.

Barack Obama really want to be the president he gotta get himself a white girl, cause a white girl will play her position. The black girl wanna play your position..You get you a white girl, she'll do exactly what you need her to do. And Black women get mad. As soon as y'all get a little money you want a white girl, actually before we get money.

When I hear the ABW shit from O'Reilly and his crew at FOX, I am  offended but to hear this come out of the mouth of a black man just enrages me.image Your mama is a black woman, you are married to a black woman and your two daughters are going to be black women you dumb ass.  What kind of example are you setting as father by standing on a stage and loudly running down black women for profit.  Just what two little black girls need, a father that does not value black women.  Since you seem to love Barack so much why don't you try modelling some of the respect he has for his brilliant wife Michelle, and the two beautiful daughters they share..

As each minute of this "special" went on I became increasingly more irritated. Then he said it...he had the nerve to say it, and I think I popped a vein in my forehead when I heard it.

Pussy is like visa accepted everywhere. Next time you ain't got no cash say do you take pussy.

Now your precious daughters can learn that not only are they potential ABW's, they will also learn that the  only thing that will be valuable about them when they reach adulthood is what is between their legs.  It won't matter if they are intelligent, creative, caring, or beautiful, all that will be discounted because they have a vagina.  The most disgusting thing about it is that they will have first have heard this pass from the lips of their father.  From the mouth of the man that is supposed to love them unconditionally for a lifetime, they will learn that they have zero value.

I don't know whether or not to be more horrified by the spew spilling out of his ignorant mouth, or the fact that the audience was filled with people who found this funny.  Men and woman alike sat there and guffawed loudly as Rock employed bigotry to minimize people.  He was ageist, fat phobic, size phobic, classist, and sexist over the course of two hours.  When will we as human beings ever decide that this kind of thing has no place in our world?  When will we stop paying our hard earned money to affirm the acceptance of this kind of negativity?  This wasn't two hours of comedy, this was two hours of noise pollution.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Eulogy For Jezebel

image At 3:15 am Jezebel quietly left this world. This will not be a passing mourned to the same degree of Mammy, but it is still necessary to acknowledge that a spirit has now departed. 

Throughout her lifetime Jezebel was not a particularly complicated figure.  She existed mainly for the pleasure of others and had few joys in her life.  Jezebel was a highly physical being in that she was understood in terms of the pleasure that her body gave to others.  Though she was always understood as wanting sexual satisfaction  her sexuality was the creation of others.

Jezebel was born the minute the first black female slave was raped by her white slave master.  From that time until her death she existed solely to justify the ways in which white men expressed their power over black women.  What passed as sex during slavery was indeed rape because the power differentials did not constitute the available agency for black women to willingly  consent.

To this day much of what occurred is still considered by some a love affair.  People speak of the ways in which white men occasionally openly lived with black women, or granted her and children manumission upon their deaths.  Oneimage of the most famous love affair myths is what occurred between Jefferson and Sally Hemings.  When someone has the power to have you legally flogged, sold away from your loved ones, or even put to death what real option is there to say no, if you have the slightest ounce of self preservation in your being?  Jefferson was nothing more than an opportunistic rapist, but he will not be understood that way because the Jezebel caricature that has been used to warp black female sexuality has been employed to justify his actions.

Emancipation did not bring the end of the rapes.  They continue on to this day and Jezebel forms the basis of defence for the rapist.  It is believed one cannot rape a woman that is always desirous of sex.  Even though rape is not about sex and is an expression of power, when it comes to black women we understand what occurred as sex.

Though sex is a natural act we have socially constructed it as dirty, and therefore what better person to express your deviance with than the one that has historically remained at the bottom of the race hierarchy.  Jezebel is a construction that is uniquely applied to the black female.  Though all women undergo a degree of slut shaming, the black female body can never be redeemed because it is understood that her body is meant to be available for use.     

This has caused many an internal conflict when it comes to sexuality. For as long as Jezebel continued to live and breathe black women could not express a healthy and  evolved sexuality.  Always in the back of our minds we needed to be aware of the ways in which our desires or wishes would be used as justification to violate our bodies. 

The only people that are saddened by the news of Jezebels passing are those that have become use to abusing black female bodies.  With her death black women will experience a freedom they have never known; the freedom to safely express our sexuality without immediately being called licentious, and the ability to have enough autonomy over our bodies to have our consent or denial of access  to our bodies recognized. 

Though it is not appropriate to speak ill of the dead, you shall not be missed by me Jezebel.  Rest in Peace

 



Newborn Abandoned At A Church

image On September 28th, at 2:16am a woman made a desperate decision, she abandoned her newborn child in front of a church.  The infant was discovered in the morning and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.  The police are currently seeking the mother because it is a class c felony to abandon a child in this way.

That is the jist of the story that I heard on the news, and later hunted down on the internet.  What caught my attention was everything that was not said in the media.  There was no conversation about the lack of good sex education in schools resulting in higher teen pregnancy rates.  Would this child even be alive to be abandoned had her mother effectively learned how to prevent pregnancy in the first place?

There was no discussion about the ways in which it is becoming increasingly difficult to get an abortion.  Some women have to travel an entire day to get access to a clinic.  There was no discussion that even for the women that have access to abortion sometimes the choice comes down to getting an abortion or paying rent or purchasing food?

Imagine how desperate this woman must have felt to leave her child in front of a church, hoping that she would be discovered before something serious happened to her.  This is what happens in a society where women are not given education about their bodies.  This is what happens when we reduce access to birth control, abortion and then fail to support the child after we have forced its existence into being.

When and if they find this young woman, she will be charged but how much of this situation are we all socially culpable of creating? In each step along the way patriarchy's desire to control women lead to her faithful decision. It is simply unfair to take all of the elements of choice away from a woman and then punish her taking one of the few options that was left open to her.  The child is healthy and I cannot see the benefit of punishing her other than to teach other women that they must accept motherhood on the states terms should they happen to become pregnant.

If we really want to stop things like this from happening we need to teach sex education in schools.  Birth control and abortion is something that should be freely available to all women.  The social slut shaming of young unmarried mothers has got to stop. Their bodies may bare witness to the sexual activity but they certainly did not get pregnant by themselves. For those that decide that they want to follow through with the pregnancy socially we need to take a more communal approach to raising children.  We cannot force women to have children and then do nothing to help raise that child. 

I hope that they never find her.  She made a very difficult decision that morning.  Her child is safe and healthy and her privacy deserves to be respected. 


So I Got My Period

I awoke this morning with a familiar ache in my lower back.  Wow a month goes by quickly.  Why am I writing about my period?  Well the answer is pretty simple really, it is because menstruation happens to all women and it is something we never talk about in real and meaningful ways.

imageWhen a company is trying to sell us "protection" to hide our periods then it is fine to talk about it.  If a company is trying to sell us medication to deal with the "unnatural symptoms" that come with having a period then it is fine to talk about it.  Menstruation is as natural as breathing and yet unless it is related to making a profit for some company it is treated like a dirty shameful  little secret.

Women may whisper about it quietly amongst ourselves in small groups, but menstruation is something that we are told from our very first period to keep quiet about.  Blood on our clothing is seen as a shameful accident.  We buy special underwear for our moontimes and conceive of periods as a dirty foul mess.

Many major religions view women who are menstruating as unclean.  On the basis of the foulness of the biological process, women are barred from participating in many ceremonies.  Ask yourself what bodily secretions that are specifically male do we socially consider foul? 

How many times have you heard jokes about how you become an irritational creature every 28 days?  Periods get no respect because they happen to women . The male biological process is elevated, and worshipped.  When a man ejaculates it is called the money shot.  How many reams of film have been dedicated to immortalizing  this, as though it is some miracle of nature?  Oooh look there is some semen, everyone get excited.

I think it is time for the period to come out of the closet.  It need not be some mysterious dirty little secret.  Having periods regularly is an indication that we are healthy functioning women and nothing about that should be seen as shameful. Treating a period as foul is just one amongst a myriad of ways that womens bodies are subject to discipline and treated as less than. 

If every 28 days  of our existence we  accept the idea that we are foul and disturbed bodies how can we rightly assert that we are equal beings?  Yes this is part of our biological process and it is different than a mans, but that does not mean that it should serve as reason to justify the continual reduction in the status of women. So yeah I have my period, and I am whole, healthy and functioning.

 


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Lance Bass: I Kissed A Girl And I Liked It

Am I the only one that had a problem with a gay man doing a traditional ballroom dance to I Kissed A Girl and I Liked It?  Ballroom is all about conforming to traditional gender norms and while this  was meant to be tongue in cheek, what did it really accomplish but to create Lance as the deviant joke in the midst of a performance lalapalooza of gender and sexuality?

He confidently led Lacey around the dance floor, just like a "real man".  There was nothing progressive or challenging about this except to show that a gay guy could "play it straight" for the sake of a little publicity. It screamed look at me, I can still be masculine watch me twirl this woman around and twist my hips like I want to fuck her.  Everyone knows there is nothing more masculine, or manly on the planet than fucking a woman. 

When it came to the line in the song, I kissed a girl just to try it,  hope my boyfriend don't mind it, something inside me cringed terribly.  In the context of ballroom with Lance dancing, what it really means is that his gay identity is the experimental joke and that heterosexuality is what he was meant to express.  I hated this on so  many levels because all it did was affirm that hetero is natural and good and homosexuality is deviant and wrong.  I further disliked it because it implied that masculinity is something that could be reclaimed through the oppression of women.

Just when I thought that I could not be more ill at this little performance it came to an abrupt end with Lance putting on lipstick.  Oh, Yeah conversion temporary, I'm still gay, watch me go all femme right before your eyes.  This is followed by Tom Bergeron asking if "Lance had any lip trauma"? Yeah massive disgust. It's like a parent saying eat your vegetables they're good for you....translation: see pussy isn't that bad, you weren't ruined for life. Now finish up that pussy boy, and you'll be strong just  like Popeye.

I really wish Dancing With The Stars had the courage to allow Lance to have a male dance partner.  Why would that have been so threatening? Oh right I know, ballroom needs to be traditional, heaven forbid we deconstruct sexuality and gender norms on primetime television.  It certainly wouldn't be wholesome if we challenged the idea that dancing is only worth watching when we bring a whole host of cultural ideas to it.

Conservative Lee Richardson, Just Might Be A Redneck

image Well, Saskatchewan's Premier Brad Wall might be inviting immigrants to move west, but Lee Richardson of Calgary would like them to stay away from his pure law abiding province. 

According to the CBC, In response to a question about recent shootings in the city, Calgary Centre Conservative Lee Richardson told an FFWD reporter that Canada has been too soft on crime.

"Particularly in big cities, we’ve got people that have grown up in a different culture," he said. "And they don’t have the same background in terms of the stable communities we had 20, 30 years ago in our cities … and don’t have the same respect for authority or people’s person or property."

He later added: "Talk to the police. Look at who's committing these crimes. They’re not the kid that grew up next door.”

Hmmm let me see if I can dissect this into plain speak.   You people of colour are supposed to stay in your own countries where we can exploit you from afar.  If for some reason you manage to immigrate and become the grain of pepper in our national salt shaker, to be a good Canadian you must stay in specific regional zones that have been declared suited for your type of bodies. 

If you find that you cannot survive on the measly minimum wage jobs that we will provide you with to pay for subsistence, the solution is that you should fill up with water, and not commit any property crime ever.  Real Canadians have worked hard to accumulate their cheaply made products. You are meant to be a spectator in our social commodification, and only participate to the degree that your labour can be exploited, or by purchasing whatever cheap knock offs that you can.

Most importantly, and this is really key, no matter how long you live here, or how many dollars you pay in tax, you will never be considered a real Canadian.   Canada equals white, and since no bleaching cream can effectively erase the taint of your dark skin, remember to hyphenate your status; we'll just tell the world it's our quirky Cannuck way of celebrating multiculturalism.  Make sure to pick the applicable term, but  don't worry if you mess up, when you get intoimage trouble, the media will be more than happy to remind you that you are Jamaican born (just ask Ben Johnson). Some people just don't have the same luck as a pot head from British Columbia.

Finally when you do get caught breaking the law, which we all know is inevitable, because real Canadians don't commit crimes, we do not want to hear about the racism in the judicial system, or the ways in which racism and class exploitation has led you to make the decisions that you made.  For white Canadians to be understood as good and pure, they must remain blameless despite the fact that they created the system to benefit themselves. 

Well that about covers his commentary.  It makes a great manual for new Canadians doesn't it? Don't you love being part of the great big salad bowl? Instead of spending so much time pointing fingers at the melting pot and commenting about the racism that those wild yanks are perpetrating, we really should just get honest and admit our majestic loons shit stinks the same as the Eagle; we just take the time to spray air freshener  afterwards.


Grab Your Lamb Curry and Halal Chicken Biryani and Move West

image Saskatchewan is experiencing a boom.  Currently it is estimated that there is a shortage of 10 thousand people per sector.  In fact western Canada is apparently where "its at" right now.  You cannot watch a night of Canadian programing without some form of advertising for a job west of Ontario.  The oil sands alone, in Alberta, have drained many small towns in Nova Scotia of its male citizenry. Now that the traditional poor white workers have been lured away by the potential to raise their standard of living, to the middle class lifestyle all Canadians feel that we are entitled to, Saskatchewan is appealing to immigrants.

According to the Globe and Mail, Saskatchewan's Premier Brad Wall hosted a image barbecue of lamb curry and halal chicken biryani in one of Toronto's mostimage "multicultural neighbourhoods", Thorncliffe Park.  Don't you just love the term multicultural neighbourhood...yeah me too, it's a catchy code to describe a neighbourhood that white people are too rich to live in.  Unless of course they are "poor white trash", who only live there because they have not managed to cash in on white privilege.  Either way, anyone residing in that area is stigmatized by class. 

Mr.Wall took good care to point out to the immigrants (read: bodies of colour) that racism effects their ability to achieve upward mobility in large urban centres like Toronto.  Really, no shit Sherlock.  Of course immigrants don't realize that it is racism when they are turned away from jobs despite being more experienced because of a lack of Canadian credentials. They are so educated but yet they supposedly have no idea that class, race and in some cases gender, are intersecting to keep them in their beloved "multicultural neighbourhoods."

Well Mr.Wall has the solution for all of their problems.  If they are willing to give up the security of living in an area with large masses of people to whom they have an ethnic link, prosperity is available in the great white west.  With such a shortage of labour the west is willing to open its arms to Torontos disenfranchised bodies of colour.  I am all aglow with the generosity.

Certainly as a nation we should not take positive steps to end racism, because if we actually did manage to reduce it in any tangible way, who would we exploit when we have a labour shortage?  Having disposable bodies is a national priority. It is necessary to the social construction of Canadian identity image to maintain the illusion of a white country; and therefore new immigrants, and all people of colour born under the maple leaf, are repressed to forestall any demand to acquire the same  economic potential, as those white bodies born with race and class privilege.  Oh Canada, our home and native land.

(Editors Note: The term poor white trash was intentional to point out that white privilege is mitigated but not eliminated by class)


Monday, September 29, 2008

Sarah Palin, the Wilting Flower Hidden From the Media

I have a new post up at Global Comment. Thanks Natalia. As always I will get you started and then you will have to go there to finish.

Last week, CNN reporter Campbell Brown called on Republicans to stop being sexist and expose Sarah Palin to the media for open questioning. What Campbell is calling sexism is the benefit of protection that docile white women receive from white men for performing their gender. Unlike Hillary Clinton, who stood firmly for women’s rights and was clearly an autonomous being, Palin stands for regressive policies that remove agency from women, thus affirming patriarchy.

Prior to the introduction of black women to America, white women were openly despised. In the theocratic culture women were blamed for the sins of man. It was the black female slave that resulted in the elevation of white womanhood, by allowing for another level of hierarchy. As long as white women supported white men, their lot in life was improved.

With the suffragette movement white women were again attacked by white men. The desire to vote and have a say in how the country was run was deemed threatening to patriarchy. They were called harridans, their femininity was questioned, and they were socially maligned.

Each time white women seek to achieve social equality with white men they are subject to slut-shaming and social discipline. As long as they are willing to accept their place in the social hierarchy, which is solidly beneath white male headship they are “protected” beings. This fragile wilting flower exists to uphold white male hegemony.

It may seem that Palin is thwarting the delicate flower ideology because she is seeking a position of power; however what must be understood is that her power is clearly subject to male control, whereas Clinton was seeking control in her own right.

Finish reading here

Obsession: The Politics of God Fearing Americans

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If that image isn't inflammatory enough read what Huff Po has to say about this propaganda film, that was distributed by 70 newspapers in swing states. It was meant to construct Muslims as the enemy of every true God fearing American.

The politics of hate leads to acts of violence. According to the Dayton Daily news, on Friday September 26th someone sprayed a noxious irritant into a mosque.  The room that was attacked was occupied by children, who were under care while their mothers participated in Ramadan prayers.  

Really who are the "terrorists" here?  How is it possible in a country that supposedly champions freedoms, Americans can be attacked at their place of worship?  What have innocent children ever done to deserve this kind of treatment?

There is no doubt in my mind that Obsession incited this act of violence.  This binary of Muslim vs Americans assumes that all people who practice Islam are anti-American, and further discounts the fact that there are Muslim Americans who have lived in the states for generations. Of course they want you to believe that all "Americans" are just good white people defending their home from the Allah worshipping invaders.

Movies like this are meant to prey upon the rampant Islamophobia that exists in the U.S, and promote a culture of racism and violence.  Not only are these attacks terrible, it is  further shameful that they were distributed by the press.  The idea that media exists as as an unbiased source of information is a falsehood.  Daily they pander to the worst elements in American society perpetuating social constructions that construct certain groups as 'other'.

I am simply at a loss for words to express my anger, that once again racism is being used as justification to attack segments of society.  This attack is very reminiscent of the bombing that occurred during the civil rights movement that resulted in the death of 4 young girls.  Ultimately if you believe in the concept of a free and open society such an attack should be considered unthinkable.  So much for the concept of an enlightened West.

H/T eternal-llama and the Daily KOS


Women and Voting

With yet another election looming in both Canada and the United States much time has been devoted to telling women why it is essential that we vote.  We are continually reminded of the struggles of the women to secure suffrage.

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These are "our grandmothers" who put up with endless degradations so that today women may have a stake in how our countries are run.

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These women bravely faced down patriarchy asserting that women were indeed persons of equal value and rational beings.

image   image

Do you see anything in common about these pictures besides the fact that they are all women?

History teaches us that women got the right to vote in the United States in 1920 and in Canada in 1918.   In Canada there are banners celebrating 90 years of women having the right to vote.  We are expected to be thrilled with this knowledge, and view the opportunity to vote as a celebration of these brave women. 

When I read the banner, I thought to myself 90 years for whom? Aboriginal women did not attain the right to vote in 1918.  Similarly Aboriginal women and Black women were not voting in 1920 in the United States either.  Aboriginal women could not vote in Canada without giving up their treaty rights until 1960.

In the US Native women were not even considered citizens until 1924, and did not achieve full voting rights until 1956.  Though technically black women had suffrage in the US as of 1920, it wasn't until the civil rights movement that they were actually able to vote.

We can only celebrate 90 years of women voting  if we accept the idea that white women constitute 'woman'. While I do not wish to belittle the struggle of the suffragists, I take issue with the idea that their activism benefited all women equally. By not remembering that WOC continued to be disenfranchised long after white women were voting, we are participating in revisionist history that eliminates the ways in which racism created a hierarchy in the category of 'woman'.  The suffragist may have claimed to be fighting for all women, but in fact they were seeking to elevate the status of white women to match that of white males.  What happened to WOC was of little concern to them.

Avoiding the issue of racism in relation to suffrage makes it seem as though racism is irrelevant.  Racism may not matter to bodies that operate with privilege in this world, but to WOC, race plays a significant role in limiting our life chances.  On Oct 14th I will  vote.  I am able to do this not because a white woman fought for my rights, but because someone who looked very much like me continued to soldier on in the belief that WOC were and are the equal of not only white men but white women.


Iraq: We Are Winning The War

image McCain repeatedly touts the surge as a success for "stabilizing" Iraq. The war is usually framed in terms of American sacrifice and very rarely do politicians or pundits examine how it has effected Iraqi women.  Americans want to see themselves as the great civilizing force; on a new age Kipling like adventure.

Prior to the first gulf war Iraqi women operated with many freedoms that were not standard across the Middle East. During the Iran/Iraq war, women were needed to fill in as men were increasingly fighting or dead. Positions such as career military officers, oil-project designers, and construction supervisors, scientists and engineers, doctors, accountants and jobs in general administration which were historically male occupations suddenly became open to women.  In 1980 Women attained the right to vote and run for office.  In 1986, Iraq became one of the first countries to ratify the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).  All this in a supposedly backward country.

Today women are living in fear for their lives.  Their standard of living has been marketedly reduced. Many have been forced to work as prostitutes in Syria to support their families.  There are more than 1 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, but they are legally barred from working, and thus prostitution became the only option for many women. They have become the sexual toys of rich Saudi elites who vacation in Syria.

For those remaining in Iraq, Unicef has some startling information.

1)Every day dozens of women are widowed, and the number of families struggling to cope without a wage-earner is starting to overwhelm local social services. Paid work for women is scarce (only 14 per cent of women between 16 and 60 years old currently employed, as opposed to 68 per cent of men, according to a 2006 World Food Programme survey)

2)With threats to girls attending school on the increase, more and more families are being forced to choose between education and safety for their daughters. A 2003/4 national survey indicated that of 600,000 children out of school, 74 per cent were girls. Girls’ attendance rates are falling fastest in the central Iraqi provinces of Anbar, Baghdad and Diyala.

3)In 1989, 117 Iraqi mothers out of 100,000 died during pregnancy or childbirth. Today rates are between 193 and 290 per 100,000 according to recent surveys – compared to 41 per 100,000 in neighbouring Jordan.

4)Among 37 newly appointed ministers only four are women. And only 25 per cent of Iraq’s parliamentarians are women.

Honour killings are on the rise.  Though there is no law forcing women to  veil but the repercussions for wearing western clothing have the potential to end in death.

According to AntiWar.com, Several women victims have been accused of being "bad" before they were abducted, residents have told IPS in Baghdad. Most women who are abducted are later found dead.

The bodies of several have been found in garbage dumps, showing signs of rape and torture. Many bodies had a note attached saying the woman was "bad," according to residents who did not give their names to IPS.

Women's lives have changed, and women are beginning to look different across most of Iraq. They are now too afraid to wear anything but conservative dresses – modern clothes could be a death warrant. The veil is particularly dominant in areas under the control of militias. Women are paying a price for the occupation in all sorts of ways. Confined to home, many women live in isolation and depression.

Despite the ideology of bringing civilization to the brown people, which is part of the social discourse defending this war, it is clear that the living conditions for the women of Iraq are daily getting worse.  American intervention has not brought uplift.

When McCain repeatedly quips, "we are winning the war", I cannot help but think what does "winning" really mean?  To men like McCain, it means less Iraqi resistance to the American occupying force; and thus a reduction in American deaths.  This means that the deaths and the living conditions of Iraqis are irrelevant to what is considered success.  The Eagle with a wing dipped in blood has brought destruction and mayhem.  Since women and children historically constitute the most vulnerable section of society is it any wonder that they are suffering to the degree they are? Isn't civilization a lovely thing?


Sunday, September 28, 2008

Maybe The Smart Guy Knows Best

Once again no need to add to what Jay Smooth has to say.

Money Gift Wrap

Edwina Rogers, the wife of Washington lobbyist Ed Rogers wraps her gifts in money.  

As I watched her gift wrap this little package all that I could think to myself is, here is a woman that has never known what it is to be hungry. This is a disgusting display of wealth when so many have so little.  As I saw the scissors slip through the 1 dollar bill I could not help but the think of the labourers earning less than that a day in sweat shops so that the Western world can have cheap products. 

Of course she thinks that this waste is cute.  When you don't have to worry about your next meal, or where you are going to sleep, one dollar seems unimp0rtant.  For as long as we continue to worship money over people, a dollar can never be considered insignificant.

The money that she spent wrapping those two gifts could have been given as a micro business loan allowing other women to achieve independence. It could have been donated to Planned Parenthood, Children Of The Night, or Habitat For Humanity. There are countless charities that are daily working to improve the lives of others and the best use this woman could find for a dollar was to use it as wrapping paper.

I hope the day will never come when she will wish for every single dollar that she callously cut in half.  I hope the day will never come when the pangs of hunger rack her stomach, or the wind streaks through her body because she has no shelter from the cold.  If that day were to ever arrive she would be ill prepared to deal with the social malaise of the people just like herself who she would need the aid of.

Never underestimate the value of dollar.  It may seem like a small insignificant some but to others it represents food, shelter and safety from the harshness of the world.  Never estimate the value of dollar because when multiplied by like minded people it has the potential to do so much good.


A Home, Is It A Privilege or A Right?

FOX news once again displays its ignorance by blaming minorities for the housing crises.

It certainly is not the predatory white supremacist capitalist system...oh no it is those stubborn bodies of colour that refuse to pull themselves up by the boot straps. 

The recent financial crises of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and AIG could just be the eye opening experience that many people need.  This system that so many have chosen to embrace uplifts a chosen few and subjects many to abject poverty and inhumane living conditions.  Where has your faith in the market left you now?

With the ideology of meritocracy many falsely laboured under the belief that if someone was homeless that it was an individual failing.  A child born to a single welfare mother no matter how much she/he is loved will start life with a considerable disadvantage in comparison to someone born with the last name Kennedy, or Walton.  This is a divide that can never be bridged no matter how hard the poor child labours.  As I watch my children grow I think of the opportunities I cannot provide for them and yet they are still better off than so many other children who are born beneath the poverty line.

As capitalism continues to falter the ruling bourgeoisie continue to prop up their position by assuring us that socialism is good for them but not for the masses. When we accept this position we are in collusion with those that seek to oppress us for their own gain.  With the latest bail out, the proletariat are finally beginning to seethe with rage. FOX warned against a class war but really in whose interest are we avoiding confronting this unbalanced system?  It is certainly not in the interest of the disappearing middle class, the working class or the underclass to pretend that daily the quality of life is not eroding.

Why is it that we seem to feel that some have the right to live in splendour while others are not even entitled to a home.  Shelter is a basic human need, it is not some greedy want like a shiny bauble on the finger, or the latest Gucci purse.  There is a lot of talk about foreclosure in the media but very is little is said about where these families are ending up.

For many suddenly finding themselves without a place to live is something that they never could have perceived of.  Homelessness is something that happens to other people.  It happens to those that were shiftless, lazy, irresponsible or drunks, but certainly not to middle class people who had "paid their dues" to society.

The BBC has a story about a an all womans car park where the recently homeless sleep.  It is filled with the stories of women who are shocked to find themselves in this position after a lifetime of playing by the rules.  How long is it before we start to see the return of Tent Cities?

We can not afford to look at this as an individual failing.  Those that were already living on the margins before the crises began are in an even more vulnerable position.  This is an institutional problem, and we must begin to look at ways in which to assure that each person has a good home.  The longer we continue to believe that the rich deserve more capitol bailouts and not those that daily struggle to survive not only will the gap increase but more and more people will find themselves experiencing the unimaginable - homelessness.

H/T eternal_llama