Saturday, October 25, 2008

Meme Me Week

I have actually had a remarkable amount of luck when it comes to avoiding memes but it seems that my luck has run out.  I have been tagged by Renegade and Natalia. My first official memes:

6 Random Things About Me:

1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself. (See below)
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them. (See further below...)
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.
So, numbers 1 and 2 are now done -
Random Thing

1) I have a sick addiction to reality TV

2) I have been known to sing kiddy songs when I am by myself

3) I have a fear of water and heights

4) I plan on turning 30 for a few more years to come

5) I have black thumbs for a reason, anything with chlorophyll around me is not destined to survive long

6) I keep emergency chocolate hidden from my kids

Well now comes to the part where I get to tag back:  Well Natalia since you tagged me I am tagging you right back.  The other winners are Elle, SJP, Kevin, Cara and Ebony Intuition.

Alright, moving on to the second meme.

The 8 Homes Game:

Where Would Your 8 Homes Be?

List them. You don’t have to list your reasons, but if you do at least for a few of them, it would be more fun. And remember that the only rule is: the homes must be within the borders of the United States of America or else, within the borders of the country you live in, so as to utterly emulate the McCains. When you’re done, tag 8 people, so that they may join in the self-indulgence, forgetting about the crappy property market and the equivalent of The End of Pompeii on Wall-Street. You could spend your time hammering your doors and windows shut in preparation for the apocalypse instead, but it would be much less fun.

Well I will follow the John McCain lead and pick 8 places in the states;

1) Manhattan...how you could you live in the states and not have a home there?

2) L.A. that covers the two poles

3) San Francisco

4) Hawaii (I know it's a state but somewhere near a beach will do just fine by me)

5) New Orleans

6) Seattle

7)  Las Vegas

8) Miami

Well Renegade you are escaping this tag because Natalia already got you.  The list of nominees are Mattbastard, Ouyang Dan, Queers United, Lisa Harney, Lindsay, Whatsername, Pizza Diavola, Daisy

Pro Choice Because I Am A Mother

I very firmly decided my pro choice beliefs at the age of 14; however since becoming a mother those beliefs have become even more solidified. I will never forget being handed each one of my boys moments after their birth.  I will never forget the overwhelming joy I felt, and it is because of these moments that I know that the decision I made all those years ago to support pro choice was correct.

Motherhood for all of its joys is not easy.  It is not  fun in the way that playing house was when you were a kid.  When your child rubs an entire tub of vaseolineimage into your 50 pound beagle, someone has to clean that up.  When you wake up at 2 am to find out that your 3 year old has turned your foot into a plate, and is busy eating ham and cheese in your bed, no matter how tired you are, you have to get up.  When you hear the words oh oh from the smallest voice and feel an overwhelming sense of panic, you have to look, even though you really want to run away.  For the record, oh oh usually involves something like shampoo being flushed down the toilet.

It's the little things like, looking around your house to find rocks everywhere because your child has developed into a real rock hound, and not wanting to squash the future geologist, or archeologist you turn a blind eye.  How about image those times you find yourself alone singing the theme from the wiggles because you have watched so many episodes it has become the sound track to your brain. Then there is realizing that Blues Clues the only show you really liked has been ruined because Steve has gone off to college.

There are also times when you find yourself at the dinner table trying to remember what it was like to have a meal without someone saying, "I don't like this", or my personal favourite "you know since people in Africa are starving can we ship it to them, they need it more than I do?"

There are duties that you will really wish to never do again, and this includes cleaning puke, and wiping noses and bums.  Yes body fluids and children are generally speaking yuck. I have been pooped on, peed on and  I don't even know how many litres of puke have landed in my hair.  I remember when I actually owned white clothing, now when I purchase something I wonder how long I will be able to  avoid a sticky hand print somewhere.

Then there are those magazines that tell you what a home is "supposed to look like" and you find yourself dreaming about not having an elmo chair that giggles and rotates as the centrepiece of your living room.  How about discovering that your child has their own taste in decorating as they scribble on walls and peel and eat your wallpaper.  No need to be on trading spaces with kids, they'll do the work for you.

image There are also times when you will  fantasize about the day when walking down your stairs is not going to constitute an act of bravery because of the toys left there; who knew breaking a finger could hurt that badly. How about learning that no matter how amazing the lego structures looks, stepping on one early in the morning hurts like hell. 

The above are just a few of the adventures that I have had in motherhood, during the times I had to actually leave my secret shelter of sanity, the bathroom, which btw they will stand outside of screaming mommy until you want to lose your mind. The Calgon commercials lie, you cannot take a bath unless the children are sleeping.

Motherhood is not like a flowery hallmark card,  and it is certainly not for the ambivalent or uncommitted.  Children are not like a dress you can take back to the store if you suddenly decide you don't like it.  Not everyone is fit to parent, or wants to.   When I stand in the middle of the living room with my hair turning grey screaming. "there is no touching in this house, no one is allowed to touch each other" as I try to keep them from mushing each other, I understand why some people have opted out.  Yes I could list them on ebay or craigslist and regain some sanity; but hey in this economy they have become my retirement savings fund.

My point in all of this is not to make my little guys seem horrible because in truth they're not. They are active engaged curious little boys who live their lives in high speed with me just barely hanging on for safety reasons.  Since becoming a mother and realizing the work involved, I firmly believe that if someone is going to have to live through this insanity they should be able to choose it willingly, instead of being sentenced to it because we refuse to acknowledge how difficult it is.  There is nothing natural about parenting; it is hard work. Now go and call your mother and say thanks for not listing you  for sale in the classified section.

 


A Tale Of A Scary Black Man: Ashley Todd Admits Mutilation Story False

Once again, thanks Natalia for posting this at Global Comment. I will get everyone started and then follow the link to finish.

On October 23, it was reported that a McCain volunteer was robbed and assaulted by a black man. She claimed that after robbing her, her assailant noticed a McCain/Palin bumper sticker on her car, chased her down, and carved a backwards B into her face. At one point, she even alleged a sexual assault.

The police spent many hours investigating this case attempting to prove the veracity of her claims, only to have her admit today that she made the entire story up.

McCain, for his part, his been quick to point out that she is an unpaid volunteer, and as such has no deep involvement with the campaign. Yet had McCain not unleashed such clearly racist rhetoric throughout this election cycle, would a woman like Todd have believed that her behaviour was appropriate?

Though I firmly believe McCain’s dirty campaign tactics did indeed play a factor here, what should also be recognized is the history that white women have of blaming innocent black men of assaults. From Susan Smith, to Carroll Donham, white women have been either complicit in false accusations against black men, or else have been used as props in justifying murdering black men.

Finish Reading Here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Jezebel Chats With My Girl Crush Sarah Haskins

image

For all of you who share my girl crush on Sarah, I thought I would you know that  DODAI of Jezebel scored an interview. Okay I am officially jealous.

DODAI: OK, I have a lot of questions, so let me just fire away: Where did you get the idea of Target: Women? Did you see something stupid one day and just snap?

SARAH HASKINS: Yes — Target Women is part of a show on Current TV called infoMania. I was writing for that show and I wanted to do something on-air as well. In my search for ideas I saw a ton of yogurt commercials and I was reminded of how ridiculous they always seemed to me. So, that started it. We built Target Women around that idea.

DODAI: And since then, you've been able to riff on a lot of companies which "target" women: In regards to ad campaigns, why do you think they have such a tough time making ads for women that make sense?

SARAH HASKINS: I think they're trying to toe a very fine line between seeming "with it" in terms of modern female roles and responsibilities while trying to do the tricky dance of selling us products that are related to much more traditional things: cleaning, cooking for your family, being a wifey… Hard to do both and not seem insane or ridiculous.

Finish reading the interview here.

John McCain: I Am Not George Wallace

I have a new article up at Global Comment.  As usual I will get you started and you can finish off over there.  Thanks Natalia.

America is a country that is undergoing the throes of racial animosity. For many the recent election process has brought to light the racial tension that has been brimming under the surface.

The Republican Party understood very well the racial division, and has sought to capitalize on it by encouraging its supporters through the use of rhetoric to identify Obama as an ‘other’. It has become so virulent that Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and veteran of the civil rights movement felt compelled to chastise John McCain by comparing him to George Wallace.

In part of his statement he said that John McCain was, “sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.”

Finish Reading This Post Here

Vote Obama and Get Laid: Pussy Pimping The Vote

image

This lovely updated Joan Baez poster was taken by Casey Brooks.   It's not even a new twist on an old theme; as Barack would say, it's more of the same.  The idea that women's bodies can and should be offered as a reward for good behaviour has been with us for centuries.  It's appearance as a campaign slogan only proves how far we need to progress as women.

Did anyone notice that even though women have the right to vote, that there was no reward offered us for an Obama vote? I suppose no reward is necessary because women are happiest when we are being good girls.  Our reward is just to make ourselves available for male use, and pretend that we enjoy being pimped for a cause.

I wonder why these women even bothered to close their legs when clearly the only way that they can "help" is by opening them.  Don't go our on the campaign trail, don't write letters to the editor, don't engage in political conversations, just remember to douche after every "Obama John". Are you feeling patriotic yet?

I find it interesting that when women assert a desire for sex we are slut shamed and yet when it serves  the purposes of patriarchy  women are encouraged to engage in sex freely.  Casey Brooks may have thought that this photo was transgressive when she first conceived of the idea, but the truth is so far removed from that.  She has instead acted as a colluding madame offering her sisters up to exploited for the cause. When women act in concert with patriarchy we are colluding with our secondary status. We must stand in opposition against such pussy pimping exploitation.  Sometimes we really are our own worst enemies.

H/T Salon


Tekenya Wooten, Age 12 Pregnant and Missing

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When I first saw her picture I sat and stared for awhile.  I wondered what was going through her mind, this poor girl child whom so few seem to care about.  Tekenya has been classified a group home run away, and as you can imagine neither the police, or the media seem to be overly concerned.  She is after all only a little black girl.

This poor child has already been victimized once.  This is evidenced by the fact that she is 12 and 8 months pregnant; therefore she could not have legally consented to sex.  Now that she is missing not only is she in personal danger, but so is her unborn child.

To qualify for an amber alert the following conditions must be met:

1) Risk of serious bodily injury or death

2) sufficient physical description

3) 17 or younger

4) Reasonable belief that an abduction occurred.

Tekenya Wooten has been classified as a runaway; and therefore she will not be listed as an amber alert.  Even if she personally did not meet the criteria, concern for her unborn child alone should have raised the threat level. I suspect that her exclusion has more to do with race and class than any factors specific to her status as a missing person. 

Just three days before she went missing Cole Puffinburger was abducted from his home and the media, perhaps drawn to the drug connection ran continual coverage and updates.  The Puffinburger name has become known internationally and yet Tekenya has barely been covered by print news, never mind appearing on any of the large news networks.

Missing black children are continually ignored by police departments and the media.  When a child is in a group home with no adult to speak for them the chances that they will become noticed reduce considerably.  Being a resident of a group home means that Wooten was a ward of the state and clearly big brother has decided that it would be easier if she simply disappeared into the forgotten mass of humanity.  Since the state has custody and the state represents the people we all have a responsibility to speak on Tekenya's behalf.  A missing 12 year old pregnant child is an emergency. 

Durham PD -Cheif Jose Lopez, Sr. of the Durham Police Department 919- 560-4322 jose.lopez@durhamnc.gov

Durham City Manager- Thomas Bonfield (919)560-4222 tom.bonfield@durhamnc.gov

Mayor of Durham (919) 560-4333 ext. 269 Bill.Bell@durhamnc.gov

Durham Child Protective Services (919) 560-8424 ( This is run by Durham COUNTY)

Spread the word however you can.  This child needs to be found. Blog about it, write e-mails, make phone calls, talk to friends.  We are all that Tekenya has and we owe her more than what we have done.

H/T Delilah Delilah and What About Our Daughters (awesome work Gina)

 


Editors Note: Tekenya has been found unharmed. Thank goodness, and a further thanks to Delilah and Rachel for the updated information. This is not reason to let down our guard as the issue still remains how something like this could have happened and been completely ignored by the mainstream press. Black children are worth something and their disappearances need to get more coverage.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Will and Jada Smith Only One Parent Counts

Yes, I am going to once again talk about men on a feminist website.  Today I thought we would discuss Will and Jada Smith and how they are portrayed differently by the media. Of the two Will is the box office smash; however Jada has done some good work of her own. 

  imageAs was pointed out by one commenter, Will Smith is often held up as a model of fatherhood because he is an active participant in the lives of his children; while conversely very little is said about Jada's motherhood.  While I will agree that part of the disproportionate coverage has to do with the imbalance of star power between them, the reasons go much deeper than that.

Historically the black mother is the long suffering woman.  She goes without so that her children may eat, and is the glue that holds the family together.  The black matriarch stereotype belies the high rate of dysfunctional abusive relationships that black women are in. 

Even while acknowledging the high rate of single motherhood within the black community; it is still important to acknowledge the women that are engaging in relationships on their own terms.  As I have mentioned several times, I have been happily unmarried for over18 years to the father of my children and would  count as a single mother due to our marital status.

Like any other black woman my body is embedded with meaning based on ideasimage of what black womanhood, or specifically in this case black motherhood means.  I am meant to exist without requiring praise because it is deemed natural that we (read:black women)  should suffer for our children.  I am meant to go unrecognized because it is understood that black mothers stand behind our children in all circumstances.  Motherhood for black women is conflated more with suffering and struggle then  with joy and reward.

Will Smith is doing what a good father should do by being an active participant in the life of his child and yet he is placed on a pedestal.  The so-called natural behaviour that is expected of black mothers is not expected of black fathers.  Black males are overwhelming seen as dead beat dads; and therefore when one chooses to fulfill his parental obligations he is given almost a mythical superhero status.

There is much time and energy devoted by the black community to fatherhood, while the real life existence of black women is oft overlooked. The black man is continually asked to pick up the patriarchal mantel and parent his children, as a symbol of masculinity.  Many of the social problems that currently exist are attributed to a lack of father figures in the household and a stubbornness on the part of black women to submit to the black male patriarchy.  Apparently we have become so independent that our very existence is often deemed a threat to the "natural order" of things.

Using the Will and Jada model as our guide what we can see is the that the reclamation of the black family is based on the insertion of a black male figurehead and a silenced, invisible woman.  Just like the white male patriarchy the black male patriarchy seeks to define its masculinity by having the ability to have an authoritarian presence in the household.  It is assumed that this authoritarian rule will lead to a social uplift for all black peoples.  What it does not consider is that the potential damage that this does to black women.  Having a penis does not necessarily mean that someone is wise, or kind and submission based in gender roles would place  already precarious black women in even more vulnerable positions.

When we celebrate nuclear families like the Smiths or even the Obamas what we are not considering is the hidden meaning behind why we find male headship so attractive.   It is not because of the rarity of the traditional family, it is because we have become socially conditioned to assume that the patriarchal nuclear family is not only natural, but good. 

The idea that black women form a matriarchy is a false social construction because just like all women we are subject to sexism, and misogyny.  Living in a racist society makes the notion of black women  existing with this kind of social power  even more ridiculous, and yet we are expected to give up the little power that we have so that the black male may be affirmed.

When we stand in recognition of men like Will Smith, or Barack Obama for being good fathers while not acknowledging the contributions of their black wives what we are doing is affirming the idea that motherhood is of little value sociallyimage if a male is present.  Jada and Michelle are just as instrumental to the development of their children as Barack and Will, and yet this importance is  often overlooked because we have over valued masculinity.  A man should not rise because we have socially decided that an authoritarian father figure is ideal, he should rise based of the merits of his contributions to his family. His ascension to the pedestal, or in this case social elevation should not come at the invisibility of the mother of his children. 

Perhaps instead of seeking to uplift the community through the elevation of the patriarchal family, what we should be doing is looking for ways to support black families in the different ways in which they are constituted.  Taking a more woman friendly approach would mean the disappearance of the long suffering black mother stereotype and lead to more a equitable gender neutral understanding of the importance each parent plays in the life of their offspring. It is time that we realize that the way forward is for us to stand side by side, rather than the suppression of one to uplift another.


Cure Cancer Buy A Pair Of Jingle Jugs

You ever click a link and say to yourself what the fuck was I thinking? Well I found this horrendous website through Hoyden About Town.   Now that I have seen this ridiculous shit, I can't fall asleep until I blog it out of my system.

Cancer is a very serious disease, and I am tired of breast cancer being portrayed as a loss to men.  Saving women's lives should not be about preserving men's favourite toys.  I further cannot believe that I am once again saying that disembodied female body parts are unacceptable.  Really, seriously get a clue.

 image

For a mere 19.99 you can own a pair of musical Jingle Jugs, while at the same time showing your support for breast cancer research.  Yeah, save the titties men need something to drool over.

If you are thinking that this offensive little product could not be any more repulsive just wait for what follows.....drumroll...this disgusting set of wall mountable boobies, moves rhythmically  to the song Titties & Beer. It even has a motion censor. 

How many times are we going to see a pink ribbon slapped on something that is completely offensive in an attempt to legitimize it?  It has come to the point that this sexist commercialization has so corrupted  the meaning of the pink ribbon, it is almost anti-feminist to wear one.  Save the boobies, buy something offensive and then pat yourself on the back for doing something to "support" women.  Great way to celebrate breast cancer awareness month and get a jump on your Christmas shopping isn't it?

The sick commercialization of breast cancer has got to come to end.  Women started this movement to raise awareness to a disease that the medical establishment was choosing to ignore, and now it is time that we reclaim it. We cannot make any positive progress while the hunt for the cure is represented by disgusting products like this. 

 


Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Breaking News: Sapphire Critically Wounded But Still Alive

Recently it has been my sad duty to report the demise of Mammy and Jezebel.  It comes with great relief that I report that Sapphire while critically wounded from the vicious attacks of both racists and the liberal left is still breathing.

Sapphire who is more commonly known as the angry black woman has been resilient in her fight to maintain her life.  Unlike Mammy and Jezebel who were used for what they could physically give whites, Sapphire is welded like a weapon to forestall dissent. 

Womanhood is understood as soft and yielding and to be called a sapphire or an angry black woman is to be created as 'unwoman'.  It is meant to literally strip the body of any resemblance of femininity leaving the victim feeling unsexed and unworthy. She is a metaphorical weapon that has been employed to keep black women docile.

There are many that would love to disassociate themselves from her because it is a label that originates in the white mans desire to remain at the top of the race/gender hierarchy; however a complete denial of her existence would  admit on some level that we are not entitled to our rage. 

Anger is just as much a legitimate emotion as happiness, or sadness.  Too withhold from expressing the myriad of human emotions because we have been told that it is a negation of our gender, is to fall prey to social construction.  As De Beauvoir theorized one is not born woman but becomes one; therefore what is understood as 'woman' is not based on any genetic characteristics that are based in sex but is based in characteristics that we create to maintain the gender hierarchy.

image Sapphire needs to rise like the phoenix from the desert sands and place her hands firmly in ours.  This is an official call for reclamation.  By welcoming her existence we are saying to the world that 'womanhood' constitutes the meaning we give it.  Anger is not always a destructive emotion and when it arises from a basis of legitimate social exploitation and marginalization it is not only justified but necessary.

To say that we do not have a right to our anger is to accept that the crimes that have been perpetrated against black women are not only justifiable but acceptable.  Raping us, enslaving us, beating our bodies, stealing our children, allowing us to languish in poverty, and sterilizing us is not okay. These are crimes against humanity and many continue on to this day. What kind of message does it send to our daughters when we silence our legitimate rage? It says that we deserve this treatment, it says that we welcome it.

My humanity will not allow me to reject Sapphire because to do so would mean that my body and my life do not belong to me.  Though many have chosen to wield her like a weapon, and shrink away from her whenever possible, I choose instead to embrace her lovingly.  She is my inner lioness that refuses to admit defeat, she is 'woman' in all her rage and power. 


Stop Being A Whore Or I'll Tell Mommy and Daddy

In times of economic strife many women are forced to resort to prostitution to pay bills, others are forced into it by cruel pimps, and some actively choose prostitution because they enjoy it.  For those that want help leaving the sex trade we should do whatever we can to facilitate their exist, but for those that want to continue to work in this field we should support their choices.

image Unfortunately globally the worth of a woman is often determined by what she chooses to do with her vagina.  When women do not comply to a life of chastity they are often slut shamed.  Yes it is the year 2008, but still yet women are deemed to be the property of their families until they are married off; such wonderfully progressive values.

The sex trade is on the rise in the Ukraine and the authorities have decided that the best way to deal with the situation is to inform the parents of the prostitute upon arrest.  Should you get caught being a naughty girl the authorities immediately dispatch a note to mommy and daddy informing them of your behaviour. 

The letter-writing campaign is aimed at reducing sex-for-hire in the former Soviet republic by bringing parental pressure to bear on prostitutes, said Aleksey Lazarenko, an internal ministry spokesman.
"We inform the parents their daughter was arrested at the moment she was selling her body," Lazarenko said.
"As soon as the parents of one girl found out how their daughter was earning a living, there was such a scandal in the household, that (the prostitute) had no quiet at home for an entire week, and she quit the business," he said.

So in its great wisdom the government has decided not to go after the Johns thatimage exploit the prostitutes; of course it's the dirty women that are at fault.  It takes two people to engage in sex and apparently the men who feel that they have the right to purchase another human being somehow don't qualify for public shaming. NICE.  If there were no customers there would no prostitution.  Isn't it wonderful how the boys clubs is always looking out for itself.

Not only does the woman have to deal with the legal consequences of her actions, she must now deal with her families response.  In patriarchal families were young girls are taught to keep the family vagina pure at all cost this notification policy could have terrible consequences.  Where is the concern for the safety of these women?  How many times must a woman be beaten or die at the hands of her family for the police to understand that this is not a good idea?  Where is the respect for personal privacy?...Oh that is right women are eternally children and as such are not entitled to respect.

This new policy fails on epic proportions.  It does not take into regard the safety of the women involved and further subjects them to social discipline for circumstances that might be beyond their control. If the government really wanted to help women leave the sex trade it would confront the reasons why women turn to prostitution in the first place.  Slut shaming just reasserts patriarchal control over women's bodies.


Olberman: The Mccain Campaign Is Nothing More Than Divisive Racial Politics

What can be added to such spot on commentary?  What is sad about it all is that those that he addressed will ignore his wise words and continue on with the racial politics.  The Limbaughs of the world have made a career with this kind of ignorance and are not ever likely to see reason when money continues to blind them.  There is no incentive for them to ever acknowledge their privilege because we continue to reward them for their ignorance. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Apparently Obama Needs Prayer

While this woman may believe that Obama needs prayer, I think she needs an education.  OOOOOh don't vote for the Muslim with atheist roots. Yeah education better become a very big priority in the USA, as clearly there are far too many idiots running around. I certainly hope that she has not had any children because that kind of stupidity does not need to be passed on to another generation.

Racism: The Losing Election Tactic

McCain has resorted to using racism to help energize his base.  Though he claims that he has openly repudiated such tactics, the fact that these so-called "fringe" supporters continue to congregate at his rallies speak volumes about how people interpret his message.  Had he been a candidate about hope and change those that see the world through a lens of bigotry and hatred would not be so attracted to him.

political sign

The above image is only the most recent display of bigotry on the part of those that are supporting John McCain.  Throughout the entirety of this campaign racialized imagery has been used to paint Obama as an "other", and yet these are somehow not understood to be an exercise of white privilege.

When someone can assert that a link between Islam and Obama is problematic it is certainly a reflection of the degree of islamophobia that is alive and well in the US.  Whether or not Obama is Muslim, which he is not, is indeed irrelevant. He is a US citizen which means he has the same rights as any other citizen under the law. The problem is that whiteness has become accustomed to having the law be relevant only in terms of words, but not in deeds.  Yes equality for all, as long as it does not infringe upon white privilege.

Images like above seek to remind us of what constitutes a real American. Notice the usage of McCain's full name to the point of the inclusion that he is the third such person to bear this name.  He is further portrayed in military guard to remind of us what the maverick has done .  How can anyone of good conscience vote against someone who is so clearly branded in Americana?  Placed next to this image of Obama it is meant to infer that  McCain is as American as apple pie; and that Obama conversely is a racialized "other", that cannot be associated with guarding the sanctity of  American lives.

While the attempt to interject race into this election will certainly garner a few supporters, it will definitely alienate many.  By choosing to privilege whiteness in this way it ensures that bodies of colour who see themselves as portrayed as less than by the McCain campaign, will seek a candidate that at the very least respects their value as human beings. 

The media has begun to point out the degree of racism employed by McCain supporters and this has caused him to finally seek to mitigate some of the damage that his rhetoric has caused; however it should not be forgotten that this action was only taken in response to charges of racism and was not undertaken by McCain for the sake of standing up for equality. Had he not interjected race into the debate in the first place such denials would not be necessary.  McCain and his representatives only ever act in response to behaviour they are never the first ones to speak against it.

If McCain wants people to truly believe that he does not support racism he needs to be clear that these kinds of people are not welcome at his rallies.  He needs to make it clear that he disapproves of the racist campaign posters and signs that have been cropping up all over the nation.  Speaking in reaction rather than speaking because of an impetus to ensure the equality of all beings ensures that race will continue to be used as a campaign tactic. 


Born with a midwife’s help? Government says, ‘Sorry, no passport’

The U.S. State Department is supposed to issue passports to people who can provide documents showing they were born in the United States. But it has begun rejecting birth certificates, mostly belonging to Latin@s born in the Southwest, that were signed by midwives—in other words, if the applicants were born at home.

In that area, people cross the border frequently to work, for family and business reasons, and even to obtain health care in Mexico that would be unaffordable in the U.S.

Thousands of people are now frantically seeking other documentation to obtain passports, since they will be required for all travel to and from Mexico and Canada starting in June 2009.

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health has condemned this move as “a racist and unfair practice, which ... unfairly targets Latino citizens on the border and those who were born to parteras or midwives in private residences, a common practice among Latinos.”

The passport rejection is part of a wave of anti-immigrant policies that include mass round-ups and deportations, the building of a wall along the Mexican border, and calls for laws that would deny citizenship to U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants.

David Hernandez enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1985, using his birth certificate as proof of citizenship. But now the State Department will not issue him a passport based on that same birth certificate without further proof, even though he also provided his military discharge papers. (Brownsville Herald, Sept. 14)

In September, nine U.S. citizens, including Hernandez, sued the federal government for refusing to issue them passports because of the midwife issue. They are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, which alleges that the State Department unfairly targets Mexican Americans, essentially reducing them to “second-class citizenship status.”

The government, according to the lawsuit, is systematically asking for an excessive number of documents that most people would not possess, such as school or baptismal records, or documents that never even existed. Then, after the applicants go to great lengths to supply additional proof, “the State Department often doesn’t accept it and deems the applications abandoned—‘filed without further action,’ or essentially closed.” (TheOregonian, Oct. 5) According to immigration lawyer and former passport agency employee Brent Renison, the agency has turned customer services over to private contractors.

Midwives, or parteras in Spanish, have been delivering babies in the Southwest since before hospital births became the norm. Births with parteras continue in that area today as a traditional practice, although the current problem with obtaining passports is scaring many women away from this safe alternative to medicalized hospital births.

In the South, midwives served Black communities with skill and dedication until the mid-1960s, when Medicaid and the end of legally segregated facilities made hospital births available to African-American and poor white women. Denying the validity of midwife-signed birth certificates could be used to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Black people in the South if voter ID laws are enacted.

Resurrecting ‘segregation-era injustice’

Ellen Catalinotto, a New York-certified nurse midwife, sent the following letter to the State Department:

“As a midwife, I am appalled to learn that the State Department now refuses to accept the validity of birth certificates signed by midwives who attended women at home births as legal documents for obtaining a U.S. passport.

“This unfair and racist practice targets Latinos and African Americans, who have had a long tradition of midwife-attended births. It is creating havoc, especially in Texas and the Southwest, where many people frequently travel to Mexico and now find that they cannot obtain the passports that will soon be required to cross that border.

“Just 45 years ago there was no Medicaid or Medicare to pay for health care for poor or disabled pregnant women. Segregation was the law of the land in southern states—where only whites could be admitted to most hospitals. Rural areas had few good roads to transport women in labor. Many African-American and Latina women could not afford to deliver in hospitals, could not get transport to the hospital in labor, and could be denied admission to the hospital even if they overcame the hurdles of cost and travel. Midwife births at home were the only option for women in these circumstances.

“To deny the validity of midwife-signed birth certificates is to resurrect and continue these injustices and human rights violations of the not-so-distant past.

“Furthermore, refusing to accept midwife-signed birth certificates puts the State Department in the de facto position of regulating our profession by delegitimatizing the documents we are legally authorized to sign. The State Department clearly has no right or authority to regulate midwifery practice.

“The excuse given for not recognizing these birth certificates is that some midwives were convicted of falsely providing them to babies born in Mexico. Some of these cases occurred as long ago as almost 50 years. Such instances should be handled by local jurisdictions on a case-by-case basis, with a presumption of innocence. Instead, the State Department is imposing collective punishment on every midwife and every baby she has delivered.”


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.

The Black Man and The Cool Factor

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Why would I have a problem with the "cool black man" imagery?  At first glance it seems as though this is a new way of understanding black masculinity.  The media and social construction has continually projected black men as violent, drug addicted, rapist thugs and the label of "cool" seems like some sort of transcendence. 

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This is yet another construction that is limiting to black masculinity.  Coolness comes with certain rules that must be adhered to, to be legitimized.  It certainly would not be cool for these men to suddenly decide to challenge gender norms or appear to be effeminate in any way. 

Coolness is something that is not associated with white male masculinity.  Coolness exists outside of access to real power and is reified by the persons ability to perform.  Men that are cool present a show rather than experience real emotion.  They are by predominately actors, musicians, orators and social organizers.  What we have decided is cool is the public persona; whereas the essence of their being is hidden from view.

image Coolness tells young men that their life is to be lived through the lens of the expectations of others.  It is not about speaking with a unique voice or asserting personal autonomy.  When people sit in a movie theatre waiting for Samuel L. Jackson (the current granddaddy of cool) to say motherfucker, so that they can cheer, does that not indicate that Jackson is just as much trapped by the coolness factor as he is liberated by it.  Jackson cannot afford to weep, or show tenderness beyond a cursory tear because coolness does not allow for that. 

Coolness even comes with a uniform.  Notice the requisite dark glasses adorningimage the faces of these men.  Cool but yet menacing, capable of aggression and yet restrained.  Coolness is all about the possibility rather than the actuality of real thought.  It is about what others think that the individual is capable of rather than their own personal limitations.

To be cool one must wear the height of whatever fashion is currently envogue for men.  It is all so so very carefully styled so as to appear a transgression, when in actuality it is conforming to what is expected.  For the intellectual cool, it is the dark suit, and white shirt (Obama, Malcolm X), for the pop culture cool, it is the brand name (Usher, Terrence Howard) and for the athletic cool, (Michael Jordan) it is whatever Nike will pay you to wear.

We live in a society that does not promote individuality; conformity is what we learn from the beginnings of our socialization.   Coolness gives black men another identity option but it comes with the same sort of limitations as any other social identity and we should not be blind to this.  It is as binding as a straight jacket and limiting to the potential of the individual. 

As I thought about these covers the one question that kept reoccurring in my mind is: why is it that coolness is overwhelmingly associated with black masculinity over and above any other racial group?  There have been white men that have been considered cool, but that has always been in absence of the presence of a black male, e.g. Fonzie on Happy Days; whereas black men carry their coolness factor in every environment regardless of who is involved. 

Coolness is still an aggressive masculinity.  It does not seek permission,  and demands attention at every turn. In the presence of it, one must always be on guard because of the controlled savagery just beneath the surface.  It is when you link the savagery, or threat of violence, or even aggressive sexuality it becomes clear why coolness is associated with black masculinity.  The link is in existence because coolness only reifies the social constructions that have been associated with black men.  The so-called cool black men still exist with all of the negative stereotypes but what differentiates them from the so-called average man is that he has managed to garner a small degree of control over his instincts. 

We are meant to be attracted to the facade and yet still be apprehensive because of the possibility that control might be fleeting.  It is the possibility of danger that draws us in and hold us captive.  It's like dancing with the devil; dangerous with the potential for evil and yet orgasmic in the proximity to power. Sex and violence lie behind the facade of Mr.Cool  and it is for this reason that black men must not embrace this construction.  It does not liberate the body from the animalistic tendencies that have been associated with masculinity, it only works as a tired facade that accentuates difference.


Macy's Makeover: Grab The Stilettos and Spread Your Legs

Macy's managed to get a few heavy hitters to appear in this social discipline fashion extravaganza.   In the 1:04 that this ad lasted, I was once again reminded to ignore the grey matter that resides in my head and focus on my valuable assets; tits, legs, vag and ass. 

Ultimately when a woman meets a man for the first time the first thing that she should make sure of is that he is aware of her physicality, because your relationship is going to be dependent on his sexual desire for you, and not on any kind of common interests or kinship.  Whether or not he is attractive is certainly not important, a heartbeat and a functioning dick will do. 

Hey, is it me or did anyone else watching this wonder what lesbians do when they have a date... oh I guess they either don't exist in the "real world", or are all considered too butch too be marketed to.  Nope, only the insecure real women that identify as heterosexual need watch.

Now that the body is suitably attired to make sure that the man in question notices the important things about you, it is time to get the shoes...OMG SHOEZ, cause a girl cannot "entertain" without the perfect pair of western footbinding; better not have to make a run for it. Yeah, with the perfect slut shoes you can be dangerously permissive. There is  no way that you could possibly assert your sexual desire in something comfortable.  Everyone knows that fumpy women don't actually get laid.

Then in the grand finale we get the scent....ahhh the animal inside is released. Smile pretty, arch your back and swivel your hips, 'cause you have a man to snare. 

If this commercial had been on even a second longer, I think that I would have been ill.  The whole woman snaring man, using her feminine whiles is so completely reductive and ridiculous.  It is more of the same gender discipline that the fashion industry engages in on a daily basis to encourage us to purchase clothing that we neither need, nor want.  Yeah, if you don't buy this years latest trend you won't be girly enough, despite the vag between your legs. 

'Woman' is not about what the individual believes it to be, but what society has constructed the gender to be.  These little innocuous commercials that we view without real thought are meant to discipline us into performing gender and supporting patriarchy.  If we are constantly thinking about what men think, we ignore our wants and our desires.  No matter how hot that little number looks on the rack, if you are buying it to please anyone other than yourself you're nothing but a colluding dupe.  Keep the vag happy, fuck on your own terms.


Monday, October 20, 2008

The Blacks Are Plotting

It came as no surprise to anyone when Colin Powell endorsed Obama on Meet The Press. 

The only question in my mind was how long it would take for it to be labelled a black conspiracy.  Everyone knows that blacks don't think independently of each other.  In fact, two black people engaged in conversation are always plotting the best way to over throw the man.  We are only concerned about personal gain and could not possibly have an interest in politics for the sake of trying to make the world a better place.

From Politico..."Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race," Limbaugh wrote in an e-mail. "OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I'll let you know what I come up with."

ummm BUSH and look where that left the world.

I only have one question really.  Why is it that whites who have been voting for white people since the US became a country were not engaging in racial solidarity voting, and a black man endorsing another black man is?  When white people vote of course it is about serious issues; the economy, the war, education and health care.  When blacks vote, it is all about helping a brotha out.  No, no racism evident in that kind of thinking at all.    

On some level I feel sorry for Powell.  When he was supporting Bush, he was the house slave that whites loved and blacks looked at in askance.  Now that he is supporting Obama he is conspiratorial nigger to whites, and a man that is down with his peeps to blacks.  No matter what decision this man makes on any issue the colour of his skin will always be used decode what the real impetus is.  Much like Obama, Powell cannot escape the messages that blackness encodes on his body.

This is something that both he and Obama have in common.  No matter their achievements they will be looked at as black men first; and are therefore forced to bear the weight of the social construction that comes with black masculinity.  The Rush Limbaughs of the world will huff and puff but their bias is obvious to all who understand how racial politics really work.  Men like Powell and Obama are problematic when they chose to speak with their own voices because in the history of the US, leadership has been associated with white masculinity. 

Politics has always been a boys club but it has been a club that is ripe with hierarchy.  To gain and maintain access one traditionally has had to be white and rich.  Obama with his working class background and black body is an affront to everything that we have always associated with leadership.  Now that Powell, their favourite go to man has chosen to endorse him, the boys club is closing ranks to protect what they view as a threat to their hegemony.

Watching the ways in which Obama and Powell are treated by white pundits only reaffirms that blackness continues to be an issue in American society.  No matter how many tributes there are to men like Martin Luther King, there is nothing post about racism.  Though white men would like us to imbibe this lie wholeheartedly the lived experience of people of colour daily reifies the racial discord.


Angelina Jolie: The Worlds Greatest Mother

Okay I waited as long as I could to comment on the recent spate of Angelina commentary in the media.  I am sick of Angelina being portrayed as the worlds greatest mother.  Enough already, simply enough.

image First we got to hear about how wonderful it is that Angelina is breastfeeding.  Yeah for her! Does this mean that women who can't breast feed, or choose not to are somehow not qualified to rank as good mothers?  Newsflash, having a child feeding from your breast does not necessarily signify that you are an excellent mother. 

Yeah, isn't it wonderful that Jolie can breastfeed on the cover of a magazine while the rest of the population that is not blessed with celebrity status are shown to restrooms, or simply forced to vacate public premises.  What about the mothers that are so undernourished that their breast milk is not capable of sustaining their child?  What about the exploitation that is occurring in the the newly revived wet nurse industry?  Nope, none of those issues really matter because Angelina is breast feeding.

How did this Hollywood starlet with a penchant for collecting third world children like Prada purses suddenly become representative of motherhood? image The answer is very simple really, Angelina is white and rich.  No one objects to bringing more white babies into the world.  It is always the brown mothers that are chastised for exercising their biological imperatives.  We are the ones responsible for the overpopulation of the world.  We are the ones responsible for the starving children, despite the fact that poor brown mothers are as far from exercising power globally as any people on earth could possibly be. Thank goodness there are pure rich white women like Angelina to raise the children we have so irresponsibly brought into this world.

Angelina is the mother that keeps nurturing and wanting to share despite her hardships (huge snark). Yep the energizer bunny of motherhood.  Now this mother of 6, with a uterus that has yet to shrink to normal size is contemplating adopting yet another child.  When you have so much love to give why not bestow it upon the world.   Now before everyone gets into a knot, carrying on about how this child will have a much better life because it will be raised in opulence and wealth, let's consider that there is more to motherhood than what we can give our children financially.

image What effect will it have on this child to be removed from not only their parents but all the links and ties to their culture.  Not to worry though, all will be cured because of the loving embrace of Angelina. Who is she the virgin Mary, that all of the children of the world should all crave her loving embrace?  Should we be anxiously waiting her appearance at various places.  Is she going to walk on water, and grant vision to the blind as well?

Okay sarcasm aside, if Ms. Jolie really cares about the poor children of the world, the best way to help them is to work on programs that allow their mothers to raise them.  Globally many children are in foster care not because their mothers want to give them up, but because they cannot afford to raise them.  I am sick of celebrities adopting kids thinking that they are helping the cause and yet not confronting the issues that caused their adopted prada purses children to be available in the first place. 

image Angelina Jolie is upheld as a model for the world because of her class and her race. When women of colour cry out to have our motherhood validated, we are told that we are irresponsible breeders.  Children are removed from homes where mothers cannot afford to pay utility bills, but yet they are still good mothers.  Capitalism and racism do not make it easy for marginalized and exploited mothers to raise children in this world, and yet their struggles are unheralded.  Instead of praising these courageous women who daily go without, so that their children may eat, have clothes, or a place to live, we are worshipping a woman that was born into race and class privilege. 

There is nothing special about Angelina in terms of motherhood for her to garner the kind of attention that she does.  Our sick obsession with maintaining the race and class hierarchy has caused us to ignore the struggles of women all over the globe.  There is nothing that Angelina does on an ordinary day to differentiate herself from any other mother. She does not love her children anymore than I love mine.  I am sick and tired that every time we seek to praise some key aspect of women's lives it is always represented by a rich white woman of privilege. 

Enough of the monolithic womanhood.  Enough of the erasure of women of colour.  There can be no sisterhood as long as we are not represented in discussions that are central to women's lives.  The whole idea of a white woman being the ideal and sole representative of motherhood is insulting.  It is time to step off of the pedestal Jolie, despite your high ranking on the coolness meter, motherhood is about more than class and race.

 


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Alton Brown: Fatties Are Ruining The World

Those that have been reading Womanist Musings from the beginning, know that I have developed a great disdain for the foodnetwork, and its stable of celebrity chefs.  Much of my dislike is based in observing their tendency to offer white men as experts on foods from across the globe.  Of course they can cook the meals better, lord knows that the western white mans burden is to become an expert at cultural appropriation and colonization.

image This station so aggravates me, that I almost forgot that the focus of this post is Alton Brown and his fat hatred.  I am a little late getting to this so please excuse the tardy posting. Truth be told, I detest the network and most of the chefs so much that I am often behind when they fuck up, which actually is quite often.  At any rate Mr Food encyclopedia, otherwise known as  Alton Brown has decided that we westerners are decidedly unconnected from our food and this has caused us to live an unsustainable lifestyle.

“I realized that we’re so disconnected from our food — where it lives or grows, how it dies, how it’s processed. None of us in this culture are really living sustainably.”

While I agree that there is much food waste on the part of westerners, the problem is much larger than food.  Our entire economy is based on our ability to consume.  When we cannot purchase, things go wrong pretty fast, hence the depression recession that we are undergoing.  To say that it is all simply the fault of the individual, does not acknowledge the degree to which consumption is a basic tenet of the capitalist system. You know the economic system that rich elites like yourself keep telling poor people works for everyone.

What causes world hunger and soil depletion is our distribution system.  The earth is producing more than enough for everyone to eat, we have simply chosen to value money over people. 

Okay lets hear what else this less than wise sage has to say...

”I’ve struggled with weight all my life, and probably always will. But I was on my most recent book tour I was shocked by the number of overweight families,” he says. “People would come up to me and say, ‘Oh, we love the Food Network.’ Well, no (expletive); did you eat the TV? There’s only four of you and you can’t ride in an elevator together. I’ll probably make fat people angry, but we need, as a culture, to be ashamed. It’s not “… healthy.”

Nice bit of fat hate eh?  Mr. Food Encyclopedia has a problem with his own body image, so why not release that inner hatred on his fans.  Get some fucking therapy and stop spreading your hatred to the people that have not awoken to the fact that you are just a whiny cry baby who  hasn't learned to love his inner child yet. 

Yeah, you posit people are disconnected from food, but obviously if they are there to purchase your stinking appropriated cookbooks, they are deeply connected to food.  They are not sitting at a McDonalds, or Wendys, or one of your associates restaurants, which is really why you are so pissy they are looking for ways to cook enjoyable meals at home, which btw asshole is the first step in reconnecting with the food chain. 

As for feeling ashamed of the fatties, oh hell why not. We all know that the worst thing a person can be is fat.  We should not be ashamed of the homophobes, racists, classists, rapists, ablists, sexists etc., nooooo the fatties are ruining the world. Just by breathing the same air as the fatties we might catch their "sickness"...yep, cause fatness is a virus that we all need to be inoculated against. Why are we wasting so much time, money and effort trying to cure cancer and aids when we should be battling the fatties?

Alton embrace your inner fat boy and get over it.  Becoming like the bullies that taunted you all of your life because you didn't fit the stereotype is not going to heal your wounds.  You want closure, stop lashing out at people who didn't do a damn thing but have the stupidity to buy a book from a man that thinks that they are repulsive. 

This kind of repugnant attitude is not new.  Many of the celebrity chefs that the foodnetwork has chosen to promote continually express the same sort of commentary.  From Gordon Ramsey (asshole extrordinaire) to Alton Brown, they have continually gone to war against fat people.  It seems that in culinary school not only do these chefs learn that the cleaver makes cultural appropriation acceptable, but hey a fancy jacket makes you entitled to display your inner idiot.  Fat hate is wrong.  The food network chefs may be able to flay a fish better than I could ever hope too, but they cumulatively have a long way to go to learn how to be decent human beings. 

In closing I would like to offer a heartfelt fuck you to Alton Brown and his associates at the foodnetwork.

H/T The Big Fat Blog


Right Said Fred: My Secret Shame

Okay since it is Sunday and we all need a break from some of the serious shit that goes on, today I thought I would share with you one of my secret shames.  Do you remember that song I'm Too Sexy?  Even though the video is highly problematic, I still love this ridiculous one hit wonder.  Today I thought that we could  all share our secret shame.  Hit me in the comment section with a few of the songs that you like, that you would never admit to. Every once and a while it is fun to laugh at ourselves.  Oh btw Graham my favourite English guy of all time, every time I hear this song I think of you stripper boy;)