Saturday, December 20, 2008

Katrina and the Hidden Race War

Like everyone else I watched in a state of horror as the US government turned its back on the people of New Orleans.  Never in my life had I witnessed racism, and classism on such a large scale.  To those who would say that racism is a thing of the past, or that we live in a post racial world, Katrina is all that I can respond.

Left to die in a cesspool of filthy water, New Orleans citizens did what they had to survive, but even amongst those that had been forced to stay behind, the media insisted on making racial distinctions.  Even though many had cases of water, baby formula and diapers the black people we were told were looting.  All the big networks wanted us to feel sympathy for the poor merchants who were losing potential profits because in a time of need the blacks were taking what was necessary. This was in sharp contrast to the whites who were portrayed as simply foraging necessary materials.  Even in life and death situations whiteness always exists with the right to life.  It made me wonder why they just didn't accuse blacks of stealing air to breathe as well.

While I fully admit that not everyone was taking supplies to survive, the idea that every single black person was "on the make" was simply portrayed to distract us from the criminal culpability of FEMA and the US government.  Why should society care about the suffering that was happening to those born with melanin, when we all know that blacks are of little value to the world.  Blacks are the criminals of the western world we are told, and this is used to justify the crimes committed against us.

We were guilty they told of us of taking that which did not belong to us and yet those who took the lives of innocent people and threatened them with sawed off shot guns now have their BBQ and smile.

"It was great!" said one vigilante. "It was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it...I am no longer a Yankee. I earned my wings."

A woman responded, "He understands the N word now. In this neighbourhood we take care of our own."

"Taking care of our own" particularly haunts me in that it asserts that colour is enough to ensure the erasure of the humanity of another  being.  After the media spent so much time criminalizing the actions of blacks during the aftermath of the Hurricane, where is the outcry for justice today? CNN, FOX, MSNBC, and CBS,  were all guilty of the construction, and yet it is The Nation that is running with this story.  Please read their groundbreaking story. Anderson and his compatriots have long since moved on to bigger and more important news, after all, what is justice for blacks that were terrorized when they were  at their most vulnerable?

Day after day we are continually reminded that we do not matter by the refusal of the justice system, government, and the media to take seriously crimes that are committed against us.  Unless you are pretty and white you can rest assured your story will be lost in oblivion. How many children of colour do you believe have gone missing while every major media outlet can only repeat the name Caylee? Whiteness gains nothing by admitting that we are not solely criminals, as such a thought would reduce their ability to use fear as a justification to continue perpetuate crimes against us.  The vigilantes acted because of supposed  fear of the great invading dark hordes. 

It is time for justice.  I am tired of seeing black lives devalued so that whiteness may live in comfort and supposed safety.  What exactly gives whiteness the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on the backs of others? 

Please join us in calling on state and federal officials to investigate these brutal attacks and the conduct of Orleans Parish law enforcement agencies, and please ask your friends and family to do the same.

H/T JackandJill via an email from Kathy Spillman


Drop It Like It's Hot

I am trapped in my house in under what feels like feet of snow.  I officially hate winter and want to mail myself to Hawaii.  I don't need a white Christmas, it doesn't make me nostalgic or weepy.  I hate snow.  The boys are counting down the days and in between licking each other and fighting they are trying to be good for Santa. 

Below you will find a list of some interesting posts that I came across this week.  Please check them out.  As usual consider this an open thread.  Please drop your links in comments and tell me a bit about your week.

Racial Hierarchy in the Adoption World.

Hasn't anybody ever told you a handful is enough?

Gays: Not the last Oppressed Minority

Why Is Victim A Dirty Word?

cause i love a party

When Will "We" Be Able To Eff-Up and Get Another Chance

No Actually I Won't Shut Up

The End Of Feminism As We Know It?

Is It Just Me?

refuse to listen to foreign speakers of english 

image

Fucking Ain't Conscious

More Truth

Friday, December 19, 2008

If You're A Black Girl You Must Be A Prostitute

Imagine that you are a twelve year old girl sent to do an errand in your backyard by your mother, when three men jump out of a van call you a prostitute and try to abduct you from your home.  What would your reaction be?  Would you try to escape, or meekly surrender to these strange men?  Her reaction was to hold on to a tree and scream for her father as they beat her repeatedly around the face and the neck.

As it turned out, the three men were plain-clothed Galveston police officers who had been called to the area regarding three white prostitutes soliciting a white man and a black drug dealer.

All this is according to a lawsuit filed in Galveston federal court by Milburn against the officers. The lawsuit alleges that the officers thought Dymond, an African-American, was a hooker due to the "tight shorts" she was wearing, despite not fitting the racial description of any of the female suspects. The police went to the wrong house, two blocks away from the area of the reported illegal activity, Milburn's attorney, Anthony Griffin, tells Hair Balls.
After the incident, Dymond was hospitalized and suffered black eyes as well as throat and ear drum injuries.

How could a black girl in tight shorts not be mistaken for a prostitute?  Everyone knows our bodies are designed for consumption.  What business did this girl have dressing this way in her own backyard in the first place?

Given the racial and sexual nature of the assumptions made by the officers, one would assume that they would be at least contrite if not downright apologetic for their mistake, but that was not to be the case.  Two weeks after this incident they arrested the victim and her father who came to her aid for resisting arrest.

Two years later, "Dymond regularly suffers nightmares in which police officers are raping and beating her and cutting off her fingers, according to the lawsuit.Her trust in law and order  has been destroyed forever.

As the police continue to victim blame this story continues to be ignored by major media outlets.  It seems that when a black girl gets assaulted it is not newsworthy material.  We don't live in a world where black children matter despite the lie that we care about all children.

If a child is of colour, or is dealing with a form of disability, just like their adult counterparts they are disregarded.  This poor child is a victim of the lies that we have created to foster the power of some over the weak.  At 12 the lesson that she has learned is that her body makes her a person that is always marked.  No matter her innocence black womanhood means filth, disposable, and less than.  These white men jumped to this conclusion because it has been taught to them from birth.  Their inheritance unlike that of the victim was constructed in such a way as to allow them to view the world in a slave /master binary.

Daily the social reduction of bodies of colour occurs.  It is no accident that black girls are the ones that most likely to receive corporal punishment in the education systems that still allow it,  just as it was no accident that two black girls were chosen to re-enact the middle passage.  This little girl is the living example of the ways in which black women continue to suffer and yet we are not allowed to be angry.  When I tell black women that we need to reclaim sapphire it is for reasons like this.  How can one not feel rage when a daughter of our womb is subject to this kind of treatment?  We cannot afford to be doves of peace while our children weep bitter tears. 

H/T James Landrith

Social Justice and Racial Invisibility

I have a voice and I have determined to use it for good.  With it I speak my truth and affirm not only my humanity but those that are daily forgotten.  I am not alone in this, daily millions across the globe struggle in the cause of justice, unrewarded and unrecognized while daring to say or perform the truth.  One does not engage in social activism for the cookie, but for the belief that justice is a cause worth fighting for

Believing in the humanity of all makes me a complex woman.  There are times when I must battle my own privilege to see the oppression of others and there are times when I just STFU & L, because I am out of my depth but still wish to work as an ally.  As someone who actively seeks to learn something new each day I interact with a myriad of people.  One startling fact keeps coming to my attention, no matter what the social justice movement, fat acceptance, feminism, gay rights, little people, disability, gay rights, transgender  etc and etc black people are located squarely at the bottom of the hierarchy of power; furthermore black women specifically are almost voiceless.

We are voiceless though we are women, lesbians, fat, disabled, little people, transwomen etc and etc.  No matter what the social justice movement the recreation of the larger society is built over and over again.  We are told to eliminate race from the analysis and focus on the issue at hand.  White members of these groups can understand what it is to be marginalized by society but they simply cannot envision how complex life becomes when it intersects with race.

A black little person, or a black transwoman will have separate and unique issues that a white little person or transwoman will face.  Over sixty percent of the transwomen that have been killed have been of colour and when there is such a one sided statistic clearly race is an issue. Within the trans community it is the WOC that are stereotyped as prostitutes and treated as exotic others available for the sexual satisfaction of others.

Look at the leaders of these so-called justice movements and you will find one thing in common, they are overwhelmingly white.  It is as though they seek to regain power that the larger society has denied them due to difference by repressing those within their communities that are of colour.  White privilege must have an outlet to be reified.  In many cases these leaders have an even more familiar face, they are white and male.  MMM now where have I seen that leadership  pattern before?  Oh yes within the very society that they are trying to teach to accept difference.

No movement can be a true movement for justice until it considers the reality of the lived experience of all of its members.  To break down social construction what is needed is a concerted effort to employ intersectionality.  This does not dilute a movement, rather it makes it possible to widen the circle of allies.   It is not a competition to declare a winner in the "most oppressed" category, and who really wants that award? 

I am tired of asking where are the black people?  Where are the people that look like me and understand my experience.  Where are the people that can effectively relate to me their experiences in a language that is culturally familiar?  To the different leaderships we are only useful when we are filing, making coffee, doing menial work, or our vote is needed (think prop 8). 

We are continually reminded that white leadership will make the issue seem more sympathetic.  More sympathetic to whom I ask, and white people is the answer. It is our blood that is overwhelmingly being spilt, and it is our bodies that are overwhelmingly being beaten.  The movement for justice begins and ends with our liberation.

I am tired of asking where the hell where they, these movements that claim to work in the cause of justice.  Where were they when Brandon McClelland was killed?  Why were the faces in the crowd mostly black?  Where were they on the fight to put an end to Shirley Q Liquor?  Why was that just a case of comedy when it was offensive to every single black woman cisgendered  or transgendered that ever walked the planet?  Where were they when Tarika Wilson was shot to death, wasn't she a woman too?  When we can be used like Anita Hill to prove something, suddenly our womanhood is remembered. How many times do we have to ask this question? How many times do we need to beg for inclusion in a movement that supposedly represents us?

We need not be led around like farm animals that are paraded out for a vote and the  shoved back into a barn to await our next unhappy outing.  Find your voice and demand that these movements stand by the principles they claim to advocate. If whiteness can look out for whiteness, people of colour can advocate to for an end to injustice that creates us all as second class citizens.  When we go missing it doesn't show up on CNN, but let a white woman going missing, or have violence done against her and the media cannot stop saying her name. Every person of colour man, woman, child  means something.  Every single one of us matters. 

To stand by the racist assumption that one form of marginalization out weighs the racism that people of colour face is aiding and abetting whiteness in its attempt to maintain a racial hegemony on power.  If women can fight to take back the night we can fight to back our lives.  We can fight to decide what will be a priority.  If we must fund our own projects then so be it.  Enough with allowing whiteness to set the agenda as they have made it more than clear, their suffering is what matters most in this world.  If you are going to bleed make it count for something.


It's Christmas Can't you hide your ignorance?

This is going to be a cryptic post in order to hide the identity of the persons involved.  One of my best friends just called in a state of shock.  He is the only black man at a management level in his department.  He gives one hundred and ten percent to his employer and fellow associates.  Quite honestly, if you have him as an employee you have a very valuable resource. 

At Christmas most feel it is time to show their appreciation to others for the hard work that they do each day.  It came as no surprise when he received a token gift. He was pleased with it until he realized one thing.

image

This little Christmas treat came in two shades.  All of the other workers, White, Filipino, and Chinese received the lighter toned Santa, while my black friend received the dark  Santa.  Many thought that this was a hilarious joke.  Yes, why not remind someone of the painfully obvious, he is black and a minority, ha ha ha how fucking hilarious.  Do people think he does not know he is black  every time he looks at his own body?

I am infuriated on his behalf.  He is a good man, and deserves better than this.  Despite all his hard work, intelligence, and gentle soul, what people still associate with him is the blackness of his skin.  Is it any wonder they call Canada the great white north?

This gift is all the more ironic given our conversation earlier today, when I explained why I listened so closely when white people spoke before I would consider them for friendship.  You see it is quite common to hear expressions of racism directed at other minority groups.  Some feel that if they are not speaking about blacks that I should not find offence, but what it says to me is that they have they ability to deny their privilege. It further causes me to question what are they saying about blacks when I am not standing right next to them? A racist against one minority is a racist against all.

I am not as well liked as my friend.  This probably stems from the fact that I am far more vocal about what I will not tolerate.  I have been told that I am overly sensitive and miserable.  I make people uncomfortable.  There was a time when I was hurt by this, until I realized that their discomfort stemmed from the the fact that they were not free to display their ignorance, racism, and hostility in my presence.   I have been lectured about choosing my battles.  To that I respond, every time a human being is being devalued it is my problem. 

I may be an angry black woman, but it is not without cause.   I am offended by the privilege and racism that gets passed off as a harmless joke; while its sole purpose is to create someone as less than and reaffirm a hierarchy of beings. The denial of the daily racist acts which people of colour must live with infuriates me.  This shit is not funny. 

I am further exasperated with the whole "I am appalled and shocked that this is happening" as though it is news that racism is something we deal with every day. Save your shock and awe for the first landing on Mars.  What the hell did you think racism looked like, a bed of fucking roses on a summer day?  It is your own blindness that you are astounded with. 

Black people have been calling this kind of shit for heaven and a day and what do we get but resentment and denial?  It's not really that bad anymore, look there is a black president.  Well great for Barack, but he is not the only black man on the planet and just look at the racist attacks he had to put up with to become president.  Oh I forgot you didn't know racism was that bad.

Well for those that were dreaming of a white Christmas I suppose the answer is not to pray for snow, but to ensure that they do their very best into turning what should be a peaceful holiday into a celebration of privilege.  Racism is the gift that keeps giving.  Each act compounds upon the acts of the past to render the person of colour as not only less than, but marginalized and forgotten.  The double bonus of allowing these racist acts to go unchallenged means that the next generation is set up to enjoy the privilege that their parents had.  What a legacy, who wouldn't want to bequeath that to the future? Peace on earth and good will to men indeed.


PUSSY

This video is not safe for work.

After that bit of truth telling what more needs to be said?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Black Jesus: Speaking of Internalized Racism

This video is NSFW

I find this video disturbing on many levels.  We must keep in mind that Jesus in the western world is largely imagined as white, blonde haired and blue eyed.  When we consider the area of the world that he lived  the possibility of him being white is minute. Having a white deity alienates POC who were forced into giving up their traditional ways of worship at the slave owners bequest. 

Some would say that it should not matter what colour Jesus was, but my question is, if it does  not matter, why was it necessary to portray him as white?  The idea of colour not being an issue only seems to occur when the whiteness of Jesus is challenged.

The idea of POC reclaiming Jesus should be a racially positive experience.  When a black Jesus is portrayed with the word nigger coming from his mouth, it  just delegitmizes the claim  that he was a person of colour. Despite the mantra of word reclamation, nigger will always be a foul expression.  You cannot reclaim something that never belonged to you; furthermore no reconceptualization of blackness can begin with the word nigger being a starting point.

I debated whether or not to post this video when I first came across it at pikahsso, because of its disgusting nature; however hiding internalized racism will not make it disappear.  There comes a time when we must throw off the shackles of those that seek to demean us.  Casually referring to each other as nigger only affirms that this word is acceptable.  A word that has it origins in hate cannot be used to express love.

Creating videos like this is collusion with those that seek to construct us as less than.  It is admitting defeat.  Shucking and Jiving might give you fifteen minutes of fame, but respecting yourself and your ancestors battles will last a lifetime. If you want to play Jesus learn to love yourself as he loves you. 

It is this kind of internalized racism that keeps blacks down as a race.  When you refer to yourself or your peer group as niggers you are doing the Masters Work.  Whiteness does not want you to love yourself.  Whiteness wants you to despise every inch of your being.  Getting the prisoners to police themselves is the easiest way to run any jail and when blacks engage in internalized racism we make it easier to reify every single negative social construction that is attributed to us. 

It is just as easy to say nigger as it is walk down the street with head held high.  This is an active choice.  There comes a time when we all must decide what our worth is.  You can either choose to believe those that daily profit from dehumanizing you, or work towards uplifting yourself.  Remember that someone loved you so much that they survived on menstrual blood, feces and urine during the middle passage so that you could walk the earth today.  Remember that someone loved you so much that survived all manner of degradation so that you could walk the earth on this day.  Don't your ancestors deserve better than to have their struggle demeaned by your own hatred?


Dennis Prager On Shame Makes My Head Explode

image The most privileged group in a America, heterosexual white males want minorities to feel ashamed.  Yes, it seems the pendulum has swung to far and we must all admit to some form of cultural culpability to move beyond the infant status.  Take a breath right here, because the shit is really about to stink.

Why does one almost never hear expressions of group shame from members of any American group other than white Christians (specifically, white Christian male heterosexuals)? Are the only evildoers in America white male heterosexual Christians? Is there something inherently wrong about members of minorities expressing anything but group pride? Are there no minority sins worthy of shame? The latter is in fact the argument advanced by many intellectuals concerning black racism, for example. For a generation, college students have been taught that it is impossible for blacks to be racist because only the racial group in power, i.e. whites, can express racism.

Of course, that is nonsense. A black can be a racist just as a white can be one. A minority race might not have the power to implement racist national policies, but that hardly means that no minority group, or any individual, can be racist.

Can someone please explain to me what "A Black" is?  I know there are black people but I have never heard of "A Black".  While this man is trying to educate the world about racism he clearly has no problem resorting to racism to prove his point. 

This so-called black racism that he speaks about is a reactionary emotion to generations of marginalization and exploitation at the hands of white males just like Prager.  I am sure  he would  be happy if we would just all shuck and jive our way into silence and submission, but some black people demand the right to express their anger at our daily humiliations.  Whiteness wants capitulation and we are daily reminded of this.

Prager is not looking for expressions of cultural or racial shame, what he wants is an admission that we are indeed everything that society projects us to be. 

The labeling of blacks who express shame over disproportionate rates of violent crime and out-of-wedlock births in the black community as "Uncle Toms" is another.

There he goes speaking about a phenomenon that he clearly does not understand.  The reason people who speak about violent crime and out-of-wedlock birth are routinely challenged is because their analysis often fails to account for the systemic racism that blacks live with everyday. If a child is shown from birth that she/he is less than, streamed into non academic courses, and is raised in poverty what results are to be expected?  Yes rail against the poor and the disenfranchised for the very circumstances that society breeds, while white men like Prager get to pat themselves on the back for taking advantage of every privilege that he was born with.

If you are born with a silver fucking spoon in your mouth it is not that difficult to reproduce wealth.  Anyone see any poor Vanderbilts, Kennedys, or Bushs running around?  Anyone notice that the connection of wealth to family dynasty's in the western world that are overwhelmingly white?  How many legacy's of colour do you think attended Princeton, Yale and Harvard in comparison to white legacies? Somehow, quite unimaginably we are meant to feel shame for the social conditions that are beyond our control.

If poverty, crime, and teenage pregnancy truly disturb you Prager, the way to combat it is to acknowledging your white privilege.  No one, and that includes blacks want to live like this.  The problem is that men like Prager are unwilling to yield their ill gotten gains for the greater good.  Instead it is far easier for them to convince themselves that individual responsibility is the correct frame of mind thus ignoring the fact that we are highly social animals.  No one is outside of socialization and Prager is the perfect example of the contemptible audacity of whiteness. 

Being a minority doesn't exempt its members from moral responsibility. It will be a great day for America and the world when minorities begin to express shame as well as pride. In fact, there is real pride in expressing shame. Minorities should give it a try.

Well since he is such an advocate of expressing shame, perhaps he should apply it to this contemptible little piece and apologize to every single person that he offended by this diatribe.  Show shame indeed-- you first asshat.


All Children Are Not The Same

Some people just love to wallow in their privilege and create others as invisible.  In an earlier post at Ann J Cooke she employed the referential black to explain the ways in which children are marginalzed.  After being called out, one would think that it would behove this woman of privilege, to examine the ways in which her arguments are offensive, but some people seem to need to take several cracks at the nut to get what for POC is pretty damn obvious.  Hello Anne the stink of privilege is getting to be a little strong.

In her latest lets support the children while ignoring the experiences of POC she decides that universalizing is the way to gain rights for children.

Last I checked, childhood is about as universal an experience as we human beings can claim. It is not as if children are only born to white, upper-class heterosexual adults with advanced degrees. The assumption that because I write about young people I belong to these categories says more, it seems to me, about the invisibility of the world’s children than it does about my own identity.** If “child” to a person who reads this blog automatically means white, rich, ivy-league-destined, non-queer child raised by white, rich, straight, ivy-league-educated parents, where does that leave the children who do not fit into that identity? Invisible? Irrelevant?

In the words of Shakespeare, we are all of woman born; however from the moment we take our first breathe the social divisions that are encoded to the body immediately become realized.  No one is born outside of discourse.

My beautiful baby Destruction will be 8 in the spring.  Though he is largely responsible for the swath of gray hair I have developed in the last few years, he is a beautiful, intelligent, loving child (sorry had to have a proud mama moment) As a baby he had no idea of his bi-racial identity.  People would often comment how beautiful he was, after of course inquiring if I the woman that gave him life was his mother.  Every where he went store owners would offer him free candy, or samples to which he would politely decline, or accept depending on his mood.

For the briefest of moments he lived with the illusion that all the world existed to adore him.  Why would he not, people were universally kind to him, his father and I doted on him, his life was a reflection of love. I remember him holding my hand thoughtfully and announcing "I am brown like you mommy".  It was a simple statement but to me an acknowledgement of his pride in not only me as his mother, but in the legacy I had bequeathed to him from my womb

Then it happened, the inevitable..he left his toddler days behind and became a little boy (this in spite of me begging him not to grow up) The same store owners that gave him treats now observe him closely to ensure that he is not stealing. The first time my baby was called a nigger and a brown boy, he was five years old.  I repeat five years old. Coming from an interracial household where race was not readily a marker of difference, the taunt hurt and confused him all the more. His father and I were always aware that we were going to have to discuss racism and difference with him, but how many white children learn at the age of five that the colour of their skin makes them less than, and worthy of such evil name calling? 

There is my beautiful child learning about the world and what does it choose to show him, but the ugliest that it has to offer.  His gender and his race work together to inform how others react to him.  When he lost his temper at the teasing as anyone would, it was not the child that verbally abused him that was stigmatized, but my boy for supposedly having a violent personality.  It seems that black boys should be born with the ability to internalize the hatred of others without complaint.

I have gone to battle with schools, parents, organized teams and all matter of people who seek diminish my son.  They will not rob him of his self pride so long as I live and breathe.  Destruction is lucky in this, as many parents disengage and leave their children to face the world alone to beaten down by their own life experiences.  His father and I are committed to protecting and nurturing him until he can fight his own battles. 

I have watched him struggle looking for role models to fashion himself after. I will always be thankful for Barack Obama for providing a positive image that he can identify with.  He knows Baracks story and the lesson he has taken is to hold his head up in the face of adversity.  My child walks proud not because of the way the world treats him, but in spite of it.

When parents are telling their children that police officers are people that they can turn to in times of need, I must tell my child that he should approach with suspicion. The law is not necessarily a friend to a black man, as I am sure Sean Bell would testify to if he could.  How many white children must learn this lesson at the age of seven?

Today when I steal a kiss in public, (yeah apparently big boys don't kiss their moms when others can see) we no longer receive the stares that we once did because his skin has darkened with age and he now looks like a black child.  This has only be replaced by the stares he gets when he is out with his father.  What does that strange green eyed six foot tall white man want with a little brown boy anyway...he is his father you idiot and your staring is rude and intrusive.  This happens every single time they leave the house together.  What is this teaching my boy but to view the relationship with the man that loves him the most as an oddity? 

There are plenty of experiences of the ways in which race complicates his life but I trust that I have made my point.  Childhood is not a universal experience.  Just like anything in life the way we experience it is highly influenced by race, class and gender.  What is occurring in Destructions life is highly different than what occurs in the life of a white child of privilege.  While the world is steadily working to indoctrinate him into believing that he does not have the right to occupy space, or live with human dignity, that same white child is being affirmed as a person of value and offered as much privilege as their race and class status can afford.

While it might be convenient for Ann J Cooke to wax on about the universalizing experiences of childhood, my boy deserves better than that.  The struggles that he has already faced in seven years deserve to be recognized.  I will fight anyone that tells me to sweep it under the rug and pretend that none of it is concrete, or important.  Whiteness as the norm is what is wrong with her analysis, and I for one am tired of POC being ignored so that white people can spin their fantastical fairy tales.  Ms. Cooke your privilege is showing please move upwind the stink is suffocating.


Burger King Flame: All Women Want The Meat

image It does not take long for a novelty item to play upon sex and sexism to sell itself.  I was peacefully watching Lou Dobbs when he aired a segment on FLAME, Burger Kings new scent.  For the price of 3.99 you can smell like a burger.

What could go better with a meaty man than a woman who is sexually overcome?  Don't all girls just want the meat.  MMM yeah a meaty man is enough to get us to drool and forget the good sense that we were born with.

I suppose that Burger King plans to convert the worlds lesbians by sharing with the smell of FLAME.  I get the plan now. The desire for an over processed, high fat and sodium cardboard burger is enough to make them want the meat.  Flame is going to revolutionize sexuality.

It just occurs to me that while this whole crave the meat pitch that they have running "converts" lesbians, what does it do for gay men who already love the meat. I guess Burger King didn't quite think this one through, unless of course it was to remind women that ultimately what matters  in this world is that we desire men sexually at all times.  Though this is just a cheap marketing gimmick  it still plays on the idea that women are meant to subvert their will to the great dick.  The advertising campaign stinks as badly as I am sure their new cheap cologne does.

Would it really be that hard to sell something without reducing women in this way? If the idea is to promote their burgers, shouldn't that be the central focus, rather than having a  woman  become instantly orgasmic at the smell of this cheap shit.  Seriously, it reminds me of the fake moans that you see in every money shot in a porn flick. I am tired of the perform on cue, false female sexuality that is promoted by patriarchy.  This a male centred vision of how best to control women and it turns us into toys that can be easily manipulated for pleasure. 

I tell you they knew better than to hire me because my performance would have been reduced to single finger gesture. I'll leave the rest to your imagination.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I'm Gonna Tell You Some Truth

When I walk down the street my dreadlocks swaying in the breeze, I am one hundred percent a beautiful black woman.  I know the world would have me forget my value, and lower my eyes at passersby, but my will cannot be denied.  I know that when people see me that every negative characteristic that is wedded to black femininity:  Jezebel, Mammy, Sapphire, is attached to my beautiful body.  They see a body that they hope to exploit and marginalize for the sake of maintaining a hierarchy that places women like me firmly at the bottom.

For someone else's privilege I meant to lower my head.  For someone else's privilege I meant to pretend I don't understand the code words, or know that the intent is to demean my humanity.  Black women aren't pretty they tell me.  We are wild an untamed.  Black girls aren't soft and feminine. To that I respond, you don't want a woman you want a slave.

I know my worth and I know my value, it is just far to much for the likes of you. I must inform you without sadness or regret, you shall not be exalted by my diminishment.  The false offers of friendship ring hollow in my ears.  I know the truth, I've know it for years. 

You're all about equality, friendship and love until you are put to the test.  Do you think I don't see how you accept the racism of others and pronounce yourself not guilty because you didn't participate?  If you don't speak out against racism and stand in silence you are protecting your privilege, there are no free passes in this life.

Do you think going to consciousness raisings, or standing in protest with an ironic placard is fighting for justice? You don't want the revolution you claim to seek.  Justice is living each and every single day for a better world.  It means standing by your principles when they cost you something.  It means being the one in the room that says that shit isn't funny, even though you know you are going to be accused of not having a sense of humour.  It is having the courage to know that equality means not lowering yourself to someone, but lifting the bar so that we may all have our share.

I understand that people mess up.  Society has much invested in teaching us to ignore the ways in which we are unfairly privileged.  We have a tendency to look at our labours and discount the privilege that created many of the opportunities in our life.  Where you born middle class, white, able bodied, straight, cisgendered, in a western country...Let me tell you honey, you have some privilege. 

There are times when you may wish that privilege was something that you could just give away and that is a false fixation.  Every single day of your life you will have that privilege so rather than wishing it away, do some good with it.  A bit of microactvism ever day with the belief that holding your head up high and encouraging others to do the same in the face of ignorance, is an act of revolution.  Loving yourself in the face of the ugliness that seeks to subsume you is activism come alive. Don't believe the lies, don't believe the hype, truth may be ugly , but it is real and haven't we all had enough bullshit to last us years?

So I told you some truth today, and it is up to you what you do with it.  Deal with it, ignore it, embrace it the choice is is yours, but my truth is real to me.  That woman with dreadlocks and the keen eye with the wicked smile is on to you. The lies, the social construction, the meanness and the hate, all designed so that people like myself doubt our worth .  I am someone, I am here and I am black and beautiful.  Deal with it. 


I Have Biracial Hair

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Unfortunately The embedding for this video is down. But it really must be seen. Click here and listen with your heart.

What If the Virgin Mary Didn't Remain A Virgin

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Well there it is, the cover that has everyone talking.  Playboy released this magazine featuring Maria Florencia Onori. It hit the stands a day before Mexico's traditional Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, a celebration of an apparition of the Virgin in the town.  Playboy has since apologized claiming that the image was not meant to resemble that of the virgin Mary.

I wonder if playboy has swampland in Florida for sale, because clearly this is a line of bullshit.  Of course they meant people to refer to the virgin Mary.  It got everyone talking and that was the point.

I of course have my own unique take on this.  The bibles two most famous Marys are in strict contrast to one another.  You have Mary the mother of Jesus, supposedly pure and sainted to the end and Mary Magdalene the reformed whore.  I find it extremely interesting that what is most discussed about these women is their sexual behaviour.  Mary is blessed not only because she is mother of Jesus, but because she retains her virginity; she is the polar opposite of the licentious Magdalene.  Considering that the Judeo Christianity is the foundation of western countries, is it really surprising that to this day much of a womans value is tied to what she chooses to do with her vagina?

What if after the birth of Jesus, Mary did not remain a virgin?  What if Jesus had brothers?  How does this change our understanding of Mary?  The idea that she was a flesh and blood woman with carnal desires should not be disturbing, or even considered sacrilegious.  Mary in this image is not divorced from her humanity, she is real and concrete.

Conceptualizing Mary in this way is not only theologically liberating, it frees women to embrace their sexuality.  The idea that one need remain pure to be a being worthy of worship cedes control of the body to others.  As evolved as we claim to be much of female sexuality is highly disciplined and firmly under the control of men.  Woman as seductress, or evil temptress can be traced directly back to the biblical imaginings. 

If we were to free Mary from the straight jacket of virginity would we not at the same time free all women from the same rigid standards?  What if we were to have a sexuality that acted freely in its own service akin to the biblical men.  Two husbands perhaps, matrilineal descent...a separation of value from private action.  A true liberation of the binding religious moors created by men to benefit men.

A sexual Mary stands for a  womanhood that is neither shamed, nor defiled.  A woman that understands that seeking physical pleasure is  not a reduction of her being, but embracing all aspects of her femininity; a liberated womanhood.  Ultimately a sexual Mary is shocking only to those who seek to continue to view women through a religious patriarchal lens. 

When women are sexual we are whores and less than, and when a man is sexual it is part of the natural construction of masculinity.  Women are to engage in sex unwillingly, a burden in the cause of perpetuation of the species.  Men are to embrace sexuality as an essential part of an evolved masculinity.  Men are often encouraged to engage in sex as a ritual of maturation; whereas a mature femininity is measured by our ability to nurture.  None of these attributes are due to nature, they are the result of nurture.  We perpetuate the division using religious text to claim that if not natural it is the path to God. 

This image of Mary poses the question what if the path to God is embracing our physical beings and embracing the pleasure that she/he has created our bodies to experience.  Even within married circles where sex is a sanctioned act it is often whispered about as though it were a vile dirty act.  Sex need not be something we feel ashamed of, whether for the purposes of reproduction, or pleasure; it is part of the human experience. 

Divinity as we have constructed it need not be attached to the corporeal beings which we inhabit.  Though this was clearly an attempt on the part of playboy to shock, perhaps we should take a moment to reflect upon why this image inspired the reaction that did.  What does it say about the role of women and are we better served by the concept of Mary as a whole being?


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Adolph Hitler Campbell

image When children are born they have the ability to see colour but they don't attach value to difference.  It is adults that actively teach bias and hatred to children. The perfect example of this is little Adolph Hitler Campbell.  The only reason to name a child after one of history's greatest monsters is a belief in the Nazi program, of terror and genocide.

Little Campbell is already being made to pay for his parents hatred.  The family attempted to get a cake made inscribed happy birthday Adolf Hitler at ShopRite and were refused.  They were offered a blank cake to inscribe themselves and they turned it down. 

"We believe the request ... to inscribe a birthday wish to Adolf Hitler is inappropriate," said Karen Meleta, a ShopRite spokeswoman.

I feel sorry that little Adolph will not be receiving his birthday cake, but I fully support the decision made by ShopRite.  There are not enough businesses that are willing to forgo profit to make the moral decisions that are necessary to recognizing our shared humanity.

As I look at this child I cannot help but feel a sense of sadness.  At the age of three he is pure and innocent and in a few years he will be so indoctrinated by his parents hatred, that he will be an ugly human being to interact with.  Though parents do exist with the right to pass on traditions and morals to their children, the passage of this kind of hate is most certainly a form of child abuse.  This is a violation of the sacred trust between parent and child.

Hate will rob him of many things in this life, even with the white privilege that is encoded to his body.  There is much he will never experience, or learn simply because he will grow to believe that those that do not look like him are beneath him. 

It is my hope that child protective services will intervene for the good of this child.  Being raised in a home that glorifies the horrors of the Nazis will hamper his ability to live a successful and happy life, as well as damage those that come into contact with him.

As an anti-racist parent I find this story appalling.  Incidents like this should serve as a reminder to us all to check our privileges and ensure that we are not passing on to the next generation a legacy of the worst crimes of humanity.  We have the social myth that each generation race relations get better, but clearly we are not far removed from the past if people still find it acceptable to teach such obvious hatred.

Being an anti-racist is hard work, but it is something that we must all commit to if we are ever to reach a time when we can look at our neighbour and truly see their humanity.  The world has seen enough violence and bloodshed, we need not add to it by perpetuating the idea that the sole value of an individual can be gauged by the colour of ones skin, creed, religion or ethnicity.

H/T Shakesville and Feministing


Breaking News: Oprah Weighs 200 Pounds!!!

I have a new article up at Global Comment

With all of the scandal that broke in Illinois this week, the announcement that Oprah Winfrey now tips the scales at 200 pounds was still considered a newsworthy item. It was reported by the Associated Press, in O magazine and by Anderson Cooper. I understand that CNN has twenty-four hours to fill with news, but really, is a woman’s weight a matter of national concern?

Since Oprah entered the limelight she has battled with the bulge. Over the years we have watched her move from skinny jeans to elastic waist. What has bothered me most about viewing each yo-yo swing is that she only seems to portray satisfaction when she has reached a body weight that she is clearly unable to maintain.

“I’m mad at myself,” Winfrey writes in an article provided early to The Associated Press by Harpo Productions.

“I’m embarrassed,” she writes. “I can’t believe that after all these years, all the things I know how to do, I’m still talking about my weight. I look at my thinner self and think, `How did I let this happen again?’

Somehow the number 200 is viewed as intolerable; however her body keeps cycling this way. Could it not possibly be that this is the weight that she intended to be in the first place? Culturally we have made the skinny, near-to-anorexic body out to be the ideal. Women have died living on chicklets in an attempt to gain the much beloved size zero.

There are some that would argue that Oprahs weight has become the target of conversation because she is an iconic figure; however it is my belief that furor over her weight gain speaks to the ways in which society has invested in disciplining the female body.

Finish Reading here

Two Announcements

Many of you have reported having difficulty with the new commenting system.  I have contacted Intense Debate and it is my hope to have the issue resolved forthwith.  Please continue to report any difficulties you may be having to womanistmusings@gmail.com I understand that this is frustrating and that it hampers the flow of conversation but it is a necessary headache at this point to ensure that womanistmusings is a safe space for debate.  Many of the threads have been infected by trolls and this has not only stunted conversation but at times made it a very hostile environment. 

Item 2

I have added a few new blogs to the blogroll. Please check them out.  They are all written by WOC.  I feel that it is important to hear from different voices to enlarge the conversation. 

Thanks for your patience everyone,

Renee

Editors Note: I believe that the commenting issues have been resolved. If you continue to have issues please e-mail me at the above address.

Imagine If You Said That About Blacks

I have gone on about the its just like Rosa Parks argument that is used by some members of the gay community to discuss the rabid homophobia in society, but I feel that I must point out that this is not a phenomenon that is unique to them.  The referential black is quite often used and it is insulting

Let's say for example that someone says something that is clearly abelist, or sexist, it is not okay to respond with that is offensive, imagine if you said something like that about blacks.  This is a common response often used by liberals to point out an offence and it is racist.  You cannot use one ism to counteract another.

The black referential has got to stop.  Here is just one example of what I am talking about.

That is not the question at issue here. The question here is why people such as b.g. feel perfectly free to refer sneeringly to young human beings as "feral . . . apes" in a public space (this blog) when presumably, they would not feel free to make a similar remark about a black person. Or if they did, they would be held accountable.

As you can clearly see this comes from the idea that we have reached a post racial world wherein racist behaviour is no longer tolerable in a public space.  Obviously only the audacity of whiteness could make such a claim.  How many times do blacks have to have code words thrown at us only to have it ignored ,or told that we are too sensitive, or disciplined and called angry?

Spend a day listening to the likes of Hannity, Limbaugh, Savage, or O'Reilly and tell me again that racism is not publicly unacceptable.  These men get paid to engage in racism.  They have millions of followers.  Where is the overwhelming dissent that comes with the referential black meme?

It never ceases to amaze me, liberal or not the ways in which whiteness continues to find the ability to use racial difference to its advantage. Of course because they are coming from a supposed liberal position it cannot possibly be racist right ---WRONG. 

The referential black serves as a an erasure of the systemic inequality that is still in existence while allowing the white speaker to portray a form of progressiveness that is false.  It is further a form of leveraging between the isms. It screams look at meeee I'm so downtrodden that I'm lower than the blacks. It reasserts a hierarchy of being wherein if you are supposedly being treated worse than a black person you are oppressed.

The imagine "if the blacks were being spoken about like this" also presupposes that there are no black members in the group in question.  There is no standard black identity which means that within any group that is currently undergoing marginalization it quite possible in fact highly likely that there are black members.

So I have a new one, Imagine if blacks were treated as though we are equal human beings.  Imagine if our presence in any minority group was not only acknowledged but respected. Imagine if for one moment in time people would think consciously about the ways in which they "other" people under the guise of pushing a liberal agenda. I won't hold my breathe though, I have children to live for and I am confident that such a change is a long time in coming.


The Dance Evolution

Yeah I needed a laugh and a break.

H/T Random Babble

Monday, December 15, 2008

Winifred Graduates College At 85

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When I first saw this story on CNN, I could not help but to be inspired.  Winifred Jennings is graduating tomorrow from Metropolitan State College of Denver.  She had attended a year of college in 1941, but as so often happens life got in the way.

What this reminds us all, is that it is never too late to follow your dreams.  If this grandmother of 16 can pursue and complete her education we all can.  This story was also important to me because it is about education. 

Education is the key to success in this life.  In a world where many women live in poverty, education can literally change lives.  Please join me in congratulating Winifred, may she stand as an example to us all of the results of determination and sheer will. 

To borrow a phrase from feministing....feminist fuck ya!

The Amazing Racist KKK In The Ghetto

The following video is NSFW as it contains swearing.

Clearly this asshole thought that this was a simple practical joke.  Sure, put on  white sheets, travel through a black neighbourhood and trigger them.  The KKK never was, or ever will be a laughing matter to people that have been lynched, beaten, raped, horsewhipped etc. 

What started as a social club for white men quickly became an internal terrorist organization. It spent years using violence to maintain white hegemony, yet this little "practical joke" is meant to be funny.  I suppose someone will tell me that I am being to sensitive and that we should laugh at the past; but the reality is that even though the KKK is no longer as violent as they once were, they still exist for the single purpose of terrorizing bodies of colour.

When people speak about living in a post racial world, it is the incidents like this that they are purposefully ignoring.  Each and everyday most people of colour will face either intentional, or unintentional racism. While it is not often as blatant as this, it still has the effect of challenging our humanity.  Racism is daily maintained by individual acts.

When viewing this video I am sure that the racism was easy to spot.  If one is even slightly aware of the history of the KKK, the terror behind this joke is readily apparent.  Some may even feel sympathy for the rage displayed by those that were targeted.  What I want is for you to remember that rage.  The lesson to take from this video is that it is not your intent that matters, but how it makes people feel. 

If you have said or done something that a person of colour deems racist, consider for a moment that  because you have not experienced incidents like this little KKK joke, you really have no understanding of what it means to be "othered" because of the colour your skin.  Instead of getting upset when you are called on your privilege, understand that not all  incidents will be as obvious as this; however the offence will be based in the same thing.   If you can believe racism when it is as bold as a white sheet, or a racial epithet, consider that it is as real when it occurs in code words, and small slights.  The net effect is whether obvious or not, action akin to this exists to maintain racial hierarchy.


What's That Smell? English Women Don't Wash Their Genitals

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis says English women 'do not wash their genitalia'. De Laurentiis was reacting to four Napoli players being linked with moves to England. 'If these players piss me off then, OK, they can piss off to England. But they need to understand this: the English live badly, eat badly and their women do not wash their genitalia. To them, a bidet is a mystery.'

Here we have a conflict between men, and who ends up being disciplined..naturally women.  It only makes sense that the way to truly insult a man is to put down his mate, or potential mate because women are naturally the possession of males and not their equals.

When patriarchy is not busy slut shaming us, exploiting us, or abusing of us they use their free time to remind us that we are just foul smelling women.  Certainly we are all beneath them, after all who ever heard of a man having a smelly groin, nope only vaginas stink.

I wonder if he has gone to Britain and personally sniffed every single vagina? Has he followed women into the bathroom to ascertain their washrooms habits?  The only thing that De Larentiis knows for certain is that some of his football players may leave his team.  Apparently that is upsetting enough to demean all women, for why else do women exist if not to serve as the brunt of male frustration.

I could do a rant about what a douche De Laurentiis is, or go into the theory behind the idea that vaginas stink, but honestly I am sick of dealing with this crap.  I am sick of saying how offended I am, only to turn around and run into some asshat douche who thinks that he exists with the right to demean women because he was born with a penis between his legs. 

I am not a hater of penises. I think that they are pretty cool, however the power we ascribe to them is ridiculous.  Let's consider that they are notoriously unreliable. You never know if they are going to show up for work and once they get there who knows if they are going to fall asleep on the job or not.  They have a nasty habit of spitting; at times without warning, and there is really no mystery to them.   They simply bounce along day after day weighed down by two furry testicles that remind of Benwa Balls without the benefits. Is this really something we should be worshipping? If a penis was a worker not even the strongest union could stop it from being fired.

So De Laurentiis until you can recognize that there is nothing special about you, outside of your privilege please  STFU & L.  The world has enough pollution without you adding to it.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bush Dodges Shoe

Who would have thought that Bush still had such quick reflexes.  He  probably thought someone would try something one day given all the shit that he has done.  My only regret with this is that the Iraqi reporter missed his mark.

Secret Shame: Commercials

I continually press for us a society to consume less.  As I mentioned in an earlier secret shame my family composts, recycles and buys used as often as we can.  Even with all of the principles that I have, I must still admit to a weakness for commercials.  Yes those 30 seconds spots designed to get us to want things that we don't need.  If they have a great jingle or tag line I am hooked.

It gets to the point where the unhusband downright looses his patience as I sing along with the commercial or say the lines.  I cannot help it they amuse me.  It certainly doesn't mean that I am going to buy the item that they are trying to pitch to me. but I will watch and happily sing along.

For someone who is as anti-capitalism as I am, this fascination with commercials is beyond ridiculous.  Imagine a Marxist in love with capitalist eye candy.  Of course I justify it by claiming that they are a mini art form but this a weak excuse even to me.

The following are a few that have caught my attention over the years.

 

This obsession of mine is close to the one I have for reality tv but once again I am convinced that I am not the only one with a love of this "twisted art". So hit me in the comment section with some of your fav commercials.


Baby, Baby You're Too Sensitive

Quite a few of you already follow me on twitter.  The other night I was hanging out and tweeting nonsense to amuse myself when I ran into MCHammer.  What should have been a pleasant conversation with a man I used to mimic quickly turned unpleasant when he decided to call me baby.

Being a woman that is not afraid of confrontation, of course I told him where to go in short order.  Any man that steps to me had better be prepared for the consequences.  If I am not sleeping with you, or have a familial relationship with you (and that doesn't necessarily make you safe), baby, sweetie, dear, honey etc are off the table. 

Of course this has been could not see the error of his ways.   Men have a tendency to turn to these terms of endearment when they wish to assert patriarchal privilege, and diminish the importance of what we are saying or doing.  It is the verbal expression of power.

There have been many that claim that women who get upset with such familiarity are simply being to sensitive.   The minute you hear a privileged person say, or imply that another is being to sensitive rest assured that they are only concerned about themselves.  What about meeeeee, what do you mean I don't exist with the right to degrade your person at will. Can't you see I'm white/male/rich/straight/able bodied etc.  Pick your privilege poison and you can be damn certain that someone will be right along to deny it.

I often try to respond to privilege denial with patience.  I usually give the person the benefit of the doubt and assume that they have never been exposed to such ideas.  Though it is not my job, or the job of any marginalized body to teach the oppressor, I will often attempt to convey knowledge.  In most cases this involves pointing out the painfully obvious.  If I meet with resistance, the conversation is quickly ended.  As a WOC I already negotiate two stigmatizations, and honestly I am not going to hurt my head, or gain anymore gray hair over someone else's ignorance.

This is usually the point when the conversation gets sticky.  Not only does the privileged body feel entitled to belittle the marginalized body they expect us to be happy about it.  OOOOh don't be angry, that's just how things work.  Step out of line and I'll have to label you an angry black woman.  You have got to know your place in this life, and it is securely under my boot.

What I found most interesting about my exchange is not that he displayed patriarchal privilege, but those that felt that calling me baby was not offensive.  I would like to know how it is possible for another to decide what is and isn't offensive to me.   You see when you are the marginalized body others always feel that they have the right to set the rules of engagement. 

It occurs to me that what needs to happen is for those us that society has decided to construct as "other" to decide our own rules of engagement.  Let's stop pretending that these are harmless exchanges that don't cause us heartache and stress.  Let's tell these privilege deniers directly without any form of apology the true cost of their actions and their speech.  It occurs to me that speaking our truth may not win any popularity contests, but it sure as hell goes a long way to relieving some of the undue stress we are forced to live with.

Let's be honest, if they are already denying their privilege they already regard you as a person who is beneath them; and therefore I don't see the point in engaging in niceties that allow their privilege to flourish.  Seriously, why walk around with their baggage? If someone is determined to hold onto their privilege there is nothing that you can do to change that.  You might as well get your satisfaction from speaking your peace.

At this time I would like to encourage those of you who like me are negotiating marginalized identities to find your voice.  As a single person you cannot change the systemic inequality, but you can give yourself a sense of freedom by releasing some of the angst that comes with being "othered".  None of the privileged bodies are going to willingly give up their power, nor are they suddenly going to have a change of heart and redistribute their ill gotten gains, so what do you have to loose?

It seems to me that this can only be a win/win situation.  The privileged body will get exactly what they were looking for, for having the audacity to step to you with their ignorance, and you will validate your own humanity by rejecting the negativity that they wish to impose upon you.  It is almost the time for News Years resolutions, and this year I would encourage those of you who have not already done so to find your voice,