Saturday, January 3, 2009

Racism From Generation To Generation

For those that cannot view the video: The child is saying sparkling wiggles but it sounds like fucking niggers.

Transcript:

Child: Hey Sparkling wiggles. There's so many sparkling wiggles at the party. 

Parents: No sparkling wiggles here

Child: No sparkling wiggles here

Parent: Say get a job sparkling wiggles

Child: Get a a job sparkling wiggles

Clearly this child is not to be faulted for her mispronunciation of sparkling wiggles.  When children are learning how to speak, they often confuse words.  The issue here is that her parents are delighted with her mispronunciation enough to encourage her to repeat it and add a racialized feature.  To add insult to injury they then put this little video on youtube. 

People who want to know why it is that we have not experienced the death off racism and white privilege need look no further than examples like this.  This innocent child is being encouraged by her parents to utter a racial epithet repeatedly.   At her age she is far too young to understand exactly what she is saying, and that it demeans an entire race of people.  What she is learning is that her parents find this acceptable and cute.  She will repeat this over and over again.  We teach children though our approval, or disapproval what is standard behaviour in our society.  We socialize them into performing certain acts and teach them to understand the world through a lens of their race, class and gender.

In this hilarious video, the little girl has learned not only that she is white, but that this whiteness comes with privileges.  She is barely a toddler and already the world has taught her that she has a power that she may wield over others simply by existing in the body that she does. 

Power is one aspect that we often leave out of our conversations about racism.  Being a racist is not simply saying negative things about a group of people, it is having the power to make these statements real.  It is about having the ability to negatively impact the lives of others based on unearned privilege.  It is about knowing that you will have advantages in life that others will not have and using this power to ensure that the "others" will forever exist as secondary in the social imagination.

I understand that this all seems a bit much from a 30 second youtube video, but racism begins in small, private moments.  It starts the first time a child views a cartoonish image of a person of colour and it is not deconstructed, and explained as wrong by a parent.  It is reinforced if a parent uses racial epithets, or constructs all of the "others"of this world as negative, desperate beings.  On an average day just in media viewing alone a child will see many negative examples of POC, and if a parent does not explain the historic inequalities between the races and how they came into existence, what is a child to think but that this is the natural course of events?

We teach that the difference between the races is natural.  Just look at the different cultures, how could we all be separate and equal?  It seems right somehow to privilege some over others until we realize that by adding a value discourse to difference many end up living lives of marginalization and exploitation.  If we decide that only whiteness is worthy, the cost for failing to meet the impossible standard means that POC will forever occupy the bottom rung of social hierarchy.

Whiteness invests in the racial imbalance on a daily basis,  it is a necessary act to keep building on the power base.  It is not accidental that education focuses on the achievements of whiteness, and reinforces racial privilege.  By the time a child is in kindergarten it has already internalized many negative stereotypes even if they have not developed the ability to speak coherently about it yet.  When they enter the education system it is comforting to them because it is simply a continuation of the racist ideals taught in the home and through their media viewing.

As a parent I am committed to teaching my children not to equate difference with value, but I am more than aware that I am in the minority in this.  Though we speak of being post racial, few have the real dedication that it takes to confront racism on a daily basis.

We may have the good sense not to have a house dedicated with swastikas, or say nigger, spic, or gook, in their presence, but if every other action that we perform teaches them the code to reinforce a difference and value based discourse we might as well use the language of hate.  Teaching them to express power through a coded performance means that racism will be with us for generations to come.  Power concedes nothing without a forced demand.

H/T Sociological Images via Cara @ twitter


Drop It Like It's Hot

Hey everyone.  I hope that everyone had a safe and happy new year.  The unhusband had to work and so it was me, Twitter ,and the rum and nog.  Not the most exciting New Year I have ever had, but hey at least there was no hangover the next day.

As usual I am going to put up a list of links to post that I read this week.  I don't necessarily agree with the positions taken in these articles but I found them to be thought provoking.  Please take the time to check them out and when you're done, don't forget to leave your link behind in the comment thread.  Let the blog promotion begin.

"Post-Racial" Racism In The Post

My Abortion Made Me Impotent

At Ease With Her Age

YOKO ONO: A Feminist Analysis (Part Two: Don't Let Me Down)

Mommie Dearest

The Veil As Resistance: Muslim Women and Social Change in Egypt

Catcalling is for creepers

What If We Loved Fat Girls As Much As We Loved "The Bowl Fully Of Jelly" Santa?

Schoolyard On Fire

First Time Parents At 70 and 72

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Womb for Sale

I am going to say it very clearly, I do not agree with paid surrogacy.  I know, know, what about women's autonomy and agency?  Here is the thing, we all forget while we are screaming about women having the right to choose what they will and will not do with their bodies, that all of these decisions are occurring within constrained circumstances. 

CNN recently published an article detailing the  trend of gay and straight men turning to surrogate mothers to have children after being turned down for adoption.   As I read through and learned that these men desperately wanted to parent, I could not help but to have sympathy for them.  In a world where so many children are in the system being shuffled from foster home to foster home there is no reason to deny an adult who is responsible and loving, the opportunity to adopt a child.  While I am very empathetic to their position I cannot support the exploitation of women to achieve their aims. 

In the story they divide the women into to groups: the egg donors and the gestational carriers.  Don't you love the way that terminology is used to pretty up the process.  These "egg donors" actually sell their eggs.  Now that the economy is in the pits there is has been an increase in the number women willing to sell their eggs.  Women are not deciding to "donate" simply because they want to help someone have a child.

Women can earn $7,000 or more for just one donation.
"That's a lot of money," Block says. "It's great for school. It's great for the mortgage. It's great... great to help their families out. And you know, it's... it's something that they feel good about."
But, Koeppen notes, egg donation isn't an easy way to make a quick buck. It's a time consuming medical procedure, with risks. Donors will spend weeks taking fertility drugs. Medications can cause hot flashes, headaches and vision problems. Donors also have to have frequent blood tests and ultrasounds. And it takes several days to recover after the eggs are harvested.
But Christy Bush helps support her two kids and pays for nursing school with the money she's earned donating eggs -- nearly $30,000.
Over the past four years, she says, she's donated four times and, with money being tight, she's decided to donate again.
"It makes it so that I'm not working 40 hours a week. ... It's given me hope that I can actually do the parenting and the schooling and still be home and doing great things and actually watching my kids being be raised," Bush says.

Imagine having to sell a part of your physical being so that you can get an education and raise your children.  The so-called donors are actually victims of the combination of patriarchy and capitalism.  In a world where poverty has largely become a feminized phenomenon, is it really any wonder that women are reduced to "donating" their eggs in order to maintain subsistence? An act of altruism would mean that there is no need on the part of the one providing the service.

The gestational carriers put themselves at an even higher risk, for a longer period of time.  As much as pregnancy is a natural occurrence in the life of a woman it comes at a great risk and a great cost. 

20/20 aired a segment last night on surrogate mothers.  They focused on two women, Anita Brush and Carole Horlock.

The former day-care worker's unlikely career as a surrogate began 12
years ago,
when she was looking for a job that would allow her to spend more time at home with her three young kids.

After passing a rigorous screening process, which involved
psychological tests, medical exams and background checks, Brush joined
an agency and quickly became pregnant for a Japanese couple.

Am I the only one that sees the irony here.  Socially we will not pay women to stay home and raise the children that they have given birth to, but we are more than willing to use their capability to reproduce.  In this method, reproduction becomes a process and the child a product that is no different than a loaf of bread or flat screen tv.  Now that it (the child) is a commodity somehow it is valuable enough for someone to invest in.

Brush said she's not in it for the money. "Somebody figured it out
once, and just in a normal pregnancy like a 10-month pregnancy, it
worked out to be about $1.75 an hour."

And if a woman gets all those shots and goes to all those doctor's
appointments and she fails to get pregnant, Brush said,
she doesn't
get paid. (all emphasis is mine)

Yes you read that right $1.75 per hour.  When we consider what is involved this constitutes not only labour exploitation but specifically genderized exploitation.  This amounts to far less than the legal minimum wage and the women involved are taking drugs and risking their lives.  So devalued is the woman in this whole process that if she fails to become pregnant she receives nothing.  Nothing for the hormones, the discomfort, the pain...the baby is the product.

Those involved would like us to see this as just a business transaction, after all the women can decline to participate.  What I have noticed over and over again in these situations is that the women that are "choosing" to participate in paid surrogacy come from working class backgrounds.  This is not a decision that their rich sisters are choosing to make.  It is a matter of the rich turning poor women into baby mills.  It reduces women to nothing more than a rentable uterus and devalues the whole process of pregnancy, labour, delivery, and motherhood.

If a woman makes this decision because she is helping family or a friend the element to of exploitation is removed.  The moment we begin to commodify something we enter in a master/slave relationship.  For nine months her life does not belong to her.  She must consider her pregnancy in every single activity.  The job becomes totalizing in that she can never  escape it. All  this for 1.75 per hour. That rate of pay is exactly why you don't see rich women suddenly overcome with the desire to "help out" infertile couples.

We use pretty language to cover for what it really is.  We don't want to think of it as renting a womans body for a minimum of 9 months  time (gestation + fertilization time).  We would rather couch it in terms of nurturing and aid; pretty feminine language to cover up the exploitation.  This is exactly how we view all kinds of feminized labour.  Womens labour is  necessary to the progression of our society, but the fact that women are the ones performing is the justification we employ for maintaining a low wage. 

I simply cannot agree to this kind of arrangement when women are so clearly undervalued.  There is clearly a difference in power between the parent and the gestational carriers that extends beyond the normal relationship of employer/employee.  We all become slaves when we must sell our time and labour power, but surrogacy adds the element of selling ones reproductive capabilities which as aforementioned is feminized exploitation. 


Dedicated To My Enemy

Otep

Transcript is below the fold.

You have seven more seconds to decipher your life before my tongue becomes a blade and your brain gets sliced.  I warned you before, I'm addicted to war.  I was praying for Armageddon on the day I was born.  Three pounds, four ounces, seven weeks premature, perfectly flawed and perfectly impure.  See it was a night of lies.  It was a sick quick compromise.  It was the devil in his eyes.  It was innocence slithering down her thighs.  It was his fucking fist into her fucking side and why, 'cause there was a baby, barely three months alive.  But I survived, to stubborn to succumb to the dripping jaws of the dominant paradigm. I speak out of turn.  I taught myself everything that I ever needed to learn, which is I don't have to be anything but me.  Napalm bright, celebrating the burn, see I'm supposed to be weak and depleted, my uniqueness erased and deleted.  I am supposed to be a fist and bruise, nothing left inside and nothing left to loose.  They want me to be a breeder, not a thinker, not a leader, a sermonless disciple to a desperate, demented preacher.  No voice, no choice, but I will fail them.  I have no need for their acceptance, their limits, their lies.  I learned to hate from you.  I am your most beloved blasphemous child. Thank you.


Friday, January 2, 2009

Fox News Loves The Magic Negro

You gotta love how fair and impartial Fox News is.  We should all be thankful that we  have an organization that is so committed to fairness, and anti-racist work.  It seems to have no problem printing the messages from it's bigoted readers.  Hey it's free speech not hate speech right?

"HAPPY NEW YEAR AND LET'S HOPE THE MAGIC NEGRO DOES A GOOD JOB. LOVE JEN AND JOHN C."

H/T  Think Progress via Shakesville

Sex Slavery

Trigger warning

The sad fact is that sex slavery is very much a reality in this world.  Often it is young women who have been kidnapped and sold into bondage.  Grown men leave their comfortable western homes and commit acts of atrocities in so-called third world countries that they would never attempt at home.  Some of these men believe that because theses girls have a smile on their faces that they are happy about the exchange rape

But anyone inclined to take the girls’ smiles at face value should talk to Sina Vann, who was once one of those smiling girls.

Sina is Vietnamese but was kidnapped at the age of 13 and taken to Cambodia, where she was drugged. She said she woke up naked and bloody on a bed with a white man — she doesn’t know his nationality — who had purchased her virginity.

After that, she was locked on the upper floors of a nice hotel and offered to Western men and wealthy Cambodians. She said she was beaten ferociously to force her to smile and act seductive.

“My first phrase in Khmer,” the Cambodian language, “was, ‘I want to sleep with you,’ ” she said. “My first phrase in English was” — well, it’s unprintable.

These men see their vacation time as an opportunity commit rape.  With the prevalence on reporting of sex slavery, they cannot be oblivious to the nature of the crime that they are committing. This means that they are knowingly raping women.

Feminists have said over and over again that we live in a rape culture. This is not something that is specific to western countries as patriarchy respects no boundaries.  Wherever men and women cohabit men seek to assert their dominance by any means necessary.  This is about power.  These so called sexual voyeurs are using their money to claim a body solely to provide sexual pleasure.  These women are little more than tools to these men and forgotten in less time that it will take to read this post.

As if their assaults are not criminal enough many of these women end up with STD's.  Imagine after spending your teen years serving mens sexual proclivities dying from AIDS, or any number of untreated diseases.  What needs to be acknowledged is that sex slavery equals a death sentence..It is a life of being raped repeatedly by nameless faceless men that ends in a death sentence.  This is not some Shakespearean tragedy, this is the life of many women across the globe.

Western nations are often smug and self righteous in an effort to paint its citizens as somehow more evolved.  We live in a society that supposedly respects things like individual autonomy, frowns upon violence, and respects women.  These are the lies our leaders tell everyday while western citizens get on planes to commit these vicious crimes.  We don't want to believe that this comes from us.  Such savage behaviour is something we tell ourselves happens elsewhere, such evil acts are committed by the "others". 

We don't want to tell ourselves about the illegal brothels in every major city that warehouse women for male sport.  We would rather take the express trains back to the suburbs, ignoring the crimes that are happening within our midst.  It's not our problem we tell our selves, those are not our women.  We may shake our head when we read the occasional story in the newspaper, or frown when an expose shows up on the local news put in truth we consider this someone else's problem. 

The daily of rape of women cannot and should not be ignored.  These men that we share our lives with that feel that their daily tourist trips to the dark side are dangerous criminals.  Simply because their crimes are largely hidden from view does not mean that their actions are not scurrilous.  We must find a way to join forces with the governments and women of other countries to bring an end to this.  Child rape or sexual slavery is a criminal offence and the guilty need to pay.  No ones life should be spent in misery and cut short because some feel the need to express power over another.


Which Race Has The Most Beautiful Women?

I was reading topix when I came across a questionnaire.  Today's question was which race has the most beautiful women.

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Surprise, surprise look who made the top of the list.  Even in an anonymous poll black and indigenous women end up finishing last with white women on top.  We're colour blind and post-racial right?  Is it any wonder that top models featured in magazines are largely white unless there is some sort of ethnic feature (think Italian Vogue) This is the second example of the erasure of our beauty that I have seen this week.

I have constantly said that black women are considered the anti-woman.  It is only when men want a quick fuck, or white women want a diversity representative, that our femininity is recognized. If I were to get "angry" about this obvious erasure, that would make me that much more unappealing right.  Perhaps I should die like Sara Bartman did. 

When I see polls like this I think of Sara and realize that we have not moved far from the pain that she lived with.  We are still an oddity to be rejected, demeaned, and downgraded.  Our bodies are critiqued, judged and then found lacking.  From our nappy hair that will not be tamed, to our curvy figures that are deemed licentious and  hyper sexual by nature.

Whiteness cannot see us as beautiful because it would have to acknowledge not only our womanhood, but our humanity.  There is not a legacy of tolerance and acceptance for WOC in western countries.  We have had our sheroes, but they have risen in spite of and not because of western culture.  We have had to find strength when it seemed there was nothing to go on for.

I wonder how many think that Michelle Obama is ugly?  They have already referred to her as "full figured", drawn her with an afro and referred to her as angry.  Let us not forget the "African queen bust" that was supposedly a tribute to her. During the campaign she was shuttled to the side for fear that she would effect Barracks chances of becoming president, even though most blacks viewed her as an asset to his campaign.  Even today as the descendent of slaves becomes first lady the media refers to her as gal. 

Look at all of these attacks, and Michelle Obama has class privilege to protect her.  What must the life of a poor black woman be like?  Reagan let the world know he thought that they were all welfare queens and that social construction has not changed all of these years later.  As much as white women may deal with sexism, they have no understanding of how painful and heartbreaking it can be when it is married to racism. 

White women are demeaned because they are women, while we are not even understood as women.  Our bodies are deemed consumable and disposable.  This manifests in high rates of rape, domestic violence, poverty, and unemployment.   Globally there is no woman more abused than the black woman.  From Harlem to the Congo we are persecuted and when we cry foul and shame upon our abusers we are "playing the race card," or playing the "victim card".  To legitmize our pain would be to admit the systemic inequalities of racism and sexism.  Our blackness is used as a foil to justify the inhumane treatment that we live with. 

White women would like us to join them in sisterhood to fight the onslaught of patriarchy; but they cannot understand that the problems faced by black women extend way beyond  sexism.  They do not want to see because they are also guilty of oppressing us. White privilege is something many are loathe to admit to. How can we embrace you as our sister when so often you have acted like an enemy to push your own agenda?  How can we see you as equal when you have frequently insisted that we shine your pedestals? 

White women have their beauty as power, and their racial privilege Each aspect of their privilege comes at the cost of the human dignity of black women.  When I look at surveys like the above, I think of every single degradation we must deal with.  I think of the media that cannot be bothered to report when we go missing, but is more than happy to call us prostitutes when our bodies are discovered.

Sojourner once asked ain't I a woman, and her daughters know that even today the answer is no.  It will be continue to be no until we dismantle all the avenues of privilege.  It will continue to be no as long as we chose to determine worth and value by race and gender.  Whiteness is not more beautiful; in fact at times it is ugly with fierceness, anger and hatred.  The aforementioned are not normally associated with whiteness and yet as black women continue to be erased, raped, marginalized and exploited, how can I use any other descriptors for whiteness?

Whiteness may view us with constructed fear and contempt, but when we see whiteness, we see the sign of the betrayer of humanity, abuser, and thief.  Though history is told through the lens of the oppressor, they have not been able to completely  eradicate the truth. We do not believe the lies that you have so carefully crafted, for to do so we could not continue to draw breathe on this planet.  I know that one day blackness will shine, it must, we are too beautiful, to rich in strength and courage to be eternally denied.

Editors Note: For the purposes of clarification, when I speak of whiteness, I am doing so on an institutional and systemic level rather than on a personal level.


Children Of A Lesser God

Deb Young.

This video comes with an extreme trigger warning as it discuss rape and child molestation in vivid terms.

Transcript is below the fold.

Ya know me na understand why my uncle John insist fa hold up me hand while me asleep.  And if me open up me eye and look ina he face, he tell me to close ya eye don't be shy, don't make no noise.  Ca me nah wan ya motha ta wake ina de place. Don't tell nobody what a go on.  Me have a special love fa you, ya motha na go understand, so keep this between me and you.  Last week him tkae his time and him climb pon top a me, then he open up him pants and he hol down me hands and ..And now it hurt between me legs when me a walk. Me have a spread me leg apart when me a walk. Me have to sit down on the side when me at school, because the benches feel to hard.  De pickney dem at school laff after me hehee. Dem point and jeer all day long and me best friend Pam, tell me fa look pon me skirt,when me turn it around me get a big alert.  Me did a bleed and bleed pon me uniform. Red blood, red blood all day long.  Blood is the colour of the rainbow when brown girls consider suicide and love is not enough.  Uncle John me na like it when you touch me right there. Mama said me shouldn't let nobody touch me right there.  Uncle John this is wrong, please let go of me hand.  Uncle John this is wrong please put on back ya pants.  Tonight she a go sleep with a knife.  Pam tell her uncle John that night should only touch his wife. She tell him she na wan his special love, but him still insist to take her from above.  So tonight uncle John take him time. Him climb pon top a her, she stick the knife inna him spine. Him never hol her hand, him never take off her pants and all him feel is pain, again, and again.  All him feel is pain, again and again.  All him feel is pain again, and again. 


Thursday, January 1, 2009

In Solidarity

Monica of Transgriot was kind enough to ask me to write a guest post for New Years.  So I will get you started and you can finish reading it over there.

On my blog one of the things I focus on is having the conversations that no one else is having. I believe that unless we speak for the marginalized and exploited bodies of this world they will continue to be ignored in our quest to amass greater and greater privilege. This is detrimental not only to us as a society, but to our little blue planet.

I have spent a lot of time in conversation with Monica recently. Yes, she is as marvelous as you think she is. In our conversations we seem to come back to one reoccurring theme, the need for cisgendered women of color and trans women of color to unite. As a womanist I have had many dealings with the feminist community and one thing has become overwhelmingly clear, though many pay lip service to intersectionality, it really is about progressing the needs of white women. While discussing my frustration with feminism with Monica, she related a similar story about the trans movement.

Oddly enough I met Monica when she came to cuss me out. I laugh about it now because we have developed a wonderful friendship, though girlfriend still owes me a cornbread recipe. At any rate, as we got to know each other and share our different experiences the more I began to realize that if two individuals, hundreds of miles apart from each other could forge a bond based in our mutual frustration with racial discrimination and a belief in our self worth, then it is quite possible to create a larger coalition.

Finish Reading Here

Stop Minding Anderson Coopers Business

image For a large part of the day my television is on CNN.  I have even developed my favourite anchors.  Anderson has become one of my favs...though I am sure he would prefer to be acclaimed for his hard hitting journalism, for me its all about the eyebrows, and his quirky facial expressions. 

"Doing an Anderson" has become a colloquial expression around my house, when we need to put on a serious face.  Being as famous as he is and having the genealogy that he does  (yeah rich guy), much time has been spent speculating about his private life.  Who he is sleeping with, and why won't he tell us is quite the obsession.

Some refer to him as he most famous closeted gay man on television.  If he were to announce that he was gay today, many would be as "surprised" as they were when Clay Aiken came out.  I am not writing this post to pry into Andersons business, or make assumptions about who he is bedding, because quite frankly I realize that it is none of my business.

The speculation about his supposed homosexuality really needs to end people. Seriously, we talk about wanting to move beyond a gender binary and yet we spend  massive amounts of time speculating on who is and isn't in the closet.  I know this is dangerous territory for a straight ally to walk down, but I just feel that we are perpetuating the idea of separateness by announcing that one needs to declare what their sexuality is. 

The fact that people need to declare themselves gay is a huge part of heterosexist privilege in this world; and therefore we are in fact maintaining that when we demand someone admit their sexuality publicly.  If we truly believe that all love is beautiful and that it does not matter who you sleep with, this push to out people, or force them to be open about their private lives has got to stop.

The idea that someone is living a lie if they don't satisfy our curiosity by announcing to the world that they are gay is ridiculous.  They are leading their lives, you just aren't privy to their business.  Would expect to know if the man had a bowel movement today?  No you would not, and therefore how the man chooses to work out his jones is not your business either.

I have no idea whether or not Anderson is gay.  It makes absolutely zero difference to me.  I watch Anderson 360 because I like the way he engages with people.  We need to stop making someone's sexuality the only defining characteristic of who they are, if we are to arrive at the point where we see them as just people. 

While it is great the Maddow is an out lesbian, the praise for being an out lesbian is problematic.  Do we like her because of her sexuality, or because she does awesome work?   Perhaps Anderson just wants to be the best at what he does period, realizing that who he sleeps with has no effect on what he does for CNN.  Perhaps he has just decided that having two lives means that not everything that he does has to be on camera. 

We demand a lot from our celebrities.  It seems the moment someone enters the public eye, the scrutiny becomes ever more pressing, until we find out the most minute details of their lives.  I understand the desire to reframe sexuality so that neither gay or straight presents a challenge socially, but publicly speculating on how he handles his business is not going to solve that.  Just enjoy Anderson because he is Anderson, and leave what he does in the sack out of it. If he wants you to know when he gets his groove on, I'm sure you'll know.


Happy New Year

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I want to take this time to wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year.  I would also like to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my little blog.  When I started Womanist Musings, I did not imagine that it would turn into such a wonderful, vibrant community.  All of your comments, and the great conversations we have had are greatly appreciated.

It is my hope to not only continue our great conversations, but to broaden them in the New Year.  Many of you have sent in suggestions for topics for me to blog about and I appreciate that, at this time I am encouraging you to write the story yourself and send it in so that I can post it.  Many of you have left such poignant commentary that I would love to open up this space even further for your thoughts, and your ideas.

It is my hope to increase the number of guests posts thus creating a space where many voices can be heard.  Lets keep talking. lets keep looking for answers, lets decide that 2009 will be the start of something new.  I know that together, with our shared dedication to justice we can all perform micro activism that will lead to a better world.  If we can all just understand each other a little better, that alone will be a great achievement.


Thick Chicks

Tamara Blue

Transcript can be found below the fold.

This, well this is for the thick chicks.  The one hundred and fifty plus chicks.  For the girls that have accepted their bellies and embraced them, like fuck it, just love it.  For the girls who know no matter how much they try, trim spa, metabola life ain't gonna change these thighs. Believe me I've tried 36, 29, 42. 36, 29, 42 size sixteen, depending on the the jeans. This is for the girls who go out to eat late night at spots even though they're not hungry, they're just going for the company but they understand that it's hard to maintain a figure like this, so the order the vanilla shake with the caramel twist, and please can you make mine extra thick. Well this, this is for being called thick.  This is for the girls who know that being called thick is a compliment.  This is for the average woman in America because she wears a size twelve or a fourteen, not a six or an eight.  Six or eight, those are shoe sizes those are not dress sizes. 36,29,42, say it with me 36,29,42 one hundred and sixty-nine pounds at 5'3, but grown men quiver when they look at me.  So this, this is for the real reason that velour came back into style.  For Bigless, Beyonce , Serena and Trena.  For the tit thrill video on BET. For the St.Louis, Atlanta, North Carolina, and northern Cali, cause they respect the booty and the thickness.  See this is for the thickness and this is for those jeans, those size fourteens and for the girl who put on those size fourteen and stepped out feeling fly.  See this is for feeling fly and loving life.  This is for feeling fly and loving life but still allowing yourself to have some french fries, cause this is for the thick chicks.  The one hundred and fifty plus chicks.  The 36,29,42 the one hundred and sixty-nine pounds at 5'3, size sixteen depending on the jeans.


Wednesday, December 31, 2008

You’re an Anti-Semite: On Israel and Gaza

I have a new article up at Global Comment

Unless you are living under a rock you are aware that once again Israel is launching an attack on Palestine. Gaza is once again covered in blood.

I have strong feelings on this issue; however due to the negative consequences that come with voicing an opinion, until recently, I have been publicly silent. Even though I am well aware that what is happening is a crime against humanity, my fear of being labelled has silenced me.

Much of Western politics is firmly aligned with Israel. Some of this is to maintain a secure foothold in the Middle East, and some of it exists from Holocaust guilt. To announce in anyway shape or form that you question your government’s unilateral support of Israel is to leave yourself open for an attack.

This stems largely from the fact that we have divided the Israeli/Palestinian debate into good and bad. According to the New York Times, Gordon D. Johndroe, a White House spokesman, said that Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, was responsible for the outbreak of violence and called its rocket attacks ”completely unacceptable. These people are nothing but thugs,” he said. “Israel is going to defend its people against terrorists like Hamas.”

Palestinians are often referred to as terrorist; ignoring the disparity in power between the two combatants. This can clearly be seen when we examine the deaths on both sides.

Finish Reading here:

Token Negress Alert

I wrote a guest post for Menstrual Poetry, so I'll get you started and you can finish reading it there.

I would like to discuss something that I have come to refer to as the token Negro, or in the case of feminism the token Negress.  All social movements have one thing in common; they must present a diverse progressive image publicly even if the hierarchy of the organization does not actually reflect a fair distribution of power.  Ironically it is the least oppressed group - whiteness, that has become the face of oppression.  Whether it is gay rights, fat acceptance, disability rights or feminism, you can guarantee the closer you get to a leadership position the whiter the faces become.

Maintenance of the power structure requires a token Negress,  unless you can call on a black person, or a POC to play the role of the “diversity being” the obviousness of the exclusion is difficult to hide. What we see over and over again is the same pet blacks who have learned to speak the language of submission repeatedly being created as experts and given the authority to speak on behalf of POC by white people.  Think that about for a moment…permission to speak on behalf of POC by white people.

This puts WOC in an untenable position.  On one hand working towards social justice does provide its own reward; however continually being devalued is a constant reminder of exactly how racist society is.  We have become accustomed to having  our ideas shot down only to have them rephrased by a white person and immediately praised. We must walk a delicate balance between maintaining the little power we have and hiding from view the truth of our emotions and thoughts.  Even speaking bluntly is often enough to illicit the charge that we are angry.  Whiteness only wants us to be present for long enough to make the coffee and  smile pretty for the camera. Say cheese everyone.

Finish reading here

Black Men Take Off The Dress

Reading the commentary on the article I wrote about Medea another issue reared its ugly head. What is up with the black male fascination of playing black women? We are told that this is done in homage to our great strength.  In actuality these women are ridiculous caricatures of black women. 

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These women are always purposefully obtuse even though we are meant to believe that they are sharing pearls of wisdom with the world.  Our first response is to laugh, because after all this meant to be comedy, righteous satire.  When black women are routinely portrayed as obese, coarse buffoons it ceases to be comedy and instead stands for a reflection of the ways in which we are understood by black males.   What can be positive about the above display?

I would bet money that these same men, who love to wear frocks for comedy would absolutely loose their mind to see a white man dressed in black face.  They would deem that racist and therefore demeaning, but what is their performance  but a genderized minstrel show?  When one group is routinely the butt of the joke, they are being laughed at and not laughed with. 

Black men often view the world through a lens of race and class because these are the factors that work to stigmatize them.  What they routinely fail to see are the ways in which they can be the oppressor by engaging in sexism.  The shared race between black women and black men is used to justify this kind of genderized minstrel show.

The behaviour of black men in the genderized minstrel show legitimizes the work of Charles Knipp, who performs Shirley Q Liquor.  Kripp takes the diminishment of black women to new heights with his portrayal of Liquor and her 19 chiren.   It is offensive on many levels.  There is no difference between the the shows Kripp performs and the crass stereotypes acted out by Perry et al.  They are all meant to show the world that black women are of little value and therefore can function as comedy. 

Perry has repeatedly said that Medea is a tribute to the black women in his life. If this is meant to be honour; a woman that shoots guns at people, cannot control her temper, and is constantly in trouble with the law, what would be considered a debasement?  Black men cannot continue to engage in such purposeful character assassination and then expect black women to stand beside them in solidarity.

The genderized minstrel show is the perfect example of the ways in which race and gender intersect.  It is the visible representation of the oppressed becoming the oppressor.  What black men who perform the minstrel show fail to understand is that the same power that allows them to demean women in this manner is what allows whiteness to perform racist acts.  One ism supports and maintains  another   If black men wish to be seen as whole beings,  worthy of respect they need to begin by supporting and respecting black women.


Niggers Niggas & Niggaz

I could not be in more agreement with this poem.  Julian Curry spoke truth and we all need to hear it. Transcript below the fold.

What's up my niggas? I said what's up my niggas?  That was a trick question and it's nice to see that most of the tricky ones have not tricked mot of y'all into the answer.  You see niggers been passed through most our families generation to generation like cancer.  It used to be said by slave masters who weren't in the business of breeding no dancing niggers.  They only wanted good ole field niggers but I wonder how the field nigger would feel if he was sitting next to me on the A train at approximately three o'clock any day of the week.  And he heard his little great great grand son speak dozens if not hundred of times from 59th street to west 4th the word the made black families pack up in the south the move north?  Would he slam  a couple of the these boys against the doors and ask ,what's the deal nigger, do you think you're keeping it real nigger?  Do you know how I was killed nigger?  They murdered me with hot rod of steel nigger,  Now how do you think this makes me feel nigger?  Or would he just sit there and listen, silently like white people do, silently like I do, silently like we all do?  So what do I do, I go down to wall street. Do you know why they call it wall street?  Because centuries ago there were these huge high walls and down on the street there were these slaves with shackles on their feet, were there to be bought and sold by the fleet like shares of intel.  Phrases shouted daily like, where's my niggers, there's my niggers, whose niggers are those.  Here we are centuries after slavery, insulting our ancestors bravery, by shouting phrases daily like where's my nigger, what up nigger, you know you my nigger right.  Don't blame the boys from the A train, blame the men who put the myth that it was okay to say it in their brain.  Blame the kings of comedy the all time nigger record holders.  Put the blame on (inuadible) brothers, on Quentin Tarantinos shoulders.  Hopefully this nigger, nigger, nigger poem is making you uncomfortable to the point where you are cracking your neck and staring down at the ground, looking to your left and your right to see if there is any white people around.  Helping you realize that you have been bamboozled if you think that you have to wear a black face to be a clown. But I gotta go now, I gotta go now, I gotta go now  I gotta get this poem in the hands of the artist formerly know as Prince because when it comes to talent ain't no body better and maybe this poem can be the gun and its voice can be the trigger and we can collaborate and figure a way to convince jigger to help us find a new dream song, a new theme song and call it the people formerly known as niggers .


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Boys Can Be Feminist Too

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A few weeks ago my darling toilet plugging little boy Mayhem turned three.  As I looked at the little guy that has replaced my 4 pound bundle of joy, I felt happiness for the wonderful little boy that he is turning into, and sadness that it is all happening so fast.  Each year on their birthday one of the things that I do is review the list of promises I made to them the day that they were born.

As a parent I realize that no matter what I teach my children in the end it will be their decision what they chose to walk away with; I can only provide a possible path for them to follow.  Having only two brothers and no sisters, I always thought that I would be the mother of girls.  It seems that my life is destined to be surrounded by men.  Before becoming a mother I thought about the books I would read to my daughter, the toys I would buy them, and the stories that we share.

When I found out that I was having a boy I was initially disappointed.  What was I going to do with a boy I thought.  I have big feminist ambitions and for that I need a girl I thought.    As my son grew I realized first hand that sexism isn't only an issue of women, it is an issue for everyone.  I watched as despite my idea of gender neutral parenting the world was determined to teach my little guy that all boys like cars and girls play with my little ponies.  I looked at him dumbfounded the first time he used the feminine in a pejorative manner.

What I have learned from becoming a mother is exactly how insidious patriarchy is.  Silently like a snake it slithers into your home and kisses your children while they sleep.  It whispers foul messages in their ear, granting some privilege and forever sentencing some to a lifetime of marginalization.   

Watching as others tried to model a negative masculinity for my sons I slowly came to realize that feminist parenting of male children is a radical act, in fact I believe that it qualifies as macro activism and not micro activism.  The unenlightened tease me, and tell me I am making them wimpy for the sake of my future daughter in-laws (heterosexist assumptions) but in truth, I know that I am giving them a rare gift.

Mayhem and Destruction are growing in a home in which gender does not necessarily match certain jobs, ability, talent, and worth.  Never are they given a moment where they can assume that because they are male, that they deserve certain rights and freedoms that a little girl of their age would not get.  I demand respect not only as their mother but as the woman of the household.  My thoughts, feelings, ideas, and achievements matter.

As time goes on it occurs to me that other than lobbying for our rights to the government, the next best possible avenue is to raise feminist sons.  Within our very wombs we hold the keys to making the world better for the next generation of women that come after us.  When we think of activism most believe that it involves protesting, writing letters to senators, boycotting products etc., but what if we thought about activism as something that we live daily rather than something we react to.  What if as women, and  as mothers we decide to become active rather than docile bodies?

Feminism is not something that we should walk away from when we leave a womans studies classroom.  It lives outside of academia, we simply have to find a way to apply it to our lives other than getting together for monthly bookclubs and the occasional consciousness raising night. Feminism can be in every breathe we breathe and in every action we take.  It is feminist when we decide that our sons should play with their Tonka trucks and a kitchen set.  It is a feminist act to teach our sons how to cook instead of deciding it is a skill he does not need because he will have a wife to care for him.  It is a feminist act to encourage our sons to display a myriad of emotions, not only to dispel the notion of a thick upper lip masculinity, but to ensure that they are whole beings.

Just in the ways we choose to parent we can reshape the world.  Each child is the promise of a better world.  When they are born and they look at us with those sweet newborn eyes, to them we are the world; and therefore we have a responsibility to model the world we want them to inherit rather than the world as it is. 

I intend to raise feminist sons.  When my beautiful boys become men, I want to be secure in the knowledge that not only do I love them because they are my sons; but that I like them as men and for that to happen they must be feminist men. 


When You Force Oral Sex You Might Get Bitten

image Charris Bowers did what anyone would do if a penis was forced into their mouth, she fought back.  Instead of being protected by the criminal justice system once again the victim is being made to pay.

According to the news-journalonline.com Ms. Bowers returned home for the evening with her husband.  During the act of fellatio she began to bite down causing him to punch her repeatedly in the face.  When questioned by the police as to why she chose to bite her husband, her response was that she did not want to have sex.  After examining the alleged damage to the penis the Deputy decided to charge her with battery.

Even though Charris and Delou Bowers are married he has no right to expect sex on demand.  I suspect that this story has been carefully worded to force us to focus on the penis.  Living in a  society that has elevated the phallus to a deity, an event where one is damaged by a woman amounts to a female mutiny.  We are all supposed to desire a penis in every orifice that we possess, after all isn't that why God/Goddess gave women that many holes to begin with? 

Let' just think about this logically; what is the likelihood that someone who is consensually performing fellatio deciding in the middle of the act to bite down because they didn't want to have sex in the first place.  This entire situation smacks of someone being forced to perform a sexual act, responding in self defence.  Charris was punched in the face several times and she continued to bite down.  This is clearly the act of a woman acting in self defence.

In recent years we have seen everything from women cutting their husbands penises off to this biting incident.  These actions of course inspire great fear in men.  What these incidents have in common is that are a response to male aggression in the first place.  Loranna didn't cut off her husbands penis because she got bored one day, she did it in response to the abusive relationship that she was involved in.  How desperate must Charris have felt if she decided that the only way to avoid engaging in a sexual activity that she did not want to was to bite her husbands penis as hard as she could?

Yes I understand a man was injured and I am no way suggesting that women should run around chopping off or biting penises, but I do feel the reasons behind the actions should be thoroughly investigated.  Her statement was that she did not want to have sex.  How is it that his supposed actions of defence where not deemed criminal and hers were.  Oh yeah I remember his were in defence of a dick and everyone  knows how valuable they are. 


Until

Aysha Knight

Transcript is below the fold.

Until last night I was missing the key to the place I forgot existed.  Until last night I was afraid to express myself, for fear of rejection, retaliation from people who say I'm not deaf enough because my English is too good, not black enough because my mother is white, not Jewish enough because my skin is black, not Cherokee enough because each generation gets divided in half.  Some say I'm not straight enough because I share my love in life with a woman, not lesbian enough because well I have loved a man.  No enough labels to go and not enough strength to say enough.  Not until last night when I raised my hand and reached through the looking glass to touch the reflection of she who is me a naked girl running free loving my body, until drunk uncles started loving me too.  Believed all women would walk tall until I saw my mother crouched against the wall, searching for protection against a uncontrolled hurricane of misunderstood emotions.  Years disappeared taking with them the sea of denied emotions until I could no longer remember where this sea of rage and fear first appeared.  Until I started on the path away from self destruction and caught glimpses of the flame inside, uncovered when the masks came off in games of peekabo I see you.  I believed I was a rape victim until I owned the word survivor.  Hated my feminine curves, the roundness of my body until I get it pierced and let myself revel in its beauty.  Confined myself to an invisible cage until I decided to move and be free.  Until I met strangers soon to be friends, until I met the woman who loved me and held me with open arms.  Until I took a chance, remembered and then transformed myself.  Until last night and I opened the doors and the woman said hey sister huh welcome home. 


Monday, December 29, 2008

A Black Woman Walking: A Documentary

I really related to this video on many levels.  Walking down the street, men seem to have no problem looking at me as though I am a piece of meat that they are ready to throw on a BBQ.  It as if the only reason I exist is for their pleasure.  At no point is my humanity recognized in their desire to consume me, to declare me a possession.

When I walk with the unhusband hand in hand black men look at me as though I have somehow betrayed them.  It is as though I have betrayed my entire race for daring to love as I chose.  It is not about me as a person but their right to claim ownership over me.  It seems that black women belong to everyone but ourselves.  We have no identity other than servitude, exploitation and submission.

Walking down the street should be a simple thing.  We all need to get from point A to point B and yet we must exist with the fear that the next set of eyes we meet will demand much more from us than a friendly smile of recognition.  We are expected to shrug this off and not feel anger or resentment, because others feel that they have the right to demean us.  We are living, breathing targets because we have been born black and female in a world that has cumulatively decided that we are less than.

H/T black girl blogging


Tyler Perry: Stop Letting Medea Spank Children As A Comedic Routine.

Please watch the first minute and eleven seconds of this clip.

Even though there are many issues with Mr.Perry and how he treats his writers, I must admit to a continuing fascination with Medea.  As I was watching some youtube clips the other day, I noticed one reoccurring theme that has brought an abrupt end to my love of this character.  Medea routinely beats children as part of comic relief.  This is child abuse.  Hitting children with belts is no way amusing, or funny. 

The rate of spanking in the black community is extremely high.  It is my belief that this is a legacy from slavery.  It is believed that unless "you wear a child out" they will not grow to respect their elders. or walk with a sense of personal decency.  The opposite is in fact true.

What are you teaching a child but that a bigger person may hit a smaller person when you resort to spanking?  It creates anger and resentment in the child as they quickly learn that their physical bodies are not valued. Spanking does not teach a child to respect an elder, rather it breaks down trust and creates an element of fear in the relationship.  Fear and respect are two very different things. 

If we are too teach our children respect, we first need to respect them and their right to grow in a home devoid of violence.  Parenting is not an easy job but just as we have off days so to do children.  No one advocates beating an adult for the mistakes that they make; and therefore beating a child based in age is equally wrong. 

The above clip in particular angered me. As I watched this child being beaten and listened to the laugher in the background, I realized that Perry and his writers gave no consideration to how triggering this might be to someone who has danced with the belt.  Perry himself is a survivor of abuse and I find this reprehensible.  To them this is just some kind of schtick that can be used for comedy relief despite the fact that it often leads to a lifetime of pain and anger. Though the welts and the bruises have long since faded from my body the anger lingers on.  By presenting this as a joke, all that Perry has done is legitimize child abuse. 


A Black Man Or A White Woman

So I've been thinking again...yeah, I know this means trouble.  One of the things this election answered was a question we have been socially been asking for a very long time.  Prior to this historic campaign, we quite frequently asked the question of whether a woman, or a black man would be the first to become president of the United States.  Well the answer of course, as we all know is a black man.

What this question got me thinking about, was the hierarchy that we were  displaying.  When we used the universal term of 'woman' and specified race for male, what we were indeed doing was constructing womanhood of consisting only of white women.   This was an erasure of WOC.

As happy as I am to see Barack in the top job, there is a part of me that as a WOC that wonders when our day will come.  We are marginalized both by feminism and the black civil rights movement.  Our voices are silenced unless they can be put to use to serve our supposed masters.  We are mocked mercilessly regardless of our accomplishments. 

As I begin to think about the ways that we must socially push for change, I cannot help but realize that it is time for WOC to start to dream our own dreams.  We must begin to move away from those that seek to marshal our forces not for the greater good, but for their own selfish reasons.

As I think about the ways in which race was discussed in this campaign what is  glaringly obvious, is that while there were some that were intent on turning this into a debate between black and white, the specific issues of black women were routinely ignored.  Why were we not talking about the high rate of domestic abuse? Why were we not talking about how to help single mothers?  What about the ways in which black women are routinely constructed as  angry, in an attempt to silence us?

Yes, what happens to a black man is important because they are our brothers, fathers, friends and lovers, but we have our own identity that is separate and unique from them.  We have real issues that need to be addressed and not paid lip service to so that black men and white women can claim to be progressive. 

White women are important because we can share bonds of sisterhood,  but their need to achieve equality with white men often means that we are pushed to side.  The ability to play the race card often adds a poisonous venom to our interactions.  They remind us that we are women but conveniently forget the historical racial imbalance that has often placed them on a pedestal, with us licking their boots like mongrel dogs.  Ain't I a woman indeed.

Those that seek to be our allies are often to busy working their own agendas to really make a concerted effort to push for the elevation of black women.  As we stand on the sidelines and watch  black men and white women progress, we are often left picking up their remnants and bottling our collective rage, as once again we are left to play nursemaid.  We are living and breathing teats to the world.

Don't be angry, don't revolt we are told, as they attempt to bind us to the servitude that serves their agenda.  Just enough platitudes are offered to ensure they we show up for the photo-op so that they claim inclusivity.  Look there is our token black woman, of course we care about them.  Lord how you do lie, because your actions speak louder than words.  We need to scream to be heard and even as the muzzle is slipped over our mouths, we struggle on.  We need to fight to be seen and even as our hands are bound, we struggle on.

To be a black woman is not an easy thing, but black men and white women are not interested in our stories.  To focus on us they would have to be honest about the ways in which they daily wrong us in their quest to achieve equality with the white male patriarchy.  To look us in the eye they would have to acknowledge the pain that they have caused by their wilful ignorance and power hungry quest. 

Black men speak about Plymouth Rock landing on us, well it bounced and bounced on black women, damn near rendering our bones to dust.  White women speak of their corseted, highly bound lives, while we stand naked before the world, that sees nothing but a damp, dank hole, available for fucking.  Partnership, family, allies and love they tell us; well give me the time to beat the pain and anger from my chest.  Give me the time to heal and to feel whole. 

It is time to change the conversation.  No more bending our backs under the hot noon day sun so that others may reap the benefits of our labours.  We are black women and we have survived though the world has wished us dead.  We are black women and in us lies the strength of nations.  Yes nations.  We are black women and all the wonders of heaven and earth live and flourish in our soul. 

White women and black men we see you.  You may believe that this game of trading our bodies for gain is something that we will universally submit to; but black womanhood has become tired of crying vinegar tears.  You may call us angry, criticize our femininity, continually seek to assert your social power over us, but we shall not fade away beneath the desert sun. Like the phoenix we shall rise, and rise, and rise.  Today I have found something worthy of my strength and my will - black womanhood.

If You Can Make A Black Woman Smile

Transcript is below the fold

Do you know how strong you have to be to make a black woman smile?  Do you have any idea what an accomplishment that is?  'Cause she has borne the weight of this country on her back for four hundred years.  She has been carrying the load of America in her belly since its infancy.  She has been carrying the load of unassisted husbandless child rearing since the 1600's.  Have you any idea how much strength it takes to put a smile on her face?  You need the strength of Samson, the nerve of Joshua and the courage of David facing Goliath, cause she has cultivated in her womb the marvel of the universe only to have her hopes and dreams aborted and her aspirations show up dead  arrival.  She has given birth to kings and queens and delivered on her majestic promise, only to see her children kidnapped and sold to a criminal with no respect for her royalty.  If you can make a black woman smile you are a miracle worker.  Imagine breastfeeding your child in Virginia and having him snatched from your arms, branded, and then hijacked to Louisiana and publicly fondled on a New Orleans auction block.  If the memory of that pain was lock bound in your DNA would you be smiling?  If you breast fed someone else's child only to watch her grow old enough to call you darkie, pickanny and nappy headed jigaboo you wouldn't be smiling either.  If you can make a black woman smile you have done something.  If you can make her smile you are stronger than atlas, cause God knows she has been.  She has been raped, ravaged, and scorned and nearly annihilated .  She has been pimped and pummeled and stoned and deliberately depreciated.  She has cooked and cleaned and sewn and never been compensated.  She has been forced to watch the offspring of her loins mangled and maligned across centuries.  Her character has been continuously smeared assassinated over and over, again, and again, and again.  You ever thought about how strong you have to be just to be a black woman?  She has had to make brick without straw after being stripped of all of her customs, all her culture and all her traditions.  No other woman in the history of the civilized world has gone through what she has gone through.  No other being on the planet has endured what she has endured.  She has been chastised, criticized, demonized and terrorized.  She has had to stand when her man was bull whipped for trying to stand.  She has had to stand when her man was castrated for trying to stand.  She has had to stand when her man was hung by his neck for trying to stand.  She has to carry her man because every time he tried to carry himself he was murdered for trying to do so.  Ask Betty Shabbaz about Malcolm, ask Coretta Scott King about Martin, ask Emmit Tills mother.  If you can make a black woman smile you have achieved something.  Since 1619 when we came in chains the entire worlds been messing with her brain.  Disrespecting her calling her out of her main and she's tired just plain Fannie Lou tired.  Tired of being called b words and h words and n words, and other words and everything except a child of God that she is.  But the one thing in this world that will make a black woman smile is her man, a real man.  If you are doing what you are supposed to do she will smile.  She will smile regularly and gladly so man up my brother, man up and make your woman smile treat her like the queen that she is and recognize this.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

Worldwide protests condemn massive Israeli bombing of Gaza

By John Catalinotto

Published Dec 27, 2008 10:50 PM

Unable to break the spirit of the Palestinians after 18 months of putting Gaza under siege, the Israeli terror machine, using U.S.-supplied Israeli F-16 warplanes and “Apache” helicopters, dropped more than 100 tons of bombs on Palestinians in Gaza on Dec. 27. The unprecedented onslaught on a civilian population killed at least 229 people and wounded at least 700 more. (Reuter, Dec. 28)

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has threatened to keep up the barrage for an indefinite period. Outgoing Premier Ehud Olmert seconded the threats.

As in every serious Israeli aggression since 1967, the U.S. this time also gave uncritical support to the Zionist state, backing it up with military equipment, diplomacy and propaganda. Israel is Washington’s biggest recipient of military aid and total aid. In return the Israeli state lines up against every revolutionary and progressive force in the region that could possibly challenge U.S. corporate control of the resources.

This time, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement: “The United States strongly condemns the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and holds Hamas responsible. ...” (Reuters, Dec. 27) The Hamas rocket attacks have brought about one or two Israeli casualties and began only after Israel refused to lift its murderous siege.

Gaza is a narrow strip of territory with a dense population of 1.5 million people. Israel occupied it from 1967 to 2005. Then the Israeli state ended the illegal Jewish settlements in Gaza but kept control of Gaza’s borders. When Hamas was elected to govern by the Palestinians in 2006, Israel targeted Gaza again, and for the last 18 months has held the population there captive by siege.

When this siege failed to break the spirit of the Palestinians or break their support for the Hamas government they had elected in 2005, the U.S.-backed Israeli regime launched this latest murderous attack. Washington and Tel Aviv have tried to break Hamas in Palestine, just as their failed invasion of Lebanon in 2006 was an attempt to break the Hizbollah organization in that country.

Because of the Israeli blockade, Gaza residents have inadequate food, electric power and water and the medical system has constantly been degrading. The poor state of the hospitals is expected to cost many lives of those wounded by the Israeli bombs. Many at the recent “Right to Return Congress” of 5,000 people in Damascus condemned the Israeli siege of Gaza, calling Israeli actions “genocide” and a “crime against humanity.” (Workers World, Dec. 18, 2008)

Taher al-Noono, a Hamas spokesperson, described Israel’s operation as a “massacre,” adding: “However, our resolve cannot be dented and cannot be shaken. We will continue our struggle with absolute strength and steadfastness.” (Al-Jazeera, Dec. 27)

Islam Shahwan, a Hamas police spokesperson, said a police graduation ceremony in Gaza City was struck by Israel. Among those killed was Tawfiq Jabber, the Gaza chief of police. The Hamas-run interior ministry said all security compounds in the Strip had been destroyed. (Al-Jazeera, Dec. 27)

“Palestine has never seen an uglier massacre,” said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. (Reuters, Dec. 28) International observers now in Gaza in solidarity with the people under siege backed this up with eyewitness statements about the attack, a few of which are published here.

International eyewitnesses

Said Eva Bartlett of Canada and the International Solidarity Movement: “At the time of the attacks I was on Omar Mukhtar Street and witnessed a last rocket hit the street 150 meters away where crowds had already gathered to try to extract the dead bodies. Ambulances, trucks, cars—anything that can move is bringing injured to the hospitals. Hospitals have had to evacuate sick patients to make room for the injured.

“I have been told that there is not enough room in the morgues for the bodies and that there is a great lack of blood in the blood banks. I have just learned that among the civilians killed today was the mother of my good friends in Jabalya camp.”

Ewa Jasiewicz, a British citizen originally from Poland and member of the Free Gaza Movement, said: “Israeli missiles tore through a children’s playground and busy market in Diere Balah. We saw the aftermath—many were injured and some reportedly killed. Every hospital in the Gaza Strip is already overwhelmed with injured people and does not have the medicine or the capacity to treat them.

“Israel is committing crimes against humanity, it is violating international and human rights law, ignoring the United Nations and planning even bigger attacks. The world must act now and intensify the calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel.” (Both quotes are from FreeGaza.org.)

An article in the Electronic Intifada had the following statement: “Palestinians everywhere are asking for solidarity, real solidarity, in the form of sustained, determined political action. The Gaza-based One Democratic State Group reaffirmed this today as it ‘called upon all civil society organizations and freedom-loving people to act immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it.’”

In the United States, the International Action Center and the al-Awda organization called a demonstration in New York for Sunday, Dec. 28, to begin at Rockefeller Center at 2 p.m. A demonstration has also been called in Atlanta for 2-4 p.m. on Dec. 28 at the Israeli Consulate at 1100 Spring St. Other actions are scheduled.

An IAC statement on Dec. 27 asserted that, “Protest demonstrations have taken place already in Amman, Damascus, Cairo, the cities of the West Bank and in towns within Israel’s 1967 boundaries that are mostly Arab. Organizations in Brussels, Madrid and other European centers have also called for protests.”


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.

If You Are A Black Transwoman Your Life Is In Danger

Not again I said as I read about the shooting of Leeneshia Edwards.  Another woman shot and fighting for her life in Memphis because people feel challenged by her very existence.  How does their fear outrank her right to lead a life devoid of violence?  How does simply breathing the same air as everyone else render her so dangerous, that some feel that violence is the only response possible?

Like Duanna before her, Leeneshia is a trans woman of colour.  This is a very significant fact as the majority of the violent crimes committed against trans people occur against people of colour. Their vulnerability in a world that believes in and promotes a hierarchy of beings makes them easy targets. 

Leeneshia was shot in the jaw and the back, and at this time is in critical condition.  The police are hoping that she will regain consciousness so that she can identify her attacker. 

How many transwomen of colour have to be shot, violated, or murdered, for us to take what is occurring seriously?  This is a modern day holocaust occurring in our midst and we are denying its existence because of who the victims are.  Just like all victims of colour, the deaths of transwomen are largely being ignored by the mainstream media.  CNN, MSNBC, ABC, and FOX, all refuse to give these murders the attention that they deserve.  Unless the victims of crime are white women, the media seems to feel that it is an issue of little consequence.  They conveniently forget that each person is a child of someone. 

In the few articles that have appeared about her, the media has been quick to associate her with prostitution, as though this somehow justifies the violence that has occurred.  We are given no relevant facts about her life other than that she is a trans woman of colour and that she has been associated with prostitution.  Can anyone's life be so minimized in this way.  It is as though these aspects alone made up her entire identity.  We are meant to think of her as soiled, and beyond redemption.  By reporting her attack in this way without explicitly victim blaming the media has reduced her to a two dimensional being; and therefore less likely to illicit any form of empathy or emotion.  If we cannot connect with the victim there will no call for justice and just like many transwomen before her, Leeneshia will be quickly forgotten.  In a few months from now I will be writing another post about another trans woman who has become a victim of violence.

As I have repeatedly said, all bodies matter and this is something that needs to become a part of our social discourse.  We need to start to pressure the media and law enforcement agencies to takes these acts of violence seriously.  No matter the gender identity of any person, no one should have to live a life of fear, or be subject to acts of violence at the whims of another. 

I further call on our so-called black leaders to start speaking out about the violence faced by transwomen of colour.  If you claim to speak on behalf of the black community, then you have the responsibility to make sure that all of its members are not only equally represented, but that their rights are defended.  Stop preaching from the pulpit about Gods love and start practicing a little love thy neighbour. That is if you can pull yourself away from your megaphones, media whoring and bad perms, for five minutes.

Our trans sisters need and deserve our support.  Stand up and fight for Leeneshia.  Demand justice in her name.  No more blood of transwomen in the streets.  No more tears of transwomen due to our social ignorance.  The pain of our trans sisters is our pain. 


Testimony

Maria R. Palacios

Transcript is below the fold

Mirror,mirror on the wall, whose the cripple of us all? I used to hate my body, cringe at the thought of a mirror, deformities staring at me, pobrecita poor little thing.  Ssshh don't look, don't ask, that's when I was cripple girl in a barbie world. Sssh don't talk, she'll never walk.  She will never know love, the mirror used to say that, and I used to believe it.  Every mirror used to scream at me, there's no prince charming, no magic slipper that fits feet bound my orthopaedic shoes and the cold embrace of steel against my virgin skin.  Who could possibly love me I thought.  That was the testimony of a crippled girl.  Lost in a pair of shoes, lost behind the sharp blade of words that stabbed and poked and sliced hope into little pieces.  The same pieces I picked up one by one until they became me.  Mirror mirror on the wall, it took years of soul searching and doubt, lovers that came and went.  It took years of empty beds and angry mirrors, nights of solo play beneath the sheets and thousands of sheep to count afterwards.  No cigarette to puff, no many chest where poems can rest, after I cum there was none of that, only the silence of hands between my thighs.  Nights of wishing to find evidence of a man, the sound of sports, and even socks or a pillow that smelled of cologne.  But the men that came and went did not stay long enough to leave their scent on my pillow, to leave the toilet seat up or forget to take the trash out.  They were just warm bodies without a name, one size fits all, one night stands Cinderella stories gone flat.  No fairy godmother not evil stepmother no curse or spell that could change me back into something I never was.  It took years of all that and more, yet my present testimony is a manifesto of self love, reconciliation between mirror and soul.  Mirror, mirror on the wall, I became women of deep experience and deep scars,woman of hope.  Woman who learned to love the image in the mirror, the uneven angles of misunderstood sexuality, the unruly edges of my physical being.  I became woman of words. Mirror mirror on the wall, my imperfections become art, unwinding my twisted roads.  You are so beautiful to me.  You are so beautiful, that's what I am.  Oh mirror friend of mine, I am love, acceptance, forgiveness and beauty redefined.  The sacredness of this body, is where my soul resides.  I am a temple of love, I don't need a man to make me whole.  Yes my testimony is one of survival and strength, an intense love affair with myself, with the woman in the mirror.  The one I used to hate to see, the one whose reflection I feared, the one that is now so dear to me.  You are so beautiful to me.  Mirror mirror on the wall, whose the goddess of us all?