Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Pulling The Race Card

There are many that still contend today that we have moved to a post racial world.  We all bleed the same red blood and therefore whatever differences that occur in power distribution have everything to do with a lack of individual will rather than systemic racism.  Doesn't it just want to make you want to sit around a fire singing Michael Row The Boat Ashore?  Do you feel warm and loved?

image Today when you point out that something is racist, or that a white person is failing to acknowledge privilege, invariably you will be told that you are "pulling the race card".  It seems that for some calling out inequality is the equivalent of pulling an Ace of spades out of a deck of cards; the ultimate trump  card, meant to arouse white liberal guilt and thereby twist the situation to our benefit.

In a word, bullshit.  My life and racism cannot be reduced in this way.  Such language is inflammatory and bigoted.  It is no different than accusing a woman of "crying rape" or telling gay people that they have a "lifestyle" instead of a life.  Racism is real and it has a negative effect on my life's chances, as well as creating me and in fact all people of colour as "other".

The heart of this issue is that whiteness does not want to be called on its unacknowledged privilege.  It wants to continue  its hegemony thus ensuring the rest of us are securely marginalized in its benefit. To challenge whiteness in any way is to risk being called a militant hater. 

When the Reverend Wright spoke about his feelings about whiteness immediately the media denigrated him without considering the historical accuracy of his statements.  The same liberals that love to quote Dr.King (pre 1963)  are the same ones that expect us to believe the utopian lie of equality and sit in silence while they push the fauxgressive agenda. 

Pulling the "race card" has become part of our common language.  Casually reporters ask if someone is "pulling the race card".  Is this really a racial issue? Since we are not a racially blind society then the answer is yes..and it is always yes.  We view everything through a lens of difference rather than one of commonality.  If there is an opportunity to benefit from that difference then it will be even further enlarged to benefit whiteness.

Racism is not something that people of colour play, it is something that we experience.  It is something that we live with and it is hurtful and damaging.  No one has the right to question the legitimacy of the experience by asking if someone is "playing the race card".  In fact the question exists for the sole purpose of allowing whiteness to question the seriousness of racism.  Simply by asking if a person is "playing the race card" it infers a lack of legitimacy to the complaint.

Racism happens systemically but is experienced personally; therefore even if two POC disagree about whether an incident is racist or not, all that matters is the opinion of the person that was impacted by the action.  No one can judge the feelings of another and therefore no one has the right to decide unilaterally that something is not racist when another person of colour has declared it to be so.  There should be no standard "reasonable person" when it comes to racism.

The next time you hear the words "race card" fall from someone's lips, think about what it is that that they are really asking.  Why is a secondary declaration necessary after a POC has already declared that they are a victim of racism?  Why must we belabour the point as though the feelings of the victim are inconsequential.  We would not tolerate such questioning of another victim and therefore we should not allow it when it comes to racism.

 

 

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Rape In Prison: The Forgotten Women

Trigger warning.

In the US the attitude when it comes to crime is lock up the prisoners and throw away the key.  The prison industrial complex has become a huge part of the US economy.  Once the bars slam on the cell few care what goes on behind the m.  It is assumed that people are there for punishment and not rehabilitation; and therefore what occurs is almost always legitimized to some degree.

Women in prison represent a very vulnerable section of society.  At the mercy of prison guards and fellow inmates, many have been subject to horrific incidents of abuse.  With terrible crimes attached to their names few will take their complaints seriously. 

According to Freep.com, "A class-action lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections has already yielded verdicts reaching an estimated $50 million, when interest and fees are included. And that's only for the first 18 women. With most yet to testify, and lawyers for the state insisting they have no intention of settling, Michigan's beleaguered taxpayers could face hundreds of millions of dollars in damages."

Women in Michigan were being raped repeatedly for years and the state did nothing.  As I read the testimony of Toni Bunton , I found myself filled with a rage that was difficult to control.  No matter what crime this woman has committed in the past no one deserves to be raped.  The state is of course refusing to settle the case, because to do so would mean admitting that they are culpable in the continual rape of women.

The state had a simple defense: These women are prisoners, and prisoners lie; if something did happen, it was the act of a few rogue guards; and if something did happen, the women didn't report it. So how could the Department of Corrections prevent what it didn't know was happening? The state said it thoroughly investigated any allegations it knew about and the claims of abuse were exaggerated.

"To say the department just sat back and did nothing, just let everybody run the place is just totally false," Allan Soros, an assistant attorney general, said at the first trial.

Nonetheless, a series of human rights reports throughout the 1990s said sexual assaults on female inmates were rampant and corrections officials tolerated the climate.

It seems that because these women were/are prisoners their word was immediately suspect.  Why did the state not consider the risk that these women were making coming forth with their complaint in the first place?  Due to the power division in any prison a guard has the ability to make life extremely difficult for a woman that would dare make a rape accusation.  To even accuse a guard of rape is to place oneself in a precarious position. 

The Michigan Women's Commission reported in 1993 there was an alarming level of sexual abuse and harassment by state prison guards.

In 1995, the U.S. Department of Justice found "pervasive" sexual abuse in Michigan women's prisons.

In 1996, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting sexual harassment, sexual abuse and privacy violations by guards and other employees in Michigan prisons.

The report, based on interviews with prisoners and prison rights advocates, cited rapes by guards in a "highly sexualized and excessively hostile" environment.

Sexual abuse in prisons is not new.  Male prison guards have been known to leverage their positions of power for sexual relationships and then claim that the women involved consented.  When someone has the power over whether you eat, sleep, or even use the bathroom, how can you consent to a sexual relationship?  You have absolutely no personal power and the relationship is unbalanced.

What occurred is not a series of isolated incidents but rather a highly structured assault of women by men.  The state  decided that these women must be locked away from society; and therefore it took on the burden of ensuring that they are safe.  It is not enough to simply provide them with the basics and forget about them as though they suddenly are not human beings. 

Why were male guards allowed to watch over female prisoners?  Why did the state not closely monitor their behaviour to ensure that no abuse of power was occurring?  Why did it not heed the multiple reports that were issued detailing sexual assaults?  The answers to those questions are really quite simple.  These incidents involved women that society has decided are no longer valuable bodies.  Rape is something we believe that happens to innocent young virgins and not someone who has run afoul of the law.  These women were not considered of any worth and therefore what happened to them was deemed inconsequential.

While the case has focused on the culpability of the state I cannot help but wonder why it is that the individual men are not being held accountable.  These men are rapists and they are roaming the streets free and clear today.   Will it take the rape of a woman who is not a prisoner by one of these guards for the state to realize the danger that they represent?  Some of these men are repeat offenders and they are not being punished.  Yes the state is responsible for what occurred.  They failed to protect these women but the men who committed these rapes need to be taken off of the streets for the safety of all.

What happened in the prisons of Michigan is a shining example of what occurs the moment we decide that certain bodies are disposable and without value.  Incidents like this secure my belief in the importance of acknowledging that all bodies matter.  These women were violated and abused because we decided that a past action rendered them unrapeable.  These women were violated because patriarchy believes it exists with the right to abuse women for sport.  It is my hope that this lawsuit will help prevent other women from undergoing the same fate.  At the very minimum the state and all those involved should come to the understanding that everyone deserves to live a life free of violence.  It is hypocrisy to lock someone up for committing a violent act and then turn around do violence to them.


What's Genocide

Carlos Andrés Gómez

The Transcript is below the fold.

Editors Note: Some of this is in Spanish and since I am not a speaker I will do the best that I can.  Please forgive my ignorance.

Our children can't hear the truth at school if a person says fuck.  Can't even talk about fuck even though a third of their senior class is pregnant.  I can't teach a thirteen year old girl in a public school how to use a condom that will save her life and the orphans that she will be forced to give to the foster care system.  Carlos how many thirteen year olds do you know that are HIV positive? Honestly none, but I do visit a shelter every Monday and talk with 6 twelve year olds that  diagnosed AIDS.  While fourth graders three blocks away give little boys blow job during recesses and then an 11 year old gang member in the south Bronx  who carries a semi-automatic weapon to study hall so that he can make it home and you want me to censor my language.  Carlos what's genocide? You wonder why children hide in adult bodies. Lie under light coloured contact lenses, learn how to fetishisize the size of their ass and simultaneously hate their lips.  My students think Che Guvere was a rapper from east Harlem, they think my Mumia t-shirt is of Bob Marley.  How can literacy not include Phyllis Wheatley? Schools were built in the shadows of ghosts filtered through incest and grinding teeth moulded under veils of extravagant ritual.  Carlos what's genocide?  Rosalyn how old was she (Spanish) My mother had 32 years when she died (Spanish) genocide they moved on from sterilizing (spanish) women. Injecting Indigenous women with hepatitis B.  Now they just kill mothers with silent poison stain their loyalty and love in their veins and suffocate that ones genocide. Readones father hung himself from a box cause he thought his son was ashamed didn't watch genocide. Maureens mother gave her skin lightening cream the day before she entered 6th grade.  What's genocide? She carved straight lines into her beautiful thighs so that she could remember what it feels like to heal.  What's genocide, what's genocide? Carlos what's genocide?  This, this right here is genocide.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What If Gay Marriage Isn't For You?

Here I go again wading into dangerous waters.  Working out your jones is something every sexual being has got to do. Let's face it gay, straight, bi or anything in  between as long as you are a human sexual being,  at some point you will want to get laid.  This of course is not a bad thing, it's just a part of life.

The gay rights movement has focused on marriage for its big organizing push. For some it is about equality, and for some it is about a recognition of love.   I don't believe in marriage period, but if heterosexuals can practice this archaic ceremony the same right should be extended to everyone.

In this movement one of the things that is occurring is the legitimizing of homosexual relationships.   While homosexuality is still considered socially by many to be a "lifestyle", or a counter culture way of living, one cannot help but notice the way that certain elements are working hard to police the movement in such a way as to create an acceptable way in which to be gay exists.

Did you ever think that you would see the day of "the acceptable gay".  From Queer Eye for the straight guy, to  The L word, and Ellen, more and more we are seeing gays and lesbians in the mainstream.  What this means is that those who refuse to fit into the neat little box that bourgeoisie gay leaders have created are still considered "other,"  and in some cases they are "othered" by their own community.

Nothing can be allowed to threaten the push for gay marriage.  Many have fought to dispel the social myth that gays and lesbians are naturally more promiscuous and incapable of a deep and lasting love. While I would agree with that assessment, it does not mean that for some the idea of getting married, or even settling into a long term relationship is not what is desired most. 

What I dislike the most about this movement is that it is creating the idea that being gay largely means whiteness and middle class.  Just like you they tell us, but who is the you that bourgeoisie leaders are using as a referential.  What happens if you are poor, of colour or gay and polyamourous?  What happens if you don't want to be inside the neat little package that attempts to represent your life like The Waltons only gay.  What happens if you want to be a bohemian and fuck your way through life, forming no lasting attachments?  What happens if you refuse to become pg13 so that someone else can create an image of homosexuality?

The issue with gay marriage as an organizing push is that it creates a construction through which homosexuality will be understood.  Rather than broadening the conversation in terms of the various ways in which sexuality can be flexible, it narrows the lens and creates an ideal that is ultimately limiting. It will do nothing to disturb the homo/hetero binary. 

Gay marriage will create many new rights for a large section of the community, but I cannot help but wonder how many people will find themselves  even more marginalized in a movement that seems determined to create a normative gay existence.   The white picket fence is not for everyone and in the meantime issues like hate crime legislation, housing and employment discrimination are being ignored.  Not everyone wants to get married, but everyone needs to live a life free of violence, everyone needs a home, and everyone needs a job.  These are the universals that are being ignored in the hopes of securing gay marriage.

It makes me wonder if some of the push behind marriage is not more about reclaiming a power, or rather a sense of normalization that is lost by declaring oneself a homosexual.  When I look at the leaders of the gay rights movement what is I see is privilege i.e whiteness and wealth, just like any other social justice movement.  I can see why the "just like you" seems appealing.  It just makes me wonder about everyone else.  What if you never fit into the "normalized identity" to begin with?  Where does leave you and when do your concerns become a priority?

Marriage is important because it is a right that is being denied, but it should not make up the entirety of an organizational effort when it will not benefit everyone equally.  Sharing a sexuality in common with someone does not mean that every aspect of your existence will be even remotely similar and I cannot help but wonder how much more policed the movement will become as it tries to put a representational face behind its organizing efforts.  It already has a tendency to silence the poor and POC.  Will the aforementioned groups become even more invisible in the hopes of a trip down the aisle?

Social justice movements have a tendency to mirror the larger society from which they originate.  Though many will claim to be all about pushing for equal rights, in the end they simply recreate the same hierarchy of beings that they claim to be disturbing.  Can we really be surprised that the push for gay marriage has been represented by elite white men when that is who runs western society?  Can we really be surprised that their wishes and their agenda is what is being brought to the forefront? 

For whom is marriage most important?  Is it for the gay hooker who was thrown out of her or his home as a teenager?  Is it for the person who works a blue collar job that keeps finding themselves passed over for advancement?  Is it for those that face so many areas of stigmatization that being gay is just one part of their identity?  Or is it so that the white male bourgoiese leaders can reclaim privilege that they have come to view as their birthright as rulers of western society?

Social justice needs to encapsulate the needs of all marginalized bodies equally, otherwise it becomes a movement that only encodes certain bodies with power leaving others to continue to occupy the the bottom of the power hierarchy.  Walk down the aisle and smile but while you are doing so, think about the many men and women who would be better served by having their various stigmatizations addressed.  Love is beautiful, patient and kind but so is knowing that your life means something regardless of whether or not you fit the "representational image".


Radio Interview

Hi Everyone, I am going to be on SistersTalk.  Come by, check it out, call in and chat with me. I will be on air tomorrow night.

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The Mystical Negro and Self Flagellation

Who or what is the Mystical Negro?  She or he is the one who has been granted permission by whiteness to speak on behalf of blacks.  As a mystical negro it is your job to inform whiteness when they are being prejudicial as long as it doesn't challenge the current power structure.  It is also your job to issue the equivalent of hall pass by declaring that certain people and or behavior is not racist.  Ever wonder how people like Dog the Bounty Hunter can find a black person to come to their defence when they have been so obviously racist - meet the Mystical Negro.

The Mystical Negro is almost a superhero to whites.  Able to ignore white sheets with a single glance, while still marshaling out just enough guilt and pseudo Yoda like wisdom to appear relevant, the Mystical Negro is a wonder to behold. He or she does not hold any real power but their inflated egos allows them to believe that the false accolades and Cheshire like cat grins of their white patrons means that somehow they are a person of value when every other POC is being ignored.

The Mystical Negro is also essential to the necessary self  flagellation that every good white liberal must perform to keep their left leaning credentials in good working order.   It's the one that allows them to say I am white but....It's the one that allows whiteness to engage superficially without demanding any sort of commitment.

You ever wonder why so much of feminism is academic today? It is because such line of thought does not require investment on a real and personal level.  White feminists can wax on with detachment about the importance of intersectionality without embracing its tenets.  There is no rage in their writings, or speeches, only the appropriate amount of indignation.  With check list in hand they mark off marginalized bodies; blacks, lesbians, disabled peoples, Latn@, Asians, poor,  Muslims, third world bodies, everybody into the pot it's soup for dinner.  We are the consumable, the overly problematized, the often theorized, but the never heard.

Tell me, can you theorize hunger?  Sitting with lecture notes in hand can you problematize the essential situation, thus deconstructing the word nigger to the point where you truly feel the meaning of that word.  Say it over and over again, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, don't shy away from it.  It's not some sort of abstraction, something you can sit there and consciousness raise about.  It either pisses you the fuck off or it doesn't. 

Oh I know that you are all to careful to insure that when you do an anthology you include a certain number of each marginalized category, but did you ever think to give us, the women you seek to lead the chance to walk on our own.  I remember hearing in womens studies about the fact that so much feminist work had either been destroyed or not printed in the first place.  I remember learning about the feminist drive to create herstory. 

Who is her?  Who is included in the herstory because I sure as hell know who is not.  Are you over forty?  Are you of color? Are you a lesbian, or a transwoman?  Are you disabled? Are you poor? Are you undereducated?  Are you fat? If you have said yes to anyone of these, herstory is not your story.  Herstory is what sells, white, educated, middle to upper class, and "conventionally beautiful".  Her story is the woman on the pedestal and no marginalizsed woman has ever stood on one. 

The mystical Negro and its compatriots (read: Mystical Others) would love to believe that there is a place on the pedestal for them as well.   They are after all invited to be the token representative in the room, published  by the small firms, even given the occasional speaking engagement.  How powerful is it though to rehash a story that is not your own, but the tall tale of the victors song?  Am I making you uncomfortable yet? 

When you hide behind your mystical Negro friends and pretend to self flagellate to prove how just how "down" you are for the cause, you stink of falsehood worse than a used car salesman at a midnight madness sale.  It is obvious to all but you and your cronies. Cackling like hyenas, you snack on your cookies proud that your sheet is off white.  Hey, I am only stop on your multiples sites of oppression tour. Perhaps the next mystical Negro will be more accommodating than I.  You see, I have the nasty habit of truth telling, and that is not necessarily conducive to maintaining the lie of inclusivity and detachment.

Hello Feminists, you are not a doctor.  There is no requirement for detachment.  You are not going to loose yourself by becoming involved with us, rather than studying us like diseases in petri dishes.  Understanding the "isms" takes more than reading a few works and penning a good paper.  It means more than holding up a placard at a rally, and it certainly means more than writing the obligatory you rock, or go girl commentary on a blog.

Step away from your "mystical others" and your self flagellation routine.  Touching my arm in friendship will not hurt you.  Daring to engage with me and other marginalized bodes will not hurt you.  Saying I need to STFU & L only buys you so many passes.  Real feminism happens in the trenches.  It is a lived experience and not something you pick up in first year womens studies.  Is reading about sex the same as fucking?  Is hearing about orgasms, the same as having your eyes roll back in your head with pleasure as you loose all connection with space and time? Live your fucking feminism ladies.  Let go of all of the bullshit that comes with practicing theory and just fucking live it.  My feminism and anti-racism is real, is yours?


Sweat

Niki Patin

Transcript is below the fold.

Silver cocoons me in heat.Sweat and my tongue dance looking to find a place of tasteless skin. Salt leaves and eager afterglow, daggers attack my shins, the balls of my feet heavy.  Thirty minutes are not enough, neither are forty-five or anything I can fit in between traffic or corporate America.  You walk, nah run. Why didn't anyone ever tell me to run outside and play because now I can't do this.  I can't think my way into better shape, rubber grips smell like anorexic hips too small for me to hold onto like normalcy looming at the end of psychosis. I can't do this because of what they see in me.  Slow moving, sweaty frustration and shame it's a black phone femme rock anger, all of this disgusts them. No one ever wants to see the fat girl cry, we're the jolly sort. The desperate wide eyed cows who the tank top chicks with the wide eyed lipstick look at sideways as they sidestep aerobasize their way from the potential of looking like me.  Am I the greatest threat to them? More fearful than the image dreams.  Someone will tell me how jealous I am of their good genes but I know I'm just looking for freedom.  Looking to jump up up without (inaudible) chipping my bones into arthritic paralysis on the way down.  Looking to walk nah run.  To move, to turn without pity pouring down like rotten honey, turning salty sweat into vinegar epithets well (she gives the finger).  To whoever decides that my body is the gatekeeper to my soul like shit can't be fixed, or changed, or manipulated like they're mindset when it comes to the number against their  neck because a size 14 today, size ten, twenty years ago and a hundred back a woman with large thighs was considered a grand prize, now we're relegated to talk show jokes and you think that shit is funny, because you smoke to much to breathe and you drink to much to eat, yeah you are my American standard to achieve.  Coffee in hand, yeah my personal trainer doesn't know what the fuck he is talking about.  When he pushes me harder and I think I can't do this, I sit in the locker room and cry after it's over.  Mind is quiet, body screaming  I can't, we can't, I can't then I realize my workout is over and I never quit.  I can't, those words never came out of my lips .


Monday, January 5, 2009

I Am Sean Bell: A Mothers Lament

This video literally moved me to tears.  It spoke to all of the fears that I daily live with as a mother of two black sons.  I have spoken of the ways in which racism has touched the life of  my oldest boy Destruction, but I have never really addressed how it leaves my heart cold with fear.  For those who cannot see why this is a feminist issue, remember that each black boy is the child of a black woman.

I am lucky in that no male in family has died from violence in my lifetime but that is not the case for so many others.  We are not far removed from a time when mothers were called to cut down their sons after they had danced with the rope. The name Emmitt Till haunts every black mother. As my son ages and the world begins to reveal to him the systemic inequality into which he has born, each day my fears for him increase.  I can no longer keep him safe in a stroller.  A simple kiss from me will not wipe away his hurts or his fears. 

Like any other child he pushes for more freedom and more independence, and though he has proven himself to be highly responsible and dependable I am loathe to cut the apron strings because to do so means allowing the world access to my gentle child.  I know that his blackness will speak for him long before he is allowed to protest his innocence.  I know that his blackness will make him a target long before his legs will reach the impulse to run.

My babies are black and it is the legacy of my womb.  No one will think of the loved ones they would leave behind, or the tears that would never cease to flow because their skin is black. 

When I watch videos like this, I think of the many times that I have heard whiteness express irrational fear of blacks.  They don't know what fear is.  They don't know what being a real "other" means.  Should a child have to be taught to fear those that are supposed to protect them?  Should a child have to be taught that through no consequence of their individual actions that their lives are in danger?

I will have to teach my son as he reaches towards maturity to carry himself in ways that white people will not perceive as threatening, while at the same time maintaining some sense of self  balance.  I will have to teach him to be hyper aware of his surroundings with the knowledge that though he is gentle and kind, to the world his blackness makes him predator.  Finally, I will have to teach my son not to hide his face in shame because this is not his fault, it is the fault of whiteness.

As the balance from a white majority shifts and the US becomes a minority majority such vengeance and hatred is bound to escalate.  A shift in power will not be peaceful and it is the children of colour who will pay the price.   Whites will fear an uprising and work twice as hard in their repression to ensure that the balance remains the same. 

My babies are young and still yet I have noticed the ways in which the world has already begun to racialize them.  Adults speak to them in slang that they do not understand, because hey don't all "black folk" speak like that?  White people assume that they want to be rappers, or basketball players, because hey black kids don't have dreams of becoming astronauts or doctors, or in the case of Destruction, archaeologists. 

Already the world is attempting to guide and shape their reality in a way that will make them deposable bodies.  Whiteness wants to know if he can dance or sing, but it has no interest in the fact that he is great at math and fluent in two languages.  If it cannot kill him with bullets, it will attempt to do so with apathy.

Every little black boy is Sean Bell, because every little black boy is viewed as a potential threat to white hegemony.  It matter not if you are gentle and kind, your body will speak for you long before your lips can pause to draw a breathe.

H/T Dawson's Ink


No really, the US isn't racist at all. I swear.

Hi, my name is Erin, and I'd like to thank Renee for allowing me a brief word here.  As a little background, I'm a full time web developer who dabbles in security and activism.  Because of this, I've been very interested in the ways that people try to claim, "its for security" to justify their bias and fear.  A recent story is a perfect example of this.

9 Muslim passengers kicked off of flight after remark.
The remark? "Wow, the jets are right next to my window."

Because of this innocent remark, nine people were removed from the plane and handed over to the FBI who cleared them after questioning. When the group went back to AirTran to re-book, they were refused, and did not get a refund until after this story hit the national media. What kills me is mindsets like this:

Christopher White, a federal Transportation Security Administration spokesman, said the situation was handled appropriately.
White said the pilot, after being informed of the remarks, requested that two federal air marshals on board remove the individuals. TSA then alerted authorities, including the FBI, which conducted an investigation. Once authorities determined there was no threat, it was up to the airline whether to allow the family to reboard.
"If the pilot is uncomfortable with someone flying on their plane, that's their decision," White said.


The pilot's discomfort is what determines if you are on the plane? Really? When you have two Air Marshals in the actual passenger area of the plane who are better trained to make threat judgments? The pilot wasn't even there to hear the comments, and who knows what kind of mangled third or fourth hand version of what the comments they heard. The story does not specify if the pilot went and spoke with the family before requesting that the Air Marshals act, but knowing people I sorta doubt they bothered or did so in good faith without muscle waiting behind.

This kind of scheme is a perfect example of what is wrong with the security setup. It enforces fear and suspicion rather than reasoned examinations of threat. The group in question was wearing "traditional Muslim clothing" - whatever that might be. While my memory is notoriously flawed, the images I saw of the September 11th hijackers showed them in western clothing. I suspect the same was true of the initial bomb attack on the towers. They'd be stupid not too, wearing hijab or any form of ethnic dress is only going to attract attention, which is exactly what they do not want during the opening phases of any attack.

This does not mean that there is not the possibility of an attack being carried out by a person or persons in some form of Middle Eastern or Saharan African dress, which is what people usually associate with "Muslim" clothing. But it does make it unlikely that a group of 9 would do so. Most terrorist activities requiring that number of people would need to be fairly coordinated, and it is far less likely that a group of that capacity would make a stupid mistake like not dressing in western clothing and acting as unobtrusively as possible. This thought process was not what happened however. Instead, we enabled the racist and xenophobic fears about our current cultural bogeyman.

It kills me, because the last time I made a remark about sitting by the wings, they gave me a tour of the cockpit and a sucker.


I Can't Read

Lamont Carey

Transcript is below the fold

I'm eleven years old in the sixth grade and I can't read.  The class is so full that the teacher doesn't notice me but I can't read.  And when she finally asks me to come to the head of the class I do everything in my power to make the class laugh.  What would you do if you knew that they all would laugh at you.  But I can't read and I can't write and I can't spell and most of the time I don't know my left from my right but they keep on passing me because I can dribble a ball and I can hit a three pointer y'all and I can almost hit a three pointer and I am guaranteed to get you 13 points.  But I can't read and I can't right, I can't spell most of the time I don't know my left form my right.  The teachers aid says it's the teachers fault and the teacher says it's the board of education and the board of education says its my parents fault and y'all my parents blame me.  But I still can't read, I can't write and most of the time I don't know my left from my right.  But on the biggest game of the year I was coming down the lane and I was doing my thing when number 13 crashed into me.  At the same time that I heard my knee snap, I heard my family dream shatter.  See they depended on me to get us out of the ghetto, so when I hit the ground I did everything in my power not to frown.  but it was just to much pain and ran straight to my brain and the last thing I remember is the doctor saying that I would never run again.  So now I;m asking y'all what are my options, I can't read.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

There Is Only One America

Hello everyone I have a new article up at Global Comment

For the first time in American history, a black man will be the major resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

He will not have to enter from a side door, or bend his back to those that do not believe he is their equal. He will not be shining silverware, or serving meals he will never taste.

On January 20th, a black man will be president of the United States.

For some, this is the culmination of dreams that they dared not dream, and for others it is the beginning of a four-year nightmare in which the hegemonic rule of whiteness will be disturbed by an uppity nigger. Yes, a nigger, because for some people, head of state, graduating Magna Cum Laude, first black president of the Harvard Law Review, former senator still equals nigger when your skin is brown.

With fifty-two percent of the popular vote he has been declared the great unifier. Even his bi-racial body is meant to stand as a testament to the convergence of the white and black binary that has for so long divided the great red, white and blue. Each word that falls from his lips in the cadence of a Baptist minister is meant to speak to us of a culture and a country that is beginning to deal with dissonance. “… No white, America and No Black America” - oh, the lies that are told on the path to power.

Finish Reading Here

Anne Coulter Bashes Michelle Obama In New Book

Good feminist that I am I tried not to be giddy when Coulter had her jaw wired shut.  I know that it is wrong to laugh at the pain of others and yet I cannot help but wish that we had found a way to silence this woman.  Coulter is supposedly a "conservative" commentator but in fact she more like a solipsistic, opportunist who preys upon peoples prejudices to advance her career.

In her latest screed Michelle  and Barack Obama are the focus of her attention. According to the Daily News, she does not mince any words.

Lashing out at the President-elect's wife, Coulter wrote, "Her obvious imitation of Jackie O's style - the flipped-under hair, the sleeveless A-line dresses, the short strands of fake pearls - would have been laughable if done by anyone other than a media-designated saint."

Coulter said Cindy McCain, the wife of vanquished GOP nominee John McCain, "dressed well without freakishly imitating famous First Ladies in history."

Coulter facetiously and snidely refers to Michelle Obama as a "saint" and "Mother Teresa" and suggests that her public service career "advanced in lockstep with the political advancement of her husband."

In the book, Coulter repeatedly refers to the President-elect as "B. Hussein Obama" and complains that the media "literally wanted to have sex with him."

Right, Michelle Obama the saint.  Who the fuck is Coulter kidding? I love the way that she conveniently ignores the ways in which Michelle has been attacked. If Michelle is such a saint why was she referred to as angry, and as Baracks baby mama?  How about the cartoon depicting her being lynched?  Yeah the media has gone out of its way to uplift her and embrace her. Why was there a need to start a Michelle Obama Watch if the woman was considered an untouchable saint? 

Normally I ignore most of the mendacious blather that comes out that Coulters mouth however this particular screed is so rife with falsehood as the render the any reader unconscious with the stench of this shit. How many trees were destroyed so that this woman could spread her falsehoods to the world? Even as an e-book this slime would not be worth the bandwidth.

It never even occurred to the clueless Coulter that it was the vicious media attack that caused Michelle to be re-tooled.  She simply wasn't acceptable to the white bigots like Anne et al. All that Michelle has publicly stated that she wants to be is mom in chief and from this Coutler is more that happy to call her a Jackie O knock off.  Look Anne, Michelle did not seek that label, the fashion media assigned it to her while they were busy critiquing everything from the size of her ass to the shade of her lipstick. 

Coulter walks thorough the world oblivious of her privilege and the ways in which it informs her rants commentary. She has built her career on asserting said privilege and in the process creating the poor and bodies of colour as "other."  The woman is a female Rush Limbaugh with less sense than God gave cabbage.  The day that Anne becomes half the woman that suma cum laude Michelle Obama is I'll declare the world flat. 

H/T This Week With Barack Obama


Asian Invasion

Beau Sia

Transcript Is Below The Fold

What's up America?  I don't mean to sound uppity but crouching tiger hidden dragon, wasn't our one shot at love.  It's the precursor of what's to come. Oh hey it's cool to like these Asian people as long as their being Asian on the big screen and it's in Asia and it's a long time ago and their dressed Asian, and their speaking Asian, thank God for the subtitles.  And who cares as long as their kissing other Asians I have nothing to worry about right?  Wrong motherfucker 'cause we're not just on the big screen in the kung foo flicks you adore, we are everywhere.  We are programming your websites making your executives look smart and getting into your schools for free.  That's right raise the bar and we'll meet it.  And we're not just kissing other Asians, our mad sexy asses are getting play all over the ethnic spectrum.  How the fuck do you think Tiger Woods, Rob Schneider and Keanu Reeves were made?  And you know what, its only going to get bigger.  The Asian invasion is a reality and we fuck so good it's only going to get bigger.  Bigger than Chinese on t-shirts, Japanese in rap songs and yoga, bigger than playstation II, curry and tae kwon do.  Bigger than Honda, sister in-laws and east Asian studies minors.  You asked for a global economy, well so sorry if it blows up in your face and goes beyond getting a billion Chinese on AOL eating KFC in their GAP  khakis.  Am I ranting, fuck yeah.  You are not shutting me up until the eggroll is recognized as an American food. Cause I got a chip on my shoulder the size of 25 years of being under represented, lumped into a group and made to feel inadequate and I've had enough.  I clearly have a non specific game plan but right now it's just very very angry.  It will be better thought out later. So until then rise up cause the highest per capita income group in this nation must realize the political power of this in a country built on moolah.  I'm not saying eliminate anymore.  I'm not a racist.  You are Texas.  I'm saying let's give America the melting pot it's always talked about and watch eyes get smaller, hair get darker and everyone fuck that much better. 


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.