Saturday, June 27, 2009

Michael Jackson: Dead at 50

I have a new post up at Global Comment

image Yesterday, people began gathering in front of UCLA Ronald Reagan medical center to pay homage to a man who gave new meaning to the word “iconoclast. ” Michael Jackson first came onto the world stage as a small child with a gorgeous smile and smooth dance moves. He was just 11 when the Jackson 5’s first single, “I Want You Back,” hit number one on the billboard charts. Though he started off as the little brother in the Jackson 5, it was clear from the very beginning who the star of this group was.

In 1982, he released what would become the greatest selling record of all time, “Thriller.” In 1984, “Thriller” won eight Grammy awards and sold 26 million copies. I remember watching that night and cheering as the announcers said Michael Jackson’s name over and over again. Many children of the seventies and eighties grew up on his music. Christmas wishlists often included a request for a zipper jacket or a single white glove. Learning to do the moonwalk was absolutely necessary if one wanted to look cool on the dance floor. In years to come, I would teach both of my sons to moonwalk to “Billie Jean,” and reminisce about my youth.

The world watched as Michael’s face and skin color morphed. By the time of his death, he looked nothing like the little boy that sang “ABC.” Many in the Black community felt that he had abandoned his African American heritage, even though he explained the whitening of his skin by announcing he had vitiligo. I, however, will forever associate him with the love I feel for my nappy hair.

I went to school with a young white girl named Amanda, who simply adored him. Daily she spoke of wanting to be just like him, including his hair. She told us that she begged her mother for a Jerri curl. Finally, in frustration, I announced that she would never be like him, because he was black like me. There are not many instances in which black children are able to affirm their identities as good and this is why this incident will never be forgotten by me.

Finish Reading Here

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Thanks everyone for another great week of conversation.  As usual we came across a few trolls and I would like to remind everyone that though they get on your last nerves, feeding them makes it seem like they have a reasonable argument to begin with.  Please do not feed the trolls.

I want to remind everyone that Womanist Musings is an open space for everyone.  Please feel free to send in a guest post or a cross post.  This will allow us to have wider conversations.

Tonight we are running a special show at 9pm est to discuss the life and times of Michael Jackson.   The call in number is (347) 326-9452  You can find us at Blogtalk Radio.


Below you will find a list of some interesting posts that I came across this week.  Please show the bloggers some love and check them out.  As always please remember to drop it like its hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

The Dark Side of Twittering a Revolution

Dear Ladies

Raising Bi Racial Kids

Reflections on Privilege, Guilt, and Identity

Eastern societies are not more sexually liberated than Western societies

Oh that’s right, are gays too.  Let’s get them in on this!

But…We Always Know Better! Don’t We?

think of asians in terms of  faceless hordes

Must brown people must be martyred for Americans to be motivated ?

Shanthi Sekaran On The Prayer Room, Writing And The State Of Indian Lit

Why Bloggers Aren’t Flipping For A Sample Of Your Product

(White) GOP sexuality and the expectations of black sexuality

Harriet Tubman’s Anger

Some body to love

Why There Won’t Be A Gay Martin Luther King

Maybe The Bad Kids Aren’t So Bad


Friday, June 26, 2009

Another Trans Woman Joins the Remembering Our Dead List

I really look forward to the day when we are no longer forced to keep lists like Remembering Our Dead.  I look forward to the time when no one is killed simply for daring to be trans gendered in a world that has decided to privielge cisgendered bodies. 

image Her name was Kamilla and was murdered by her boyfriend of two years after he discovered that she was a trans woman.  After a quick romance in St. Petersburg the two moved in together and began to share their lives.  When Vladimir suggested marriage Kamilla turned him down causing him to believe that perhaps there was another man in her life. 

After searching her mail he discovered a letter addressed to her former name.  Upon further research he learned that she had gone to Australia to have SRS surgery.  Apparently he was so upset by this discovery that he shot her dead.   He then attempted to slit his wrists.  In a note he left behind he suggested that his devastation over her “betrayal” was what precipitated the violence.

Yep, nice way to blame the victim for his actions.  Vladimir of course survived his supposed his suicide attempts while we are left to mourn for the loss of another trans woman whose life was so needlessly brought to an end.

When I look at her picture I see a very happy woman with much to offer the world and it is a travesty that Vladimir’s hatred brought an end to her young life. Living as trans women in this world means that one is subject to high levels of violence.  Even in societies that are supposedly open and tolerant a situation can escalate quickly leading to either violence or murder.  Their identities are continually under attack as they are constructed as “things” or “its”, instead of real flesh and blood people. 

There will be those that feel that Kamilla is in part responsible for her death because she did not publicly declare her trans status however it is my position that what she did was not dishonest.  Trans women are women from birth; they simply have the misfortune of being born in the wrong body.  When she shared her live with Vladimir it was as a woman and it is my hope that she will be remembered as such.

Vladimir was not without options when he discovered her so-called deception. He simply decided that her life was not valuable because we have over valued cisgendered bodies.  Until we reach a time when we uniformly decide that all bodies are valuable regardless of gender status, trans women will continue to live lives fraught with peril.  Rest in Peace Kamilla, may you find the understanding and empathy in death that was denied you in life.

(source: the language in the linked to article is extremely transphobic)

WOC Are Not Welcome To Sell L'Oreal Products

image L'Oreal has been careful to cultivate a multi-racial image to the public while participating in discrimination in its internal hiring process.  When you consider the lightening of Beyoncee’s image, it is not hard to believe that they would engage in practices that exclude women of color.

SOS Racisme, an anti-racist campaign group in France  filed the case against the cosmetic giant.  L'Oreal used an all whites sales staff to promote its Fructis shampoo products.  According to

A fax was issued into evidence that requested hostesses must be between 18-22 years old, wear a European size 38-42 and be BBR. Apparently, BBR stands for "bleu, blanc, rouge" or French for "blue, white, red" the colors of their French flag which is also code for white people. This ends a three-year legal battle for the L'Oreal bosses who apparently were "disappointed" by the court's decision. They will now have to pay 30,000 Euros in fines and another 30,000 in damages.

It seems we are good enough to shill their products to the public but not good enough to earn a living behind the scenes.  According to oneindia only 4.65 per cent of the hostesses hired for Garnier's campaign were black, Asian or Arab.  That would seem to be a fairly white representation to me.  The Times online states: “Before the BBR fax went out, the agency had been offering a pool of candidates in which 38.7 per cent were from ethnic minorities, suggesting that they had been blocked during the final stages of recruitment.”

France has always been a xenophobic and ethnocentric country, even as it claims to be forward thinking and accepting of different cultures.  French means what is always has – white.  This decision comes on the heels of Sarkozy’s attempt to outlaw the burqa under the guise of freeing women.

It is worth noting that companies like L'Oreal have always been more than willing to profit from us but seem to have difficulty in employing WOC in meaningful positions.  It is obvious  that L'Oreal sought the easiest way to exploit us while at the same time cultivating an image of tolerance, though clearly the whitening of Beyonce Knowles testified to the fact that even a superstar had limited value if they are of color. 

Of course L’Oreal expressed disappointment with the verdict.  What organization would be pleased to learn that they had to discontinue their racist practices and create an equal workspace?  You will note that there was no apology offered for their behaviour, suggesting that their remorse was a reflection of the censor and not their actions.    Isn’t it nice to know that in this so-called post racial world women of color still have their uses…

The Matthew Sheppard Foundation Does Not Want Perez Hiltons Money

image The economy is in very rough shape as anyone with any sense knows.   Charities have been hard pressed to bring in money.  When one actually turns down funds it can only be because they find the actions of the donor absolutely reprehensible. 

Perez Hilton created a stir recently when he tweeted and made a video about his alleged physical altercation with Will.I.Am’s manager.  Apparently he either plans on suing or has sued for damages with the intention of donating the proceeds to the Matthew Shepard foundation. Well, the best laid plans of mice and men are oft to go astray.


The Matthew Shepard Foundation was surprised to learn this morning via media reports that blogger Perez Hilton (Mario Lavandeira) has announced he plans to donate, to our organization, the proceeds of a lawsuit he is contesting over an altercation which has been widely reported in recent days.
We had no advance notice or contact from Mr. Hilton or his representatives regarding this proposal, nor any communication since he posted this plan to his website.
We do not know the details of the lawsuit, whether it has been filed, the nature of his claims or the likely outcome. But because the lawsuit presumably involves the physical attack prompted by Mr. Hilton's admitted use of an anti-gay slur, the Foundation will be unable to accept any funds obtained in such a manner.
We very much appreciate the generosity of the offer to support our continuing work to memorialize Matthew through activism in defense of sexual minorities and in favor of understanding, compassion, and acceptance. But because so much of our work involves education to reduce the use of hateful language against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons, or those so perceived, it would be inappropriate for us to benefit financially from circumstances in which such a verbal attack was involved.
While we applaud Mr. Hilton's apology to the LGBT community and their loved ones for his use of such a slur, we also feel compelled to point out that use of epithets can often lead to physical violence, as it appears it may have in this case, and that the Matthew Shepard Foundation has worked for more than 10 years to bring to people's attention the consequences of hateful or intolerant language.
Judy Shepard

Hilton is  a stain upon the GLBT community.   I must applaud the foundation for having the moral conviction to refuse his money.  There are some sins that you simply cannot buy away, even in tough financial times.   Since starting his website Hilton has engaged in racist, sexist, and transphobic, behaviour. For this he was dubbed the Queen of mean.   Money may satisfy his conscience but it certainly is not enough for everyone. 

Even GLADD turned its back on Hilton after he claimed he was so terrified of Will.I.Am’s thug like behaviour that he had no recourse but to use a homophobic slur.  When the foundation alleged that Hilton engages in verbal violence they were very correct.  Language that necessarily devalues another or brings their humanity into question reifies difference and is the basis for many of the crimes that are committed daily against marginalized bodies.  Well Hilton,  I suppose you can consider this lesson number two in why the language that we use is so important.

France’s Burqa Ban: in the Name of Freedom?

I have a new post up at Global Comment

France, like most Western countries, prides itself on individual freedoms. It has a long history of dissent and uprising when these norms are threatened or minimized in anyway. Immigrants change French social structures because they bring with them their own cultural norms and traditions. The transition is not always smooth, as hardliners often aggressively push to maintain traditional norms, thus clashing with those who want to assimilate. Now, in the name of freedom, the Republic of France has decided to limit the options on what women wear. France is now considering banning the wearing of a burqa in public.

Contrary to popular belief, the Q’uran calls for both men and women to be modest in dress, but does not specifically demand the wearing of either the burqa or the niqab. There are countless women who are forced to wear these garments against their will; however, many women today consider the burqa or the niqab a part of their observation of faith and a commitment to modesty.

At Versailles this week, President Sarkozy stated

“In our country, we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity. The burqa is not a religious sign, it’s a sign of subservience, a sign of debasement — I want to say it solemnly. It will not be welcome on the territory of the French Republic.”

Sarkozy employs colonialist rhetoric even as he uses the words freedom and liberation. Western nations have often spoken about elevating those that they deem as marginalized bodies, even as they imposed values or traditions that are offensive and operate to maintain Western privilege. Many of the women wearing the burqa in France originate from Africa, and this, to some degree, legitimizes the white man’s burden in the eyes of men like Sarkozy. The third-world woman is always denied her agency as a means of paternalistic oppression; her stated desires are always discounted. Freedom comes from the ability to choose your own means of self-expression, not from being forced into what is deemed ‘liberating’ clothing.

Finish Reading Here

Rest In Peace Michael Jackson

That was one of my favourite performances by Michael Jackson.  He was a complicated figure but it cannot be denied that he left behind a tremendous legacy in music.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Khadijah Williams: Homeless Teen as American Bootstrap Success Story

Allison McCarthy is currently a graduate student in the Master of Professional Writing program at Chatham University and a freelance writer covering topics on social justice, anti-racism, and feminism(s).  Her short fiction and journalism have been featured in magazines such as Girlistic, Global Comment, ColorsNW, The Baltimore Review, The Write Side-Up, Scribble, JMWW and Dark Sky.  She has recently contributed guest posts to the blogs The F-Word UK, Girl with Pen and Womanist Musings and an author interview for the LGBT group blog The Bilerico Project.


image The headline reads “She Finally Has A Home: Harvard,” highlighting the unlikely narrative to unfold.   The L.A. Times recently profiled Khadijah Williams, an 18-year old African-American senior at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles, who is graduating this month with plans to attend the prestigious Harvard University on a full scholarship this fall.  What makes her story particularly profound is that for “as long as she can remember, Khadijah has floated from shelters to motels to armories along the West Coast with her mother. She has attended 12 schools in 12 years; lived out of garbage bags among pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers.”

Jack and Jill posted a quick hit to this story with an admonition: “I dare you not to have tears after reading this.”  Similarly, The Moderate Voice, a self-described “Internet hub for moderates, centrists, and independents,” wrote that the article produced an emotional reaction in the post’s author, Jerry Remmers.  Remmers also claims that, “In Khadijah’s case, the system worked with help from a benevolent family in Rancho Palos Verdes, a Los Angeles suburb.  Read the entire story and you will agree it is what makes America great, a phrase I seldom use in today’s highly-polarized political environment.” (Emphasis mine)

Her tenacity under incredible hardship absolutely should be praised.  Getting accepted into Harvard University is a feat by itself (considering the school boasts a mere 9.2% acceptance rate).  To do so under life-altering circumstances such as homelessness is nothing short of miraculous.  There ought to be fireworks and a marching band in her honour!  She is clearly a young woman of high intelligence, talent, and strong character.  To have survived L.A.’s notoriously dangerous Skid Row, let alone flourish as Khadijah has, deserves many accolades, kudos, and support. 

Yet, isn’t it telling that her individual story is held up as a shining example of “what makes America great” in 2009?  The rhetoric of this article credits Khadijah for her achievements, yet condemns her family – particularly her mother Chantwuan, who gave birth to Khadijah at the age of 14 – for failing to provide her with adequate care.  Once again, the individual narrative of ONE young person’s ability to overcome systemic poverty and lack of resources signifies that it’s somehow an individual choice to live in poverty, suggesting that those who are homeless merely lack the intelligence and wherewithal to overcome their circumstances. 

Khadijah maintains that Chantwuan tried her best; she never smoked or drank, never did drugs, and she never put us in abusive situations. However, that was the best she could do.” Defying the unfair yet popular stereotype of the lazy/substance-abusing homeless woman, Chantwuan could not escape poverty for herself and her two children, yet somehow she alone is to blame for her family’s situation. Nowhere does the article mention the lack of intervention by Social Services on Khadijah’s behalf.  At the end of the article, Khadijah finds Chantwuan and a younger sister, Jeanine, living out of a “South-Central storage facility… sitting on a garbage bag of clothes,” with “no talk of coming home of for Thanksgiving or Christmas.” 

This raises some serious questions of accountability from the State of California:  Where is the assistance for Khadijah’s family?  Is there nothing that can be done by the state to provide shelter and living assistance for this family living in poverty?  Why is it easier to condemn Chantwuan for being unable to provide these necessities than to ask how the system could fail to help a teen mother and her two daughters?  Do we think it’s enough that Khadijah “rises above” even as her immediate family faces life on the streets?  Using Khadijah’s phenomenal achievements as an example of “what makes America great” shows little consideration for the multiple ways in which many American homeless youth are disenfranchised of educational opportunities.

According to the Fact Sheet “Education of Homeless Children and Youth,” published by The National Coalition for the Homeless in June 2008, homelessness fosters devastating effects on a teenager’s educational opportunities.  Homeless youth are also a rising population, as “Families with children are by most accounts among the fastest growing segments of the homeless population. In the United States today, an estimated 1.35 million children are likely to experience homelessness over the course of a year (The Institute for Children and Poverty, 2004). This number represents two percent of all children in the United States, and ten percent of all poor children in the United States.” The article further notes:

Residency requirements, guardianship requirements, delays in transfer of school records, lack of transportation, and lack of immunization records often prevent homeless children from enrolling in school. Homeless children and youth who are able to enroll in school still face barriers to regular attendance: while 87% of homeless youth are enrolled in school, only 77% attend school regularly (U.S. Department of Education, 2004)… Homeless youth are often prevented from enrolling in and attending school by curfew laws, liability concerns, and legal guardianship requirements (Anderson et al., 1995).”

These factors are significant systemic issues which cannot be overcome solely through individual effort.  The L.A. Times article continually references the numerous teachers, guidance counsellors, and networking programs Khadijah reached out to in order to achieve academic success.  Yet these efforts do not extend to a wide net of homeless youth in need of educational resources.  Although Khadijah will go on to pursue a career as an education attorney, are the aspirations of other homeless teens being similarly encouraged – or do the cycles of poverty continue, as they have for her young sister, Jeanine? 

It isn’t enough to shed a few tears of pride for Khadijah Williams while subscribing to false notions of a balanced educational meritocracy.  Class divisions which lead to inhumane living conditions, educational imbalances, and inter-generational poverty must be addressed, particularly in our struggling economy, or we risk losing the talents and contributions of our homeless populations. 

Conservative Sexism And Homophobia In Alberta Big Surprise

image Okay liberals, and left wing loons that live in Alberta, it is time for you to come out of the woodwork and retake your  province.  I have long thought of Alberta as the Canadian Texas, but it certainly does not have to be that way.  You may still be in the throes of Ralph Klein shell shock but the time to stand and fight is now.

Just look at what men like Doug Elniski are doing to your province.  According to the CBC this conservative MLA posted the following on his blog:

"Ladies, always smile when you walk into a room, there is nothing a man wants less than a woman scowling because he thinks he is going to get s--t for somethinhg and has no idea what. Men are attracted to smiles, so smile, don't give me that 'treated equal' stuff. If you want Equal, it comes in little packages at Starbucks."

image Of course when he discovered how offensive his commentary was he removed it from his blog.  Gee, whatever would ever make him think that telling women to walk around with a pretty smile on their face would be acceptable…perhaps a little thing called WHITE MALE PRIVILEGE.   Of course he is not  in favour of equality, how else would asshats like him continue to be in positions of government in our country.  The only reason to fear female equality is the knowledge that you are incompetent to begin with.

You know, I wonder what is so wrong with a man getting shit?  Oh you will have to excuse me, I forgot that women are to be seen and not heard, unless we are moaning  during sex to buck up male ego.  Men like us to be noisy then.

To add insult to injury, his commentary is part of a speech that he gives to teenage girls, though he claims to redact the part about equality being found at Starbucks when he is giving the speech live.  Either way, the last thing a young impressionable mind needs to hear from a person of authority is that their role in life is to smile and be quiet.  It teaches young women that they have no value.

Elinski is the gift that keeps on giving.  Dear God someone take away his energizer battery.  In an article at the CBC (linked above ), it also stated that this is the second apology he has been forced to issue in a week. You see, Elinski is an equal opportunity bigot.  He apparently tweeted the following about pride:

"I am surrounded by bumping and grinding lesbians," and "that guy has size-14 stilettos."

image Not to worry because he did not really mean to be offensive, he has a gay cousin. He certainly could not be walking around with loads of unacknowledged heterosexual privilege and malice.

"The Pride Parade was an awful lot of fun and there were some people there that were really, really, really into what they do," he said Monday.

"I really honestly had no malice or anything with respect to what went on at that parade. Those guys get a rough ride all the time."

If he knows (presumably from the gay cousin) how damaging homophobia is, then why not keep his damn mouth shut to begin with?  OOOPS silly me that would mean he would have to forgo the opportunity to use his WHITE MALE HETEROSEXUAL Privilege to oppress someone. We certainly cannot have all of that power and privilege going to waste now can we?

image Okay Alberta Lefties….the time for action is now.  Wasn’t having the honour of Alberta being the first place that George Bush spoke after leaving office an embarrassment enough?  Grab a shoe and get these right wing fundies the hell out of office.

Stealing From The Disabled For A Buck

A few weeks ago I brought home my scooter and it opened up the world to me again.  Unless you have experienced a time of impaired mobility you cannot possibly understand the frustration of not being able to complete the most simple tasks because your body refuses to cooperate with you.  The day I brought my beautiful red scooter home the world was open to me once again.

When I read about the theft of Gaile Kelly’s scooter I empathized immediately with her pain.  Kelly is 54 years old and suffers from spina bifida.  She also has a broken leg.  The 17 year old scooter that she had tied outside her tiny apartment was her only means of transportation.  Her scooter was worth only 500 dollars in cash, however because it was the only way she could get around town it was priceless. 

image I know that times are tough for everyone however you have to be a special kind of low to steal someone's scooter.  If you steal a car at least the owner can use their two legs and get on a bus but when you steal someone’s scooter your are literally imprisoning them in their home.  When I bought my scooter I was warned about the high theft rate and now I am sad to see how right the salesman was.

To whoever committed this crime, please rethink what you have done and return Kellies scooter.  She is not eligible for a new one for another year and whatever your material needs may be, they certainly cannot outweigh forcing a woman to withdraw from the world for such a great length of time.

When I read about this theft, I wanted so much to help.  Unfortunately all I can do is offer my solace and to publicize what happened to her. It makes me so sad to  know that we care so little for each other that a crime like this is even possible.  It is my hope that the police will find her scooter or that someone will donate the funds for her to be able to get a new one.  Life without your mobility is a difficult thing and I know this first hand.

Suspects set free in dragging case

“A Black man’s life is still not worth a white man’s life in Paris, Texas,” said activist Anthony Bond. “I am 55 years old and I know racism when I see it. Paris, Texas, is eaten up with racism.”

Bond was among 300 people who protested June 8 at the courthouse in Paris after the special prosecutor suddenly dropped murder charges against two white men accused of murdering a Black youth last September.

Jacqueline McClelland, mother of the dragging<br>victim, speaks to rally. She is
surrounded by<br>members of the New Black Panther Party,<br>Nation of Islam, Tarrant
County Local<br>Organizing Committee and the NAACP.

Jacqueline McClelland, mother of the dragging
victim, speaks to rally. She is surrounded by
members of the New Black Panther Party,
Nation of Islam, Tarrant County Local
Organizing Committee and the NAACP.

The New Black Panther Party, the Nation of Islam and Concerned Citizens for Racial Equality organized the rally.

Brandon McClelland’s mangled body was found on Sept. 16, 2008, on a country road. Authorities estimated that it had been dragged more than 70 feet.

McClelland’s family and members of the Black community who attended the protest stressed that the dismissals were the real injustice, and another example of racial inequality in Paris, a town with a long history of violent racism.

Shannon Finley and Charles Crostley, the two white men who had been arrested for McClelland’s murder, walked out of jail on June 4 with no restrictions.

At the courthouse rally, where a monument to the Confederacy dominates the lawn, McClelland’s mother and father spoke to the crowd through tears. Jackie McClelland said the dropped charges show that the justice system treats Blacks and whites in Paris unequally.

“I said from the start they were going to sweep this under the rug,” she said. “And nine months later, that’s exactly what happened. This was a hate crime. We couldn’t even have an open casket for my son.”

“What if it was your son? Would you fight for your kid?” said Bobby McCleary, McClelland’s father. “I miss that one word my son used to say: Pops. He didn’t call me Dad. He called me Pops.”

Rock Banks, who said he was a “grand titan” in the East Texas Ku Klux Klan, angered the crowd during the rally. He held up a small patch displaying a Nazi-era Iron Cross. After a near confrontation, he was forced to leave.

Activists vowed to get the Department of Justice to take an interest in the case. They have begun writing letters to the White House and Attorney General Eric Holder. “It’s going to be a huge campaign to get the attorney general involved,” said Deric Muhammad of the Nation of Islam in Houston. “They released two killers on a maybe. They released two killers on a might be. They released two killers on an if.”

The district attorney released Finley and Crostley after defense attorneys suddenly produced a truck driver who said he may have accidentally hit McClelland. The district attorney had given the truck driver immunity for his statement.

Protesters carried signs saying, “We Want Justice,” and “Where is the Justice for Brandon?” Using a bullhorn, organizers led chants of “Black Power,” and “No Justice, No Peace.”

A national rally to protest the dragging death of McClelland is planned for July 21, the day that the murder trial had been scheduled to begin.

Paris also made national news in 2007 when an African-American student, Shaquanda Cotton, was sentenced to seven years in a Texas Youth Commission jail for pushing a teacher’s aide. Months earlier, the same judge had given a white teen probation for burning her family’s house down.

Cotton was finally freed after a national campaign on her behalf.

Paris is located in East Texas, known for its long history of racism and Ku Klux Klan activities. In 1998 another Black man, James Byrd Jr., was dragged to death in Jasper, 200 miles south of Paris.

According to the Dallas Morning News, Paris was the site of one of the country’s most notorious “spectacle” lynchings in 1893, when 10,000 people gathered to watch the torture and burning of Henry Smith, a Black man who was accused of killing the 3-year-old daughter of a white policeman.

Smith had fled to a small town near Hope, Ark., but was caught and brought back to Paris by train. Word traveled that he had been brought back and spectators came from miles around, using “special excursion trains” to travel from Dallas.

Smith was placed on top of a wagon and paraded around the town square, then taken to a prairie south of the Texas & Pacific railroad depot, where scaffolding had been built for the occasion.

Ida B. Wells cited this case in “The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States,” printed in 1895, which documented her research on and campaign against lynching.

Three decades later, in 1920, a Paris mob killed brothers Herman and Irving Arthur, Black sharecroppers, who were accused of killing their white landlords.

The brothers, who claimed self-defense, were taken from the Lamar County Jail to the fairgrounds where, according to the Dallas Morning News, they were chained to a flagpole and burned. The mob then dragged their bodies through the Black neighborhood of Paris.

New Black Panther Party organizer Sister Krystal Muhammad told Workers World the group is getting endorsers and organizing around the state for the demonstration on July 21. “We will not stop organizing until there is justice for Brandon. Racist murderers cannot be allowed to kill with impunity!”

Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Burger King Offers Women Seven Inches


Why don’t they just say choke on it bitch, because that is clearly what the image and the language of this advertisement is implying?  Using sex to sell is a common tactic in advertising, however this particular ad is demeaning and reductive. This woman isn’t fulfilling her needs by consuming this meal, she is performing a service.  You will note that this ad would not have worked in the same way if a man was pictured with his mouth hanging open, though they do perform fellatio.

It just tastes better eh Burger King?   What would taste better is a sandwich that is not promoted by the devaluation of women.  Who exactly decided that this was a good idea?  I suppose we should be thankful that they didn’t smother her face with mayonnaise.

I thought after the square butt commercial, in which they showed little girls shaking their behinds for love of their artery clogging meals, Burger King would sink no lower but apparently the opportunity to  simualte a woman performing a blow job was irresistible. Burger King may want to give me seven inches but they certainly won’t be receiving my seven dollars.

These kind of images have become normalized because we find reducing women to parts to be acceptable.  I wonder how many young women will walk past this advertisement totally unaware of the insidious message that they are consuming? Nothing exists outside of discourse and therefore we cannot afford to excuse this as just a poorly formatted ad, when it will be used to support male hegemony. Burger King certainly does not value women and therefore they don’t deserve to profit from our few disposable dollars. 

H/T Queers United via e-mail 

The Gay Marriage Push Is Negatively Affecting Legal Transgender Marriages

This is a guest post by the ever fabulous Monica of TransGriot


One of the Prime Directives of being trans is to live our lives just like any cisgender person does. But one complication that has cropped up is when transpeople get married.

In 1960, Jacqueline-Charlotte Dufresnoy married her first husband at Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral. If she were attempting that today, because of the Roman Catholic Church's faith based hateraid of trans people, she probably wouldn't even be able to book Notre Dame Cathedral, much less get a Catholic priest to marry her.
Some areas of the world and faiths are more enlightened about transgender people getting married than others. But in the United States, marriage has been a major Culture War issue.

There has always been tension when it comes to the legal interests of transpeople vis-a-vis the interests of the gay community. On some subjects such as hate crimes and employment discrimination law, the GLBT community for the most part tends to be in agreement that the laws need to be passed as soon as possible.

The contentious arguments in the GLBT community on this issue have centered on how inclusive these laws need to be.

But when it comes to marriage, transpeople already possessed those rights. Transphobia, homophobia and ignorance have combined with adverse legal cases and conservative blowback over the 2003 Massachusetts court case legalizing gay marriage to mess with or restrict those rights.

And one of the motivations for invalidating transgender marriages centered on denying the transwomen monetary settlements or in Michael Kantaras' case, custody of his children.
One early case which set a disastrous legal precedent for the British trans community until the 2004 passage of the Gender Recognition Act was Corbett v Corbett. It also had negative legal implications for transpeople in the rest of the world whose national legal systems are descended from English common law.

Arthur Corbett had his marriage to transwoman April Ashley annulled in 1971. Corbett argued that his marriage was illegal because April was born male, she should be treated as such in perpetuity despite her gender surgery.

It also didn't help that at the time medical opinions on transsexuality hadn't evolved to the current point, and no consensus was reached on whether Ms. Ashley should be legally seen as male or female.
Lord Justice Ormrod, the judge in the case who was himself a medical man created a medical 'test' and definition to determine the legal status of April Ashley.

The result of this test defined Ms. Ashley as male despite a career as a successful model. It was unfortunately used in the UK to define the gender of transsexual people for many purposes until the passage of the Gender Recognition Act in 2004.

The Gender Recognition Act ultimately defined the sex of transsexual people as whatever is on their birth certificate.
The 1996 Defence of Marriage Act was enacted to keep same gender couples from marrying, but the unintended effects of it have been on the marriages of transgender people.
We witnessed the double whammy of Corbett being cited and DOMA being used retroactively to invalidate Christie Lee Littleton's seven year marriage.

Why? So an insurance company could deny her a multimillion dollar wrongful death lawsuit she filed on behalf of her late husband Mark Littleton. The conservative push to ban gay marriage has resulted as of November 2008 30 states passing constitutional amendments by lopsided margins. In some cases several of the same gender marriage bans go a step further and ban domestic partnerships as well.

Those amendments have had a deleterious effect on transgender marriages. Although our marriages are not specifically mentioned in them, foes and 'friends' have ignorantly asserted that trans marriages are 'same-sex' ones, and subject to these odious amendments. The gay community is guilty of doing so in order to push its marriage agenda.
The clash between the divergent issues of the trans and gay communities on marriage issues was illustrated in the recent case of Kimah Nelson and Jason Stenson's May 26 marriage being invalidated at the hands of New York City Clerk office.

The point is gay community, no matter what the genital configuration, it's a simple concept to grasp. If a transwoman marries a cisgender man, or a transman marries a cisgender woman, it is a opposite sex marriage, not a same gender one.

If you have a transman and a cisman trying to get married or a transwoman and a ciswoman getting married, it is a same gender one. Genitalia combinations and situations will determine whether it's a legal one or not based on jurisdiction.
But it bears repeating that in the zeal of the gay community to get married, it's the transgender community that once again, disproportionately gets the negative fallout from it.

Rape In Prison Should Not Be Part Of The Punishment

image Once someone becomes part of the prison industrial complex, socially they lose a measure of humanity because we declare them to be lesser than individuals.  Some crimes are certainly heinous in nature, however rape should never be understood as reasonable response in a so-called civilized and or advanced society. 

We commonly joke about “dropping the soap”, or make comments about “becoming someone’s wife”, thus referring to the criminal act of rape without acknowledging the harm that results from such action.  Popular television personality Judge Mathis even endorsed a game where the penalty for criminal behaviour is prison rape and this was viewed as socially acceptable.  Simply because it occurs does not mean that we should endorse the violation of another human being.

A federal commission on prison rape has concluded that the risk of being attacked depends greatly on the type of prisoner, and where the inmate is locked up.

More than 60,000 inmates  are sexually abused every year, (emphasis mine) according to a report being made public Tuesday by the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission. The eight-member panel was formed under the 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act.

Based on a 2007 survey of tens of thousands of incarcerated people, 4.5 percent of those surveyed reported being sexually abused in the previous 12 months — and more prisoners claimed abuse by staff than by other inmates. (source)

These are only the reported rapes.  Imagine the number of assaults that go unreported due to fear of retaliation.  If the person who commits the act of violence is a member of staff, the prisoner may feel even more intimidated as the staff member represents power and the law. 

The purpose of prison is punishment and rehabilitation though the latter is often forgotten in our social desire to seek revenge.  If one is subject to rape, the possibility of rehabilitation is substantially reduced because of the occurrence of trauma.   How can we expect those we imprison to respect the rule of law, if we make exceptions as to whom it applies to? 

We claim to have an equal justice system and yet when crimes are committed against inmates we ignore them.  When an uprising does happen it seems to the general public as though it has arisen out of nowhere, instead of as a response to the continued devaluation of their humanity. 

Even when we deem it worthy to discuss the violations that they are subject to, most articles will make reference  to what the prisoner has been incarcerated for as though it is somehow relevant to the fact that they have been violated.  Murder and child abuse are vile acts, however that does not mean that the guilty parties  deserve to be violated.

Rape can never be considered part of the punishment because it is a crime and a gross violation of human rights.  We need to understand that these people that we treat as animals and savages, will at some point return to our society and therefore we should consider what kind of monster we are creating by our penchant for reducing bodies to  existing  for the sole purposes of violation.

Whom Can We Touch

image Sunday was Father’s Day and so we went out to dinner to celebrate.  When Destruction was telling the waitress what he wanted to eat, she reached out and pinched his cheek.  After she left, he told me that it hurt and that he really did not like that she had touched him.  Upon her return after clearly thinking about the incident, he politely told her that she hurt him and he would appreciate it if she did not pinch him again.  Destruction has always been protective of his personal space.  I remember when he was three and got into a scuffle with a Walmart Greeter when she wanted to hug him.

Once he became old enough to understand what I was saying, I began asking if it was okay to kiss or hug him.  I never presumed that I had the right to have access to him because he is my son.  Most of the time it is always an enthusiastic yes, however occasionally it would be no I’m not in the mood.  I have never gotten upset or felt rejected, I simply tried again later. Our children have never been forced to hug or kiss our friends or relatives.

Most western adults function with a desire to remain a personal safe space.  It is one of our unspoken social rules and we consider it rude when people invade that space.  Depending on who is doing the invasion, it  may feel like an assault.  The personal space rule is one that we don’t widely apply to children or pregnant women.  These bodies are deemed public bodies which we touch at will.  This is very reflective of how much power they have and the degree of respect we have for them as individuals.  It is an act of privilege and power to assume that we have the right to simply touch someone without asking.

As a male, Destruction will over time gain a form of autonomy over his personal body that would not exist if he were born female.  To this very day many still assume that they can touch my hair because they are curious about its texture; this is in part due to my race and in part a reflection upon my gender.

image Touch is bifurcated into good and bad, with  overt unwanted sexual overtones often being associated with bad touch.  A bad touch should be defined as anytime a person invades your space without permission and not relegated to what part of your body the person is demanding access to. 

In the moment that the waitress pinched Destruction cheek, though she meant no harm, it reminded him that as a child he has no real power over his body.  No matter what our intentions are, we must always give thought about whose space we choose to invade and why.  Often who we choose to touch is an expression of where we stand on the social hierarchy.  In everything and everywhere there is always power.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It’s Bird, It’s A Plane, No It’s Barack Obama

You may have already seen the latest jibjab parody but I simply had to post it.

I think the only thing they missed was an image of him walking on water or parting the great sea….still a good laugh.

Splitsville For Jon & Kate

image Though the news had been leaked before Monday nights one hour special, Jon and Kate officially announced that they have filed for legal separation.  The cynics have loudly been calling for the vicious exploitation of the kids to come to an end and have decided that perhaps this family tragedy will be the best move for the crazy lifestyle that the Gosselins live.

When the show first started it was clear that the Gosselins were struggling,  Kate was clipping coupons to save money and Jon worked at a job that kept him away from home for many hours at a time.  As their show became more popular, freebies came floating in and both were able to quit their jobs.  Though the argument is always presented as in the best interest of the kids, it would seem that the largest resentment comes from the success of the show

As people are struggling to put food on the table and living in fear of the ever to popular pink slip, the Gosselins are going on trips that most families can only dream of.  Kate had a free tummy tuck and is always in designer clothing these days.  Jon had free hair plugs and recently received 125 thousand dollar custom motorcycle.  Life is full of riches if your last name is Gosselin; if you discount the fact that the two people who brought you into this world are barely on speaking terms.

Both Jon and Kate have vowed to still be there for their kids.  The children will be staying in the family home and the parents will take turns residing there depending on whose day it is to spend time with them.  The show will go on they tell us.  Like it or not, the show is what has given the children all of these wonderful opportunities that they otherwise would not have experienced.

Those who wish to see the show come to an end have given little thought as to how hard it will be to support 8 children without the income that TLC pays.  Would it really be better for them if they had to watch their mother  count every single penny?  Are they better served having a father working one or possibly two jobs trying to ensure that they had the basics.  As anyone who has raised even one child will attest, raising children is expensive. 

The tabloids have been feasting on this family, which is far outside of the bounds that they contracted for when they signed with TLC.  Kate was recently caught spanking one of her daughters.  To those that already believed that she is amongst one of the worst mothers in existence, this served as yet another sign of her incompetence.   It is my belief that spanking is wrong, however the issue was not framed around the possible harm that is done to a child when they are spanked, rather it served as yet another opportunity for misogynistic attack on Kate. 

image Did Jon cheat on his wife? Is Kate a control freak and the worlds worst mother? The aforementioned questions typify how this family drama is understood by the media.   No one bothers to examine Jon’s passive aggressive behaviour or the sexism that is launched at Kate.   A failure to express concern at the moment an incident arises and then using the same incident as a weapon months or years later is juvenile to say the least.  A failure to comment is assent and one would think that a man in his thirties would have learned that lesson already.  He may be proud of himself for “standing up for his rights”, however if he was silenced it is by his own volition.  By blaming Kate for his inability to be honest about his emotions, Jon is playing on the stereotype of the domineering wife for sympathy.  Since misogyny is a regular part of our discourse, the overbearing wife is easily suggested and accepted in conversations about Jon and Kate.

He may or may not have been unfaithful but one thing is certain, he is not guilt free in this separation.   Kate spoke of her fear of raising her kids alone and of spending an afternoon in bed crying, Jon was already planning his life as a newly single man.  While Kate was celebrating her birthday, Jon took the time to go skiing in Utah with Deanna Hummel, the same women it is alleged that he had an affair with. For a supposedly innocent man he seems to be working hard to ensure that his credibility is questionable to say the least.

Their marriage will continue to be dissected because the media loves a train wreck. What we will ignore are all of the social constructions that serve as baggage in our rush to judgment and the welfare of the kids we all claim to adore.  The Gosselin children are beautiful, bright and engaging and they deserve nothing but the best.  The Gosselins signed up to do a reality show, not star in a twenty-four hour media extravaganza. 

The very fact that people purchase the magazines with the outrages headlines keeps the paparazzi in business and the gossip flowing freely.  The best way to show the concern we claim to have for these children is to allow them a little peace and privacy.  You don’t really need that copy of the Enquirer do you?  You don’t need the issue of US with Kate on the cover do you?  Each time you pick one of these up, you are participating in the very form of exploitation that you claim that Jon and Kate are guilty of.  How is that for a little pot and kettle action?

On Obama’s “Failed Celebrity” and Accountability

I have a new post up at global comment

During the election of 2008, the McCain campaign portrayed Barack Obama as a celebrity with very little substance. The liberal left fought against this stereotype. Now that he has been elected, the various groups that threw their support directly behind him have arrived at the White House door, hat in hand, demanding that the debt be repaid.

When Obama was sworn in he was charged to rectify the worst Depression since the Great Depression. Banks and entire industries were and are failing. The infrastructure is in need of a complete overhaul and American children are increasingly falling behind in education. No national health care plan exists, causing many Americans to die an early death. Proving that no lessons were learned from Katrina, racism and violence continues to escalate. Obama inherited a country that’s a shadow of its former self, due to the efforts of the Bush administration.

In the words of Tavis Smiley, members of the Black Intelligentsia have become quick to hold Barack Obama “accountable.” Dr. Michael Eric Dyson has already been vocal about not being invited to the White House despite being one of the first to publicly support Barack in the election. Dr. Cornel West has stated emphatically that he would rather “visit a crack house than the White House.” According to the self-appointed leaders of the Black community, Barack is failing in his efforts to advance the issues of African Americans.

The GLBT community has been very vocal about the fact that Obama has failed to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Iraq war vet LT. Dan Choi was dismissed from the military after coming out on the Rachel Maddow show. He, along with several other members of the GLBT community have taken the step of publicly declaring their sexuality as a means of challenging Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. At a time when troop levels are a state of concern, the military can scarcely afford to lose experienced and educated members due to homophobia. The continuation of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is also the legalization of overt homophobia, as it clearly positions GLBT members as less valuable. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell literally forces them to live a lie.

Finish Reading Here

For Abercrombie & Fitch A Prosthetic Arm Just Is Not Fashionable

There are many reasons to avoid shopping and Abercrombie.  They have a history of forcing their workers of color to labour in back room because we do not fit the correct image that they are trying  to market to.  Fashionable means incredibly skinny and white. 

They have now added yet another proviso on who is fit to shill their shit.  Apparently, one must have no visible markers of disability to work for minimum wage folding their clothes and using a cash register.  A prosthetic arm might be disturbing to their customers who need to see themselves reflected in every corner. 

According to the Daily Mail, when Riam Dean was hired, her boss was more interested in quickly taking her picture and ensuring that she fit the “look policy” of which all new employees are made aware of via a handbook. 

It stipulates that staff must represent a 'natural, classic American style' and instructs them on everything from how to wear their hair (clean and natural) to how long they should wear their nails (a quarter of an inch past the end of the finger).

image When it was discovered a few days later that she had a prosthetic arm she was told to wear a cardigan.  If that were not offensive enough, she was ordered into the back room after a worker from the “visual team” decided that she did not fit “the look” that they were attempting to promote.

Riam is rightfully suing for discrimination.  There will be those that feel that because she knew of the companies standards, that she had no right to complain about her treatment, however setting an employee appearance code that shames people based in a differently abled status is discriminatory on its basis.  Riam asked for no special treatment and simply sought to do her job. Even if she had asked for accommodations a refusal to do so would again be invoking able bodied privilege.

I could simply spend my time listing the various ways in which Abercrombie & Fitch reify negative social constructions in their business model, however I feel that it is important to note that in the case of disability, the concept of blending in is particularly problematic.  We are often asked to go unseen as we struggle daily with issues that able bodied people take for granted.  The right to take up space is specifically denied us.

As Lauredhel noted over at Hoydon About Town,  now there is a measure in Australia to reduce parking spots for the disabled.  If it can be constructed as an inconvenience to the able bodied, any form of accommodation to the differently abled is understood as an unnecessary hardship. Bodies that are different from what we understand to be the norm are constantly under attack, as that is the only way a system of hierarchy can be imposed. Who has the right to take up space is very much decided by which bodies we have decided to privilege. 

Space is what this comes down to.  By forcing her into the back room Abercrombie denied her right to exist and function alongside everyone else based ableism. Her arm in their minds denotes a lesser than being and only the “beautiful” people of this world are worthy of being looked at.  The differently abled are often not seen as competent, attractive, sexual, or beautiful. To many, we are our supposed dysfunction and therefore to Abercrombie, Riam was her prosthetic  arm and not a whole human being.  The moment we deny someone's humanity, we justify discrimination. 

Perez The Queen Of Mean Got Slapped

image Perez Hilton has used his acerbic commentary to launch him squarely into the status of B-List celebrity.  He is not shy about announcing to the world the millions that daily visit his blog to intake the often sexist, racist, transphobic and classist commentary that is supposedly humorous.  

Perez is an attention whore.  I know that I am feeding this monster by even bothering to blog about this but I simply could not resist commenting on his latest entanglement with Will.I.AM  of the Black Eyed Peas.

Perez claims to have been assaulted by the manager of the Black Eyed Peas after referring to Will as a faggot.  Let’s think about this for a moment.  A Gay man is using the word faggot as an epithet to humiliate and anger another man.  Does this not give one a moments pause? I know expecting Perez to use his few remaining brain cells is a tall order but a gay man calling another man faggot simply reifies the idea that ones sexuality can be used as weapon.  I wonder how happy Perez would have been had Will or his entourage called him a faggot? Somehow I think the Queen of mean would have bristled.  When you use faggot as an insult, you encourage others to do so.

In his video rant, Hilton complains of feeling intimidated by Will.  Of course everyone knows that Will is big, black and “subhuman”, how could a sweetly innocent Latino gay male feel anything but scared out of his mind?  Will, like so many others had the right to be offended by Hiltons commentary, however once again when called out he plays upon stereotypes to defend his speech.  He was ooooh so very brave to stand up to the big black thug.

Hilton claims that he was slapped by Wills manager.  Since I was not there, I cannot argue the veracity of his claims however if someone is staying at the same hotel as you, they are not stalking you when they return there at the end of the evening.  I would further point out, that if one is legitimately scared of violence repeatedly calling 911 is what most people would do, not get on twitter.  Nope, no attention seeking behaviour here at all.

I don’t advocate violence but I really am amazed that no one has slapped Hilton until now.  He continually writes checks that his hating ignorant ass cannot cash. He may not have deserved to have slapped for his foul ranting but perhaps this will cause him to think twice about where he points his poisonous pen in the future.  Language has penalties Perez and it looks like you will have to learn that the hard way.  Oh, the same God that you invoke on Will.I.Am is watching your pathetic ass as well and I am sure calling one of his beautiful creations (Fergie) Fuggalicious is not what S/he would call playing nice in the sandbox.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Feminism: The White Women Are Chatting

image For some reason I cannot embed this video, so please click the image to view it over at Feministing. Normally Jessica Valenti appearing on CNN would not cause me to watch the video, however when it was suggested that feminism may be obsolete I was curious to see which women this little segment involved.  Can anyone guess what I was to discover?  That’s right, white women were busy debating whether or not feminism has a role.  The women held up as feminist icons were none other than Hillary Clinton and Angelina Jolie.  Certainly no woman of color could accurately represent feminism, we seem to be fit only to babysit while famous feminists rush off to seminars to discuss their marginalization.

ERASSURE, ERRASURE, ERRASURE.  Though one could argue that this is because of the medias fixation on white women as representative of feminism, I believe it is a symptom of feminist leadership historically being the preserve of white women of class privilege.  bell hooks advocates feminism and could have argued her position as succinctly as Valenti and yet she is often only called upon when there is an intersection with race as though women’s rights on its own is of no value to women of color.   Not to worry, in their writings feminists are often quick to lean on the work of women of color, it is only attributing our work properly that is an issue.

When discussions like this occur in which women of color are notably absent, it simply reifies the racism that continues to plague modern feminist organizing.  Valenti who I am sure was more than pleased with the media attention did not even bother to critique this story.  Why would she care that WOC are being excluded as long as she is being highlighted?

If one looks even deeper, the absence of lesbian women, trans women, poor women, and disabled women further limits what constitutes a supposedly feminist dialogue.  Apparently, the real issue is that upper class white women like Sarah Palin may not feel welcome in feminist circles but throwing countless women under the bus is not worthy of conversation.   Who the hell elected these women to speak on behalf of women like me?  How is it that despite the clear acknowledgement that the monolithic woman does not exist, heterosexual, cisgendered, able bodied , white women continue to not only represent feminism but are understood to embody all of its core values and ambitions? The answer simply put is privilege. 

It is privilege that maintains the hegemony of white women in feminist discourse and it is privilege that causes the failure to acknowledge how damaging this is.  I began my womans activism as a feminist and it is only because of the continued erasure of several types of women that it became clear to me that feminism is not about justice or equality but the elevation of white women in relation to white men.  Feminism is no more relevant to a marginalized body than training wheels on a bike would be to a fly.  When these feminists demand vagina based solidarity, they need look no further than their own actions to understand why marginalized women increasingly say thanks but no thanks.  How’s that for a quick hit?

Apology For Jim Crow and Slavery but no Reparations

image The original sin of the United States is undoubtedly slavery.  The legacy of the African American holocaust still continues to have reverberations throughout the entire Diaspora.   We have been disconnected from our culture and heritage all to benefit Whiteness.   Can an apology ever be enough?

According to CNN the resolution states:

The vestiges of Jim Crow continue to this day.African-Americans continue to suffer from the consequences of slavery and Jim Crow -- long after both systems were formally abolished -- through enormous damage and loss, both tangible and intangible, including the loss of human dignity and liberty, the frustration of careers and professional lives, and the long-term loss of income and opportunity.

The government can acknowledge that African Americans paid a huge price for slavery, however a serious attempt to rectify the damage is deemed unnecessary.  There are those that believe that we have reached a post racial society and therefore in this supposed state of equality there is no need for African Americans to receive “special benefits”.   This line of thought ignores the fact that the inability to transfer wealth through generations means that  Blacks are already arriving at the starting line long after the race has begun. 


Not being saddled with a student loans or having your family pool its resources to place a deposit on a house can mean success and a life of comfort.  Though we do not like to think of the death of our loved ones, the transfer of wealth through inheritance is large factor in how wealth is attained.  With the path to accumulation of land and fair wage paying jobs blocked for many African Americans, this has meant generation after generation of poverty.

By refusing to offer some form of restitution, the government is unequivocally stating that it is fine with the continued impoverishment of African Americans. The majority of wealth is firmly ensconced in white hands and this is not because they have worked any harder, or are possessed of greater intelligence; it is simply the result of a system designed to ensure the hegemony of whiteness. 

This debt could be repaid by subsidising Black owned and operated businesses, it could be used to pay for college/university educations, or even by making it more feasible for African Americans to own homes (the largest financial purchase that most will make in their lifetimes), however  the cost is often deemed to be to great or unnecessary.

A white run congress can decree that the costs are prohibitive given that it is not their young men that are languishing in prisons.  It is not the sons and daughters of congresswomen and men that are purposefully being undereducated in dilapidated buildings. 


Considering that Black children are in the minority the fact that they make up 29% of impoverished children is alarming.  Please take note that in the above graph, all people of color over represented in relation to the percentage of the population that they make up.

Slavery and Jim Crow may no longer be institutionalized by law, but they continue to have real world presence.  One cannot even reasonably argue that segregation is a shame of the past when an African American can be pulled over for driving while black in the “wrong neighbourhood,” or followed around stores.  It is not cynical to state that Blacks encounter great barriers to success, it is simply being a realist. 

It is not a matter that the facts are questionable, it is a matter that African Americans are still so socially devalued that they do not matter to the largely white run government.  If the crime rate, or drug rate that happens in inner cities were occurring in the largely white suburbs some sort of intervention would long ago have happened.

Children born into these neighbourhoods are not predisposed to criminal behaviour, however a lack of opportunities coupled with crippling limitations of poverty mean that by third grade many have already been stripped of their childhood and are well on the way to a life of struggle and or imprisonment.

Reparations will not solve all of the problems that the Black community must deal with, however they will be a progressive step in the right direction.  All of the money in the world will be meaningless unless combined by with an effort on behalf of whiteness to confront the privilege in which it continues to live on the backs of people of color.  To continue to deny that a comprehensive effort needs to be made is just one of the ways in which whiteness continues to institutionalize its benefits.

Gay Exorcism

When I came across the following videos to say I was disturbed does not properly express the level of disgust that I experienced.  Please watch with a huge trigger warning.

For over twenty minutes this young teen was assaulted as members of a church attempted to cast out so-called homosexual demons. 

This is not Christianity in action; this is pure homophobia come to life.  Over the centuries many have used Christianity as a cover for their sins and The Manifested Glory Ministry of Hartford is not the first.  Even as they tried to excise what they deemed to be the devil it did not occur to these members that they were culpable for their own sins, as the bible tells us that there is not a person without sin; we are all born of original sin.

There is no “cure” for homosexuality because it is not a condition, nor an illness, it is simply one version of sexuality.  We have chosen to stigmatize it because it adds yet another layer to the social hierarchy that we have designed.  Using God or religion to hide hatred is cowardly. This Church may claim that its actions were based in concern for the moral soul of the child in question, however one cannot ignore how self servicing these actions ultimately are. A Church should be a place of sanctuary not a pulpit upon which humanity is demeaned. Power is what they sought when this exorcism began and power was what they expressed as they assaulted this teen.

I do not believe that one can consent to assault and therefore this matter should be investigated by the police.  If the teen in question is a minor then child protective services needs  to become involved.  No matter how we view this situation, this person is being hurt because for being who they are.  This is the essence of bigotry, hating someone without rhyme or reason simply because of difference; hating because tolerance would mean admitting that privilege is not the will of God but the construction of humanity.