Saturday, July 25, 2009

Black Hair In Advertising

I suppose it’s all good fun to laugh at the lengths that Black women must go to train our hair into submission because we live in a culture that has constructed nappy hair as uncouth or wrong. A young Black girl learns at a very early age that hair is one of the ways in which she is decidedly “other” and less than.  I remember having to give countless explanations regarding my hair care as a child to fellow students and friends.  It seemed natural for them to remain ignorant about my life process, while I was in full awareness of their different beauty regimes.

Looking at this commercial only reifies the ways in which Whiteness is more than content to remain ignorant.  In fact, it symbolizes just another attempt to portray Black women as uncouth and bestial in their attempts to covet Whiteness.  Yep, just look at the ignorant Blacks putting yak hair in their head.

Weaves are either made from synthetic hair or real hair and I find this little commercial to be offensive on many levels. It ignores the sensitivity that is necessary when discussing Black hair.  Whites can use this as jumping point for a joke because they have never been demeaned in the same way.  Random strangers have never reached out and grabbed chunks of the their hair as though they are residents in a petting zoo.

This commercial is not marketed at Blacks despite its all African American cast;  it is targeted at Whites.  It smacks of, “if you don’t use our services you will be just as idiotic as these Black women” and heaven forbid a White person be on the same level with an African American.  They could not possibly hope to target this commercial at a predominately Black market because of its demeaning nature.

They could have chosen to stick with questions that are not necessarily raciaized but encouraging difference means that Whites who have a vested interest in displaying an elevated social position, will be attracted to this little ad.  Profiting off of coonery is something that the media has become quite adapt at.  Thank goodness this service exists so that even ignorant Blacks can be taught about their foolishness.  The beauty regimes of White women of course remain above suspicion.  They would never be silly enough to put yak hair in their heads.   White women are understood as naturally beautiful and need no such intervention.

I suppose I am being to sensitive by being upset by this reductive display.  And you can be certain that my anger is misplaced and only an example of the ways in which Black women walk around in a constant state of rage.  Whiteness bears no responsibility in the daily reductions of Black women and the fact that a profit occurs is of course accidental.  Our bodies have never belonged to us and therefore, why should I expect Whiteness to show a modicum of respect when constructing Black female bodies.  Perhaps, I was simply born without a sense of humour; the ability to laugh at the debasement of bodies of color seems to be a necessary modern day characteristic.

No matter which angle you dissect this little thirty second spot from, only one conclusion is possible; the purposeful exposure of the so-called desperate ignorance of Black women.  Today, one need not use overt language because we have all become so well versed in interpreting the covert messages social organizations like the media employ to widen the race divide.  White people don’t even have the courage to own their racism in the ways that their ancestors did; instead they sell the lie of a post racial world, while patting themselves on the back for allowing their Black co-worker to look them in the eye. 

Instead of accusing Blacks of playing the “race card,” as though only a White perspective on events is necessary, Whiteness should consider marketing their own points card for when they employ humour, or so-called ironic racism to widen the divide.  If we are determined to perpetuate a binary conception of the world, I do believe that Whiteness is entitled to its very own bigot card.  You can even borrow a tagline from Visa, making a racist commercial x amount of dollars, ensuring that whiteness continues to live with underserved privileges and racial impunity: priceless.

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hello everyone, I hope that you are all enjoying a wonderful summer.  My days have been hectic as the boys have a super crazy summer schedule.  I have been trying to keep up the blogging schedule so that we can continue with the great conversations here.

I just wanted to put out a quick reminder, that anyone is welcome to guest post here.  Just email either your original post or a cross post to womanistmusings[at] gmail.com. The more voices we have speaking, the wider the conversations can be.

Below you will find links to some posts that I ran across this week. Please show these bloggers some love and check out their work.   When you are done, don’t forget to drop it like it’s hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

Binge eating and boys

Yes, Bitch, I’m From Zimbabwe

How Not To Talk To Sex Workers About Sex Work

A Case of Ethnicity

Toast

Putting the Sex in Sexagenarian

Can a Half Ever Be Made Whole?: Some Thoughts on Bi-racial and African American Subjectivity.

On the word “transition”

Sex Lessons From Our Mothers

On Gendered Language

Sula and sleep: on raising a white child and reading “the n word”

Ota to lshi, Malia and Philly

Good

tweeting catcalls

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Friday, July 24, 2009

The Wedding Dance

I am known not to be a fan of weddings but this entrance actually made me smile.

Perhaps Silverton Is Not Completely Accepting Of Their Trans Mayor

image Stu Rasmussen was elected Americas first trans mayor last November.   He identifies as mostly “a heterosexual male, who happens to like looking like a female” however; a man wearing a dress with large breast implants is clearly not presenting gender in the way that American culture has normalized.   In many towns, cities, and states, Stu would be subject to harassment and even violence for his choice to alter his body. 

Though residents willingness to put aside their cisgender privilege and elect him offered a ray of hope to all of those who long for the day when the trans community will be as normalized as any other sector.  Rasmussen was born and raised in Silverton and has been an elected official there for twenty years.

image It seems that Silverton has reached its tolerance limit.  A woman has filed a complaint with the city council charging that Rasmussen’s dress at a youth training leadership meeting event was inappropriate and in direct violation of city by-laws. To the right is the outfit in question.  The temperature was ninety degrees on the day in question and the room had no air conditioning.

Ken Hector, Rasmussen’s  opponent in the last election commented to CNN, “I just think in a business setting, that’s inappropriate. Period. Without or without a dress code I don’t think that that’s an appropriate business attire.  If we had a problem with his lifestyle, why would we have invited him in here?  His lifestyle is no secret.  We see him everyday and as I said earlier it is not the lifestyle I would adopt for myself but I support his right to that lifestyle.”

Silverton Together Now manager Brenda Sturdevant filed the complaint alleging the city dress code was violated when Rasmussen wore "high heels, a very short skirt and some sort of halter top revealing much of his bosom, shoulders and back" to the meeting of the Apple tree group.

"There was a lot of skin showing," Sturdevant said. "I tried to call him (afterward) and he never called me back."

“The youth were very respectful, but their faces looked shocked and many of their mouths were dropped,” Sturdevant said in the complaint.

How many are shocked by the so-called damage to the children routine.  I suppose now their lives will be ruined and they will be destined to a life on drugs, homelessness and general malfeasance.  Wow, I’m amazed that the image of all that trans skin did not permanently blind the poor little dears. Perhaps Rasmussen should wear a shroud when he leaves his home so as to not damage innocent passers by.

Those complaining the loudest are hardly neutral.  When you run against him and lose by a fairly decent margin, your opinions on his dress are not without bias. When you throw around the word lifestyle, clearly the issue is not really how short his skirt is but how limited your mind is.  What Rasmussen chose to wear may not have been the most professional choice, but considering he was going to be locked in a room with no air conditioning, and multiple people, on a ninety degree day; it certainly reflected the conditions under which he was being forced to work.  The days of corsets and layers of clothing leading to women (or in the case of Stu, men) fainting are far behind us.

If Rasmussen conducted himself in a professional manner, I see no reason to attempt to remove him from his position.   To me, this simply seems like a lot of trans hate bingo..i.e the suffering children and the “life style choice”.  Don’t people have more to concern themselves with than what the mayor wears?  From the tone of the conversation one would have thought the man appeared in a thong and a bright pink bra.  Really conservatives and trans haters, climb back under the rock that you came from and allow people to get on with the business of living.

8 Year Old Victim Blamed For Her Own Gang Rape

Trigger Warning

A young Arizona girl has been gang raped by four boys aged 9, 10, 13, and 14.  She was lured by a piece of gum and then they proceeded to hold her down and sexually assault her for at least fifteen minutes.  CPS has taken the child away from the parents, who have apparently stated that she has brought shame upon her family.

According to KTVK her sister stated, “"I came to her and said it's not good for you to be following guys because you are still little.”

She also said that she wanted the suspects to be released from jail because "we are the same people."

"When she comes back I'm going to tell her don't ever do that again because all of us, we are the same family, we are from the same place. Now she is just bringing confusion among us. Now the other people, they don't want to see her," the sister told KTVK.

Her statements are shocking and reveal a disregard for women and the seriousness of rape.  The family is from Liberia and much has been made of the foreignness of their cultural beliefs.   Let me make it clear from the outset, that it is never acceptable to blame the victim, however; painting this family as a bunch of ignorant foreigners who are not as civilized as Americans is extremely problematic.

The girl has been removed from her home however; the father has stated that he. “loves her, needs her and wants her back”.  They have claimed that they don’t understand the US system and have denied blaming the girl for her own rape. Keep in mind that English is not their first language and it is quite possible that they don’t understand what they are being asked.  The discussion of this incident virtually erases the actual pain that the victim is going through in order to paint the family as backward savages, who have steadfastly refused to accept enlightened American ideas of gender.

Even if the claims that the press and the police are making in reference to the girls family are indeed true, blaming the victim for her own rape is not unique to Liberia.  Everyday in the western world victim blaming occurs and it is rarely understood to be damaging. 

As I watched the CNN anchor speak to a “cultural expert"” on Liberia, I could not help but wonder where the American cultural expert is when the public questions what a rape victim was wearing, or why she was in the area at the time, why she drank so much, or even how many men she has engaged in sexual relationships with.   Police barely bother to investigate the rape of sex trade workers because they are understood to be spoiled identities and yet Americans have the nerve to treat this as some sort of backward African concept.

Rape is terrible no matter who it happens to and to use it to reinforce Eurocentric ideas of Africa as uniquely backward and the West as evolved is reprehensible.  I sense very little real sympathy for the victim that is not based in Eurocentric paternalism.  Black children go missing and get raped all of the time but when was the last time it made national news?  When was the last amber alert issued for a girl that was not white and cute?  

Covering this issue allows the media to deal with charges of ignoring the violations of young Black women, will still enforcing Whiteness as uniquely valuable.  It is only Whiteness that can save this girl from the evil that she was born into, despite the fact that American culture demonstrates the very same traits that it is busy denigrating as uniquely African.  The treatment of the case does not present as valuing womanhood regardless of race because in the end the White Mans burden is fulfilled and the lowly African is elevated due to western largess.

To truly deal with sexual assault and rape, it needs to be understood that it happens across race, culture, ethnicity and social class.  All victims are equal and are worthy of respect.  No country on earth is free of violence against women and until that is acknowledged, what is certain is that our attacks will not receive the respect and attention that they deserve. The victim should be the center of this conversation and not the backwardness of so-called African only beliefs. 



CNN’s Black in America 2: Tomorrow’s Leaders

I have a new post up at Global Comment.  I will be addressing the second part of this series shortly.

Last year, CNN presented a four hour documentary by Soledad O’Brien entitled Black in America. The first part was called The Black Man and the second part was the Black Women and the Family. Much criticism was levelled at the documentary for the ways in which it erased so many members of the African community, as well as how it played on stereotypes instead of fact. It appeared to be a documentary made to educate Whites who rarely interact with Backs, rather than a critical refection on the diverse experiences of African Americans.

In its second attempt to encapsulate the African American experience, CNN stayed with its binary understanding of African Americans by dividing the show into affluent versus poverty stricken. The first part of the segment focused on Malaak Compton-Rock’s Journey for Change Program. The goal of this program is to take students from Bushwick Brooklyn to Soweto South Africa to widen their understanding of the world. For Malaak, it is important for these students, who have been on the receiving end of handouts, to be a part of giving for a change. They must then commit to a year of service in their community to pass on the lessons that they learned.

Malaak makes it clear that she could just write a check but she believes that mentorship is the best path to success. Though the program has had great success, using Africa in this way is extremely problematic. Africa is far more than its impoverished population and this kind of trip once again reinforces the view of the so-called backwardness of African peoples. It teaches these children that Africans need to be saved instead of revealing to them what and who is really responsible for the impoverishment of South African Blacks. Unless this trip is properly contextualized, the students will not really come to terms with the lessons on privilege that Malaak is attempting to teach.

Finish Reading Here

HealthCare It’s Personal

As a Canadian, I know that whenever I get sick finances are something I do not have to worry about.  As I listened to the story of this woman I could not help but feel sorrow.  To have to declare bankruptcy because she could not cover her medical bills is terrible but from what I understand this is not at all rare.

I have watched the lies told by various interest groups regarding the Canadian health care system incredulously.   They talk about Canadians entering the US for medical treatment, without pointing out that it is paid for by OUR government.  In the case of weight loss surgery for instance, in some provinces the waiting list can be any were from 6 months to two years, however; if a doctor states that it is a risk to a persons health to enforce a waiting period, the patient is treated in the US and it is paid for by the government.  There are many people in Ontario who have had weight loss surgery in Detroit for just that reason.

Much of the attention seems to be focused on wait times however if you are unable to pay for the surgery or are declined by your insurance company, are you not still waiting for medical care?  The bottom line is that as long as medical care is commodified, only those that exist with class privilege will get good reliable care. 

Many health problems that could easily have been handled, are allowed to escalate into more serious conditions because people cannot afford to see a doctor.  Prevention is the cheapest form of health care and it seems that many Americans have yet to figure that part out.  If a country as poor as Cuba can afford socialized medicine, there is no reason that the US cannot.  Think about the fact that there are 6 patients to every 1 doctor in Cuba, wouldn’t you love that ratio.

There is truth to the claim that Canadian doctors are emigrating to the US, however; many return and those that stay are not living in impoverished areas.  I find it laughable that talking heads are constructing Canadian doctors as poor.  They certainly don’t make the same kind of money as their American counterparts, however they work shorter hours and spend less time on the phone arguing with insurance companies.  It is a case of pick your poison.  There will always be those that chose money over quality of life but then isn’t that what capitalism teaches as the appropriate decision?

I don’t have a stake in this debate.  I will continue seeing my doctors and specialists as need be. I am confident that not only am I receiving good care but that my doctors are not making decisions about what is best for me based on cost.   All life is precious and to reduce it too a monetary figure is absolutely disgusting.


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Abstinence-Supporting GOP State Lawmaker Admits To Sex With 22-Year-Old Intern

I don’t have the time to blog about this but I certainly had to share it with you.

By Zachary Roth - July 23, 2009, 4:19PM

Paging Keith Olbermann. You can call off the search...we've found your Worst Person in the World for tonight.

image Meet Tennessee state senator Paul Stanley. He's a solid conservative Republican and married father of two, who according to his website is "a member of Christ United Methodist Church, where he serves as a Sunday school teacher and board member of their day school." (Check out the religious imagery on the site -- the sun poking through clouds, as if manifesting God's presence -- which of course shows Stanley's deeply pious nature.)

Stanley recently sponsored a bill designed to prevent gay couples from adopting children. And when a Planned Parenthood official recently sought his support for family planning services for Memphis teens, Stanley told her, according to the official, that he "didn't believe young people should have sex before marriage anyway, that his faith and church are important to him, and he wants to promote abstinence."

So far, so far Republican. But you can see where this is going...

In a sworn affidavit, a Tennessee state investigator has said that Stanley admitted to having a "sexual relationship" with a 22-year-old female intern working in his office, and to taking nude pictures of her in "provocative poses" in his apartment.

Well it seems that the GOP loves to live in glass houses don’t they?

Finish Reading Here

Obama The Witch Doctor

image

Well, the above is supposedly a hilarious take on Obama’s health care plan.  According to TPM,  Dr. David McKalip forwarded the above image to fellow members of a Google listserv affiliated with the Tea Party movement. Above it, he wrote: "Funny stuff."

Yep funny ha ha.  Do I even need to go into why the above image is not only racist but extremely damaging to African Americans?  Of course, only a backward socialist would attempt to ensure that everyone received good healthcare.  What a scary thought.  It certainly could not a plan to advance citizenry in any way.  It is further problematic that a shaman/medicine man/obiaman would be reduced in this way.  Many work with homeopathic medicine and are the keepers of cultural/”religious” history of indigenous peoples globally.

Unlike the modern medical establishment, shamans/obiamen/medicine men  of many tribes or cultures do not withhold their expertise for lack of payment.  I daresay, it is far more barbaric to deny someone healthcare over money which we have only conferred power to.  Who is more advanced than whom?  If these people had a legitimate argument, they would not feel that it is necessary to portray Obama in this way. 

This is your nation drunk on white privilege or should we simply say business as usual.

H/T  Nat Turners Revenge

Obama On The Gates Arrest

I am sure everyone is aware that professor Gates was arrested for attempting to break into his own home.  Those of us that are Black are quite used to negative experiences with the police.  Fortunately for Dr. Gates, it did not end in injury or the loss of his life, as has so often been the case.   Last night Obama was asked about the incident and his response was one of the few times in which he spoke openly about the racism that is often aimed at POC.

The Gates arrest came up in the final question of the hourlong news conference in which Mr. Obama largely stuck to familiar talking points about why the country needs to overhaul its health care system right now. Lynn Sweet of The Chicago Sun-Times asked him about the case and what it said about race relations in America.

Mr. Obama paused, then said, "Well, I should say at the outset that Skip Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here."

Then he made his only joke of the evening, as he speculated about what would happen if he were seen trying to force the door of his own home? "I guess this is my house now," he said, "so it probably wouldn't happen." Then, after a beat, he added, "Let's say my old house in Chicago. Here, I'd get shot."

..."I don't know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in [the events]," Mr. Obama continued. "But I think it's fair to say, No. 1, any of us would be pretty angry; No. 2, that the Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and No. 3, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by police disproportionately. That's just a fact."

Obama is not the first prominent Black man to speak about police harassment of people of color he is simply the first to do so from the oval office.   Malcolm X once asked what Whites call a Black man with a PhD and the answer was nigger.  The arrest of Dr.Gates is yet another example of the fact that no matter your achievements, Whiteness is invested with so much power, that you are easily reducible.  Dr.Gates may have economic privilege due to his class position but in the end when people see him outside of an academic setting, what they see is a Black Man and all of the social constructs that have come to be associated with this identity,

The officer who arrested Dr.Gates has refused to apologize for his behaviour.  In fact the two descriptions of the event could not be further apart.  As Obama said in his statement, the one fact that we know  is that White police officers have a long history of attacking bodies of color.  There will be those that will be quick to point out that not all White people are racist, however enough are to seriously impact the life of the average Back American.  It is far more likely that Dr.Gates was targeted because of the color of skin.

Due to the fact that Dr.Gates is a well respected member of the Black intelligentsia, his arrest made the headlines of the major networks but how many  Americans of color are daily subject to the same sort of treatment without the charges being dropped, or a discussion of the ways in which their treatment was influenced by racism?  Dr.Gates is embarrassed by the incident, however his class privilege meant that he was able to hire a lawyer and his pseudo celebrity status meant that the situation was not ignored as just another Black man playing the race card. How many people of color actually exist with that kind of privilege?

The every day slights that bodies of color undergo due to systemic racism are often ignored.  It is only when a Black celebrity is attacked that people deem it worthy to discuss whether or not a particular event was racially motivated.  The bottom line is that Black means targeted, whether you have a PhD or are working for minimum wage at Walmart.  Had Obama not been of African American descent, the question of his thoughts on Dr.Gates arrest would not even have been questioned.  Racism is understood as the problem of Blackness though Whiteness perpetuates it on every social level.  

We are expected to find a way to negotiate the attacks aimed at  us by Whiteness whereas; Whiteness bears little to no responsibility for its actions.  The impunity with  which systemic Whiteness operates is normalized in order to portray Blackness as naturally deviant.   Those of us that speak out against racism are too sensitive, determined to see racial issues where none exist, or are purposefully agitating an otherwise peaceful situation for the sake of personal attention.  The very fact that we are able to question is an affront because Whiteness not only wants to manifest its power, it attempts to do so with the complicity of those it seeks to marginalize.

What happened to Dr.Gates was definitely wrong however; I feel a full discussion will not occur, until we realize that we are only aware of what happened because it occurred with an affluent Black male, versus one who is poverty stricken.  Race has many intersections and to have a proper discussion, we need to realize that though we are often subject to similar situations, how they are dealt with is mitigated by things like class or gender privilege.  In one body many isms and privileges regularly collide to form our social understanding of the individual.  We cannot talk about racism without understanding that no single Black individual normalizes the experiences of African Americans.


Even A Turtle Has To Get Its Groove On

Yeah it’s silly but I giggled anyway.

Perhaps they should have played some mood music.

Is Barack A Citizen?

I cannot believe that people are still pushing the citizenship non issue.  He has proven that he was born in Hawaii.  What I have noticed watching the protests is that the majority of those pushing this idea are white. Big surprise.

Congressman Castile, I wanna know. I have a birth certificate here from the United States of America, saying that I’m an American citizen, signed by a doctor with a hospital administrators name, my parents, my date of birth, the time, the date.  I wanna go back to January 20th and I wanna know why you people (are) ignoring his birth certificate?  He is not an American citizen. He is a citizen of Kenya. …I don’t want this flag to change I want my country back.”

What this woman is really complaining about is a perceived loss in white privilege.   For this woman, American equals white. She has mentally ordered what bodies belong in what positions and leading the country is something that she still clearly believes that only white men should do.  Much of modern day racism is perpetuated through covert commentary but the meaning is quite clear if one is willing to listen. 

Before you write this woman off as a lone, ignorant racist, consider that major networks have devoted a lot of time to this non issue. 

There it is, the most contested document of this decade….

image

These people are grasping at straws.  Unlike many other politicians, Barack had to be purer than Caesars wife to be elected.  They thoroughly investigated his background and because they were unable to find any of the usual shady dealings or dalliances with women; they have centered in on his status as other.  They know that they cannot be obvious and cite his blackness as a reason to disqualify him and therefore they center in on his Kenyan ancestry.  

The foreignness of Obama is about his Blackness. When Whites ask to see the person in charge, they expect to be responded to by a white male.  For many who only have the benefit of Whiteness, the possibility that it might be devalued as a currency is terrifying and so they respond with anger wrapped in patriotism.  The American flag represents more than a love of land; it represents all of the American history in which POC have been decidedly devalued. Slavery, capitalist exploitation, the near genocide of Indigenous peoples, rape and plunder,  have all been a part of fulfilling the American dream for Whiteness. It is galling to them that in spite of the obvious barriers placed in his way, that Barack managed to succeed.

Is it really any wonder, that despite his bi-racial identity, that Barack identifies as African American?  In his last standup routine, Chris Rock pointed out that despite his wealth no white people would want to switch places with him.  Barack is unapologetically Black because race dynamics in the US do not allow him to loudly claim his bi-racial identity.  They are quick to discount his White American mother because the color of his skin erases any possibility that he could have any commonality with them.  Whiteness pays lip service to equality but in practice it daily ensures that its power remains effectively unchallenged.  

Though this is a right wing rant, I am sure we all remember the Hillary supporter that called Barack an “incompetent Black male” during the primaries. She could simply have referred to him as incompetent however, the color of his skin was added to point out what she clearly viewed his success as upsetting the “natural” order.  Regardless of which end of the political spectrum that one stands on Whiteness will not divest itself of its privilege.  This is not the case of the right wing crying bitter tears over an election loss; it is simply business as usual in a White supremacist state.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Bye Bye Paula

Paula Abdul’s publicist has announced that American Idol has yet to renew her contract <gasp>  Whatever shall the nations most watched popularity contest do?  I started watching Idol in the third season and I must admit I was drawn in by the bitter Cowell tongue, even though half of the time I wanted to smack him.  Every single time Paula would speak, I would roll my eyes and hit the mute button. 

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Ms.Abdul has clearly over estimated her value.  It seems that she is demanding twenty million dollars, however; producers are only willing to pay ten million.  It might sting a little considering that Ryan Seacrest was offered and accepted such a huge deal. Before Paula stomps away from the table with a head full of  self inflated designs, perhaps the former laker girl should really consider her options. Her partnership with Randy making how to sing videos is not going to keep her in the pseudo celebrity style to which she has become accustomed, furthermore; judging from the tacky jewellery that she is also shilling money does not flow in the direction of Abdul.  How many people does she really believe will be lining up to subject themselves to her nonsense, despite what her sheeple on twitter tell her?

Okay, I will give the woman her props in that she can dance but all the niceties end there. Can we all just be honest and admit the woman adds nothing to the show? I don’t understand how some one hit wonder ended up judging talent. She regularly confuses Idol with a fashion contest and spends more time on the contestants appearance than their performance.  Does anyone even remember the last coherent thing she said besides I love you?

There have been many rumours of substance abuse and on more than one occasion, it has been clear that she is either on some kind of drug or has lost all connection with reality.  Year after year I have watched her bicker with Simon and I have become convinced that it is no longer an act.  The woman is clearly irritating as all hell.

Last season when they introduced Kara DioGuardi how many started singing, SwingLow Sweet Chariot for Paula?  It was clear even then that DioGuardi was her projected replacement.  Kara may not offer anything new or challenging to the show but she speaks in whole sentences.  She can even sing on key, which is something Paula never managed to do despite having a very brief recording career.

I hate to tear a fellow woman down but truth be told, Paula is an embarrassment. When Paula showed up on Dr.Phil a few years ago, all I could think is how low can you go…Don’t we have enough negative imagery of women in the media without allowing her insipid commentary week after week?  I think it’s time Paula reach into the box of chocolates and  see what else she can find, because clearly being a B celebrity is far too taxing on her wee mind.  In case you were wondering, that was a Forest Gump reference.



Are Mommy Bloggers Sell-Outs?

I have a new post up at Global Comment

Blogs allow those who have traditionally had no voice and very little social power to be heard. In this atmosphere, “mommy blogs” have become big business. Dooce is the most popular personal blog and garners its owner forty thousand dollars a month in advertising. Meanwhile, rather than get direct profit through advertising, some mommy bloggers write product reviews in exchange for free samples of merchandise. Jessica Ramirez recently wrote an article for Newsweek, questioning whether this practice affected the credibility of these women.

Unlike traditional media, bloggers are only held accountable by their readership and their personal morals. There are no professional guidelines that they must follow, and anyone can take on the title of professional blogger. As the medium of internet publishing grows, advertisers and corporations are recognizing that this is an optimal way to get their product to a targeted market without a large outlay of cash.

The question that readers must ask themselves is this: if these bloggers are getting kickbacks for writing these reviews, can they really be trusted to relay factual information about the products in question? Keep in mind that we are subject to advertising continually. Commercials regularly use celebrity spokespeople to promote a product and we do not question their integrity, even though these celebrities are being paid for advertising said products.

Blogging is a very new form of communication. Purists don’t believe that any profit should be made from the endeavour whatsoever. Yet when one considers the time and effort that it takes to write and edit a successful blog, the idea that a blogger should forgo remuneration is ridiculous. We have a tendency to focus on the larger blogs in which people are earning a living, but many writers work in obscurity for what amounts to far less than minimum wage

Women already earn seventy-five cents for every dollar that a man makes. Even when men and women share the same profession over the period of a lifetime, men on average will still earn more money. The current recession has been referred to as a “mancession” as the jobs that are being lost are largely in manufacturing, construction and technology – areas traditionally dominated by males. This has caused a large strain on families where women suddenly find themselves to be the sole breadwinners.

Finish Reading Here

Chris Brown Can’t Admit What He Did

Transcript and commentary to follow:

"I have tried to live my life in a way that would make those around me proud of me and, until recently, I think I was doing a pretty good job. I wish I had the chance to live those few moments again... I can not go into what happened  and most importantly I'm not going to sit here and make any excuses. I take great pride in me being able to exercise great control and what I did was inexcusable. I'm very sad and very ashamed of what I've done, my mother and my spiritual teachers have taught me way better than that. I've told Rihanna countless times and I'm telling you today that I'm truly, truly sorry, that I wasn't able to handle the situation both differently and better”

"I recognised that I've truly been blessed with a wonderful family, wonderful friends and fans. God has been generous in giving me the ability which has brought me fame and fortune. I've done a lot of soul searching over the last couple of months. I've talked with my minister and my mother, and I spent a lot of time trying to understand what happened and why ... I have let a lot of people down, I realise that, and NO one is more disappointed in me than I am. As many of you know, I grew up in a home where there was domestic violence. And I saw first hand what uncontrolled rage can do."

"I have sought and I am continuing to seek help to ensure that what occurred in February can never happen again. And as I sit here today I can tell you that I will do everything in my power to ensure that it never happens again, and I PROMISE that. What I did was unacceptable. One hundred percent. I can only ask (sic) and pray that you forgive me, PLEASE".

"I hope that others learn from my mistake. I intend to live my life so I am truly worthy of the term role model. Thank you."

I thought long and hard about posting this video.  The truth of the matter is that Chris Brown is nothing more than a new age Ike Turner.  He may have talent and be conventionally handsome, however; he is a bully and no apology can ever come close  to undoing the damage that he has done.  Every time a man beats a woman he batters us all and reminds us of just how vulnerable to male violence we all are.

What is most disturbing about this is that he keeps referring to it as “the incident”.  That is not taking ownership of his actions.  He violently assaulted Rihanna and threatened her life.   In Britain they have reduced funding for rehabilitation for wife beaters because they have the highest recidivism rate and it is now believed that there is little to no chance of permanently altering their behaviour.  They have decided instead to channel energy into helping women escape these marriages and receive counselling to deal with the post traumatic effects. 

Chris Brown would like us to believe that he is a changed man but if he cannot even name what he did, how are we to believe that?  This is a man that grew up watching his own mother be battered and instead of identifying with the victim, clearly he has chosen to side with the abuser.  I don’t believe that he is sorry for hurting Rhiannna. I believe that he is sorry that it became public knowledge.

He claims that he “wished he had handled the incident better”, when he should have said that he never should have laid a hand on her.   I further find it hard to believe he thinks he should be considered a role model for anything other than how not to behave with a woman.  Chris Brown has a new CD coming out and I suspect this little apology is an attempt to smooth over any ruffed feathers so that he can continue in his celebrity status.

No one can deny that he is talented however; that is not reason enough to support the career of a man that has proven to be nothing other than an unrepentant woman beater.   I did not listen to his music before this happened, so me boycotting will have no effect but I encourage those of you who may have been fans to make a political decision to support women leading lives free of violence and not purchase any of his CDS or merchandise.  Take the opportunity to talk to others who may have been fans and discuss how serious what he did is.  Violence against women must end and therefore we must hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions.


BlogTalk Radio With Disability Activist Maria Palacios

image On Sunday, Monica, Allison and I had the honour of interviewing spoken word poet and disability activist Maria Palacios.  She spoke candidly about the high rate of rape disabled women face, the challenges of raising children as a disabled mother, dealing with an abelist world and shared her latest poem with us. This was quite the honour as it was the first time that it had been publicly performed. You can find the episode on our show page at Blogtalkradio.

With her permission Maria has allowed me to post the poem though I really must recommend listening to the podcast, it was an incredible interview.

Hunger

Maria R. Palacios

The lovers

who blessed my life

have been many

and few...

many

who came like a breeze

and a few who stayed with ease

behind the scenes

of my life.

The ones who sailed through my ocean

came to the shore

like sailors in uniform.

They were never meant to stay

no matter what I might say

or how much I may claim

to love them.

They simply came

like an April moon

full

of promise of spring

the kind

that made my heart sing

as it broke.

Those are now the memories

that make me drink

and make me smoke.

Poem by poem,

metaphor by metaphor,

they bring out

the masochist in me,

the wild beast in me

the desperate lover

in me..

You know what I mean...

because no matter what,

all of us have once been

there.....

there....

in that desperate lover mode.....

when you want to be loved

by somebody

who doesn't

want

to

love

YOU,

and you lie in bed alone

staring at the phone

staring at the ceiling

watching

full episodes of your own life

wondering

if there will ever be

a next time....

No... I don't mean just sex....

I mean sex

with....

hunger,

the fire that devours you

makes you kiss and makes you claw

the flesh of a lover

over and over

because you have to hold on

to the memory of that body

next to yours...

...the memory

of that body

next

to

yours...

That

is the desperate lover mode.

Been there

too many times

sailing with some passionate stranger

until his sails follow the wind

to where my words

can't follow his

or wouldn't

even if they could.

Some things are not meant to be.

It truly is

as simple as that.

Then.....

there are the lovers who stayed

for some time

and

for a lifetime

because everyone I once loved,

I still love

just not with the same passion

as before.

Most

of the lovers who stayed

brought peaceful love,

filled my life and my bed

with the comfort of routine,

we boxed ourselves in

into twice a week sex,

and moved on day to day

in a monogamous wheel

one that involved more than sex

it brought worries and bills,

the “Not tonight I have a

headache” line

in my pocket

my “get out of jail free card”,

the absence of romance,

table never just set for two,

no candlelight

no full moon

but the security of someone's arms

that kept me warm at night

and made me feel

like a “real” woman.

Yes, a real woman. Real as defined by a culture,

that sees someone like me

as the black sheep of the family,

the one

with a dark past

and a dark side,

the one who has loved

more than once

and lived

intensely,

the hot-blooded Latina

who broke the mold

of the perfect daughter

and the perfect wife,

the perfect woman,

perfect this and that

all women are expected to be

somehow.

Yes.

Somehow

we manage to squeeze

our battered identities

into yet another outfit of preconceived ideas

about what roles we play

and what we say....Who are we?

And why

are we

here?.....

And we swim upstream

like a desperate sperm

trying our best

to survive.

But we're always

too fat

to thin

to white

too dark

to short

to tall

to old

too young

too something

What the hell is wrong

with us?

I guess,

in my case,

I was considered too crippled

for some things

I was never expected to grow up.

“You?

Sex education?

For what?????”
And so I learned to exist

on my own.

And on my own

I learned

about sex and love

and confused the two

at times

as I was forced to wear

labels that define womanhood

in the white, able-bodied, heterosexual

socially acceptable way

and I was raised to believe

I will never have sex

never get married

never have children

never grow up to be

a “real”

woman.

But I am one.

And I have never been

the sweet little thing,

breakable, fragile, helpless

needy female

waiting to be rescued

by anyone

but especially

by a man.

Instead I am

feminista

revolucionaria

Pancha Villa

Female Chegue Vara

Woman of color

who has grown poems

and children

in her womb....

...poems

and

children

in

her

womb.

So.... the girl in a chair had a lover

then a husband

and

another

She had one child

then two

It sounds like the same old tune

because I'm just a woman

doing

what women do

loving

like women love

with all my senses raw

until the hunger

is gone.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tune In Tuesday

Because this blog deals with a lot of serious issues, it can get very heavy sometimes.  In an effort to lighten the atmosphere, I would like to start something I call Tune in Tuesday.  Music has the ability to trigger happy memories and much of our lives are marked by song.  To that end each Tuesday I intend to offer a song and tell you about what it triggers for me and in return you are welcome to share any memories that you have associated with it.

I know that this is an odd first selection but I cannot hear Danger Zone without smiling.  When I was a kid, my parents did not allow me to attend school dances.  To this day I have no idea why this prohibition existed.  The week of the spring dance when I was in eighth grade happened to coincide with their vacation..HE HE HE.  At any rate they left us with a sitter and  went off for some private time.  I informed the woman who was caring for us that I wanted to go to the dance and she colluded with me for this to happen.  She took my brothers out so that they would be none the wiser and I prepared for my first dance. 

While I was in the tub having a bath getting ready to go, I played this song over and over as I sang at the top of my lungs.  I knew that if I got caught that I would be in a world of hurt but the rebel in me wanted to be like the other kids.  Imagine that at the time I saw a dance as the ultimate sign of rebellion; little did I know of the trouble I would get into when the teenage years hit full force.  Ha,.. For me at the time, sneaking out to a dance was as dangerous as being a fighter pilot…..what a rebel eh?

Gay Parents Are Inconsistent With Catholic Teaching

image A charity that is partially funded by the Catholic Church has come out in favour of gay parents.   Terry Prendergast of Marriage Care said, “that same-sex families, along with single and cohabiting parents, suffered discrimination and denigration because they fell short of the Vatican's definition of what constituted a real family.”

What he and his charity have come to realize, is that what children need most are adults who love them and are willing to invest the time and energy into raising them to be responsible members of society.  It is far better to have a chid raised in a loving same sex household, than suffer under state care.  Even in the fifties, the traditional family was not what we think it was and therefore; the idea that it must consist of a man and a woman to be successful is ridiculous. 

Pastoral response

In a statement, the organisation acknowledged that although it was difficult to define what a family was, the Church still believed that stability for children came from having parents of opposite genders who could provide different role models.

They said it was "inconsistent with Catholic teaching to plan or promote a notion of family from which (these elements) .... are deliberately excluded."

I love the logic that children only pick up gender role models from their parents.  For this to be true, they would have to avoid watching television, attending church, participating in extra curricular activities, or attending school.  Yep, if they don’t have a parent of the opposite sex, they will never see one in the social world to model the so-called appropriate gender roles.

Further to the point, who says that the gender roles that we have constructed are necessarily appropriate for everyone.  Boys are taught not to show emotion, and encouraged to be aggressive.  Girls are taught to be passive homemakers, willing to sacrifice their personal interests at all times if it benefits a man.  Girls are taught that their bodies are to be sexually available and that they are worth less than men.  How are these so-called natural gender roles that the Church is trying to enforce beneficial?

Performing gender is among the least important things that a parent will teach a child.  How about being concerned if the child recognizes their privileges and is committed to treating all people that they interact with, with respect?  How about teaching that child a good work ethic so that they will be able to participate in the social world?  How about teaching said child about the beauty of life and never taking a single moment for granted? Of course not, the Church is more concerned that only the appropriate genitals are interacting.

These so-called men of God, cannot see that their position is an affront to the idea of a loving deity.  A same sex family is just as beautiful as any other form of family unit because it is based in love.  More than anything the world needs to celebrate love and we spend far too much time focusing on difference based in ignorance and hatred.  Just as ignorance and hatred can consume you , love will fill your life with joy and bliss.

Editors Note: I have removed the biblical passage as it has been revealed in comments that the interpretation that I have understood to be correct is wrong.

The Problem With Marriage is Black People

image The media is forever speaking about the break down of the Black family. It came as no surprise when I came across yet another article  attempting to save this archaic patriarchal institution.     It seems that Johnny and Shanna Woodbury are experiencing problems in their thirteen year marriage, despite having acquired property, various commodities and having successful children.

"I love my husband" said Shanna Woodbury of their marriage. "But I feel so overworked and underappreciated. I work full-time like my husband, but if I don't maintain the domestic responsibilities of the house, nothing gets done. Added to that, I manage our rental properties and take care of everything for our kids, alone."

Does this sound like a familiar refrain to anyone?

"I'm faithful to my wife, I give her my whole paycheck but I work the late shift and my job is demanding. When I come home, I don't need to hear her mouth -- I just need to watch my favorite football game in peace."

Just from reading the commentaries by both husband and wife it is clear that this issue in this marriage is not race but plain old-fashioned sexism.  Women have historically been responsible for taking care of the home and child rearing. Even though today it takes two working adults to raise a family, our burden has still not been reduced. The traditional workload of a woman is often only reduced when the family in question has enough capitol to hire outside help, thereby; exploiting the labour of yet another woman.

Why does this husband believe that because he is faithful, and works long hours that he is entitled to skip domestic labour?  The answer is quite simple really – MALE PRIVILEGE.  Asking him to pull his share of the work load is understood as nagging and it is this approach that men have historically used to silence women when we complain of being overworked.

image The wonderful thing about marriage is that often women acquire a new overlord and the husband a shiny new slave.  No matter how egalitarian a couple approaches their wedding, it is only a matter of time before the gender roles that we have become socialized to play become a factor.   Some women, like Jessica Valenti don’t even get to distribute the wedding invitations before gender becomes a factor in the work performed.

From the beginning, Andrew and I agreed that we would not be one of those couples in which the woman ends up doing all of the wedding-related work because she is the person who is supposed to care about it the most. No, we were going to do this fairly. He would take care of booking the music, I would handle the flowers. I would cover the invite list, he would deal with the invitations. Several months later, when I found myself up to my eyeballs in sample invitations and band websites - while Andrew read the newspaper or dallied online - I was ready to throw in the towel on so-called domestic bliss.

But black women are told that the problem is that as a community, our issues with marriage are race based and not founded in gender.  The anti-racist movement has staunchly privileged the concerns of Black men while Black women have been sent off to make coffee and bake cookies.  Any reading of the Civil Rights movement will privilege the sacrifices of Black men, while ignoring the contributions of Black women.   We have continually defended Black men when they have been assaulted by racism, only to be subjected to sexism rather than a legitimate defence of our person. 

I understand that within the feminist movement we have been subjected to racism by white women but that does not mean that gender or sexism does not significantly impact our lives.  We cannot afford to privilege race over gender, as Black men are more than happy for us to do, because it allows them to center themselves in any and all conversations.  The so-called problem with Black marriage is that the institution is based in patriarchy and though Black men know what it is to be discriminated against, they have no problem oppressing Black women.  When one is understood as “other,” it should be easier to understand that oppressing another only affirms hierarchy, however; it seems that for Black men, the opportunity to express power coercively is an addictive drug.

Though this post has focused on sexism from the point of view of Black marriage, I feel that it is important to note that the issues raised are not specific to the Black community.  What we should take away from the example that the Woodbury’s provided, is that we should not have to play the role of “strong black woman” and we do so not only because society has decided that Black women are worthless but because the men that are supposed to be our greatest support have no problem throwing us to the wolves when it is convenient.  Just because it seems that someone should be your natural ally does not necessarily make it so.


If You’re Disabled You Cannot Be A Customer

We live in a society that seems to worship money.  Even in a recession keeping up with the Joneses is still an obsession for those that still possess disposable income.  Many businesses are struggling to survive and even companies that have become socially ingrained, have been placed into a position where they must offer extra services and value to stay competitive, unless of course it means accommodating the differently abled.

image  If you are a Canadian, “timmys” is as familiar as the toonie (our two dollar coin) or that idiot Don Cherry from Hockey Night in Canada.  In Niagara Falls, you cannot drive 5 minutes without running into a Tim Hortons.  I live within walking distance of THREE Tim Hortons.  Most people in the city visit Timmys a minimum of once a day.  They have the most franchises in our city and are constantly busy.  So ingrained is Timmys in our culture, that we send it to our soldiers when they are overseas.

I never thought that anything would come between Timmy’s and I.   It seems however,  that my scooter makes my money irrelevant.  At one location if a car is parked in the disabled parking spot, no scooter or wheelchair can go up the ramp.  I really wanted a tea and so I went through the drive-thru only to be told that it was the first and last time that would be allowed.  When I explained the situation, I had to allow the manager to sit in my scooter and attempt to enter his own damn donut shop, to prove to him that his location was inaccessible.  For the record, the car parked in the disabled spot had no sticker and he did nothing about it. I guess they can only handle one “cripple” at a time at that location.

image Today as I was leaving yet another Timmy’s, four people were “parked” in scooters sipping their coffee and chatting.  There were others sitting in their vehicles also sipping happily away at their coffees when the manager appeared and announced that she needed the parking spots for customers and the people on  scooters were told to leave.  How is it acceptable to sit in a parking lot in a car but not a scooter?  These people had paid their money just like everyone else. 

It seems that over and over, everywhere I go, inaccessibility is the norm rather than the exception.  We  are treated like we are an inconvenience and rushed quickly out of sight.  There are many stores I cannot enter without leaving my scooter outside because the aisles are either to narrow, or there is a step at the entrance way.  What are we to think but that our money is no good and that we are second class citizens. 

Technically, I could file a claim with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal, however; I would have to do so location by location and incident by incident.  When I think about the energy required to get through a single day this kind of expectation is ridiculous.   The problem is not that of the differently abled person but that of a society that has been built to standardize a certain body type as normal.

image With all of the frustrations that I face trying to get around the city, the thought of the winter looms large over my head.   I know that once the snow hits the ground, I will once again be trapped in my home.   People are lax when it comes to shovelling the snow, despite the law requiring snow removal and the city seems to believe the only area that needs prompt removal are the tourist areas.  I shudder to think about how I would get the basics if the unhuband was not currently abled.  To someone in a wheelchair or a scooter, or someone who uses canes, crutches or walkers, snow is more than inconvenience.

It took me a long time to come to terms with my disability.  I did not want to take on yet another identity that further “othered” me.  I know what it is like to be discriminated against as a person of color and as a woman but the totalizing effect of being discriminated against because of my perceived  disability (and I say perceived because under the right circumstances I would not have any limitations) is positively enraging.

image That said, I am not comparing racism, or sexism to ableism.  I am probably feeling the effects of this so strongly in part because of its newness to me, rather than it being less or more than other social stigmatizer.  Dealing with ableism on a daily basis has affirmed something that I have always believed to be true, in terms of living with isms; until you live in the body of the oppressed, you have no idea how difficult it can be.  When each and every day you are assaulted by the common belief that you are less than and then told to smile and accept it, how can there be any other response but anger? 

As I explore the law and look into my options, the one thing that I am sure of is that this is one differently abled woman that will not be quiet, on the days that I have the energy to fight.  I know that I have just begun to scratch the surface of what it is to live as a differently abled person in this world but knowledge is power and in time I will acquire the tools to fight for my rights.  I will force the world to see that which it has chosen to ignore and in so doing affirm my right to be treated like a human being.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Standing Watch On Death Row

Thankfully, Canada has long since outlawed the Death Penalty.  When you have a justice system that routinely issues biased judgements based in race and class, how can we possibly issue the ultimate penalty?  This sentence is further complicated because the state is punishing by taking a life; the very same action that it is holding an inmate accountable for. There  are those that still subscribe to an “eye for an eye” philosophy but they should consider that on the death certificate of each executed person, homicide is listed as the cause of death. 

image The state of Texas currently leads in the number of executions.  CNN has a story about a reporter named Mike Graczyk, who holds the macabre title of witnessing the most state executions.  It was calculated that he has spent 40 hours of his life watching men and women die.  Since the death penalty was re-established in 1976, Graczyk has witnessed 315 out of a total of 439 executions.

Graczyk said he doesn't worry about the mental toll of watching so many deaths. His bosses with the AP have offered counseling. He's declined.

"To see someone go to sleep -- not to sound insensitive -- but the carnage at the murder scene is harder than what you see in the death house in Huntsville," he said.

He must need to tell himself that theses people are simply taking a nap in order to process the horror that he is witnessing.  While the photos at violent murder scenes must be horrific, I daresay witnessing the last breathe of a person who is intentionally being murdered must leave some sort of scar on the psyche.  Make no mistake about it, the death penalty is just as cold hearted and premeditated  as any murder.   The state does its best to sanitize its actions but that does not erase the fact that a living breathing human being having her/his life taken.

image The death penalty can never equal justice for the victim.  Their life will still be gone and their families will spend a lifetime mourning  their loss.  Some victims families have often reported depression after the death sentence is carried out because there is no place left to aim their hatred and their anger. A murderer owes a debt that they can never repay, even when it costs them their lives.

I could offer the statistical information about how executing a prisoner costs more than keeping them in prison until they expire naturally, or the fact that if you are poor you are more likely to be sentenced to death, however; I believe that the heart of the debate is how much one values life.  Yes, what these criminals did was terrible but life is priceless and should never be ended so easily.  We spit in the face of creation, every time we think we have the right to decide that someone with a beating heart does not deserve to live.



When Sexy Isn’t Simple

I have been told that I have peculiar taste in men.  Of course like most heterosexual women I have my standard hotties that I drool over.

image image image

image image image

okay after assembling that I need a moment…..

Yeah the tortured artist look works for me.  Now I must admit every once and a  while I stray from standard attraction to this:

image image image image 

The above men are what I call my sexy ugly crew.  I would not normally consider them attractive but there is something about each and every single one of them that makes me…..hmmm….yeah well ya know.  I was informed that my sexy ugly crew was worthy of a “Sunday Shame” but I think that there is something to be said for the understated. 

The above is what I had written for a “Sunday Shame” post until I realized something;  all the men  that I had chosen for “naturally hot” category were men of color except one and all the men that I had put into the category of “sex ugly” were white.   I actually stopped writing the post immediately and began to ponder why this is the case.

I think some of the issue comes down to how I define the word “hot”.  To me, “hot” means so damn fine I would hand you the cookies to eat in my bed whereas sexy ugly means that I find something intangible about the person in question to be attractive but am not pushed to drool mode.

That is when a light went off and I began to think about the ways we have been taught to understand men of color.  They have historically been highly sexualized beings.  Black men in particular have to fight the whole mandingo ready to serve Missy Anne meme.  It would be easy to just look at the images  and  state that they are all “just” attractive men however; the  unintentional grouping according to race raises interesting questions.

Since nothing is outside of discourse, these choices are not innocent and are filled with meaning about how I understand male racialized bodies.  There will always be a part of sex or sexual attraction that involves sharing an experience based in nurturing, however; what we understand to be the flip side i.e the “instinctual level,” is actually filled with all of our unspoken internalizations regarding race, and class.

It makes me think of Peggy McIntosh and “unpacking the invisible knapsack.  One of the questions she asks is, who do we expect to see when we ask for the person in charge.  Though Blacks have made great gains since the days of Jim Crow, quite often the person in charge will still be White.  All men are granted male privilege; race and class work to determine the degree each individual will be able to benefit. 

This was meant to be a light hearted post and yet instead it revealed to me that perhaps I have internalized certain messages about racialized bodies that I have not yet let go of.  There are no Asian men on either list and what does this say when I come from a culture that has historically feminized them?  I would not say that I find Asian men unattractive; they simply were not on the top of my list, when I began my selection.  Once again hierarchy rears its head to display how it is possible to devalue certain bodies even in the most simple of projects because that is how I have been trained to think.

Just as White people walk around with certain assumptions, so do people of color. We cannot avoid all of the stereotypes, even though we know better than most how harmful they can be.  What I will take away from this exercise is the knowledge that deconstructing race is something that never ends, even if you are in the body of a racially oppressed person.