Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hitler, Stalin and Saddam Have Sex: AIDS is a Mass Murderer

The following images are from a safe sex campaign being run in Germany.  The link also leads to a very graphic commercial that is being run.

imageAdolf Hitler

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Saddam Hussein

imageJoseph Stalin

While I agree with the tagline of this campaign, the strategy is wrong for many different reasons. Safe sex should apply to everyone and not just women.  This ad purposefully shames heterosexual women for having sex, suggesting that it is  their irresponsibility that has caused the spread of the aids virus.  Shaming of women for being sexual is hardly new or cutting edge, it is simply patriarchy in action once again. It further excludes women that are lesbians.  Yes, believe it or not, women have sex with each other.

Where are the men having sex with each other?  Gay men need to have safe sex just as much as any other group and their invisibility speaks once again to the ways in which the GLBT community is devalued and created as non existent to privilege heterosexuality. 

It is further disturbing that those depicted as representing AIDS are mass murderers.  This was an attempt to point out how dangerous AIDS is, however; it succeeds in further demonizing those that are living with HIV/AIDS.  Where is our human compassion to those that are living with this terrible disease?  Even though it is well known how HIV is transferred, those that are infected with the disease still face many stigmas and are often run out of many public environments.  This ad only encourages the irrational fear of those suffering with AIDS/HIV.  Many are still productive members of our society and they should be treated with respect, rather than demonized and constructed as evil.

More awareness campaigns are necessary to slow the advance of AIDS but they should be sensitive to the various social groups, as well as ensure that those living with the disease are not constructed in a manner that reduces their humanity.  HIV/AIDS is a terrible disease, that has caused the death of far too many and it is this, along with information on how it is transferred, that should be the main point of our discourse. 



Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hey everyone, thanks for another great week of conversation.  As you may already know, thanks to polerin the links are working again.  I am eternally grateful for all of the help.

This week Monica of TransGriot, Gus AKA Allison McCarthy and I will be chatting with Kola Boof.  We will discuss what it was like growing up growing up “nappy headed” and half Black in Northern Sudan.  We will also be speaking about  rape and slavery, which are still occurring there at a very high rate.  Please be sure to tune in at 8pm EST.  Here is a link so that you can follow the show.  For those of you that miss it, I will put up a link on Sunday, so that you may hear the recording. As always the phone lines will be open should you have any questions. (347) 326-9452  If you are to shy to call in, feel free to ask your question in the chat room and we will ask Ms.Boof.

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As many of you know, it is my goal to continue to grow the Womanist Musings community, in the hopes of enlarging the conversation.  If you read a post that you like, please do not hesitate to submit it to some form of social media, whether it be reddit, digg, facebook, livejournal or stumbleupon etc., I certainly would appreciate the help.

Below, you will find a list of some posts that I found interesting this week.  Please show these bloggers some love and check them out.  When you are done, don’t forget to drop it like it’s hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

The difference in our society

Pain as Discipline

As amusing as it may be to watch two non Muslim women duke it over the veil…

Now, I’m A Feminist, But … Not Really

Nadya Suleman, Kate Gosselin, & Media Portrayals of the Single Mother

Jon & Kate: of Playboy offers, St. Tropez and plain old sexism

Hello dark red, my old friend

Enslaved By Language: A Brief Archaeology of the word Nigger

The Military Service as Privilege

The Right To Stay Silent: The Best Way To Stay Out Of Jail

How To Abolish Gender 101: Perpendicular Force

The delicate art of criticism as an outsider

Illinois Paroled Rapist’s Required GPS Monitoring Dropped Before 2 Additional Rapes Reported

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Tyra, Natural Hair Does Not Include A Relaxer

For the fifth season premiere week of the Tyra Show, she decided to show the world what her natural hair looked like.

[Starting at 0:53] Okay, so let's talk about my hair right now. I know it's been a big mystery, and I was like, it was an unsolved mystery, and I felt like I needed to solve this mystery. Like, I've worn weaves and wigs and pieces and clip-ons and clip-outs and clip-downs and -arounds [laughter] since I was seventeen, eighteen years old! And I wanted to show the real me; I wanted to show the raw me. And I just got out of the shower—did the face first, of course, y'all—and then came out of here on this stage, and this is me, y'all. This is me. [cheers and applause]

What really happened, is  girlfriend took out her horse hair extensions but is still rocking the relaxer.  UH HUH that’s natural baby.  What makes this even more irritating, is that the dolt thought that this was an act of bravery and was controversial. 

Natural hair means no chemicals..it means accepting that your Afrocentric features are beautiful.  Since Madame CJ Walker became a millionaire preying upon the internalization of Whiteness, many Blacks have succumbed to the belief that wearing their natural hair in public is uncouth.  Some would even classify it as extremely low class.  What is unapologetically Black makes many uncomfortable.

Tyra walked on to the stage to a round of great applause and she stood there basking in the glow, as though she had just done the bravest of acts.  Standing in front of the world as your natural self should not constitute a radical act.  Black women have been masculinized to serve the purposes of white hegemony and patriarchy. The performance of femininity is even more crucial to being understood as woman if you are Black.  Even when we emulate the construction, we are still accused of being manly- consider the  Williams sisters.  What Tyra did was not brave, it only confirmed that only those that internalize White beauty standards are acceptable. 


Women workers are powerful

Bearing the brunt of economic crisis

By Gavrielle Gemma

Published Sep 10, 2009 11:10 PM

Women workers, employed or employed, don’t need statistics to know how bad things are. The prices of basic necessities—rent, food, utilities, transportation, health care and child care—are way up. Our wages are falling or stagnant. Even small wage increases provided in union contracts don’t make up for rising costs. However, we do need to know the statistical big picture to decide what to do about it.

Before that, we need to know our potential power in the U.S. economy. There are 68 million women working, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. These numbers leave out millions of undocumented workers, and those who work in the informal economy or “off the books,” where we clean, do laundry, help with family care and do any work we can find.

We continue to earn 20 percent less than men in the overall economy do, with oppressed women earning less than that in disproportionate numbers. Though we work in every industry, we remain concentrated in secretarial, receptionist and other clerical jobs; in health care and teaching jobs; in public employment; and in retail sales. However, we are 150 percent potentially more powerful in our strategic roles in society.

It’s easy to find statistics on our wages by industry. Finding out how much wealth our labor creates is very hard. It’s clear that the capitalists do not want us to understand that our labor power produces gargantuan profits—and that we could shut the country down!

In 2002, the U.S. Census Bureau reported $3 trillion in retail sales. Wages were $302 billion. So that’s 10 percent of retail revenue, because a trillion is one thousand billion.

Sales in health care came to $1.2 trillion. Wages amounted to $495 billion, or 41 percent of revenue. Without us, there would be no revenue at all. Even counting the cost of facilities, equipment and supplies, it’s obvious how badly we’re being ripped off.

We cannot leave out our unpaid labor in home production. Unpaid labor is anything you could pay someone else to do like cleaning, shopping and food preparation, taking care of family members, or home construction. The amount of time we spend on this is rapidly growing, as we cannot afford to hire anyone to do the work.

At a Dec. 1, 2005, lecture at the University of Massachusetts, Professor Diane Elson explained that unpaid work is in effect a big subsidy to the profit industries, allowing businesses “to reduce the wage costs of social reproduction” of workers and reduce public programs. According to writer David Bollier, one study estimated that the value of unpaid work in Britain equals 77 percent of the gross domestic product, but it is not counted. (onthecommons.org)

Unemployment is hitting women hard. It rose 76 percent among Latina workers since last year, and increased 52 percent for African-American women. Millions of workers are not even counted in the unemployment or underemployment statistics. Immigrants, domestic workers and those in the informal economy are the hardest hit. In some communities, young people face the disaster of 75 percent unemployment.

Women are more undercounted than men in the unemployment statistics; the rate of women workers who are too discouraged to look for work rose 90 percent in the last year. We are also 10 percent less likely to get benefits. Discrimination against pregnant women, mothers returning to work and lesbian workers is rising rapidly.

Women are imprisoned in ever greater numbers. Some women are entering the military because they can’t find any other job during this economic crisis.

Poverty is soaring for families where single women head up households.Employed or unemployed, they are hardest hit by foreclosures. That’s not because they are single but because they can’t live on one income.

With the 1996 Clinton administration destruction of welfare, which was itself a different kind of unemployment benefit, women are getting below minimum wage for forced workfare labor. Time limits and restrictions are keeping newly unemployed women workers from receiving these benefits, which have been cut to the bone. Some women have even been forced to give up their children into the wretched foster care systems.

We say no!

Why should we put up with a $12 trillion bailout to the banks that are giddy with joy over their rising profits, while we have a jobless, impoverished “recovery” for workers? Why should we put up with an unemployment rate that is rising even faster for women than for men due to cuts in retail, service and public employment?

Why should we stand for 30 million people being unemployed or underemployed? Or for our jobs being outsourced to countries where our sisters are making pennies in horrendous sweatshops, which then forces many women and children into the global sex market?

Why should we stand for this assault on our lives?

Trillions for the banks, nothing for us. Even if you are still working, your family and communities are engulfed by unemployment.

We shouldn’t put up with any of this.

We women workers should stand tall and flex our collective muscles to demand what is rightfully ours. On Sept. 20, thousands will march in Pittsburgh to demand a massive public jobs program preceding the meeting of the G-20, an international group of bankers and finance ministers.

Get on the bus or contact the March for Jobs to see what you can do. Call 212-633-6646 in New York City or 412-780-3813 in Pittsburgh.

Gemma is a member of the Women’s Fightback Network in New York City.

Sources: National Women’s Law Center and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research


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.


9/11 Remembrances Open Thread

image I was at work and happened to glance up at the television.  I remember thinking why were they showing a movie.  It seemed to me at the time that films had always shown some disaster occurring at the World Trade Center.  It took a moment for me to register that the television was not on a movie channel and that it was on CNN.  Fear and panic immediately registered in my heart.  I have family residing in New York and I was terrified that they were in Manhattan.  I began dialling their number and was not able to get through.

I had to continue working though my mind was far from the task at hand.  A few customers watching the news began to cheer when they realized that America had been attacked and I remember the intense anger that I felt.  Regardless what you think of Americas terrible international policy, of interfering in the concerns of other countries, people were dying and I thought the cheering was cold and callous.

Hours later at home and on the brink of hysteria, I finally got a hold of my family and discovered that they were all just fine.  Even knowing that no one in family had been touched by this horrible event, did not serve to calm my fears.  I knew that I was watching the start of a war.  In the days to come, I would cry many tears as the news spoke about the victims.  It all seemed so  senseless and wrong.  Eight years later, Osama Bin Laden has not been brought to justice and there can be no closure for the victims families. 

I watched as the Bush government exploited 9/11 to justify the removal of civil rights and engage in a war of aggression against Iraq.  Bigots across North America used 9/11 as an excuse to engage in Islamophobia, forgetting that Muslims of many races have lived peaceably in North America for generations.  Even in the tiny town of St.Catherines, twenty minutes from where I reside, a mosque was defaced.  Even as we remember the victims of 9/11, we must also remember the attacks against the Muslims in North America.  Hatred and ignorance no matter where it is directed, is the cause of much evil in this world.

Please feel free to use this thread to share your remembrances…..


Caster Semenya Has Been Declared Intersex

image The news quickly spread across the internet that the results from the gender testing of Caster Semenya revealed that she has no uterus, or ovaries and has undescended testes.  The media could not wait to display their ignorance and have repeatedly referred to Semenya as a hermaphrodite.  Apparently her body produces three times more testosterone, than that of a cisgender woman. 

According to the Daily Telegraph:

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is ready to disqualify Semenya from future events and advise her to have immediate surgery because her condition carries grave health risks. They have also not ruled out stripping Semenya of her 800m world championships gold medal.

Tests conducted during the world athletics championships in Berlin last month, where Semenya's gender became the subject of heated debate following her victory in the 800m, revealed evidence she is a hermaphrodite, someone with both male and female sexual characteristics.

Semenya is from a very small village and probably would not have found out until later in life or even ever at all about her intersex identity.  This issue was handled poorly from the beginning and never should have become public knowledge, never mind international news.  At eighteen, Caster now stands naked before the world.  Would anyone be happy to have such a vivid description of their body and reproductive system openly displayed before the world?

When Semenya returned home as a gold medal winner, she was greeted like a hero.

Support for their champion athlete was not universal and several radio disc jockeys, made misogynistic comments regarding her physical appearance.  Despite living her entire life as a woman, many made crude comments about bulges in shorts ,or how masculine her body appeared.  Semenya fought back by saying, "God made me the way I am and I accept myself. I am who I am and I'm proud of myself." Though there is no hard evidence, her recent appearance in You magazine, suggests that she was coerced into getting a makeover to allay fears regarding her gender identity.

She will need every ounce of faith for what is to come.  We do not live in a world that is tolerant or respectful of intersex bodies.  They challenge our belief that gender can be easily divided into two categories.  It is viewed as a horrible defect that must be corrected at birth, without consent of the intersex individual, or a consideration that the genitalia presented, may not equal the gender identity of the child in question.  The fact that it was suggested that Caster submit to a surgery to remove her testicles, once again speaks of our discomfort with bodies that are not neatly aligned.  This is an issue that should not be up for public debate and any suggestions from an agency that so badly botched this incident, must necessarily be questioned.

The questioning of Semenya is the perfect example of cissexism.    It began because we have narrowly defined the category of ‘woman’. Had Semenya had a eurocentric hair style, nail polish, and makeup on, when she raced, how many of her detractors would even have thought to raise an objection?  They would have seen the performance of femininity and accepted her.  We teach gender performativity from birth and little girls that are slow to assimilate are often referred to as tom boys.   Little boys that display what we have decided to be traditionally feminine characteristics, are bullied and ordered to hide their emotions. 

Today, Caster is the same person as she was before the intimate details of her physical construct were revealed to the world.  Unless she has her testicles removed and takes estrogens, her racing career may be over.  It may well seem to her, that she is being punished for being who she is and in this, she would be correct.  Not only will she be prevented from competing in a sport she clearly loves, the intimacies of her body are now news for public fodder.  Intersex bodies should not be treated as though they are sickness that needs to be cured, nor should she face social stigmatization for the narrow-mindedness of some.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Women and Undocumented Workers get Sold Down the Healthcare River

image President Obama addressed the nation last night regarding his much debated healthcare reform plan. Obama has never made it a secret that politically he is a centrist, even though the right wing has tried desperately to paint him as socialist, a Nazi, or a communist worthy of Lenin.  Anyone who has ever read the propaganda produced during the Nazi era or the writings of Lenin could never seriously confuse his pro-capitalist, centrist position, with either communism or fascism.

So eager is Obama to institute his plan, that he is  willingly throwing undocumented workers and women under the bus.  A self respecting communist would fight for the two aforementioned groups because of the social marginalization that they face. 

There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false – the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally. And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up – under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.

It is interesting that the US is more than willing to profit from the labour of undocumented workers but is unwilling to pay when they get sick. Borders are a man made construction that often serve as a mechanism of exploitation.  First their home countries are impoverished through unfair trade agreements and then when they leave to try and improve their life chances, they are penalized. 

The Republicans have falsely constructed  undocumented workers as existing with a high rate of violence and as drains upon the system.  They have used racism as the foundation of attack.  Undocumented workers are constructed as lazy or as stealing American jobs.  Many attempt to suggest that they are depressing American wages.  I would like to know how many Americans are lining up to die in the thick heat, picking vegetables for a pittance?  Even if these jobs paid more, the lack of prestige associated with them would ensure that they would be amongst the least sought after jobs, leaving agribusiness unable to function. 

In what was decidedly a pointed appeal, to those that seek to devalue human life for the purposes of profit, Obama announced that healthcare would not cover “illegal immigrants.”  It is further disturbing, that even as he spoke of denying them health care, cementing their state as “other” in the social conscience, he could not even bother to refer to them in a respectful manner.

Undocumented workers were not the only group of people to learn that healthcare would not cover their needs last night. Obama confirmed that abortions would not be covered in his healthcare plan.  He wanted to give healthcare workers the  opportunity to utilize their conscience.  Can you imagine the President announcing that a medical procedure for men, that was perfectly legal, would not be covered under health care? Can there be anymore proof of the fact that women's lives are devalued by patriarchy?  This further punishes poor women for being impoverished and having sex.

This so-called moral clause is nothing but patriarchy exercising its control over women’s bodies.  The conservatives may not have been able to overturn Roe vs Wade, however; they have made great strides in reducing access to the point that in some areas women are completely unable to procure an abortion, or they must go through extreme measures. Obama claims to support a woman's right to choose, however; by not including abortion coverage, he is assuring that some will not have that right.  This is a centrist in action.  You cannot stand for good and for change, when you are pandering to the right wing, which seeks only to maintain the status quo. 


Another reason to abolish the death penalty

Published Sep 9, 2009 5:18 PM

image The death penalty in the United States should be abolished because it functions as a potent agent of racism and class oppression. African Americans and Latino/as represent the majority of those on death row. And executions are reserved almost exclusively for the poor. Ninety percent of those awaiting execution could not afford to hire a trial attorney.

In addition, death penalty abolitionists have known for decades that many of those executed are also innocent. Now the corporate media has finally covered one such case in which recent evidence reveals that another innocent person was executed—and where else but in the state of Texas.

Craig Beyler, a nationally recognized arson expert, wrote in an August report for the Texas Forensic Science Commission that a 1991 fire which killed Todd Willingham’s three young daughters was not arson. Willingham was executed for their murder in 2004.

As he lay on the gurney in Huntsville, Willingham had said, “I am an innocent man, convicted of a crime I did not commit. I have been persecuted for 12 years for something I did not do.”

Todd Willingham was innocent and there’s a simple reason for his 2004 execution: He was poor.

We are taught in school that justice is blind, but in no civics book does it say how expensive it is.

His stepmother, Eugenia Willingham, who raised Todd from the age of 13 months, spoke to hundreds in Austin, Texas, in 2006 at the Seventh Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty. The marchers had left a letter at the gates to the Governor’s Mansion for Gov. Rick Perry, asking him to investigate the case and stop all pending executions so that no other innocent person would be put to death.

Today, Texas may become the first state in the modern era forced to acknowledge that it executed a legally and factually innocent person.

Death penalty activists know the names of many other innocent people who have been executed: Shaka Sankofa, Frances Newton, Carlos de Luna, Joseph Nichols, Ruben Cantu and Carlos Santana, to name but a few.

More than a few innocent people set to be executed are still living on death row and should be exonerated before they, too, are killed by the state: Mumia Abu-Jamal, Troy Davis, Howard Guidry, Cesar Fierro, Jeff Wood, Rodney Reed, Max Soffar, Darlie Routier, Anthony Graves and many more.

Modern legal lynchings

The U.S. was founded on the theft of Native land. It developed riches through the super-exploitation of enslaved Africans. From Reconstruction until the gains made by the Civil Rights Movement, Black people were frequent victims of vicious lynch mobs.

Today’s executions are modern-day lynchings—and almost 90 percent of executions take place in former Confederate states.

An innocent Black man in Conroe, Texas, Clarence Brandley, was picked up by cops along with an equally innocent elderly white man in the late summer of 1981 to be questioned about the rape and murder of a white teenager. The sheriff was under pressure to find the perpetrator of this awful crime before school started.

He looked at Brandley and said, “You’re the n—-er, so you’re elected.” Brandley spent nine years on death row before being exonerated.

As Shaka Sankofa lay strapped on the gurney in Huntsville on June 22, 2000, he said, “They know I’m innocent. They’ve got the facts to prove it. ... But they cannot acknowledge my innocence, because to do so would be to publicly admit their guilt.”

Sankofa continued, “Slavery couldn’t stop us. The lynchings in the South couldn’t stop us. This lynching will not stop us tonight. We will go forward . ... It’s state-sanctioned lynching, right here in America and right here tonight. Our destiny in this country is freedom and liberation. We will gain it by any means necessary. We must avenge this murder and continue to move forward to stop all executions of the poor and of Black people.”

We must put Shaka Sankofa’s words into action and abolish the racist and anti-poor death penalty.


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, September 9, 2009

What Birthers Believe

I simply had to post this on the blog.

The best way to fight idiocy is to hold their claims up to the light.

H/T Jack and Jill Politics

Caster Semenya Gets A Makeover

image

Believe it or not, that is indeed South African sprinter Caster Semenya with her nails and makeup done.  Gone are the beautiful cornrows that she wore, replaced instead by a supposedly more feminine hairstyle.  The tag line of “wow look at Caster now” suggests that this what she really looks like and is a way of telling the world, see she really is a woman. 

If this is a look that Semenya chose for herself, I would be in full support, however; since this photo spread appeared after the very public debate as to her identity, I find it doubtful that this metamorphosis was her idea. She grew up wearing pants and playing football with the boys.  When she returned to South Africa she wore track suits and pants.  She is reported as saying that her mother still buys her clothing. 

Why is it that a woman must get her girl on to be considered feminine.  As much as I loves me some Flo Jo, not all women are comfortable sporting nail polish and getting glammed up.  The idea that woman supposedly equals designer dress, nails, heels and makeup is reductive and sexist.  I also believe that it is necessary to point out that cornrows are decidedly feminine.  It was not until recently that Black men started wearing cornrows in their hair.  Very few Black women did not grow up getting their hair braided on a weekly basis by their mothers, including your truly.   This style is only considered masculine by Whiteness because the Black female body has been masculinized for the purposes of exploitation.

Regarding the furor over her gender Semenya stated:

"I see it all as a joke, it doesn't upset me," she says. "God made me the way I am and I accept myself. I am who I am and I'm proud of myself."

In this I see truth.  Semenya has nothing to be ashamed of and in fact it is those that seek to reduce the category of woman that should be feeling shame.  What matters is that for the entire eighteen years of her life she has lived as and identified as a woman.  No matter what the results of the gender testing are, nothing can or should attempt to take away Caster’s female identity.   If gender  can so easily be reduced to preformativity, how many of us would no longer be considered female? 

Gender is not static, it is fluid and the desire to create it as existing solely as a male/ female binary is simply an example of privilege and the use of coercive power.  The deaths and mutilations of the intersex and trans community, serve as evidence of the fact that we are socially committed to employing any means necessary, to insure a limited understanding of gender. Semenya is a woman regardless of what she wears and it is this and not some ridiculous makeover that should be the first and only argument. 



True Blood: Season 2 Finale Promo

If you are like me, the shakes have already begun to sink in.  Not only was there no True Blood last week, the next episode is the last one for the season.  I found a promotional video to ease the withdrawal that I was going through, so I decided to share it with my fellow True Blood fans.

Is anyone planning to read the books after the season over.

What Would We Do Without White Privilege?

I have a few posts up regarding a racist Winnipeg mother that decided to send her child to school wearing a swastika.   Though it is an older post, a commenter named Proud_Patriot decided to leave the following commentary.

I hear this "White privilege" term tossed hither and thither. Where is this "White privilege" I hear of so much? All I see is non-whites put on pedestals, there are special commemorations and dates assigned to this Black person and that group of non-whites.The vitriol from those that hate White history, accomplishment, and White culture are astounding. You live in and enjoy a country settled by Whites. You can thank your higher standard of living, education, technological amenities, safer and cleaner streets ,and neighborhoods to the White race. The darker the demographic in your area grows, the less safe (example: your inner-cities). If Canada becomes a full-on, significant majority non-white country, you'll wish you had "White privilege" running things on high I assure you. Don't take my word for it, wait and see what happens.

image What would we have done had Whiteness not colonized the Americas, while in the process nearly eradicating our Native American citizens?  Those of us that are of color should bow down at the feet of Whiteness because heavens knows we have never ever contributed anything to society except too many babies and a high crime rate.  We will just ignore the fact that the inner cities were created by White flight and that they are largely populated with poor.  Gee, a little thing like income disparity and racism have nothing at all to do with elevated crime rates …we darkies were just born bad.

I would also like to know about the special commerative days dedicated to POC in Canada because other than Black history month I cannot think of any.  All of our holidays ether celebrate colonization, (Canada Day and Thanksgiving Day)  traditional British holidays, (Boxing day, Victoria Day), or Judeo Christian remembrances, (Easter and Christmas).  You will note that Black history month is NOT considered a holiday, furthermore; it is a necessity because Whiteness refuses to be inclusive. 

We can also thank Whiteness for turning many so-called third world nations into banana republics to serve the western consumer culture.  Many of those wonderful technologies and privileges are produced by slave and or child labour.  Wonderful western corporations move to third world nations and pollute the environment, due to lax laws, forgetting that the earth is an ecosystem.  The ones closest to the pollution are bodies of color but since we image don’t matter anyway, why bother to get upset. 

In Canada, like in any other western nation, two things go together, dumps and poor communities of color.  The rich have the money to lobby and assure that their parks and neighbourhoods are spotless, while people of color must deal with the noxious fumes and rats that go with dumps.

It’s interesting that those that want to celebrate Whiteness, are seldom first in line  to acknowledge its faults.  For some reason, it is deemed offensive to acknowledge that many gains have been made on the backs of POC.   It is further insulting that while in the process of taking ownership of every so called advancement, the inventions and contributions of POC are decidedly erased.  Who cares if Blacks are responsible for the following: typewriter, traffic light, thermostat control, spark plug, stethoscope, stove, peanut butter, motor, refrigerator, mail box, air conditioning unit, almanac,  blood plasma bag, cellular phone, biscuit cutter,  auto cut-off switch,  egg beater, door knob, dust pan, fire extinguisher, fire escape ladder, ice cream scooper, ironing board, gas mask, fountain pen, folding chair, pencil sharpener, lawn sprinkler, lantern, lock, clothes dryer, baby buggy, horse shoe, and the key chain.  This list does not include all of the inventions of Blacks, it merely stands as an example of the ways in which the contributions of Blacks have benefitted our daily lives.

Native Americans citizens created: tipi, Lacrosse, Moccasins, freeze drying, waterproofing using vulcanization, totem pole, toboggan, snowshoes, birch bark canoe, snow blinders, Aqueducts, world most advanced calendar,  Kayaks, bubblegum, cocoa, 12 writing systems, Pyramids (note these were built independently of Egypt).

Asian Inventors have created: paper money, the PC sound card, PlayStation game device, hypodermic needle, flamethrower, canal locks, cartography, irrigation canals, seismometer, collapsible umbrella, and the satellite.  Once again this list is by no means exhaustive but it stands as a representation of some of the products created by Asians that have changed our world.

Considering that Whiteness has constructed people of color as backward and useless, it is interesting that Whiteness  has had no problems using our inventions to make life more comfortable.  The above list only shows products and excludes the many cultural enhancements that we have brought to music, art, and writing, it further does not describe the various ways in which our image cultures have been colonized. How many are sick of seeing a White woman in a kimono, with chopsticks in her hair, or White men acting like they are straight out of a rap video?

Whiteness continues to present a biased view of bodies of color to ensure that we remain secondary citizens.   Purposefully ignoring our work or outright theft, (ask Little Richard) has been standard operating procedure.  It has caused many of us to doubt our value, underachieve and internalize racist connotations.  Protestations like that given by the Proud_Patriot, are nothing but a weak attempt to protect undeserved White privilege.  If Whiteness were perfect in its inception there would be need to create systems that are specifically designed to minimize POC.  I suspect that it is the very possibility that Whiteness is not naturally fit to lead, that produces fear driven protestations and false reasoning.



Editors Note: Please accept my apologies for referring to Christmas and Easter as Judeo Christian holidays. It was not my intent to be offensive. I simply used the term because that is how I was raised to view all religious based holidays however I can see the ways in which this terms makes incorrect assumptions.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

‘The American Way’: No truth, no justice

By Dolores Cox

Published Sep 7, 2009 9:34 PM

Editor’s note: This essay was written in response to the U.S. government’s denial of parole for Native-American political prisoner Leonard Peltier on Aug. 21.

There’s a comic strip character called Superman. His battle cry is “Truth, Justice and the American Way!” Unfortunately, however, “the American way” too often does not encompass the values of truth and justice.

The ugly truth about the United States is that it is a country that was founded on hatred, violence and lies. White supremacist ideology, capitalist greed and imperialist domination resulted in the theft of Indigenous peoples’ land, their displacement, enslavement, destruction of their culture and the massacre of millions of them. And white supremacist propaganda continues to drive the engine of the U.S. today, accounting for the high degree of bigotry, ignorance, apathy and indifference when it comes to the rights of Native Americans and all people of color.

There is no such thing as “liberty and justice for all” in the U.S. And there’s no such thing as color-blind justice. The judicial system and its prison-industrial complex imprison mainly people of color. And the number of political prisoners is abominable. Institutional racism dictates that being born a person of color is punishable by a life sentence of discrimination, and declares that having the audacity to speak truth to power is also a punishable crime. Fighting social injustice and oppression is labelled criminal activity.

In keeping with “the American way,” if you’re a person of color you will continually have to fight for your liberation from the oppressor and for your civil and human rights. The oppressor does not tolerate resistance or dissent, peaceful or otherwise. And your right to self-defence and self-determination will repeatedly be undermined. The rhetoric about democracy is just that—it has never been actualized.

The FBI—notoriously known as the government entity responsible for heinous criminal acts against people of color—continues to reign supreme, undisciplined and unbridled. And framing freedom fighters is nothing new. The civil rights and Black Power movements were destroyed by the racist attacks on its leaders and activists by the FBI and its Cointelpro operations.

Anyone speaking out and challenging the system is viewed as a threat to “the American way.” So they’re demonized and silenced through imprisonment, assassination or by any means the government deems necessary. On Native-American reservations the FBI has always had carte blanche. And the FBI had its way again at Leonard Peltier’s parole hearing

The U.S. government has committed unspeakable crimes against humanity on Native tribal nations, and the blood on the government’s hands still hasn’t dried. Living conditions on Indian reservations remain deplorable. And the devaluing of nonwhite life continues. Leonard Peltier will not be eligible for another parole hearing until the year 2024, at age 79. His two life sentences and denial of parole expose the truth of what the U.S. really stands for.

Of course, the U.S. leader of the so-called free world and his federal attorney general have the power to free Leonard Peltier, Mumia Abu-Jamal and other innocent political prisoners languishing in jails. But in keeping with “the American way” of life they’ve chosen not to give us the change we can believe in.


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Tune in Tuesday: Barenaked Ladies

I remember when this band first became popular.  There was a huge stink from feminists because of their name.  I bought Gordon, their first CD  anyway.  It is probably one of my most played CDS and I know every single word of each song. 

At work there was a time when we were allowed to bring in our own music and each day I brought in Gordon, though my co-workers hated it.  I knew that if I brought Gordon, that I would at least have one hour of music that I liked.  It helped me get through my days and pretend I was not dealing with people that I could not stand.   I guess you could say that Gordon allowed me to have a mental escape from an environment, that I had come to view as absolutely intolerable.

Do you have any special Barenaked Ladies memories and what is your favourite song by them?

Woman In Wheelchair Heckled at a Town Hall Meeting

At a New Jersey town hall meeting a woman in a wheelchair attempted to speak about the financial issues she faces because of the medicine that she needs to deal with two incurable diseases.  The crowd was decidedly not empathetic as they shouted the whole time that she spoke.  A man was questioned as to why he chose to shout down her testimony and he stated, “I didn’t come here to listen to peoples opinions, my rights are no less important than a woman in a wheelchair.

He is right that the able bodied and the differently abled should have the same rights, however; we know that this is not the case in many circumstances because society was designed to privilege the needs of the currently able bodied. When we ( read:the differently abled) speak about our needs, we are summarily silenced because it is read by many as whining.  The differently abled are expected to rise above our limitations and no such demands are placed on the currently able bodied.

The very fact that they could shout down this womans testimony serves as evidence of how little the lives of the differently abled are considered in everyday discourse.  Many seem to think that as long as there are ramps and that sidewalk curbs are slanted, that we should have no other “special concerns”.  The differently abled are expected to be invisible and therefore, when this woman dared to speak of her experience, it seemed natural to this crowd that she be denied the opportunity.  If the commentator truly meant that his concerns were equal to that of a differently abled woman, her truth would not have been considered threatening.

The way in which the world is designed creates the differently abled as special needs.  If from the very beginning we started with the concept that not all bodies are designed the same, we would be living in an equal society.  We throw around the word equal, however; the very idea of a reduction in privilege often results in anger.   This is true regardless of what social marginalization that we are discussing.

Our bodies are understood to represent sickness and death regardless of the degree of productivity that we are capable of.  Much of the commentary actually originates  in the subconscious fear that we may transfer an affliction.  In a society that privileges a certain understanding of what constitutes health,  differently abled bodies are decidedly problematic. 

What people must begin to understand, is that what seems like a special issue for a relatively small segment of the population, is much larger than it appears.  As people age, regardless of health, at some point they will need assistance to access the most basic  services.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe that this will be actively realized until a larger percentage of the baby boomers reach retirement age. Those that are currently in the position to deny the necessity of change may one day find them themselves in need of the very services that they earlier decried.  The irony is readily noticeable to those of us that currently struggle to negotiate an ableist world. 

This womans speech was threatening because she dared to say I matter.  It had to be silenced because she would not quietly disappear despite the obvious power imbalance.  Privilege controls what is and is not seen.  Though she spoke about healthcare, the issues extends far beyond that.  Ableism asserts itself every time we are assumed to stupid, or inept and each time a person stares or demands that we give way, we are diminished.

It is assumed that most are courteous to the differently abled, however; what often occurs is condescension or a disgusting display of pity.   Even within so called socially progressive groups like feminism, anti-racism, environmentalism, gay rights and animal rights, we are invisible.  It would simply be easier if the currently abled stopped using the word equality because it is quite obvious that what counts is not shared humanity but their ability to use power to erase our existence.

Monday, September 7, 2009

GLBT Camp in Manitoba

Camp Manitou  is funded in part by Healthy Child Manitoba, the Winnipeg Foundation and the Rainbow Resources Center.  It is a place for GLBT youth to be themselves without fear or being ostracized for who they are.   It includes regular activities like biking, wall climbing, and even workshops like improv.  For those that are uninterested in traditional camp activities, there is even an introduction to drag workshop.

Adolescense is a  difficult time of life and for LGBT youth, it can be even more complex because we have socially decided to privilege heterosexual, cisgendered bodies. Camps like this are important because they help to assure these kids that no matter what their sexuality or gender identity is, that they are  normal and should be included in our society as equals.  I think this is a great contrast to those organizations that attempt to brainwash children into believing that they are not gay.

The camps attendance has gone from 30 in 2008 to 39, however; they do not gauge their success by the number of bodies in attendance. For the camp, it is all about the difference that it makes in the lives of TLBG youth.  We continually speak about “the best interest of the child” and yet few activities or organizations like Camp Manitou exist, which means that BLGT youth often fall through the cracks.  It would seem from Camp Manitou’s success, that it is a model, that should be repeated across North America.

I cannot imagine how difficult it is for LGBT youth to grow in small towns.  This is not say that there is an open acceptance of gender variance or gays and lesbians in large cities but at least there are neighbourhoods that are decidedly more accepting.  This is further problematized by the fact that schools rarely teach that families exist outside of the heterosexual norm.  I have flipped through my childs textbooks and have yet to see a book with two mommies or two daddies, thus affirming that had it not been for the dedication of his father and I, he would not be aware of their existence. 

I believe that Camp Manitou provides a wonderful respite from the heterosexism and cisgender normalization that occurs throughout society.  It is my hope, that in the years to come, that there will be no need for such camps.  It is my fervent wish, that we begin from the earliest age, to teach children that everyone matters, despite gender identity or sexuality.  Tolerance should not mean special camps but an equal integration in our society.


Back to school in Canada: not fun for everyone

I have a new post up at Global Comment

image Labour Day is the last long weekend of the summer and the time in which many reflect upon the barbecues and fun times that they had with friends and family. For Canadian parents, it is often bittersweet, because it signals the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. Some will be filled with sadness as they watch their little one get on the school bus for the first time, and those with older children will be giddy with glee as they make lunches and prepare to bicker about homework.

Being able to approach the school year as merely a matter of resetting schedules is dependent upon existing with certain class privileges, something which is rarely acknowledged. If you happen to live in a neighbourhood with a school you find unacceptable, for example, you must arrange for independent transportation to have your child attend another school. If you decide to go with a French core school, like we did, you must have the financial resources to pay for a year of pre-education. At a cost of one hundred and twenty five dollars per week, this can be out of the price range of many working class families. When we consider that learning to speak, read, and write French fluently provides various job opportunities in Canada, this effectively shuts many poor Anglophone students out.

Even though public education is free through the end of high school, a parent must still provide: pens, paper, pencils, calculators, a 3 hole punch, crayons, backpacks, lunch sacks, rulers, highlighters, notebooks, binders and erasers. The average backpack costs approximately twelve to fourteen dollars and then the other expenses cumulatively retail between twenty to thirty dollars. There was a time when all of these items were provided by the school, but with cutbacks in the education budget parents are now expected to pick up the slack.

Finish reading here

Sunday, September 6, 2009

it’s for “her”; says so right on the can

This is a guest post from O filthy grandeur

image

Yeah, so I first noticed this monstrosity on a shelf at the store I work at, in the upper corner of the energy drinks section--a tiny pink stain on the wall that is the manly energy drink.

Because my vagina means I'm totally intimidated by those other manly drinks, with names like "Rockstar" and "Monster," there's now "her." Yes, "her."

My lady-brain knows it's for me, since it's got that helpful feminine pronoun right on the can. And it's pink! Because we all know women are incapable of purchasing products unless they're pink. And we're all so stupid being constantly choked by our vaginas and ovaries and whatnot, that unless they spell it out ("hey, it's for HER") we're just not going to fucking get it.

On a side note, I have to say I'm a little freaked out by the "her" website's tabs: "her home," "about her," "locate her," "buy her"--what the fuck???

Wishing to learn how this (stalker-invoking) lady energy drink differs from it's manlier counterparts, I read this:

her, or Healthy. Energy. Revitalizer is the first active lifestyle energy drink with women in mind. her Energy provides our consumers with a fresh, clean, and great tasting alternative to the other energy drinks out there on the market. Unlike other energy drinks, her will not make you “crash” or give you the “jitters”. The her formula is designed to give you just the boost you need without over doing it.

her’s sleek and stylish can is reflective of our consumers. her is geared towards women who are on the go with active lifestyles while maintaining that fun and flirty image.

her is based in Hollywood, California and is a favorite among the Hollywood elite, however it remains ideal for any and all consumers.

(Oh yeah, and every instance of "her" is written in pink. Gross.)

Thanks for spelling it out for us--again.

"her" is not like other energy drinks (but...it makes the same claims...). And let's observe the "sleek and stylish" can--minus that obnoxious color, it's the same size and shape as other energy drink cans.

Oh, it's reflective of your consumers? You mean those airbrushed white ladies up there bouncing around and drinking "her" in their panties? Got it.

"Fun and flirty image"???? Do I really have to go there?

Hollywood elite, eh? Well, that's mighty generous of you to have it available for us unimportant peons. I'm guessing your "any and all consumers" is similar to that "all men created equal" thing, right? I gotcha.

Just another example of how fucking clueless people are when it comes to marketing things for women. Morons.


Sunday Shame: Fast Food Junkie

We all know that fast food is bad for us.   Anyone who watched a few minutes of Super Size me cannot deny that a diet heavily based on fast food, is not in the least bit beneficial.   Even though most nutritionists would say that we should rarely to never consume fast food, most of us will succumb to a french fry or some other grease infested food from time to time.

image In conversation with the ever brilliant Monica of TransGriot, I have learned that when she is not busy avoiding making me the cornbread she damn well knows that she owes me, she is smacking her lips on some Popeye's chicken.  In fact, in just about every conversation that I have had with Monica, she has somehow managed to work in some commentary about Popeye’s.  I am sure if the woman were to visit a farm, the chickens would start quaking in fear.

image Gus, otherwise known as Allison McCarthy is a fan of the Chulupa.  Gotta say as far as fast food goes, it does not get any more gross than Taco Bell.  I bet even the damn Chihuahua  that they formerly used in their advertising turned his nose up at their food.  Yet, Gus AKA Ms. McCarthy, does not have the good sense to avoid this place. Hell,  she’s a connoisseur and even washes the hot mess down with pink lemonade.  I guess you gotta get your girl on while you are killing your stomach lining. I am getting indigestion just thinking about it.

I wish I could say that I have more refined taste in fast food.  Outside of my Timmy addiction (which in my defence, is due to my Canadian upbringing), I image must admit to a love for McDonalds French Fries.  I know that they could probably survive a nuclear blast unscathed.  I know that they are terrible for my blood pressure and for my heart but something about those over salted, pseudo potato creations (in all honestly I can’t call something that does not degrade fries) call my name.  I am so bad, that I will go to Harvey’s for a burger and then travel to a McDonalds for the fries.

Alright, today you got three shames for the price of one, all so that Ms. McCarthy otherwise known as Gus, would not feel singled out.  So even though it is pretty obvious what the shame is this week, I shall spell it out for you.  It is time to fess up to the fast food that you eat, even though you know your intestines are screaming at you in mutiny.  This means the Dominoes pizza that you might crave when you are drunk or the ever popular sour cream and onion potato chips that keep breathe mint companies in business. While you are at it, feel free and weigh in on which one of us should be most ashamed of our fast food addictions.