Saturday, November 7, 2009

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Thanks everyone for another great week of conversation.  I would also like to this opportunity to thank Sparky for joining WM and contributing a weekly post.  I would also like to remind everyone that Womanist Musings has an open guest posting policy.  If there is an issue that you have not seen covered or  one you would simply like to add your own unique spin to, feel free to send me either your original piece or a cross post.

This week on the Womanist Musings podcast, Monica and I will be talking about Black hair.  It continues to be a highly political subject.  Please join us Sunday night at 8pm EST. Feel free to call in your questions or join us in the chat room.

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Below you will find a list of posts that I found interesting.  Please show these bloggers some love and check them out.  When you are done don’t forger to drop it like it’s hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.  If for some reason you don’t see your comment appear please send me an e-mail and I will go hunting for it.

 Names

I never went back: on psychiatric ignorance of breastfeeding

It’s All About Class Dear……

The single story

Civil rights, but just for me

What race was the Richmond rape victim?

I’m afraid there has to be a war

When the Curtains are Drawn in the Middle of the Day [My response to the lady who wears the fine hats]

Who Are You? Do We Know Each Other?

Sex without nipples

Be A Bitch-And Be Vindicated

Things Darkies Say

The Rock and the Mountain (trigger warning)

“Men’s Rights” Groups Have Become Frighteningly Effective.

Color vs. Culture

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Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy Photo of the Day.

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Caption: President Barack Obama plays peek-a-boo with Maeve Beliveau, the daughter of Director of Advance Emmett Beliveau, in the Outer Oval Office, Oct. 30, 2009.

Politicians holding and kissing babies is quite cliché.  When I look at a picture of Obama with a child, I never feel as thought it is staged; in fact he seems to be completely into the moment.  The kids can sense this as well and they react appropriately.  Babies have an innate sense of people.  They know who they can trust instinctively and I have yet to see a little one completely wig out upon meeting Obama, who is a complete stranger to them.  It says something about who he is as a person, that despite the great level of responsibility that he has, that he always takes time out for the little ones.  Not only is this the photo of the day; it was my first official smile of the day as well.

My Friend Called To Say She Was Raped

I was sitting watching The Smurfs with the boys, when I got the phone call I won’t soon forget.  My friend from college called to tell me that she had been assaulted in her own home.  We cried together and shared our stories and I tried my best to be of comfort, even though I knew that no matter what I said, I could not take away the pain.  I am so angry, I don’t even know where to direct my rage.

How long is this sort of thing going to continue to happen?  I listened as she   questioned herself and searched for what she may have done to trigger this awful event.  I told her that she was not responsible and that the only way to avoid being raped is not to be in the room with a rapist.  This dirty  bastard stole her sense of self, her feelings of security, and her trust in people.  This dirty bastard took so much with an act of complete selfishness.

I don’t know where to put this.  I don’t know how to deal with this.  She was talking and I kept flashing back to my own rape.   People tell you that in time that you get over it, but I don’t think that is the case.  In time you may learn to put it beside you, however; I don’t think that you ever put it behind you.  You could be having a perfectly normal day and something will trigger you and take you back;  leaving you feeling like a raw open wound.

I don’t have the courage of Cara from the Curvature.  I cannot look at this thing even to denounce it because it triggers me.  It leaves me feeling angry and afraid.  My friend had the courage that I never did and she charged this evil man.  I will stand next to her when the trial comes.  I will stand next to her as a survivor and as a member of the club that no one wants to be in.

I feel powerless. I studied sociology and womens’s studies. I’ve read the journal articles, and the text books.  I’ve watched all of the documentaries.  I understand what happened on a theoretical level.  I know that rape is about power and not about sex.  I know that rape is about having power over women and feeling that one has the right to access female bodies but when I listened to her story and the tears rolled down my cheeks, that knowledge left me and I found myself silently whispering why.

You see, you can theoretically understand rape but living with the after effects is another story entirely.  Rape is evil. It is fucking evil. I don’t think you really know it, until it happens to you.  It makes you sick inside and I will never have enough tears for what was done to me and what happened to my friend. Perhaps I am naive to hope that there will come a day when hurting another human being like this, will be unfathomable. Rape challenges my belief that there is any kind of goodness in people.

We talked about the rage and the ways in which it steals your peace.  I have been so angry that my whole body shakes and my vision blurs.  It’s a rage that consumes you.  You want to lash out but where.  You have questions but what answers can ever fully explain why? You sleep without dreaming and move through the world like a zombie.  Everyone is suspect and there is no peace.

I know I will be up to the wee hours of the morning replaying our conversation, searching for a way that I can help her.  I will relive my own assault and cry again for what was taken from me.  I want to live in a world where rape is non existent.  I want to live in a world where women matter.  Thing is,  I don’t even have the courage to write about it.  I don’t have the courage to participate in any form of activism.  I don’t read new stories or blog posts about rape.  I change the channel when a rape scene comes on the television.  I simply cannot deal.  God help me, I’m still scared. 

I have to help my friend and I don’t know how. I have to help her find her place of stillness, so that she can put this beside her.  When I see her next, I know that I will hold her close but how can I, a woman who lives with everything so close to the surface, offer her the hope I don’t even feel?  Each day that I walk through this life, I feel his hands on my throat,  I see his face, and feel his breathe on my skin.  It is like yesterday for me and if I still feel this way after all of these years, what do I tell her? 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

We Teach Our Children Homophobia

 image Even the most liberal parent will pass on heterosexist ideas to their children unintentionally.   One must make a conscious effort to expose children to families that don’t fit the traditional standard.  In cartoons and most books they are more likely to see a mother, father and child, than two mommies, two daddies or a trans families.  This erasure instils the idea that family must have a certain make up to be legitimate.  Even the language we use speaks of our desire to have heterosexual children.

Have you ever referred to a child's future spouse in heterosexist ways?  It is quite common when speaking to boy to talk about their future wife or girlfriend, as if that is the natural course of events.  We may teach our children that all people are equal but if we take the position of assumed heterosexuality when relating to them, in actuality we are sending a completely different message.

Imagine how frustrating it is for a gay or lesbian child to hear questions that assume heterosexuality.  How does this impact their ability to be open about who they are, with their families or the people around them?  Our neighbour has a little girl a year younger than Mayhem and the father jokingly referred to their future marriage.  Though we are talking about a four year old and a three year old, I could not help but notice the assumption and the discipline that came unbidden with this particular commentary. 

The unhusband and I make a conscious effort to refer to our children's future love interest in gender neutral ways.  We most commonly say partner or even unspouse.  Each time that this has occurred in public events,  this has lead to eyebrow raising and queries.  Each time, we must painstakingly explain that we refuse to declare our children’s sexuality.  So many will quickly declare that some of their best friends are gay or lesbian, yet the thought of their children being so is unfathomable to them. 

Of course they have a rationalization for this bigotry.  It would be easier on the children if they were straight because we live in a heterosexist society.  They don’t want their children to face any kind of bigotry.  Well isn’t that a rosy coloured world.  Protecting the children somehow justifies assuming heterosexuality and teaching this in the most invisible of manner. Sure these liberals won’t say faggot or dyke but let’s just condition them in such a way as to make the little darlings understand that heterosexuality is what is expected.

You can wish all you want, but most people face various stigmatizations and each has its own damaging consequences. What if your child is fat, differently abled, or  female?  These are just a few categories that we take great care to discipline.  Where is the worry for the children then?  Nope, we just want them to avoid teh gayness at all cost, cause then their little lives will be over before it starts.


What if Jesus was a Trans Woman?

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Anything outside of the normalized Christian interpretation is usually enough to get the protesters out.  Jesus, Queen Of Heaven, is currently being staged as part of Glasgow's Glasgay! arts festival.  Jo Clifford  who is a trans woman wrote the play and performs the plays the title role.  According to Metro. UK:

Up to 300 people held a candlelit vigil outside a theatre on the first night of Jesus, Queen Of Heaven. They said the portrayal of God's son as a woman was 'totally blasphemous'.

Anything that does not promote a completely masculinised, cisgender view of God is always considered blasphemous.  People even protested Kevin Smith’s Dogma where Alanis Morrisette played God for crying out loud. The Last Temptation of Christ damn near gave these fundies a heart attack. Why are these images so threatening?  No one viewing this play is going to suddenly change their beliefs, if they are a devout fundamentalist Christian.  This is merely an expression of a different conceptualization of Jesus/God. 

One of the purposes of religion is to persecute minority bodies and enforce the notion that their existence is an affront to God.  Render unto Caesar and all that. Why do you think that in western countries, Jesus is traditionally depicted as blonde with blue eyes, when in fact he more than likely had brown skin and hair as wool?  Why is the portrayal of a White Jesus not considered blasphemous?  Religion as practised by dominant bodies encourages the masses to accept their lot and wait for redemption in heaven.  This is why you will find some much hatred amongst fundamentalists.  Claiming a religious foundation allows them to hide their desire to maintain undeserved privilege, without admitting the self serving nature of their behaviour.

It is odd that Christianity has become a vehicle for submission, when in his time Jesus was quite the rebel.   It was his subversion that lead to crucifixion and therefore; those that seek to challenge dominant discourse act more in his tradition, than those that simply capitulate to dominant ideals.  Clifford is a child of God because she seeks a divine that includes her.  How many see no purpose in Christianity because they accept the idea that it specifically excludes their participation and denies their existence?  Is it not more radical to seize upon the false prophets, and idolaters with conviction  and with the righteous vision that we are all a part of God’s plan?  If someone is born gay or born trans, then they are just as much a child of God as these wicked, conscienceless people who seek to twist the word of God for their own purposes.  Jesus made no pronouncements against homosexuality or a trans identity and therefore these haters are impressing their beliefs upon him.

I will admit that I have an agenda in posting about this story.  I am a Christian woman, though not a member of a specific church because I have yet to find one that believes in the equality of all people.  To allow this hatred to cause me to deny my beliefs, is the submission that these bigots are seeking.  One need not accept a translation or understanding of certain scriptures because they have become twisted.  One need not accept the gospels that were included in the bible.

It is possible to believe in a higher being and understand that the bible is conflicted because we are a conflicted people.  Just as each post that I write is infused with my biases, experiences and frame of reference, so to is each and every single chapter of the bible.  I believe in the end, that what is most important is not hating religion because some people choose to twist it, but finding a place in your heart to consider that you are loved and a part of something larger than yourself.  If God is indeed love, then there is a place for all that seek comfort from the storm.


Not Speaking English Equals a 204$ Fine in Texas

image Well officer friendly strikes again.  Until Ernestina Mondragon decided to challenge a fine that she received for daring to drive while not speaking English, officers were fining people.  The police have the official job of keeping the populace safe, however; what is considered to be a legitimate threat is often filtered through the needs and concerns of dominant bodies.  These fines are a small step towards criminalizing the Latin@ community.  Anti-Latin@ sentiment is proudly embraced by the media (think Lou Dobbs), which not only informs cultural mores but avidly repeats discursively problematic theories.

Whenever law enforcement engages in open prejudice against people of color, there is always a reasoned explanation and this case is no different:

The authorities say they are investigating, though one possible explanation has been offered by the police department. The officers may have been confused by their squad-car computers’ drop-down menu of infractions, which displayed a federal statute on English proficiency that applies to commercial drivers. The Dallas Police Department does not enforce that statute.

Why is there always some measure of confusion, when applying the law to bodies of color?  Police officers accidentally use racial profiling to stop people who just happen to be driving while of color. It is only happenstance that this regularly occurs in neighbourhood where every0ne knows only White people make enough to live.  There are some neighbourhoods that Whiteness does not even want a person of color delivering a pizza after dark, much less attending local neighbourhood watch meetings and so the police are only doing their due diligence ensuring that bodies of color are afraid to even drive through.

Somehow, European (read: White)  undocumented workers are not considered a threat, so there is no need to round them up like animals, deny medical treatment, separate families  and in some cases subject the women to rape.   The US uses coercive economic policies in the Global South to ensure poverty and then has the gall to punish them, when they make a bid for a better life and enter the US without the correct paperwork.  Chants of illegal immigrant are screamed with all the virulence of a racial epithet. Then we have the ever popular confusing their taser with a gun.  Of course, that only leads to the death of people of color, so no reason to be concerned. 

Criminalizing Spanish, is criminalizing Latin@ people.  Language in part reinforces culture and tradition and if one is aware of such things, it instils a sense of pride and worth.  These are not values that Whiteness wishes to see in bodies of color.  Defeat is meant to be our default position thus making resistance and a demand to be counted less likely.  

The police will continue to say that such action was accidental but when it is examined within a culture that has declared war upon Brown and Black bodies, it can hardly be seen as such.  Whiteness has taken purposeful action to construct Latin@’s as decidedly un-American and until such discourse changes, these accidents will continue to happen.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Everyone is a Child of God

 

As painful as this must have been to expose to the world, stories like this must be shared.  16-year-old Avia Brown was kicked out of her home and rejected from her church after coming out as a lesbian.

Grandmother: Jesus would never accept a gay person being gay.  He never told a man to marry a man.  You won’t find that nowhere in this bible.  And in all these chapters you will not find where a man is supposed to marry a man or a woman supposed to marry a woman.

Fundamentalist Christians pick and choose biblical passages to support their own point of view.  As this woman sat their declaring homosexuality a sin,I wonder if she realized that she held the very same book that was used to justify the enslavement of African American people? Pick a bigotry at random and I am sure you can find someway to justify it in the Bible.

As much as religion did enter this discussion, the issue is not Jesus or Christianity but heterosexism.  Religion is only the tool which is employed to justify oppression.  In a post script it was revealed that Avia had reconciled with her grandmother.  It makes me wonder how many people would at a very minimum temper their bigotry, if they realized that someone that they loved was gay or lesbian?

This is not some sort of abstract oppression, though  I believe it is always conceived of in this way. Due to the evil of the closet many don’t realize that the same people they are rejecting are members of their family, close friends and even religious leaders.  This is not a call to action suggesting that the members of the GLBT community out themselves, rather it is a signal to those who may have homophobic views to consider that their actions may have an effect that is closer to home than realized.  Would it really be that easy to preach and or support hate, if you were directing it at someone you loved dearly?


Wednesday What’s Up?

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Once again, please use this thread to chatter about whatever is on your mind.  Have you read a good book, or seen a great movie?  Is there an issue that is just getting on your last nerve? Let it fly in comments.

Editors Note: I personally wanted to say I am so sorry to all of those who worked tirelessly for marriage rights in Maine and to all of those who woke to once again find bigotry affirmed.  Decisions like this are exactly why civil rights should never be put to a vote.  The tyranny of the majority wins once again.

Election Day Remembered

One year ago today, Barack Obama became the first Black man elected to the office of the president of the United States.  Unlike previous elections, the announcement of his victory reverberated across the globe.  There were celebrations from Kenya to Nunavut.  No matter how you feel about the man, or his politics, it cannot be denied that he has the ability to stimulate the imagination of the populace.

image His election and the arrival of his family at the White House gate, was a dream for so many.  Blacks have always encouraged our children to work hard, telling them that they could achieve anything but until this very moment, those words were never realized.  Obama represents hope, change, and validation to so many.

From the moment he announced his candidacy he faced an uphill battle.  It was assumed that the democratic nomination was Hillary's to lose and not Barack’s to win.  Aspersions were made to his intelligence, experience, race and his wife.  Barack paid a high price to stand before the world as the duly elected leader of the US.

Exhaust the little moment. Soon it dies.
And be it gash or gold it will not come
Again in this identical guise. -
  Gwendolyn Brooks

In that moment we forgot that he would be charged with dealing with two wars, an economy that was reminiscent of the great depression, a reduction of the international reputation due to things like renditions and torture and a  country that had not yet learned to love its members enough to afford all with health care.  The task before the first African American president was/is Herculean.

A year later, there are many that would say that he has not lived up to his promise of change and the yes we can mantra that became the election battle cry.  The economy is still in a slump, GITMO has yet to be closed and war rages on, with seemingly no end in sight.  The world still continues with the Obama love affair seen most brilliantly with awarding him the Nobel Peace Prize but on American soil he continues to be considered a very complex figure.

Can Obama be expected to undo the disaster that took Bush 8 years to create? Is it fair to judge his accomplishments after even less than a year in office and are we holding him to a different standard than that imposed for all of the previous White presidents?  Obama’s election raises questions about exactly where the nation stands on the divide between Black and White, as well as the divide between rich and poor.  Can any one person really champion all of the pressing issues facing the US today?

It would seem that that the populace is looking for a messiah rather than a president.  No matter his accomplishments, Obama cannot walk on water.  Even if he were to write legislative orders, they would simply be reversed upon the election of the first Republican president.  If change is going to happen, one man cannot drag the rest of country screaming and kicking into progressiveness. If it takes a village to raise a child, what do you suppose it will take to heal a divided nation?

In that moment one year ago today when it was announced that Obama would be the next president, there were tears of joy and happiness across the nation.  For that one brief second in time there was no Black, White, straight, gay, rich, or poor.  For that one brief moment, the world entire watched  as Americans united in purpose as never before in this generation.  The day has come and gone but if the spirit of that moment could simply reverberate for even the briefest of times, perhaps everyone would remember what it is to dream, and in that dream find the purpose to make the change that so many believed was possible one year ago today.

 

 

 


Vampire Hotties

I just finished catching up on “Vampire Diaries”.  Yes, I’m a sick, sick, addict and I needed a huge fix.  I have decided to write a weekly column on Fridays, so that we can shoot the dish about the show.  If you’re not already watching and you like all things vampire, I recommend it.  In the meantime, I thought I would post pics of the recent actors to play vampires and we can decide who plays the best character and of course who is the hottest.

image Ian Somerhandler

image Paul Wesley

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Robert Pattison

image Bill Moyer

image Alexander Skarsgard

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David Boreanaz

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James Marsters

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Gary Oldman

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Wesley Snipes

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Aaliyah

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Stuart Townsend

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Mina Harker

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RACHELLE LEFEVRE

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AIDAN TURNER

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PARKER POSEY

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JULIET LANDAU

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KATE BECKINSALE

Editors Note:  I have made a few additions as per reader suggestions.  If there are more that you consider worthy that I am missing let me know. 

I certainly have my favourite hottie out of the wonderful list of vampires and I can’t wait to hear your selection.  I hope that as the genre expands we will start to see some men of color wear the fangs.  Mmmm yeah, that is a delicious thought. It would also be great if we could see more women vampires hit the screen.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tune In Tuesday: This is how you remind me Nickleback Edition

My pet name for this song is this is how I fuck with you.  As most of the readers know, I live in the armpit of Canada, otherwise known as Niagara Falls.  The Black population here is very small and there are a lot preconceived notions about Blackness.  My whole family loves Karaoke.  Destruction in particular, has been known to belt out Sweet Caroline when handed a mike.  I remember one time I got up to sing and some asshat shouted out here comes Oprah.  The audience always expects some form of rap, hip hop or R& B and I bust out with Nickleback.  God I love fucking with people.  Yes that's right, Black people like rock music to.  Okay, share your Nickleback memories or your fav Nickleback song in comments.

A Spark of Wisdom: Polite Prejudice

image This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here.   Sparky has so graciously decided to give us a weekly column that will appear every Tuesday.  That’s right, A Spark of Wisdom from Sparky.  Please join me in welcoming him.

This is an issue that has been bouncing around in my mind and I've finally put words round it after being exposed to it a little too often. I can sum it up in one sentence:

There is no way you can say "I think you are inherently inferior to me and not deserving of the same rights as me" and not offend, annoy or insult me.

Or, to put it another way, there is no way you can espouse or support homophobia, hold homophobic opinions, broadcast, defend or support homophobic policies or pronouncements without offending me, angering me, insulting me and hurting me. And I imagine women feel the same about sexism, PoC feel the same about racism, trans people feel the same about transphobia etc.

It doesn't matter how polite you are. It doesn't matter WHY you think I am inferior to you. It doesn't matter if your god or preacher or politician tells you I am a bad/naughty/sinful/unclean/evil being. It doesn't matter what your holy book says. It doesn't matter if your pet cat always hisses at gay people and you trust little Fee-Fee's instincts.

If you think I am inferior to you because of my sexuality, if you think I am due less rights than you because of my sexuality and/or if you think it is ok for you or anyone else to abuse, insult or attack me because of my sexuality then you are a homophobe, an enemy and I will treat you as such.

You do not have an excuse good enough to justify homophobia. There is nothing you can say that will make your homophobia palatable to me. You will never ever catch me saying "oh you hate me and want me to be treated like a second class citizen? Well that's just super - let's be friends!"

I am not obliged to be nice to you, respect you or have any regard for you at all, just because you try to put pretty words around your homophobia. A nice homophobe is still a homophobe. Happy smiles and pretty words don't make up for denying, opposing or fighting against my basic rights and very existence. You might want to at least throw in a card or a gift basket or something. I'm sure hallmark has a "We hate you and want to destroy your life, but can we still be friends?" selection.

In  particular, I am not obliged to be friendly if you say:

"Hate the sin, love the sinner." That 'sin' is my family. It's my husband. It's my home. It's my life and my happiness. You cannot separate me from my 'sin' because it's an inherent element of me.

"I'm not a homophobe but I'm against gay marriage/adoption/in the military/breathing." See this doesn't work. You can't say you're not a homophobe and in the same sentence say you don't think gays deserve equal rights. The latter completely puts the lie to the former.

"I'm not a homophobe but do they have to flaunt it?" The closet is an evil place. One of the greatest crimes against GBLT people is that society has forced us to closet ourselves. And if the sight of us being us, being as open and free as heterosexuals offends you then, yes, you are a homophobe. You cannot be happy with our existence if the evidence of our existence offends you.

Finally, even if you are a good, nice person who just happens to be a homophobe, then I don't want anything to do with you. Sorry, I don't. No matter how pleasant and polite, how much we have in common elsewhere - your homophobia is NOT something I'm willing to "agree to disagree on." And I've been called intolerant, even a bigot, for refusing to play nice and be friends with the friendly homophobe.

And this boggles me. This person believes I am less. They are against my having basic equal rights. I don't care how friendly they are, how much we have in common, how nice they are and how much we agree on everything else - they believe I am inferior and unworthy of equal rights. That's a deal breaker. I do not owe such a person my respect and I certainly don't owe them my friendship.

I will respect them when they respect me - and they can only do that by acknowledging me as an equal who deserves all the rights and privileges that they enjoy.


Black Face On America’s Next Top Model

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In a post racial world, Black Face would be a thing of the past.  Activists have just finished protesting Hey Hey It’s Saturday Night, an Australian show that decided to feature Black Face performers.  Their defence was that Australia did not have the same negative cultural history with Black face as Americans.  This offence was quickly followed up by Black face in French Vogue.  It would be nice to believe that African Americans would not contribute to this clearly racist portrayal of Blacks but then again we do have Tyra Banks to consider.

This is a woman that has spoken about how difficult it is to be a Black model, or even more specifically about how difficult it is to be a Black woman in a racist world.  Tyra Banks is not the smartest light bulb in any package but this – this absolutely takes the cake.

Seriously, BLACK FACE.  The shows producers have yet to comment on this segment.  On some level they must realize that this is indefensible and yet they filmed it, edited and aired it.  It would be easy to blame solely blame Banks for this but like any other program on television this is a team effort.  Tyra, just as all of the the producers of ANTM have been steeped in a racist culture from birth. 

To be fair, Blackness was not the only racial category imitated.  What is most irksome about these representations is the idea that anyone at anytime has the right take on the characteristics of another for the purposes of entertainment.  If a Black model is needed, a Black model should be used.  No one wants to take on the negative stereotypes that have attached themselves to marginalized bodies.  As much as White women are allies to Black women, they don’t want to known as angry, sluts, who are masculine.  Blackness is not something you take on for a few hours or a day; it represents a life.

Tyra knows how hard it is to walk through this world as a Black woman.  She knows how it feels to be cast aside even though she is a professional model and to perpetuate the appropriation of our bodies, speaks of how little this woman truly values her Black self.  What makes her actions particularly galling is that she acted  in defence of a racial privilege that ultimately devalues her. 

What Tyra has done is not new.  There have been house slaves selling out Blackness since the time of slavery.  As its number dwindle relative to the rest of the population, Whiteness will be even more dependent than past generations on POC who are willing to demean themselves.  It looks like Tyra has found her niche.  Who needs to become the next Oprah, when she can have the title of Queen sell-out.



Which “Mad Man” Are You?

Answer the 7 questions and find out which of the assorted “Mad Men” characters you are.

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It is a very complex show with interesting themes running through it. I’ve not written much about “Mad Men” because I know that there are blogs that do a great weekly recap and therefore; I figured why beat a dead horse.   When I came across this little questionnaire, I simply had to take it.   I really was hoping that I would get Joan, who is my favourite character.  I hate the fact that she is currently living with her rapist husband, however of all of the different characters, she seems to have her stuff together.  I like her pragmatism.  At any rate, I was not to be so lucky.  This is who I ended up with:

imageYeah, I am not at all pleased that I ended up with advertising agency’s resident rapist.  Pete is all kinds of EWWW.  Well, take the test and let me know if you ended up with someone good.  

Monday, November 2, 2009

Letterman scandal: class and gender issues we’re not talking about

I have a new post up at Global Comment

image David Letterman has been the king of late night for decades. From stupid animal tricks to tossing out canned hams to the audience, he has kept the laughs coming. Part of his charm is his ability to be completely self-depreciating while telling a joke.

When Letterman decided to share that someone had allegedly attempted to blackmail him because he had engaged in “some terrible things,” the delivery of the information to the viewing public was extremely important. Apparently, the blackmail letter even came with proof of Dave’s guilt.

He took ten minutes to tell the story, pausing to allow for the occasional nervous twitter, while making sure that the audience was not only attentive, but relating to him as the lovable late night shtick man they had come to adore. “I’m motivated by nothing but guilt. I’m a towering mass of Lutheran Midwestern guilt,” Dave hinted as made his way to the climax of this little confession. Faced with the threat that “these terrible things,” which he deftly reminded the audience were true, were about to be revealed to the public, he announced that he had arranged a meeting with the D.A. What could the king of stupid animal tricks have done?

Letterman knew better than most that the method of delivery is often more important than the message itself and so he continued to whet the curiosity until he sensed a climax of anticipation. Dave then revealed that he had engaged in consensual sex with women working for his show. In the wake of the arrest of Roman Polanski, his indiscretion seemed not only minor, but downright acceptable for a man in his position.

In the days that followed, the intimacies of Letterman’s sex life would become a water cooler topic. The ladies on “The View” would weigh in, reminding everyone that whether or not Letterman had been unfaithful to his wife was a private matter. Barbara Walters even went as far as to point out what a handsome man Letterman is. In a bid to support him, she reminded the public how painful this must be for him, considering that he is such a private man. “Victim Dave” quickly became the go-to script in media discussion of the alleged blackmail scheme, yet the spectre of sexual harassment hung in the air.

Letterman made it quite clear in his confession that all sexual liaisons were indeed consensual, but this does not mean that this did not lead to a compromised work environment. Balance in the workplace is often very difficult to negotiate. The average worker spends more time in a typical week with their fellow associates than with their families. The modern day workplace is a breeding ground for affairs, bitterness and, unfortunately, gender inequality.

Finish reading here


Manic Monday

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Please use this thread to chat about your weekend or just bitch about the fact that it is Monday and you are back to work.  When I had a traditional job, Monday was my least favourite day of the week.  I would walk into work and mentally think forty hours until freedom.

Roger Ebert Proves Good Hair Was Made For White People

When I heard that Chris Rock was making a documentary about Black hair, I tried to keep an open mind.  The fact that he claimed that he was making it for his daughter, was enough to make me hope that he would put aside the misogyny that he has shown in the past. Unfortunately after viewing the film, it was clear that Rock had missed the mark in several ways.

image Rock created a movie that satisfied the voyeurism of Whiteness on the issue of Black hair.  It even allowed Roger Ebert, a White man, to play the role of expert.  Don’t Black women have enough to put up with, without White men believing they know everything about our beauty rituals?  Whiteness never seems to miss the opportunity to inform us about ourselves.

Yes, Ebert knows all about relaxers because he read about them on Wikipedia.

Rock shows a hair-raising demonstration of an aluminum Coke can literally being eaten up in a bath of sodium hydroxide. It may help to recall that another name for sodium hydroxide is "lye." God forbid a woman should put that on her head! What Rock doesn't mention is that few women do. If he had peeked in Wikipedia, he would have learned (emphasis mine): "Because of the high incidence and intensity of chemical burns, chemical relaxer manufacturers have now switched to other alkaline chemicals." Modern relaxers can also burn if left on too long, but they won't eat up your Coke cans.

Don’t you just love that he went to the most reliable source to learn about chemical relaxers.  Why do Black hairdressers even go for training when they can turn to Wikipedia to learn everything they need to know to do their jobs?  Of course, he takes care to remind us that it can still burn, thus establishing his expertise on the matter.  Wow is anyone else impressed? MMM but wait he has even more to share.

The use of the word "natural hair" is, in any event, misleading. Take a stroll down the hair products aisle of a drugstore or look at the stock price of Supercuts. Few people of any race wear completely natural hair. If they did, we would be a nation of Unibombers.

This is the kind of nonsense you get when Whiteness decides that it is expert on everything.  Clearly Ebert does not understand the importance of natural Black hair but ignorance alone is not enough to stop him from running off at the mouth.  When a White person dyes their hair a different color, what does it say to the world?  How many people even know if the person they are talking to is a “natural” blonde or brunette?  I guarantee you that if you are talking to a woman whose hair has been fried by a relaxer, you know it immediately.  Whiteness does not openly acknowledge it because it speaks of conformity.  It speaks of an internalization of White beauty standards.

Try and walk around for a day or two with an Afro, dreads or a twist out.  People will line up to tell you that you look unkempt.   Natural hair is considered radical by Whiteness because it speaks of an independent spirit and heaven forbid Black people walk around with the belief that they/we are actually worth something. Natural blonde, red, or brunette mean nothing socially.  We don’t see this as political because Whiteness is the norm.  Black bodies are politicized precisely because we live in a culture that is determined to decide worth based in the constructed class of race.  There is only one race but Whiteness needs differentiation to maintain its superiority.  And this is specifically why Blackness is eroticized, constructed as exotic and marginalized at every turn.

Just when you think the well of greatness has run dry, Ebert finishes with this:

with some black men in a barbershop that gets into areas that are rarely spoken about. The movie has a good feeling, but why do I know more about this subject than Chris Rock does? Smile.

Yes, you did read that correctly, Ebert just professed to have more knowledge about Black hair than a Black man.  Will the arrogance never come to an end?  You can tell that the man has never even been inside a Black barbershop because he has declared the conversations that Rock filmed to be a rarity.  Barbershops and beauty salons have always been the hub of conversations in the Black community.  On a typical day you can participate in conversations about race, gender, politics, history, sports etc., but I guess all of that was just play acting until it got authenticated by Roger Ebert.  Maybe he thinks we just grunt at each other when no camera is around.

Whiteness as expert allows it to control the discourse.  With this power it can decide what is important and which bodies are affirmed and on what time frame. Ebert may have just seen himself as reviewing a movie but this was a documentary that was completely outside of his experience.  No trip to Wikipedia or long term relationships with Black people will equip a White person to engage in a judgement call on African American culture.  It is an exercise in privilege to think otherwise.  Let’s just face facts, Whites have to actively be taught about Blackness and anti-racism, whereas; from birth, a Black child has to fight just to be seen as human.  The only “natural” thing that Ebert is equipped to talk about, is his own unacknowledged privilege.

H/T Macon


Who Will Love The Black Child?

image I am an advocate for children.  I believe in their right to grow in environments filled with love and understanding.  I believe that we must respect them as little beings and not allow their diminutive size to obscure their value.  The issue becomes complicated when we begin to move away from the universal definition of child, to understand that though all children are a gift, not all children are understood to be special.

We first learn to devalue Blackness in childhood. The journey to discover self love can take a lifetime.  Black children are especially vulnerable because even though they have the same inexperience as  White children, their innocence is not respected or loved.  We devalue Black children because we devalue Black people.  Every single negative social construction that applies to  Black bodies, attaches itself to these innocent children.

I hold my children in the tightest of embraces.  Each day I tell them that I love them.  I know that the time I get to spend with them is truly a blessing.  It was not long ago that my foremother would have had her child ripped from her arms as  she struggled with all of her strength.  When I fight for the rights of Black children, it as a woman who knows how tenuous our motherhood has historically been. 

Very few will fight for the rights of a Black child.  They remain to this day a member of the least powerful group socially.  My heart aches that they should know so much pain.  It is this anguish that gives rise to my voice.  If we cannot protect our children from pain who will?  If we cannot love our children in the face of the ugliness that is set upon them who will?

Whiteness would love to see us cast aside our babies.  They are our future and the best of us flows within their tiny beating hearts.  When we turn our backs on them, it is a reflection of how much we have come to hate the wounded child that lives inside us all.

It is not cute or a simple matter when Black people decide purposefully to ignore the needs of Black children to instead embrace White children.  How can you not hear the outcry of  these little boys and girls that need a loving home?  How can you leave them to rot in a system that will ensure that their potential is stifled before it can even begin to express itself?  Black children do not actively choose to avoid learning, it is systemic racism that teaches them that it is a fruitless effort.

Each day Black children cry out for love and guidance and what do they get in return?  If the violence and drug use that commonly occurs in urban neighbourhoods were instead happening in a suburb filled with White children, you can be certain that there would be a nation wide task force charged with finding a solution.  The news reports on the grim events and it serves as a form of voyeuristic entertainment that neither gives rise to sympathy or concern.  These are not the children of Whiteness that lay cold in a morgue. These are not the children of Whiteness that have a serial prison number rather than a name.

Anger at the lost potential is quickly silenced.  No one is to mourn for Black children because their passing, their pain, or their ignorance, is just one more rock upon which Whiteness builds its foundation.  If you claim to love and embrace Blackness, how can you do so without loving Black children?

Not only am I unabashedly Black but I am a Black mother with a deep love and respect for Black children.  If this means I must trample upon the sensibilities so that one child can have even a glimmer of hope,  I am prepared to do so.  If this means I must call out members of my community because they have become so enamoured with Whiteness that they cannot see the need in our communities, I am prepared to do so.  No taunt of racist will deter me from my goal. I wear this label with pride because I know that I have earned this in the service of a Black child.

All children are precious but not all children are born equal.  We have no time to concern ourselves with the emotions of others, when there is literally a crises in the Black community.  It is time to make a purposeful choice.  It is time to save our children.  The Nell Carters, Wares and Sykes of this world be damned.  If we are ever going to accomplish anything as a people, it must begin with the protection of our most vulnerable members.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sunday Shame: Halloween Edition

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Like every dutiful parent, I braved the cold to take the boys trick or treating.  We couldn’t even get them to wait until the sun had gone done.  Even though I thought about carrying a little snifter of rum to keep me warm, I was good.  I’ll say for the record that it was damn cold and doubly so for a woman of Caribbean heritage.  And no ,I don’t want to hear any cracks about how long I’ve lived in Canada.

We went from house to house and the warmth and comfort of my couch seemed a distant memory.  I thought about the beautiful indentation I have made in it from hours of serious butt planting. Even as rubbed my hands together for warmth, I knew the cat was sprawled on the couch thinking, “Silly humans victory is mine. You’ll be frozen before dawn.”  No, really, I was not meant to freeze.

We walked until I thought their little arms could not heft another ounce of candy but ooooh the little devils had a plan.  They whipped out a huge garbage bag, dumped their candy into it and then handed it to me to carry.  Once again with arms unburdened with confectionary delights, they hit another door.  I made eye contact with other parents and we shared a look of solidarity. 

Finally, it was the call of nature that brought about my reprieve, Destruction had to pee.  Never did I think I would be so happy to hear the words, “Mommy I can’t do the pee pee dance any longer, I really gotta go”. WOOOT WOOT WOOT. Warmth, couch, wine here I come and not necessarily in that order.  Even with all of the urgency in his voice, we still had to stop at all of the houses that had a light on, on our way home. 

Finally, at home and nursing a glass of wine, I began to fulfill my parental obligation of checking the candy.  I handed Destruction all of the gum because the baby would just swallow it.  As I looked to ensure that none of the candy was opened, I mentally began to take notes about which pieces of sugary perfection I would confiscate when the children went to bed.  (Don’t you dare shake your head at me either) You see, I spent approximately seventy dollars on their costumes and froze my ever so delicate Black behind off for over two hours; I do believe that I deserve a little sugary compensation. 

I’m not even sure we should call taxing the children’s Halloween candy a Sunday Shame. We could think about it as teaching them about sharing. Hell, Barney does it all the time and I won’t even make them sing, I love you, you love me, to guilt them into it.  Did I mention that I carried each of them for nine months and BOTH of them made a game of jumping on my bladder causing me to live in the bathroom?  Okay, so maybe I am justifying a little but don’t tell me, that I’m the only parent who decided to steal the oversized chocolate bar.  Really, I was thinking about the dental bills when I did it. 

Alright, fess up you candy thieves.  What did you sneak out of your kids candy bag?  If you are to shamed to admit your guilt, you can share your own Halloween embarrassment.  Do you have a trauma inducing costume malfunction you’d like to share, or perhaps the most fucked up pumpkin on the block?  Let it all fly in the comments.