Saturday, April 24, 2010

Drop It Like It’s Hot

Hello everyone, thanks for another great week of conversation.  Thanks to everyone for the blogversary wishes.  I still cannot believe that Womanist Musings is two years old.  Wow!  Thanks to all that donated this week and a small reminder to those that are able, please consider a donation to the blog for the purposes of revamping this space to reflect the awesome community that it has become.  Also, I am still looking for hometown hero pieces, so if you know someone special please think about sharing her with us.

Below you will find links to the great posts that I came across this week.  As you can see, I did a lot of reading.  There is some really great work being done online so please show these bloggers some love and when you are done, don’t forget to drop it like it’s hot and leave your link behind in the comment section.

“And she always knows her place”

Size six: The Western women’s harem

NYC’S RISING BLACK MATERNAL MORTALITY UNEXPLAINED

Sonoma Country CA separates elderly gay couple and sells all of their worldly possessions

All The Presidents Men: Is Reverend Al Sharpton the President’s New BFF?

Cosmo’s Guide to Racist Skin Care

Jubal Early

Toilets and Parenting While Trans

Silencing Sexual Assault

My Little Girl

Are Marriage rates trumping our Unemployment rates?

On Hitler's Birthday in 1943: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

Making the connections: Sexual Violence in Native Communities

Safe, Legal & Common

Against Their Will: North Carolina’s Sterilization Program

Recognition

You Could Be Next

Black Male Accountability Is As Reliable As The Catholic Church’s

Mainstream Media, Please Stop Giving a Damn About my Singlehood

This Sounds Familiar

Newsflash , Forbes: Blogging is Work. Now Pay Up

Body Hair, Body Image, and the Privilege of Making a Statement

They’re called vegetables. Get over it. 

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Shades of Oklahoma: people are still angry

I have a new post up at Global Comment

image April 19th marked the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.  Timothy McVeigh was spurred to destroy the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building by what he deemed to be the mishandling of Waco and the Ruby Ridge incident.  Initially, after the bombing, the American media was quick to suggest that this was the work of Middle East Jihadists; however, it would ultimately prove to be an act of domestic terrorism.  Since this bombing, the U.S has engaged in two wars in the Middle East.  Yet the threat of domestic terrorism has steadily increased to the point where it is reasonable to wonder whether or not another domestic incident is perhaps more imminent than an outside threat.

In February of this year, Joseph Andrew Stack set fire to his home and then flew a Dakota-236, 235-horsepower single-engine Piper PA-28 Cherokee aircraft into an IRS office in Austin Texas, killing two and severely injuring 13 people.  Stack left a rage filled suicide note on the internet.  According to the Vancouver Sun, Stack wrote:

“I choose to not keep looking over my shoulder at ‘big brother’ while he strips my carcass, I choose not to ignore what is going on all around me, I choose not to pretend that business as usual won’t continue; I have just had enough.”

Though his actions did not lead to as many deaths as that of McVeigh, the reluctance to declare him a domestic terrorist is alarming.  Shortly after his death, Facebook fan pages were created in which Stack was declared a hero.  Republican Texas gubernatorial candidate Debra Medina attempted to justify Stack’s actions by stating that he is reflective of “the hopelessness that many in our society feel.”

In March, an FBI led task force arrested members of a self-described Christian Militia in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.  The Hutaree had amassed a stockpile of weapons in preparation for Armageddon.  “Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment,” one of the group’s purported leaders wrote on its Web site. “We, the Hutaree, are prepared to defend all those who belong to Christ and save those who aren’t. We will still spread the word, and fight to keep it, up to the time of the great coming.”

According to Fox News, the Hutaree were planning an attack against police sometime in April, in the hope of initiating a violent confrontation with the government.  Members had been undergoing paramilitary training, including learning how to shoot guns and make bombs since 2008, according to an indictment.

Finish reading here

It’s Friday and the Question is….

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All of us have secret fantasies that very seldom see the light of day, but there are those of us that cannot walk by a hairbrush without letting our inner rock star out.  Stepping into the shower with a scrubbing brush is the equivalent of doing a live show at Madison Square Gardens, Wimbley or The Air Canada Center because we let it all hang out.  Sweeping the kitchen floor is enough for you to launch into the best air guitar solo ever.  Secretly you envision the panties/briefs landing at your feet, as you take a bow of thanks and blow kisses at your adoring fans.  You know who you are…

This week my question is, what is your favourite imaginary instrument and what song makes you go into instant rock star mode?   You might as well own up to this, because even though you may think that you are hiding your secret little fantasy, the people that you live with are probably well aware of it.

Where the Disabled are not Welcome

image Due to my fibromyalgia, I spend much of the winter months in the house.  I find it difficult to bear the pain that cold weather causes.  Now that it is officially spring (32 days till the start of beer season), I have been out and about, enjoying participating in the world again.  On Wednesday evening after the boys had finished with karate, the unhusband and I decided that we would all go out for Chinese food.   I had this unbelievable hankering for Chinese beef and broccoli, and so we strolled to a little restaurant downtown Niagara Falls not far from my home.

At first I was excited that there were no steps, you see, many business are inaccessible due to this downtown.  I then tried to manoeuvre my scooter through the small doorway only to discover that I could not enter the business.  The owner came over and asked if we were planning on eating in.  You see, the solution was that I should just park my scooter outside and walk into the restaurant.  I have the ability to walk but there are certainly others using mobility devices that cannot and so these people are permanently barred from the restaurant.   Also, if I were to leave my scooter outside unattended, I would be risking its theft, for the sake of beef and steamed broccoli.  We decided not to enable the business and left and went somewhere else.

This is not something that rarely happens, in fact, it is part of my everyday life as a disabled person.  These little indignities sting because they signal that I am not welcome to participate in society, though my money is the same as everyone else’s. The businesses that are not accessible might as well put up signs that say no disabled people welcome, because our inability to enter conveys that message quite clearly. 

The sign would cause people to be more aware and some might even complain about this injustice in so-called equality driven Canada; however, if you are an able-bodied person entering through a small doorway or walking up two or three stairs, the thought of who these actions exclude does not readily come to mind.   You don’t have to think about these things because walking up two steps or navigating a narrow doorway comes so easily.

I would love it if you would spend a day looking at the various buildings that you enter and consider how easy they are to enter or exit.  If there are no barriers to entrance, how wide is the walk way?  Is it easy to negotiate without pulling things off of the racks or shelves?  Are items set down low so that they are easy to reach?  If someone is using a mobility devise, is the isle wide enough to go down with another person, or will the mobility device completely block the way?  Is staff easily visible to help with items?   Are the bathrooms completely accessible?  Is the change room completely accessible?

These are the questions I have to ask before I can enter any public building.   Many times the answers to the above questions are no.  The inability to move freely is not some minor inconvenience; it is out right discrimination. The various times that I have pointed this out, I have been answered with a complaint that making a business accessible would cost too much money.  There is always a reason why we can choose to marginalize people and these excuses are easy to accept and internalize, because they maintain the hierarchy that we have become accustomed to.  

When people hold the door for me so that I may enter, or get the attention of sales clerk for me because I need help, I greatly appreciate it; however, I would much prefer for them to ally with me so that I am not dependent upon them.  I don’t want to play supercrip, and I don’t want to be dependent on the kindness of strangers, I simply want to go about my day like everyone else.  Disabled people are not helpless, we simply need the proper tools to function, and as long as this world continues to be designed for a certain body types, it enables the construction of us as dysfunctional bodies.  I would like to point out this:  Society is aging and able bodied status is a temporary thing. If changes are not made, one day it will also affect you. Ignoring these issues ensures that one day you will understand on a very personal level what it means to be considered an inconvenience.

If  you are tempted to  complain that I am too sensitive or not trying hard enough, (that has become the standard response whenever a marginalized body dares to stand to be counted) please give it a rest, because I have heard enough justification of bigotry to last a lifetime and I have only been disabled for three years.

For those of you that feel even slightly moved by what I have said, I would like you think about things that ‘other’ beyond places being physically inaccessible.  You see, disableism is about more than banning access, it is also about the language that we use that sets this up as normal.  When you use words like lame, blind, dumb or idiot as a descriptor, you are also attacking the differently abled.   I no longer read Broadsheet because it seems that the writers there are incapable of writing a story without calling someone lame.   On television, the radio, the internet, or in everyday conversation, language that is harmful to the disabled is easily uttered with few recriminations.

If you are not going to say anything about these words or use them yourself, you might as well erect a physical barrier baring me from entrance, because your language indicates that I am not welcome. You don’t have to actively build something that is inaccessible to be part of the system that renders differently abled people as less than, you simply need to participate in the discourse that reduces our worth.   Accessibility is not always about the things that you can see, it is often about creating a space that is unsafe and therefore unwelcoming.

The next time you hold the door for a differently abled person or reach something that is on a high shelf, ask yourself if there is more that you can be doing because I can guarantee you that there is.   Simple everyday acts should never be discounted   Are you teaching your children about disableism?  Have you rid your vocabulary of words that ableist?  Have you considered boycotting businesses that refuse to make changes so that all may participate?  Have you written a formal complaint, or written a letter to the editor of your local newspaper?  Have you talked to your friends, church, or social clubs about small changes that they could make?   The more we actively push for change, the greater chance that this will happen.  Bringing and end to disabelism is not something that the differently abled can do by themselves and your work as an ally will mean a lot more than holding the door open.

 


The “Dancing Boys of Afghanistan”

Trigger warning sexual abuse.

The “Dancing Boys of Afghanistan” looks at an old practice called Bacha Bazi.  Boys as young as 11 are trained to dance and then dress in women's clothes for powerful men.  The practice was banned by the Taliban and is still illegal under Afghan law but that has not stopped the sexual abuse of young boys.  The following videos are graphic and very hard too watch but the pain of these children needs to be acknowledged.  Childhood is not universally valued in fact those with brown skin very often find themselves devalued and exploited.  Who will save the brown/black babies?

 

 

 

 

 

Editors Note:  Please accept my apologies for not providing a transcript.  The videos are too long for me to transcribe. 

Larry King Took his Suspenders off with his Sister-n-Law

This is a guest post by Gemna of Gemna Speaks

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Oops, the word “allegedly” should be in the title of this story. Anyway, Larry King’s messy on/off, maybe/soon divorce from wife number seven, Shawn King, has turned nasty with allegations that he took his suspenders off with his wife’s sister. After the last several months of “breaking news” on other folks’ affairs, unsubstantiated rumours, gossip, tidbits, do tell me more type of talk show, 76 year old Larry King is not getting the 24 hours news coverage that CNN and other media outlets have given to a number of scandals over the years. But the media lack of covering one of their own who is now the center of a he said/she said war of words demonstrates how the media outlets choose the lives they pick apart.

From CNN’s website:


"Larry King Live" is CNN's longest-running interview program. Premiering in June 1985 with its now-famous mix of interviews and topical discussions, the show features guests from across the gamut of business, entertainment and politics.


Guests from across the gamut are touted in the shows bio but The Larry King Live has found a special niche with salacious wall to wall coverage of couples breaking up or in trouble; Kate and Jon Gosselin, former New York Governor Elliot Spitlzer, Governor and Jenny Sanford, and can we not forget all things Tiger and Elgin Woods. Now what is ironic about the Tiger Woods coverage, Larry King was “allegedly” unsnapping his suspenders with his wife’s sister while he was asking detailed probing questions about every blonde bimbo that Tiger Woods “allegedly” texted or called. Larry King’s sister-in-law is blonde by the way. Looking back on the questions, Larry King was asking with more insight than most. With every detail about Tiger Woods life on the table for all to gawk about night and day, CNN has not done the same with Larry King who is making the front pages of tabloids at every checkout counter in the country. There has been no lead in stories with quotes credited to the National Enquirer or US Weekly. No updates from Andy Cooper about King. No bias, no bull statements from fiery Mississippi native Campbell Brown. No worst person list from Rick Sanchez with Larry King. However, on April 15th, when we were all distracted trying to get to the post office to postmark our taxes, Show Biz Tonight gives us this quick nugget:

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- CNN talk show host Larry King and his wife, Shawn King, each filed for divorce Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Both cited "irreconcilable differences" in their filings, but they disagreed over custody of the two children from the 12 years of marriage.
He wants to share legal and physical custody of the boys with her, but she is asking the court to grant physical custody to her alone. The Kings have two sons, ages 9 and 11.
"His major concern is for the children and beyond that he will have no further comment," Larry King's publicist said in a written statement.
Shawn King's lawyer did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.
The documents said the couple separated on Tuesday, the same day Shawn King signed her papers. Larry King's signature was dated Wednesday. Both petitions were filed Wednesday.


Larry King’s scandal has been absent of nightly interviews with the butler, fired nannies, and former girlfriend’s cousin hairstylist neighbour who spoke to someone briefly eleven years ago. The media that creates sensationalism daily has gone death, blind and stupid when one of their own is really being sensational! The hypocrisy is more snark than this blogger can bear.

Larry King is not the only national media name that has been caught with his suspenders off that made his trousers fall down around his ankles. Tiki Barber, the NBC Today correspondent, is making the news as well. But at least NBC is not ignoring the troubles with their ex-Giant football star turned morning show reporter that has left his wife of 11 years for a former NBC college intern (she is blonde also). NBC has reported on Tiki Barber’s circumstances briefly. Tiki Barber issued a statement about the situation:

"After 11 years of marriage, Ginny and I have decided to separate," Barber said. "This decision was a painful one, but we are moving forward amicably and will continue to work together to raise our children with the love and dedication they have always known."



He does not mention his wife is eight months pregnant with twins and his 6 and 7 year old sons in the statement. Wasn’t Tiger Woods children mentioned nightly? What is surprising about the crafted wholesome value club spokesman, Tiki Barber, has spoken publicly about his hatred of his philandering father who left his mother and family. In 2006, Tiki Barber made this statement about his father:


"Not only did he abandon her, I felt like he abandoned us for a lot of our lives. I have a hard time forgiving that."


Tiki and his twin brother were four when their father left the family. Now I am not trying to stir up any more mess than normal, but it appears that Tiki might need serious counseling. We know from real people with real life experiences unresolved hurts and pain from the actions of one generation will manifest in some form in the next generation. Now that bit of compassion you just read from me is not usually stated when news folks like CNN and NBC stand outside troubled family homes night after night reporting the ugly details of public and private individuals lives.

I am not wishing ill on the King or Barber family by any means. This is not a fun post to write about family conflicts. Each family has young children involved and I am sure a host of relatives and friends that are being thrown into this dreadful situation unwillingly. These families are dealing with private pain in the eye of the public for all to see and judge. Been there, done that. Since this is happening to two national media stars, hopefully all forms of the media will practice more restraint in how the lives of others in similar situations are reported in the future. Right now, we need real news to make a serious comeback. News without bias and slants and ready-made story lines. Leave the family break ups, cheating, whoring, lying, who hooked up with whom to the tabloids that are in the business of reporting gossip. With the shape our country is in right now, we, the people, are crying out for truthful reporting that is desperately needed from everyone one in the business of telling us the news.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Monstrous Musings: Got Vampire Privilege?: The Whiteness of Twilight

This is a guest post from Natalie Wilson

I am a literature and women’s studies scholar and author of the blogs Professor, what if…? and Seduced by Twilight. I am currently writing a book examining the Twilight cultural phenomenon from a feminist perspective. My interest in vampires and werewolves dates back to my childhood fascination with all types of monsters.

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PART 1: White and delightsome vampires verses wolves of color

The following analysis interrogates the unexamined white privilege permeating the Twilight texts, arguing the saga upholds dominant ideas about race that associate whiteness with civility, beauty, and intellect on the one hand, and indigenous people with animality and primitivism on the other.

I contend that while vampire privilege may seem desirable, it is in fact predicated on what Sherman Alexie calls a “colonial gaze” – or a white view of the world that renders people of color and their history of genocide, colonization, and cultural decimation invisible. In the texts, this gaze results in the indigenous Quileute of the series being depicted as the savage werewolves in need of vampire colonization.

The structural divide between humans, vampires, and werewolves the books enact is echoed via the love triangle of Bella, Edward, and Jacob. Read as racial allegory, a white, working class human chooses between an ultra-white, ultra-privileged vampire and a far less privileged wolf of color.  This love triangle is imbued with racial connotations, with a white vampire in competition with a Native American shape-shifter.

The two male leads are contrasted using various binaries that equate Edward with whiteness (and its associations with civility, wealth, and intellect) and Jacob with the indigenous (and its associations with animals, primitivism, and savagery). Like Bella, readers are encouraged to choose between these two different racialized suitors.

In keeping with dominant conceptions of the white/non-white, Edward is constructed as a white, godlike vampire, and the color white is associated with purity, beauty, and heroism. The non-white is rendered inferior, with the Quileute wolves portrayed as not as good or heroic as the white vampires. Their russet-coloured skin, black hair, and dark eyes are associated with violence, danger, and savagery.

This black/white symbolism of the book echoes longstanding media associations of whiteness with superiority, not too mention the longstanding Mormon belief that God’s chosen people are “white and delightsome” 1

Mormon doctrine suggests that Native Americans who accept and convert to LDS faith will have the so-called curse of dark skin taken from them. Indeed, the Book of Mormon explains the dark skin of Native Americans as CAUSED by their refusal to embrace God, who, as the texts of the book of Nephi reads “did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them…(so that) “they might not be enticing unto my people.”

Such beliefs resulted in varying levels of institutional racism within the Mormon church, which barred men of color from the priesthood, from serving missions, or from receiving Temple endowments for over a century (this ended by resolution 1978). To this day, few Mormons of color have reached high ranking positions in the LDS hierarchy. Indeed, religious critic John Granger reads Meyer’s representation of the Quileute as a sort of apologist atonement for the racism associated with the LDS faith in his recent book Spotlight.

However, given that white skin is still glorified in the series, we must question Granger’s claim that Meyer “carries the postmodern banner for tolerance” (Spotlight, 206).The fact that the texts glorify whiteness, and that being a vampire accords one all sorts of privileges that echo real-world white privilege, or the social capital afforded to those with white skin, puts Granger’s claim into question.

PART 2: Edward’s white perfection and Bella’s knapsack of privileges

In the Twilight series, Edward is particularly associated with white perfection. Yet, whiteness is never explicitly linked to privilege in the texts.  This accords with white privilege in the real world, which functions as an unmarked, naturalized category conferring superiority on those with white skin.

As Peggy McIntosh argues, whiteness works as a hidden system of advantage in our world. Scholar Richard Dyer similarly notes that whites do not acknowledge their whiteness. Asserting that in western culture whites play predominant roles, Dyer maintains that “at the level of representation…whites are not of a certain race, they’re just the human race.”

In Twilight, Bella never names Edward as racially white nor does she consider the mixed race connotations of her friendship and possible romance with Jacob. She does not, in effect, see race, including her own. This failure is in itself a trapping of white privilege and results in a text that renders white privilege invisible.

In kind, young readers of the series are not encouraged to examine the racial power dynamics that shape their own lives --, rather, they are given the facile message that race doesn’t really matter, that we should all just focus on getting along (or, on nabbing ourselves a super cute vampire boyfriend).

In Breaking Dawn, Bella literally packs a knapsack of special provisions that would not be possible without her white vampire privilege. As Tim Wise writes, “the virtual invisibility that whiteness affords those of us who have it is like psychological money in the bank, the proceeds of which we cash in every day while others are in a state of perpetual overdraft.” Here, linking whiteness to money in the bank is particularly apt. As mentioned above, Bella cashes in on her privileges in Breaking Dawn in various ways, using her “proceeds” to draw on important networks, secure documents, and withdraw cash. 

This strand of the texts reveals the links between white privilege and class privilege. Yet, readers are not encouraged to question such unearned privileges, but to desire them.

The Cullens are presented as living the good life and their activities and tastes tend toward those things associated with high culture: they like classical music, appreciate art, value education, like to travel, and have sophisticated fashion and home d├ęcor know-how. Their home is depicted as opulent, decked out in white and gold. In contrast, Jacob’s house resembles “a tiny barn.” While Edward has multiple college degrees and composes symphonic lullabies, Jacob fixes cars and has to be reminded by Bella to do his homework.

Here, the differing class levels, as well as the way whiteness is associated with wealth and intelligence and non-whiteness with physicality and manual labour, contributes to the texts racial divide. 

Bella, though she has white skin privilege, is economically more in line with Jacob.  Yet, when Bella chooses Edward at the series close, she also chooses wealth and all the privileges it brings.

As Dyer notes, whiteness is historically associated with godliness. Referring to the “whitening of the image of Christ,” Dyer argues that constructing god as white has perpetuated notions of white superiority, framing whites as more spiritual and godly than raced people). This framing relates particularly to Edward, whom Bella repeatedly refers to as god-like and angelic.

Contrastingly, when Bella first sees Jacob and his friends at La Push, she notices the “straight black hair and copper skin of the newcomers.” While Edward’s eyes and hair are gold, Jacob’s are dark. His last name is Black, and he, like other Quileute characters, is associated with a lack of light – his house has “narrow windows” and he has “long, glossy black hair” that hangs “like black satin curtains on either side of his broad face.”

While Edward’s whiteness is portrayed as next to godliness in the texts, Jacob and other Quileute characters’ russet-coloured skin and black hair are associated with animality. Words such as crow-black, exotic and feathery associate the Quileute with animals. Repeatedly referencing skin color has strong racist undertones regardless if one shies away from overt terms such as “red-skin” How different really is “russet coloured” from that historically racist designation?


Archie: Riverdale Has a New Gay Student

The comic strip “Archie” is continually evolving and so it comes as no surprise that they have decided to add a gay character.

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The new characters name is Kevin Keller and he makes his appearance in Veronica #202, which will be released, September 1st, 2010. His introduction story is titled “Isn’t it Bromantic”. 

Kevin tells Jughead that he is gay right from the very start but when Jughead notices that Veronica is just head over heels for Kevin, he tells him to keep it a secret.  It seems that watching Veronica go through her usual antics is just far too funny. 

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I gotta say, I am extremely ecstatic about this.  The more often we see gay characters in mainstream venues, the easier it becomes for people to begin to understand that being a member of the GLBT community is not damaging, or deviant. 

I also think that this is a great thing for GLBT youth.  They are constantly surrounded by heterosexual culture and therefore, finding good representation of themselves can be difficult. Puberty can be a very trying time and for GLBT kids, it can be even more complicated, because the world teaches them that how they feel is wrong and somehow dirty.  Even though Kevin is just a cartoon character, he is a teenager who is unafraid to say that he is gay and this in turn will encourage kids to believe that despite what heterosexist culture teaches, that there is nothing wrong with them.

This is a win for all concerned and I am so glad that Kevin is going to be included in the comic stream.  We are a diverse culture and simply because certain groups have historically had power is no excuse to silence and erase the various others who enrich our shared human experience. 

In a movie that I watched some years ago (whose title I have since forgotten), part of the plot was a day without the gay.  For several weeks gay people went on strike to support same gender marriage and the city was in chaos.  Gay people don’t just live in gay areas or work in gay business, they are an integral part of our society and it until we recognize this very basic fact, we will continue to marginalize them.  For all you know your, doctor, lawyer, mailperson, baker, waiter/waitress, grocery clerk, or sanitation person is gay.  Each one of these people performs valuable services, you simply don’t know if they are gay or not. 

Since the chances are that you are already interacting with, or dependent upon someone who is a member of the GLBT community, showing them in various roles in mainstream culture should be a no brainer.  Somehow I think that it will only be a matter of time until we hear from the “family values” folks about how harmful this is, because they are more interested in protecting heterosexual privilege, than righting a historical wrong.  The GLBT community has always been a part of every society on earth, and so I believe it is time that our work, art, and laws start to reflect that. Only in a world that is determined to marginalise could a gay character in a comic strip be lauded as progressive.

 


What We Can Learn About Race

image I have often written about the hate mail, and hideous comments that I have either deleted or stopped from being published on the blog.   I thought today I would share a little bit with you, and give you the opportunity to choose a good example of racefail.  I got this idea from Feministe and the top troll that they are currently running. 

Honkpimpie: “Im so sick and tired of people regardless of color ignoring the statistics of black crime #s vs. any other group. When negros commit crimes and humans are victims, there are shouts that the humans deserved the crime. Hummm slavery was abolished 170 years ago. Niggers act like it was ended 10 or 15 years ago. It is true... white people deeply distrust niggers of all ages and situations because in such a huge way niggers have behaved in the most outrageous manner. Theft, rape, and murder are just the nigger norm”.

BarrelRoll: “Shut up. New Orleans is a shithole because none of you black bastards will get of your lazy ass to fix a damn thing,it's not whiteys fault you're lazy. You had the option to move when Hurricane Katrina came and you stayed behind like the lazy,stubborn apes you are. That's why nobody gives a shit because you people won't do anything to help yourselves. I will say "nigger" and don't need to answer to you or any other homo erectus filth because you are all lazy savages. Bitching about shit you could fix on your own proves it”.

Dashed: “Why do you take time off to bash 'whiteness' as if it were a person who's the cause of so many problems. It's ironic that you're complaining about a white guy making statements about blacks when you're black and making statements about what white guys think.
"Natural hair is considered radical by Whiteness "
Oh shut the fuck up, us whites haven't cared about natural hair for a long while’.

JMILLION: “You fucking pussies are afraid of words?
You only think NIGGERS exist from people who descended from Africa?
In the 21st century you would think other races or cultures would have by now shown their top performers and bottom performers with in their own race. The top performers who are highly educated, successful & healthy get the benefits of being a positive member of society. The bottom performers are uneducated, poor and are dependent.
Stop associating the word "Nigger" with black people and that will stop the problem right there. You don't think there's Swedish Niggers? Or French Niggers? How about those Utah Niggers or Niggers from Wales,UK? To stop using a word or to fire somebody from their job because they used a word that might indicate racism is absolutely ridiculous and you need to get over it fast. You might here more questionable words if you leave the house and congregate with people you don't know. The horror I know but what are you gonna do?”

Burt Fisher: “Just because there is a noose, you automatically assume it's for a nigger? That's pretty damn racist of you. Shame on you. You are blaming the 21st century nigger for the sins of his fathers. Rookie mistake”.


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Above is just a small sample of what I see behind the scenes everyday.  People try to explain away their White Privilege, because the problem of course is that POC are always too sensitive, or just determined to twist the supposed facts.  There was a lot of conversation about creating a safe space for readers recently, and so I thought that I would include these comments to show that often bloggers who are writing about social justice issues are themselves daily exposed to things that are harmful.

Looking at an individual comment it is easy to label the person a troll; however, when you are daily inundated with this kind of hate speech, it is much harder to see the individual, and instead it begins to feel like a personal attack from a systemic force that is very determined to silence and shame.  Relatively speaking, Womanist Musings is a small blog and yet even this tiny space is not allowed to exist free of contamination because White Supremacy is far more normalized than most would care to admit.


African-American Bi Ballplayers Sue Gay Softball Organization For Discrimination

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

image If the GLBT community wants their rights and humanity respected, protected and codified under the law, it is imperative for them to remember and realize that they must do the same thing for others inside and outside the GLBT community.

Thanks to TransGriot reader Leigh for directing my attention to this developing story of racism and biphobia rearing its pointed head in of all things, a GL run softball tournament.

On Tuesday the National Center for Lesbian Rights in conjunction with the law firm of K&L Gates LLP filed a lawsuit on behalf of players Steven Apilado, LaRon Charles, and Jon Russ in U.S. District Court for the western district of Washington.

The NCLR complaint alleges that the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association (NAGAAA) broke Washington state public accommodations law by enforcing a discriminatory rule that states only two heterosexuals can play on each team.

The story starts at the 2008 Gay World Series softball tournament that was played in Seattle and sanctioned by the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association (NAGAAA).

NAGAAA’s stated mission is promoting “amateur sports competition, particularly softball, for all persons regardless of age, sexual orientation or preference, with special emphasis on the participation of members of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.”

A mission they miserably failed to execute on for five members of the San Francisco based D2 softball team.

D2 and its members have played in San Francisco area gay softball leagues for several years. During this GWS tournament they got hot, won games and kicked butt all the way to the GWS championship game of their division.

D2 discovered during the title game that a (probably a losing) team filed a protest claiming they were in violation of the NAGAAA 'two heteros only' rule. In the interim teams kept interrupting the championship game to the point that D2 lost.

When the game was over five D2 players, Apilado, Charles, Russ and two white teammates were immediately summoned to a conference room for a protest hearing.

Each player was forced to answer intrusive questions about his sexual orientation and his private life in front of a room of over 25 people, most of whom the players did not know. The players were forced to answer whether they were “predominantly attracted to men” or “predominantly attracted to women,” without the option of answering that they were attracted to both.

After each player was interrogated, a panel voted on whether he was “gay” or “non-gay.” NAGAAA’s committee refused to entertain the possibility that the players could be bisexual. In response to a player’s statement that he was attracted to both men and women, a NAGAAA member responded, “This is the Gay World Series, not the Bisexual World Series.”

Ultimately, the predominantly-white committee voted that all the men of color, Charles, Russ, and Apilado, were not gay. The committee voted multiple times on at least one player. The committee also declared that the other two players, both white—one of whom had given precisely the same answers as Russ—were gay.

The NAGAAA committee recommended disciplinary measures against Apilado, Charles, and Russ, their team, and the San Francisco Gay Softball League, including retroactively stripping D2 by forfeit of their second-place World Series finish.

The men are seeking $75,000 each for emotional distress. They're also seeking to invalidate the alliance's findings on the men's sexual orientations and to reinstate D2's second-place finish in the 2008 GWS.

“This case shows that bisexual people are an integral part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The San Francisco team was truly diverse and welcomed bisexual, gay, and straight players, and they saw each other as not just teammates, but family,” said NCLR Sports Project Director Helen Carroll.

“We all deserve to be treated with respect no matter what part of the ‘LGBT’ we are. It damages our community to conduct witch hunts and to exclude people from playing in a sports league for not being ‘gay enough’. We wouldn’t accept this kind of treatment from a non-LGBT sports organization and we shouldn’t do it to ourselves.”

Beth Allen, a Portland, OR based attorney who specializes in LGBT-related legal issues and represents the sports association in the suit, said that NAGAAA “agrees that if they were a public accommodation, they could not limit players on the basis of sexual orientation. But they’re a private organization, seeking to provide a forum for gay and lesbian athletes, or those who would like to become athletes, to play ball together in an environment where they don’t face any type of discrimination. ... It is not an unusual situation to have a softball league that is organized by principle on a protected class.”

Allen was quoted in Advocate.com as saying that she found the suit brought by NCLR to be “very disheartening.”

“Certainly I’ve seen infighting in the community. Anyone who’s worked for our rights has seen infighting, because we’re all human,” Allen said. “But as I’ve told [NCLR executive director] Kate Kendell, it baffles me why they’ve taken on this case. Why is the National Center for Lesbian Rights asserting this claim on behalf of three poor beleaguered straight men? I don’t get it.”

Kendell said the suit “makes very clear that the core issue in the case is that sexual orientation discrimination is harmful, demeaning, and stigmatizing. What these players were subjected to in terms of inquiry about their private sexual lives was a violation, not only of the softball association’s own rules but also Washington state law.”

“[Allen’s] response is what’s baffling,” Kendell added.

NAGAAA, which organizes the Gay Softball World Series, has refused to change the discriminatory rule that excludes players based on sexual orientation, to apologize to Apilado, Charles, and Russ for the traumatic and humiliating public interrogation they endured, or to disavow the practice of interrogating players about their sexual orientations in protest hearings.

NCLR Staff Attorney Melanie Rowen said, “Washington law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations. But conducting an inquisition into someone’s sexual orientation to exclude them from playing sports in their community is not just discriminatory—it is outrageous.”

NAGAAA has not yet responded to the complaint in court, and this has the making of an interesting court case that I would love to see.

But it goes back simply to the Golden Rule- Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

As an oppressed minority group, the GLBT community would not only do well to remember that, it's imperative that the GLBT community hold itself to higher ethical and moral standards than our oppressors.

They also need to cognizant of the fact that relations with African-American GLBT people are still testy after the flurry of anti-Black racism that popped up in the GLBT community post Prop 8. That being said, discrimination in the GLBT community should not be condoned or tolerated at any time.

Here's hoping that NCLR is successful in driving that point home to the NAGAAA.


James Cameron: The White Man Will Save Us

image If you didn’t know who James Cameron is after his award winning movie the “Titanic”, “Avatar” made it hard to be unaware of his existence.  When a certain amount of wealth and power is attained, there are those that seek to make positive changes in this world, because they realize the degree to which they have benefited from various privileges, for example Oprah Winfrey and her angel network.   Unfortunately, James Cameron’s version of activism means continuing to ‘other’ people to support Whiteness as the moral good.  

Cameron was recently in Brazil in hopes of aiding the Xingu people and their fight against a planned hydroelectric dam project in the Amazon rainforest.  According to “The Guardian,” Cameron had never been to the Brazilian Amazon; however, that did not stop him from immediately taking on the role of expert.

"I felt like I was 130 years back in time watching what the Lakota Sioux might have been saying at a point when they were being pushed and they were being killed and they were being asked to displace and they were being given some form of compensation," he said. "This was a driving force for me in the writing of Avatar – I couldn't help but think that if they [the Lakota Sioux] had had a time-window and they could see the future… and they could see their kids committing suicide at the highest suicide rates in the nation… because they were hopeless and they were a dead-end society – which is what is happening now – they would have fought a lot harder."

I suppose considering that this is the man that made “Avatar,” a movie in which the White man becomes better at Native culture than the Indigenous people of Pandora, it is hardly surprising that he would hold the views that he does.

The Lakota Sioux did not just roll over and hand their land over to White people.  The implication that their land was stolen and their people murdered because the Lakota Sioux did not “try hard enough”, is victim blaming to avoid laying the responsibility for the near destruction of their civilization and culture squarely at the feet of Whiteness where it belongs.  Further, the very idea that even as their land was being stolen, their women raped, and their children stolen, that they had no idea of the cultural tsunami that Whiteness had become is ridiculous.

The Lakota Sioux are not a “dead end society”.  They continue to exist and fight, despite the numerous crimes that have been committed against them, and that should be acknowledged. The gall of Cameron to declare a people dead, comes strictly from his desire to promote Whiteness, even though he declares the opposite.

You will note, that he takes the time to once again promote his homage to Whiteness – “Avatar”.  If only some White hero had come along  130 years ago to save the the Lakota Sioux, who are clearly in Cameron's mind incompetent people.  It seems that  Cameron is one White man who is unwilling to forget the so-called mistakes of the past, and his journey to evolve involves taking up Kipling's  White Man’s Burden, in order to save the poor, weak, Indigenous People -- because clearly, only an enlightened White man is equal to the task.

H/T Evil Slutopia and Native Appropriations


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nightline: Once Again Black Women Can’t Find a Man

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Due to embedding issues please click the image above to view the video.

It seems that once again ABC is going to dedicate time to discovering why Black women remain unloved and single. Last December they had 4 successful Black women sit down with Steve Harvey (of all people) to discuss their dating woes.

It is seems that “the tic toc of the biological clock” is something that ABC just cannot stay away from.  Tonight, it will air a debate that was taped live to discuss “why successful black women can’t get a man”.  

The panellists were: Steve Harvey, Hill Harper, Jacque Reid, Sherri Shepherd,  and Jimi Izrael. Do you have a foreboding sense of disaster?

“Nightline” will pose questions such: Are black women’s expectations too high? Who’s to blame: black women or black men? Is it just bad demographics, with twice as many college-educated black women than black men? Should black women date outside their race?

I have a few simple comments to make:  Not all Black women are heterosexual (yep no lesbian is dying for love of a good man ) and furthermore, there are plenty of women for whom the title Mrs. is not only not an ambition, but something they have plans to never to take on, but you wouldn’t know this by the attention the so-called dating dilemma is getting.

I find it interesting that the media has chosen to focus on the terminally single Black woman, giving the myriad of experiences that Black women have throughout a lifetime.  Of course, presenting women pining  for a man upholds sexist, and heterosexist ideas and therefore, it has become this lightening rod. However, other issues that directly effect life chances, like access to birth control, education, healthcare, daycare, sexual harassment, etc., don’t garner the kind of attention as the supposedly suffering, lonely Black woman because the aforementioned issues, tackle the ways in which society is structured to ensure that Black women remain marginalized.

I am going to watch this supposed special tonight, while rolling my eyes and drinking a beer, so that I can share with you the hot mess that I am sure that it is going to be.  For those of you that cannot stay awake, (and I fully understand the desire to sleep through it) it will be available here shortly after it goes live tonight.  Instead of showing how evolved we have become, segments like this instead reify how determined we are to ensure that systems that ‘other’ maintain their dominance.

 


Everyone is a Friend of Renee Baio

I wonder if Scott and Renee Baio promised to love honour and remain douche bags together?   A few months ago, Scott decided to share with his followers how racist and sexist he can be, when he tweeted the following image of the first lady.

imageThen when people rightfully got upset, he answered his critics by saying:

"I'm NOT racist for posting a pic of M.O. My WIFE'S BEST FRD IS BLACK, HELLO."

The Black best friend, of course he is not a racist.   I thought at that moment that we had seen the last of Mr. Baio and his ever so evolved wife, but it seems that some people cannot keep their ignorance to themselves.  Jezebel has been following his tweets and a small war erupted.

Renee (God I hate the we share the same first name) Baio decided that she needed to stand by her man, and used facebook as the vehicle to make her rage public.

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What is cuntness?   Oh I see, when we are defending the indefensible, making up words is the only possible recourse.  And don’t you love how the Jezebel editors suddenly became evil lesbians because they refused to sip the kool-aid like Renee Baio?   However, you should not be offended by the lesbophobic, misogynistic comments because:

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

Wait for it…

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Gash darn it, the woman has lesbian friends.  Can you believe it, a lesbian and a Black friend, how freaking progressive can one White female conservative mega douche get?

How many times must it be said that your supposed friends do not give you a pass on your privilege?   It seems to me that if the Baios could find themselves a one legged, Black/Asian/First Nations/Latino, lesbian, trans, impoverished sex worker, they could avoid of ever again being accused of being over privileged douches, because by their understanding, association removes privilege.  Until you walk in the shoes of the marginalized you have no idea what it is to be ‘othered’ and excluded and no matter the people that you befriend, privilege and a power imbalance will always exist.

How can anyone reasonably call a relationship a friendship, when it is constantly used to justify behaviour that is demeaning?  What the Baios do is exploitation, because it helps to maintain their undeserved privilege.  This sort of behaviour is exactly why marginalized bodies cannot simply trust privileged bodies – we are always waiting for the betrayal.

We can rail against The Baios because it is easy to do, but I think that we are better served by using their example to think about the ways in which we talk about our friends.  Do you find the need to only announce the race of those you associate with when they are of colour?  Do you find it necessary to point out that your BFF is gay and loves colourful scarves, or helps you to shop?  Do you think that your friends disability is representative of the lives of all of the differently abled?  Do you believe that by knowing marginalized bodies that you have the right to speak on their behalf?

Interacting with marginalized bodies does not make you some sort of saint or a beacon of tolerance.  Chances are the marginalized body that you are friends with has had to make all manner of compromises to retain that relationship, and if you have never considered that, perhaps you are not as open as you may think. 

 

 


Today Womanist Musings Turns Two

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I cannot believe the way that this blog has grown since my first post.  2,183 posts later, Womanist Musings has become a real community of learning, sharing and in some cases laughter (yes, I forgive you for mocking my wonderful crocs).  We have battled trolls, revelled in a love for everything vampire, publicly shamed and laughed at ourselves, and sought justice for people that society often overlooks.  

In the last six months, I have added regular columnists to the blog and they each have added something unique.  I realized that in order for the blog to grow and truly evolve, it needed to make room for a multitude of voices.   Instead of my truth, I am now seeking to turn Womanist Musings into a truly intersectional blog, and this is because of how much I have learned from the various commentators here.  When I scroll through the internet I see a lot of lip service to the term intersectionality, but not a lot of commitment to it, and so I decided to become the change that I was seeking. It is my hope that each time you visit this blog that you will see something that reflects your experience, as well as learn something about someone else’s. 

It is time for Womanist Musings to undergo a facelift.  It has long ago grown beyond a simple reflection of me to encompass the many who daily write, read, and comment here -- to that end I am going to ask for your help for the first time.   I want the outward shell of Womanist Musings to reflect our community and our dedication to change, and so I would like to put up a new template as well as add additional features.  This is going to cost some money and so I am asking as a celebration of our shared birthday, for you to please consider donating to the blog.  The donate button is in the right hand column near the top. I would like to raise about 600 dollars to create the new space.  As I have said before, technology and I are not friends, and so this is something I am definitely going to have to pay for.   If you feel as though you have gained something from this space and you can afford it, please consider donating to this cause.

Below you will find a few of the posts that have become a few of my all time favourites.  Let’s consider it a blast from the past or a chance to familiarize yourself with the blog if you are a new reader.

Stuck in the Middle

The Niagara Region is not the Honeymoon Capitol

Eulogy for Mammy

Race or Gender? You Simply Must Choose

I won’t apologize

GLBT Black and Invisible

Gay White and Male Still Equals Privileged

The Invisible Mother

Starting the Feminist Dog Uprising

Yeast Infection: When You Want to Make Love to the Toilet Brush

Can a White Woman be a Womanist?

Should Poly People Wait Their Turn?

The Name of This Blog is…

Disability is Felt by Children

For Blue Eyes: Pecola Breedlove Lives

Thomas Jefferson: The face of a rapist

Last Words that are not Famous: The Sounds of Death Row

My GLBT Brothers and Sisters are My Family

Above is merely a brief snapshot of some of the discussions that we have had here.  I actually had to stop myself because there were so many other posts that I wanted to include that the list was becoming unwieldy.   At any rate, thanks for reading and participating.  I have learned so much and I can never convey my thanks appropriately for that.  Womanist Musings is about community now and that would not be case if we all did not put in the effort everyday.

 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tune in Tuesday: Mother Mother Tracy Bonham

Sorry to be late on this one this week everyone.  I love this song because it reminds of all of those little conversations where someone asks you how are doing and they really don’t want the real answer.  I really believe that how ya doin has become one of the most ridiculous questions that people ask these days because the only answer they want back is fine even when it is not. Just like Tracy, I find myself just wanting to scream.

Does this song hold a special place for you or can you identify with what Bonham is saying?

A Spark of Wisdom: My relationship isn’t perfect

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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. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.

It seems like a silly thing to say - it certainly seems even sillier to treat this as a guilty admission - but, yes, I confess, my relationship isn't perfect. And it does feel like a confession.

Sometimes Beloved will do things that frustrate me to no end. The fact he thinks that running a vacuum cleaner over about 2 square inches of space in the centre of the room counts as hoovering - and THEN gets huffy if I decide that, y'know, I prefer my carpets NOT to be crusty drives me to distraction.

The fact that he has not only the gross temerity to be a MORNING PERSON (a morning person people! Sharing MY bed. On WEEKENDS no less.) who is incapable of being quiet and doesn't realise that we don't ALL sleep like Dracula at noon is enough to drive me to contemplate murder on many occasions. Oh, this sleeping like a sunbathing vampire (that does NOT sparkle) also means that when the cat is yowling at 3:00am guess who does not hear it? Not EVEN when you bludgeon him with a pillow.

The fact  he will make ridiculously detailed plans for the day/week/month/year/bloody century vexes me muchly - but not nearly as much as his dual ability to completely ignore them while at the same time pitching a fit if I forget the myriad plans he has made for me.

He will keep using my toothbrush no matter how many times I say how disgusting that is. And he laughs about it.

Every time he goes shopping I live in fear - be it the big jar of chillies, the 22lb turkey, the VAST BALL OF MINCE, buying more teriyaki sauce than milk, or the mystery meat surprise - it's a new disaster every week

We are sarcastic. We snark each other, a lot. Sometimes we have epically childish confrontations. He has been known to sulk for DAYS. I have stormed out of the house in a blazing fury and stayed out, ignoring my phone, long enough to make him worry.

Our relationship is not perfect - which is not really surprising because he isn't perfect (and I will concede off days, when I'm not trying very hard and when I'm tired when perhaps I may, just may, occasionally fall short of total perfection). Lack of perfection is pretty normal in any relationship - in fact, an utterly perfect harmonious relationships without a hint of discord would seem to be not only not normal - but probably not very healthy either.

And yet, whenever there is a hiccough in the otherwise smooth running of our life and I am vaguely considering how to effectively dispose of the body, I feel guilty if I let any cracks appear in the facade of perfection - even - ESPECIALLY - to my family.

There will be support. Lots and lots of support. The slightest tiff will result in my mother kindly and gently informing me that I always have a home with my parents. Which, y'know, is nice and kind and supportive. But rather overkill when I'm complaining that he's ordered a ridiculously huge turkey.

There will be comments, "well that's what you get when there's no woman in the house" or "you guys need a woman to look after you." And even "if one of you were a woman, it wouldn't have happened."  Which, apart from anything else, is grossly sexist as much as anything.

And there's the sly hints, "well, relationships like yours are going to have difficulty." "Well you know you have to work harder than most to make it work." "Maybe you two just don't gel properly."

They're rarely malicious (well, except for a few uncles who I have Issues With). They're often meant to be jokes, they're meant to be supportive or sympathetic or reinforcing. But they oh how they are strongly flavoured with a "it's a shame he's not straight" or "it would be easier if you were straight" sentiments. The regret is palpable.

Sadly, there's always that idea - that idea that has been perpetuated in my family and me since birth - and in society for much much longer, that gay relationships aren't real. Are flawed. Are lesser.

Which means I feel guilty admitting the flaws. It means I am ashamed of the cracks.

Because I'm afraid of offering any proof that these prejudices are right, I'm afraid that being anything less than perfect will validate their assumptions that we're flawed.

Because every time we argue - it's because we're gay.

Because every time the household devolves into chaos - it's because we're gay

Because every time we annoy each other - it's because we're gay.

Because every time we haven't understood each other, or have hurt each other - it's because we're gay.

Not because we're human. Not because we're not perfect. Not because we're not infallible. Not because every couple is like this. No - it's because we're gay.

My relationship isn't perfect - and that's perfectly ok. But I am sorely tired of the effort and the acting of holding up the mask of perfection.