Saturday, June 19, 2010

Why I AM Not Celerbrating Helen Keller Mythbusting Blogswarm Day!”

I make it a point to write about the struggles that I face as a disabled woman.  It took me a very long time to own this identity, and systemic disableism is a large part of the reason.  I realized that if I wanted change, that I had to add my voice and my experiences to the struggle, even when it hurt  me to do so.  Accepting owning and advocating for issues about disability does not mean that I in anyway disavow the other parts of my identity. 

PWD are celebrating Helen Keller Mythbusting Blogswam Day.  It is being lead by Feminists With Disabilities (FWD).  Nowhere do they even bother to mention that today is already a day of celebration.  Today is Juneteenth
Today, Juneteenth commemorates African American freedom and emphasizes education and achievement. It is a day, a week, and in some areas a month marked with celebrations, guest speakers, picnics and family gatherings. It is a time for reflection and rejoicing. It is a time for assessment, self-improvement and for planning the future. Its growing popularity signifies a level of maturity and dignity in America long over due. In cities across the country, people of all races, nationalities and religions are joining hands to truthfully acknowledge a period in our history that shaped and continues to influence our society today. Sensitized to the conditions and experiences of others, only then can we make significant and lasting improvements in our society.   (source)
Oh, and it is most certainly an international celebration.  Today, the descendants of those that took the underground railroad to Canada have a huge picnic in downtown St.Catherines, Ontario -- and similar celebrations are occurring in other border towns.

I tweeted about this and commented at FWD, and at this time I am still waiting for some kind of response as to why they thought that it was okay to hold this holiday today, without even the smallest recognition that it is Juneteenth -- and what this day means to Blacks.  As far as can tell, it seems to signify that the racial part of my identity is unimportant, and that my disability should be at the forefront. Well I decide when the different parts of my identity come into play.

Drop It Like It's Hot

Hey everyone, due to the fact that I forgot to post last week's drop it like it's hot, this week's list is bit long -- but I promise they are all good reads.

I would like to take the time to thank all those who guest posted on the blog this week.  Your contributions help to make Womanist Musings a challenging space, where we can have the conversations that others avoid.  We have a tough little community here, but I am proud that we are all learning together.  If you would like to participate as a guest poster, please feel free to send either your original work, or a link back to your blog to [womanistmusings (at)]  Please include a small three line bio, and an image that you would like associated with your work.

I am still tinkering with the layout. I am having some difficulty getting the font and spacing to level out, but I am working on it. As I promised, I finally have a partial feed in my RSS for those that wish to keep up with Womanist Musings that way. If you are having any problems with the new template, or would like to suggest changes please do so in the comment section.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, there are some great links below.  Please take the time to 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.

Jeremy Gillitzer: The Face Of Male Anorexia and Bulima Dies
The media’s struggle with Disabilities
Anarchy, Disability, Purity and Doubt
Why Wedding Weight Loss Isn’t About Health
I Am Fat
Trans woman Delphine Ravisé-Giard’s Breast Size Dictated by French Civil Court
Black Women, Have We No Shame?: You Don’t Negotiate With Hate (Slim Thug)
8 Things Gay People Can’t Do
I don’t give a flying fuck what you call yourself, AKA know them by their deeds
Women of colour earn 53 cents for every white man’s dollar
being arab in social justice communities
the power of a white guy in a tie 
My Warrior is Weeping
sexual abuse and the niqaab
I write letters
Hidden costs: On Lilith Fair and subtle exhaustion
Rape, Male Victims, and Why We Need to Care
My Righteous Indignation Over ‘Transvestite Prostitute’
Who’s Afraid of Information?
Is Stouffer’s “Good Enough” to Prevent Eating Disorders?
When Diversity Means Hiring A Not Really Different Version Of The Same Thing
New York Moves to Keep Incarcerated Parents Connected to Kids

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's Friday and the Question is...

So late yesterday afternoon I posted a video preview of the new Smurfs movie.  Yes, I am excited. Even though I shared  that this made my inner little girl happy, some of you  (SPARKY, FilthyGrandeur)  were quick to yell shame. Therefore, I thought that I would challenge you to name some of the cartoons that you watched in your childhood, if you think they can get past the shame test.  What cartoon makes your inner kid happy, and brings back memories?

What Are You Doing To Elevate My Black Body?

The title of this most comes from a question asked by Plus Sized Womanist, on a Shakesville thread late last month. In truth, I have not been able to get this question out of my head, because of its sheer naked honesty.  One of things that often comes up when we speak about race, is the suggestion that POC should provide the solution for racism, thus placing all of the onus on us, as though Whiteness does not play an active role in its maintenance. This line of thought is very similar to asking marginalized bodies to explain the discrimination that we face, and how it effects us, because privileged bodies are too busy, or lazy to attempt to learn on their own. It is an all out request to be spoon fed.

CatieCat had posted a disturbing video regarding the lack of self-esteem of some Black women, and how colourism divides our community.  To some of the White readers of Shakesville, this may have been startling and new, but as Plus Sized Womanist pointed out, this has been going on for a very long time.  In her response she wrote the following:
And one thing I notice a LOT is that a LOT of white women, when confronted with this, DON'T. DO. SHIT. They don't do SHIT. They talk big game. They do the expected "appease the negro" song and dance, talking out the side of their mouths about how many beautiful black women there are out there, about how beauty comes in all colors, blah. Blah, BLAH. And in the end, what does it do? FUCK ALL. Because in the end, my black body is still seen as the mammy, jezebel, sapphire, nappy headed, dirt colored, ugly, uppity, loud, obnoxious, behemoth nigger bitch who doesn't deserve to be treated like a human being, doesn't deserve to be loved, doesn't deserve RESPECT OR DIGNITY.
So quite frankly, the comments on this page do absolutely NOTHING for me. Not at all. What are you doing to elevate my black body? What are you doing to make my problem go away? Talking about it? Well shit, black women have been talking since the day we got taken from the motherland. Don't talk about it. Be about it. Use that white privilege. Make the supremacy know that their shit DOES STINK and people are wising up. 
And do you know what I did?  I betrayed her justifiable anger and provided suggestions and solutions. Of course, the moment that I offered a suggestion, the commenters stopped engaging with PSW and instead sought to congratulate me on my suggestion.  This was a complete and utter derail on my part, and I know that I actively participated in silencing of another WOC.  I should have stood beside her, and I should not have taken on the role of magical negro -- because in so doing, I interrupted the process of accountability.

Piñatas For Adults Are Really About Violence Against Women

A piñata store in Texas is doing brisk business selling piñatas of women dressed suggestively on stripper poles.  Some of the piñatas are topless.

Tanscript :27
Erica Garcia: I have an eight year old boy and when he saw that he was like Mommy, so that really freaked me out.

00:42: Esmeralda  Ruiz: I always tell them to turn their head away. because I don't want them to see that.

When I watched the above video, I was shocked that the KRGV, a CNN affiliate, chose to focus the story on the harm done to children as they drive past the location.The offensive piñatas are hanging in the store window, thus making them fully visible to the public.  These piñatas hang next to Batman and Elmo, as if there is not something  extremely perverse about them.

I Need Some Advice:Trans Women That Are Parents

I am currently working on a very large project. I am working very hard to make it as inclusive as possible, because I find that when books about marginalized women are written, certain women become invisible.  When I began my first attempt at research, I found much to my surprise that there was only one book written by a trans woman.  All of the movies I have seen on the subject reflect a caricature, rather than a real person.
This presents quite the quandary. 

I have reached out on twitter, and so far two trans women have agreed to speak to me, but I found myself thinking about the cisgender privilege that I have.  If there are not already a lot of books on the topic of trans women that are parents, what business do I have being one of the first people to write about this publicly?  Far too often cis people are asked to speak about or for trans people, as though they don't have their own voice and this is an act of erasure and bigotry.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Smurfs The Movie

Yes, you read the title correctly:  SMURFS THE MOVIE.  Okay, I know that there are are a lot of things wrong with these little blue creatures but they make the little girl in me happy.

Anyone who brings up Sunday Shame, (I'm looking at Gus and Sparky in particular) is going to get some serious snark. 

I resent these remarks

image RavenScholar from is a fairly new blogger on the Internet. She (re-)discovered feminism and comics at about the same time she started blogging, and has great fun writing about both. She has lots to say, lots of artwork to show, and likes hearing other's opinions.

Who has heard of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder? It affects millions of women around the globe, mostly from raising children, having careers, cleaning, cooking, working, and "several other things".

I shall assume these several other things involve everyday activities.

Mostly, the only discernible cause of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder that I can find is living. Seeing as how this affects women of "any age, race, or overall health", and is a "serious and damaging condition"; I can only conclude that there is something wrong with you if you don't feel the need to have sex with someone.

Especially given the existence of asexual people.

Joe Jackson Blames Katherine for Michael's Death

No matter how fucked up the father is, inevitably, if something goes wrong with a child, even when he is a grown ass man, you can be certain that the mother is to blame. Historically, men have been able to avoid the difficult job of raising children and  show up just in time to take the praise if a child is successful in their life path.  Joe Jackson may have participated in the raising of his children because he wanted a meal-ticket, but the methods that he used were clearly abusive.

In an interview with London's News Of The World Jackson had this to say:

As a mother you know...mother's always the one that the son looks up to.  I wanted her to step in and go in and say, Look Mike a bit.  Keep him cheered up, because you know if your mother's around you the son, I would think would feel better.  But she didn't want to do that because she was afraid of that she was invading his privacy.  She didn't want to invade him....his privacy. And so I thought that, and we argued about that several times.  And she says, I think (unclear). Katherine if you don't go and er ... and er see him be with him or otherwise. He ain't going to be with us for too long.  Because I thought that he was looking kinda funny and kinda frail a little bit. I told her I said that this would never have happened if you had went and been with him.  Why? Because he would have been more relaxed and maybe... that with you being with him things would have went much better than what they did.  We gone lost our son now.

So, he doesn't blame the doctors that had Michael on a drug cocktail. He doesn't blame all of those yes men, who continually surrounded Michael.  He isn't interested in considering that Michael chose to walk down this dangerous path.  And he certainly cannot contemplate for one moment that the years of abuse that he engaged in set Michael on this terrible path.  

What Kind of Gay Man is Obsessed with Pussy?

I am sure by now that you have heard that Perez Hilton posted an up-skirt photo of Miley Cyrus on his twitter account.  He has since removed the image, but that cannot undo the damage that he has done.  This is not the first time he has posted such revealing images of female celebrities.  And so I ask again, why is a gay man so interested in pussy when he has zero interest in fucking one?

When I wrote gay white and male still equals privilege, plenty of people showed up to tell me about the oppression of gay men, without ever once mentioning their ability to oppress.  This is yet another example of this phenomenon.  Hilton may be oppressed as a gay Latino male; however, that does not mean he is not walking around with a shit load of male privilege at his disposal.  Consider that he regularly shames women and calls them bitches. Hilton makes his living from denigrating female bodies at every opportunity. In March, Hilton had this to say about Lindsay Lohan:
As per usual, she looks a cheap hooker HOT mess! Since when is underwear pulled halfway down one's ass or sexy? Or posing like you're taking a dump?!
Gross! Is Playboy next? She's getting closer!
And yet, Hilton is the first one to scream when any sort of homophobia is directed at him (note: I am in no way suggesting that homophobia is acceptable). Only his oppression matters.

Monstrous Musings: A Father’s Day Monstrous Musings: Vampire Daddies and Wolf-y Father Figures

"Natalie Wilson is literature and women’s studies scholar and author of the blogs Professor, what if…? and Seduced by Twilight. She is currently writing a book examining the Twilight cultural phenomenon from a feminist perspective, forthcoming from McFarland in 2010. Her interest in vampires and werewolves dates back to her childhood fascination with all types of monsters."

In my post from awhile back, Monstrous Mothers, I chronicled the largely negative representation of motherhood that stretches from Beowulf to Coraline. Now, in honor of this Sunday’s pending Father’s Day, I offer some musings on Monstrous Fathers. Well, surprise, surprise, there are far fewer bad dad’s to discuss…

To take my current immersion in vampires as a starting point, contemporary vampire series present us with a number of good (and even godly) vampire fathers. Edward and Carlisle are the perfect vampire/god dads in Twilight while Bill steps up to his enforced fathering of his new vampire daughter Jessica quite well in True Blood

Carlisle is the Twilight saga’s ultimate patriarch – the kind father who welcomes Bella into his vampire family and saves her life multiple times. Associated with healing, restraint, and wisdom, Carlisle represents paternalistic care as a benevolent force. He also literally MAKES his family – how preferable to having to reside in one of those icky woman wombs for nine months! After he has turned Edward vamp, he does what any good father might – turns Rosalie in order so that his son might have a beautiful mate. Alas, Edward and Rosalie don’t work as a pair and Carlisle later makes the crucial yes vote regarding Bella’s desire to be a vampire. You see, not only is Carlisle a daddy dream, he is also his children’s best matchmaker!

Edward is also a vampire-father figure in the saga, first to the child-like Bella whom he endlessly rocks and carries, then to his vampire-human daughter Renesmee, and finally to his son-in-law to be, Jacob, whom he literally calls son near the saga’s end. (The gendered and racial implications are rather gag-inducing here. Females are mere children in need of male fathering, while men of color are similarly “childish” and require godly white patriarchs to father them.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shameless Self Promotion

Hey everyone, the Black Blog awards have come around again.  I would love the opportunity to participate, but I need your help.  I was wondering if you would please take the time to consider nominating me in whatever categories you feel I am best suited for, and Monica Roberts of TransGriot in the category of best LGBT blog.  Please click the image below to participate.


Thanks so much for your support, I really appreciate it.

Daughter of the Diaspora

Itoro Udofia is an artist and writer living in Amherst, MA. Currently, she is attending graduate school to study social justice and education. Her work focuses primarily on the African Diaspora, black womanhood, identity, solidarity, and love. She hopes to continue using art as a tool for social justice.

I live here now
Was born here and may die here now
Memories are rooted in stirring fufu in a tiny pot now
Fufu made out of jiffy mix
Bought at a Price Chopper (exactly 2 dollars and fifty cents)
Put it in a pot and stir till it becomes nice and thick
"It's supposed to clump together and should be able to form itself into a ball," Mama would say, "But remember child...real fufu don't really taste that way."
"We're trying to get the flavor I was used to back home." Mama would say, say to me.
"Does it come close?" I respond.
Mama laughs, "Not really."

I live here now
Memories are rooted in eating fufu when it's 5 degrees out
Or singing Nigerian gospel songs quietly instead of singing out loud
Mama says, "We usually sing these songs out loud till everyone sings...
but we'll try to sing these songs more quietly.
Can't wake the neighbors now."
My voice carries little traces of another place
I'm not anything like Mama
Memories are rooted in reading Morrison and singing like Nina now
And finding any black woman who looks like my image
Mama says, "Child, you are African but you're different now. You're a child born in America. And you'll experience different layers of pains and pressures now. So you can teach me and I'll teach you. 'Cause I'm thinking of going back home and home seems to be here for"

Mama's been trying to get me to go back...back home
"I'd like us to live there some day,"
Mama says, says to me
She's speaking as if she's caught in a dream
"We'll eat real fufu, sing Nigerian gospels loudly, and it won't be 5 degrees out."
Mama says.
I think it would be nice to go...and see,
"But I don't think I can stay there Mama...I think I'm meant to be here now."
Mama breaks out of her nostalgia.
"True child," Mama says, says to me,
"You live here now. You'll visit but you may not stay...guess we'll have to wait and see. Guess we'll have to wait and"

Why I Won't Be Your Resource

Invariably, several times a week someone will send me an e-mail or make some comment wanting to know why I am resistant to being a built in resource for people. How can they be responsible for their learning, if I won't spoon feed them everything they want or need to know about womanism, anti-racism or social justice?  It never occurs to them that they are contacting me on the internet, and therefore; they have access to one of the greatest information tools every created-- but entering terms in the Google search window just somehow seems to be beyond their capabilities. Instead I am expected to take my valuable time and break down these very complex subjects or share with them the intricacies of my life for their learning benefit.  It seems irrelevant that whatever lessons that I have learned have either come at a cost of great personal pain or investment of my time.  The fact that I even have to take my limited energy to write this piece is an indicator of the sense of entitlement that is often aimed at marginalized bodies in social justice circles. 

This post is not written to indicate that conversations regarding oppression with marginalized bodies should not occur, but to simply indicate that there are boundaries that need to be understood.  For example, I have a good relationship with both Sparky and Monica of TransGriot.  Both have guest posted on this blog on a regular basis, and we converse very regularly.  In fact, Monica and I burn up the phone lines most nights and Sparky and I chat on GChat probably about 4-5 times a week.   We are all very committed to social justice and invariably at some point in our conversations, a discussion regarding various instances of bigotry will ensue. Sometimes it will simply be in the course of discussing the events of the day that I will learn something new.   What makes these conversations different from anonymous request to be taught is that when Sparky asks me questions about disableism or racism, he has already done some of the work himself AND we have an ongoing relationship outside of our different labels and identities. To Sparky, I am not just a collection of marginalizations to be dissected, I am a friend. There is a give and take between us, and this is something that is distinctly missing in those that drive by this blog and expect to be spoon fed information.  Sparky, Monica and I learn from each other, we bounce ideas off of each other, and the reciprocal nature of our relationship means that no one is being used as a tool for the leaning of the other. 

This is an extremely basic 101 concept, and yet it has to be repeated constantly.  When the marginalized refuse to take on the role of teacher, we are accused of blocking progress or being mean and withholding information.  This is because the privileged body does not want to give up power despite protestations to the contrary.  It must be acknowledged that if you live with a marginalization, you must become fluent in the language of the oppressor to survive, whereas; the dominant body has no such obligation other than that which natural curiosity allows. Demanding to be taught reinforces the power dynamic of marginalized bodies continually having to serve and perform for the oppressor.  

“The Question for Drag Queens” By Kola Boof

Egyptian-Sudanese-American novelist and poet Kola Boof has been an agent for Sudan’s SPLA and was the National Chairwoman of the U.S. Branch of the Sudanese Sensitization Peace Project.  She has written for television and her many books include, “Flesh and the Devil,” “Long Train to the Redeeming Sin,” “Nile River Woman” and “Virgins In the Beehive.”  She blogs at Kola Boof. com

“Dear Kola Boof…as an openly gay Black man and a long time fan of your books…I was appalled to see your show in New York open with an image that degrades the gay, lesbian and transgendered community.  I’m referring to the big drag queen that came out and announced he was you, then went on to berate the audience about who is and is not Black.  I suppose you thought this was cute, but what I saw was a garish caricature poorly misrepresenting the only gay image of the night. As a gay person, I felt I was seeing a Minstrel show.  It was a slap in the face.  Black face anyone? Who are you (Kola Boof) to have your gay fans dressing up and impersonating you? For that matter, who is Cher, Tina Turner, Madonna and Diana Ross to be impersonated either? Why can’t Drag Queens be respected for their talent and presented as them selves? In your books, no other straight writer presents such loving and realistic portrayals of gay, lesbian and transgendered people.  That is why I’ve always supported you and will continue to do so.  But I would like to know why a brilliant progressive cultural thinker like your self is supporting this Minstrelsy?”---Darren Carruthers 
Darren raises a fabulous question for this new decade—why can’t so called Drag Queens with talent be respected as entertainers in their own right; without the “acceptance-marker” of having to impersonate iconic female images?  And more personally, why would I—who just got finished lambasting “White Women” for not being sensitive to Black Women’s issues—turn around and feature a gay or lesbian person in my show in a “Minstrel” connotation.

      First of all, on a personal note, I can only say that I am ignorant, female privileged and didn’t even think about it from the perspective “Minstrelsy.”  Justice Reign (aka Tamarrah Fox), a bisexual cross-dressing male in Seattle wrote to me as a “Kola fan” (we have now become good friends).  Justice wanted to honor me by appearing in my show to represent the substantial number of gay-lesbian and transgendered people who seem to have become smitten with my work over the years.  

      During that actual show—I talked about the support I receive from the gay community; how much they mean to me as human beings; and specifically, how much Justice Reign (Tamarrah Fox) means to me.  I do not see Justice as a “Drag Queen” or even as a “sexual label” period.” I see him as a very kind human being and someone that I greatly love.  As I said from the stage of my show—“He’s like a child that I wish I had given birth to.  I love him; he’s my baby.”

      It’s Justice’s choice to be a Cross-dresser, but that state of action is not the total sum of what he is to me.  To me, he’s my heart; a human being. 

      Before I get into the second part of the question, I need to be clear. I do understand that there is a huge difference between people who are  Inter-Sex (humans born with both sexes); trans people (individuals who sometimes require sex reassignment to live happily in their true gender) and cross-dressers (people who may or may not be straight, but dress up like the other sex for myriad reasons).  

      I know quite a bit about what they are and I have no malice whatsoever for people who find themselves in those realities.  Please notice that I’ve added Inter-Sex human beings, as I think it’s long overdue for humanity to recognize this group’s existence as yet another “Socio-Biological Reality.”  One that is just as old as Amoeba and Y chromosomes.  It is never my intention to ignore anyone’s presence or lampoon anyone’s identity.

McDonald’s Is Not As Into Gay Advertising As You May Think

Earlier this month, McDonald's in France created a stir when they released the following advertisement:
The inclusion of an LGBT teen McDonald’s French advertising was certainly a positive; however, there were certainly problems with the commercial itself, which I noted in an earlier post. The Operations Chief Don Thompson recently sat down with the Chicago tribune to discuss McDonalds corporate operating plans, and when the subject of the now internet famous French ad came up, Thompson confirmed my belief that the so-called tolerance towards the LGBT was very limited.
Tribune: A French TV ad featuring a gay teen and his father has stirred some controversy — not there, but here. Can you talk about that?
Thompson: It is an example that markets, cultures are very different around the world. (For instance), I've never shied away from the fact that I'm a Christian. I have my own personal beliefs and I don't impose those on anybody else. I've been in countries where the majority of the people in the country don't believe in a deity or they may be atheist. Or the majority of the country is Muslim. Or it may be the majority is much younger skewed. So when you look at all these differences, it's not that I'm to be the judge or the jury relative to right or wrong. Having said that, at McDonald's, there are core values we stand for and the world is getting much closer. So we have a lot of conversations. We're going to make some mistakes at times. (We talk) about things that may have an implication in one part of the world and may be the cultural norm in another part of the world. And those are things that, yes, we're going to learn from. But, you're right, that commercial won't show in the United States.

Tribune: How has it done in France?
Thompson: Interestingly enough, there have been no negatives coming out of France. The brand is a local brand and different things will occur in different parts of the world. We just have to make sure that we understand the impact one action may make on another part of the world.
So by his reasoning France has a gay culture that the U.S. does not have, and that therefore makes it acceptable to erase the presence of the BLGT community in their advertising. If McDonalds “core values” do not mean respecting all of their customers wherever they may be, it  seems that those golden arches stand for exclusion.  Even though there has been no backlash in the France, and much of the commentary regarding the advertisement has been positive in the North America, failing to extend the campaign signifies that McDonalds is only willing to do the bare minimum to address the needs of the TLBG community and their allies.  They can openly declare their plan to oppress because erasure is not seen by many as the damaging soul crushing thing that it is.  Some will be satisfied simply be the avoidance of ads that are not overtly homophobic or transphobic.
An absence of direct hate is in no way a victory.  It is disgusting that McDonalds expects patrons to buy their Frankenstein fries and heart attack burgers, while never once addressing the basic humanity of a percentage of their customers, because it is attempting to appeal to some socially constructed ideal of what constitutes family friendly.  McDonalds like any other business has the right to decide what kind of marketing that it will pursue, and we as individuals have the right to decide not to support their purposeful erasure by refusing to consume their products.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Jay Walking While Black and Female Equals Cops Right To Assault

If you are a marginalized person police brutality comes as no surprise, in fact, in many cases it is expected.  When cops aren't shooting us without provocation, they are pepper spraying, or in this case physically abusing us.



Video Description: A cop is struggling with a young Black woman who repeatedly says "get the fuck off of me".  She twists and turns attempting to escape.  Her friend intervenes and pushes the police officer who then responds by punching the friend with a closed fist directly in the face.  The cop then returns and stuggles with the first woman repeatedly saying stop struggling.  When asked why he punched the young woman he responses because she was grabbing me.  The young woman begins to weep as she places in handcuffs.

The Seattle pigs police are currently investigating what they call an assault on a police officer, even though he was not the one to receive a punch in the face.   The crime that brought these young women to the pig's officer's attention was jaywalking.  Somehow, I cannot help but believe that it was a combination of their race, gender and age that made officer less than friendly decide to approach them.  

I am not shocked that they acted incredulously when he first tried to question them.  All they did was cross the street, and jaywalking is one of those minor crimes that we engage in constantly.  For this situation to escalate to two Black women in handcuffs after being manhandled and  punched by a pig police officer is absolutely wrong. 

I know that many believe the law is blind but can you really see an officer attacking a young White male in a suit and briefcase?  I think that the pig cop would have simply ignored the man and gone about his business.  There is no need to arrest White males of class privilege, if the purpose is to uphold their strangle hold on power. Any Black person that tells you that they are not afraid to be questioned or interact with a pig cop is either a liar, or out of their mind. 

I know we have that whole social myth about serve and protect, but quite often this means an all out assault on bodies of colour.  These drones police poor neighborhoods of colour to fill the quota of captive slaves for the prison industrial complex -- but hey, think of the jobs it has provided for towns, plus the boost in population  when it comes  to deciding the percentage of communal resources and government power.

And it is hardly their fault that people of colour all have criminal intent right?  They are not part of the systemic oppression in any way shape or form right?  They're all God damn heroes who don't know the difference between their tasers and sidearms. 

Cue the excuse of she should not have resisted arrest.  Her friend should not have tried to intervene.  Yes, this all somehow magically justifies that a cop decided to screw reasonable force and punch a woman square in the face.  We can always find a reason to ignore their violations because deep down admitting that pigs cops are nothing but an armed gang sanctioned by the government patrolling cities is scary isn't it?

How many broken and battered bodies of colour is it going to take? You can forget another round of sensitivity training because the masturbatory pleasure they get from the power we have invested in them ensures their desire to act with impunity.  When I see a pig cop, I don't see a hero, or someone that is duty bound to protect me, I see a person looking for the first excuse to bash my head in, and you can bet those young women did as well.

H/T Jane LaPlain via e-mail

In honour of Anger

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.

We have often spoken about anger. We have spoken about a person's right to anger. Why criticising and trying to suppress a marginalised person's anger or angry response is wrong. We have spoken about tone arguments, of policing the marginalised to make sure they play nice, of stomping on their feet and then being outraged when they yell "ow! Get off!"

But I am going to talk about honouring anger. That we do not only have a right to anger, but that it is a good thing. That anger is not only something we should defend, but something we should respect and even praise. 

Now, by that I don't mean reaching for an edged weapon and hacking around randomly while screaming obscenities at the top of our lungs (tempting though that may be sometimes). In fact, the angrier I get the more formal I tend to become (and  icy), a habit picked up in the job since the powers that be tend to frown at berserker rages in the courtroom. 

But anger, as a force, as an emotion, and even as an expression - that I honour.

Anger pulled me up. 

I believe my anger very much saved me. For much of my life when I finally realised that I couldn't deny I was gay any longer (and, believe me, I tried), I felt a sense of shame. I was ashamed. I was afflicted. I was nasty and unpleasant and it was my duty to keep it to myself as much as possible so as not to bother the normal people.

Is Sarah Palin REALLY A Femnist?

I have stayed out of the raging debate on whether or not Sarah Palin is a feminist, though I must admit giggling about it privately.   It seems that the public appearance of what feminism stands for is far more important than its actual actions.  As part of practicing their ideals, White feminist blog, after White feminist blog, defended Sarah Palin during the election, but when sexism and racism was aimed at Michelle Obama, all I could hear was canaries whistling.  Palin it seems, was considered to White to have to suffer sexism, while the oppression of a Black woman was nothing to get upset about.  It once again fell to Black women to defend Michelle Obama, but hey, we're all about sisterhood aren't we? Don't you love the smell of vagina solidarity in the morning?

Shelly Mandell, president of the Los Angeles Chapter of the National Organization for Women had this to say when she publicly endorsed Palin:

I know Sarah Palin cares about women's rights," Mandell said. "As vice president, she will fight for you. She cares about our children and she cares about women's lives .
And to make sure that everyone got the point, when Mandell handed over the microphone to Palin she announced:

This is what a feminist looks like.
NOW quickly released a statement reaffirming it's endorsement of Obama, but you cannot un-ring a bell.

Thus began the feminist wars of either claiming or rejecting Sarah Palin.   I actually find this little feud to be quite amusing.  For some women, Palin is simply not progressive enough, however; they conveniently forget that with the exception of her pro life stance, Palin has taken positions that feminism has a history of not only acknowledging, but openly engaging in.  I am sure right now you are wondering what I mean, so let me lay it out for you. 

"The 12 Fathers of Kola Boof" By Kola Boof

Egyptian-Sudanese-American novelist and poet Kola Boof has been an agent for Sudan’s SPLA and was the National Chairwoman of the U.S. Branch of the Sudanese Sensitization Peace Project.  She has written for television and her many books include, “Flesh and the Devil,” “Long Train to the Redeeming Sin,” “Nile River Woman” and “Virgins In the Beehive.”  She blogs at Kola Boof. com

Critics and supporters have been writing about me for years now.  They claim that I’m a fierce Warrior Queen—the word “powerful” being far and away the term they use the most in describing my persona as a literary figure and woman.  Many of them speak of me in awe (which makes me giggle knowing what a pussycat I am).  But amazingly—not a single one of them has ever correctly charted where exactly this strength and power comes from.
      It comes from the fact that I had two wonderful fathers.  

      First, my Arab Muslim Egyptian birth father, Harith Bin Farouk—then, after his murder, my adoptive father (my dad); the greatness that is Black American Marvin Johnson.  In between those two men, was the White Irishman who looked after me for one year on behalf of UNICEF, Owen McAnnis. Not only was Owen McAnnis the first White human I’d ever seen in person, following my birth father’s death and my Egyptian grandmother giving me to UNICEF, but due to his love, kindness and commitment, he became the link that preserved my sanity and made it possible for me to transition at eight years old from the Grand World (Racist Islamic war-torn North Africa) to the gaudy, rights-laden Western World (Racist United States). 

      So you see I am not by any means a “fatherless” literary voice.  The fire, sense of entitlement and forcefulness that pervades my voice is because of good fathering—not the lack of it.

      Today, I would like to follow up an earlier piece I wrote “The 12 Mothers of Kola Boof” by acknowledging the male public figures who meant the most in influencing and shaping the woman that I have come to be.  There are literally hundreds of men in the public sector that impacted my life and my development in a positive way. But these 12 are the ones who affected me so profoundly that I feel in some way indebted to them.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sure a Gay Guy Can Play Straight: Watch Sean Hayes Prove It

There was recently some controversy regarding whether a gay man can play the role of a heterosexual man, when Sean Hayes was attacked in a “Newsweek” article.  Of course, there was no suggestion that the authors heterosexist biases were at play, this was simply the result of bad acting and an unrealistic akin to asking a 65 year old man to play the love interest of a 30 years old woman (note: this happens all the time and viewers regularly buy this nonsense).  Hayes decided to answer his critics:

Wasn’t all of that tongue exciting? 

The problem with this little performance is that it occurred.  It is absolutely ridiculous that Hayes had to get on stage to swap spit with a woman on camera so that critics could see that he is able to pull off a believable lip lock with a female.  I mean really people, is that what we have been reduced to?  Do you think that any of those straight actors engaged in those hot and steamy love scenes are really getting their groove on?  It’s called acting for a reason. 

I think that it is sick that Hayes was forced into this position.  Do you remember Jake Gyllenhaal or Heath Ledger having to get on a stage and kiss other men to prove they should have had the roles of Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar in “Brokeback Mountain”?  Why were their performances automatically accepted but Hayes is up for debate?  This is yet another example of a dominant body (read: heterosexuals) setting a standard for a marginalized body and moving the goal posts so that the status of “other” is continually re-enforced. 

This is not the first time that this conversation has occurred. When Anne Heche was dating Ellen, reporters openly questioned what a lesbian relationship would do to her career.  It was suggested at the time that because of her relationship with Ellen, people would not believe her if she took on the role of romantic female lead opposite a male star.  It never became apparent to many that if doubt occurred, it was not because of who Heche was fucking, but because of the rampant homophobia in society. In a New York TImes article entitled “Anne Heche is Playing it Normal Now” (kind of says it all doesn’t it?) Alex Witchel writes:

Then, at the 1997 Vanity Fair Oscar party, lightning struck and she fell madly in love with Ellen DeGeneres, becoming half of the most famous lesbian couple in America. Because she had never given any indication of being gay, Heche was pilloried as both publicity hound and career opportunist — though in retrospect, given her experience with her duplicitous father and homophobic mother, it could seem that her attraction to DeGeneres had less to do with acting than acting out. The romance actually destroyed her prospects as a leading lady; the deal for “Six Days, Seven Nights” was the last one made as the affair became public, and no more were offered.

Did you catch that?  Her relationship was “acting out”, despite the fact that Heche has repeatedly said that her feelings for Ellen were genuine.  Why even bother to listen when gays in lesbians speak because their experiences center them, and not the ridiculous heterosexist agenda.  Asserting that a gay actor is not believable in the role of a heterosexual is meant to force them back into the closet.  None of this is really homophobic, people just don’t want the GLBT community to flaunt their love, meanwhile, straight people swap spit wherever they want in broad day light.  This is the insidious side of heterosexism; the same people that would avoid using the words [email protected] or dyke have no problem using their power to perpetuate heterosexual hegemony.  Once again, mission accomplished heterosexist society, you got a marginalized body to jump though hoops in a bid for acceptance. 

H/T Jezebel via The Daily Beast

True Blood: Bad Blood

image It was a very long wait and the season opener did not disappoint.  The season begins right where we left off, with Sookie looking for Bill in the French restaurant where he proposed to her.  After running around town trying to get the police to look for Bill, Sookie turns to Eric for help.  Gotta say, I was very disappointed that Alan Ball had Sookie say to Pam, “I don’t have time for any of that lesbian weirdness tonight”.  I get that Sookie was upset, but this comment really screamed of lesbophobia and painted Pam as deviant because of her sexuality.  This line is especially problematic when we consider that in the next scene, we watch as Sookie walks into the basement to find Eric fucking a dancer is who tied up and spread eagle.  A great view of Skaarsgard naked almost soothed my sensibilities.  

Back at Bill’s,Jessica is busy trying to figure out what to do with the body of the man that she killed in a fit.  At Merlotts, Sherrif Dearborne is investigating the death of Eggs.  This scene once again reveals yet another Alan Ball failure, when Arelene asks if slavery is responsible for Egg’s actions.  Really?  What the hell, why go there?  It belittles the ongoing struggles people of the African Diaspora go through”.  This problematic discourse is compounded when Arlene says in frustration, “I hate it when they make everything about race?” Furthering the idea that White people should make it all about them, Sookie and Tara end up in a fist fight when Sookie tells Tara that she told Eggs about what Marianne made him do.  Lafayette pulls Tara off of Sookie who says angrily, “we’re in the same boat you know, Bill’s missing.”  Bill may be missing, but Eggs is dead.  But hey, he is only a Black guy in a mostly White town right. 

362 Dollar Water Bill Costs Black Mother Her Home

This is a guest post from Rippa of The Intersection of Madness and Reality

Here's yet more evidence of how people of color are suffering due to the mortgage meltdown crisis. The following story is depressing as hell, but should not be ignored:

Yet, there is still no moratorium on foreclosure evictions by the Federal government. Of course her story is out of the ordinary, but can you imagine how many stories like this we never hear about? Especially in our current economic state, where people of color are disproportionately affected? But still, nothing is done to directly assist the hundreds of thousands of people in the country who have had their hopes and dreams washed away by the economic tsunami.

The Disabled Once Again Ignored in Canadian Health Study

image After three years, I have learned that being differently abled means not being considered in the larger world; however, you would think that those claiming to study health would understand by now how harmful a universal standard is.

Apparently, researchers are examining what happens to bodies when we are sedentary
After two to seven hours of uninterrupted sitting, there is evidence "that is enough to increase [subjects'] blood sugar, to decrease their good cholesterol and to have a real impact on their health," said Travis Saunders, a researcher in exercise physiology at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute in Ottawa.
There are likely important physiological activities that go on while we sit that need to be studied separately from exercise physiology, he said.
Early evidence suggests spending long periods sitting affects the entire body, from the way it metabolizes fat and sugars to how the brain functions, and raises osteoporosis risk through lower bone density.
Did you get what happened there?  Lions and tigers and bears oh my!  All of these terrible things happen when we don’t get up and move around.  It is such a concern that people are walking on treadmills at their desks.  I wonder if they find many people that are paralyzed walking on these treadmills?  I wonder if they find many people who suffer from chronic pain getting up to do jumping jacks in their little cubicles to stave off the terrible effects of sitting?  Hey, do you think people who use crutches are up doing tai bo on their lunch break because sitting is destroying their bodies?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

New Template

Hello everyone, as you can see, I am working on a small redesign of Womanist Musings.  Please let me know if you are having difficulties with any of the functions on the blog. I expect that there will be a few growing pains as I tweak the different functions on the blog.  Please be patient as I try to figure out the little ticks.  Please feel free to let me know if you like the new template, and any changes that you would like to see.

Sunday Shame: It’s Not Waste if the Bottle is Empty Edition

It  seems as though we are in for a rare treat this week..SPARKY is admitting to moments of imperfection. 
image Beloved has protested to me mightily that I am happy to broadcast his foibles to the world but do not do so with my own. Well, says I, is constant and dazzling perfection really such a foible?
Beloved's look was... eloquent. He went on to describe at completely unnecessary length a minor little eccentricity of mine that he, unreasonably, finds rather vexing.
See, I am somewhat absent minded and driven to not waste things (economical! That's me). So I make sure something is truly, truly empty before I throw it away (the planet thanks me, I'm sure).
Yes. I am the one who drinks the milk down to the dregs - then puts the bottle back.
I am the one who uses the mayonnaise then puts the jar, with a micro-scrape left at the bottom, back.
I do use all the butter but for the tiniest smears in the corners - and put it back.
Empty packets, bags, bottles and jars fill our shelves (often meaning we forget to buy new replacements Well Beloved should CHECK shouldn't he? Right? Right?) and many a time Beloved has tried to make a sandwich and had to throw away 4-5 jars.