Saturday, October 2, 2010

Drop It Like It's Hot

Hello everyone. Thanks for another great week of conversation.  The boys and I are slowly getting into a routine and if only our precious Sookie could stop going to the bathroom on the floor things would be perfect.  Please feel free to live housebreakig tips in the comments because I could use a lot of help. 

Those wishing to participate in Womanist Musings open guest posting policy please send in your original work or a link to your blog via e-mail to womanistmusings [at] gmail [dot] com.  Please include a small three line bio and an image that you would like associated with you work.  The more people we have participating the more varied the conversation will be.

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

Desperate  U.S. Women Forced to go to Mexico Take Care of Unwanted Pregnancies
Don’t know What to Think
Tweeting Rape
I’m Not Strong, I’m Just Human
hey losers! design your dream asian girl
Tell the Discovery Network That Their Transphobia is Unacceptable
Faking a Post Racial America: The Big Racial Con
Fish Dreams and Fantasies: Contemplating Motherhood
Tough Economic Prospects For Newly Released Inmates
Women, the face of poverty : UN needs to redevelop anti-poverty strategy

Friday, October 1, 2010

Signs For The Disabled in Indonesia

I have written about my personal experiences as a disabled woman, to help highlight the fact that even in our so-called tolerant state, there are several barriers to access.  This week when I took Ms. Sookie to the vet, I once again had to leave my scooter outside because of stairs at the front of the building.  In my everyday life, there are purposeful barriers which work to exclude me from participating in various events.  It has been suggested time and time again that this is because I live in a small town, but the reality is, no matter where you go globally the infrastructure was not designed for differently abled bodied.  Often, rather than making the requisite changes, the disabled are told to rise above or are ruthlessly shamed for our inability to be able to conform to so-called norms.

Disabled pedestrians in Indonesia are required to wear signs identifying them as handicapped under new traffic regulations passed unanimously by parliament on Tuesday.

Amendments to the Traffic and Transport Law state "handicapped pedestrians must wear special and clear signs which can be easily recognised by other road users."

The lawmaker in charge of the committee which drafted the amendments, Ahmad Muqowam of the Islam-based United Development Party, said they were designed to protect disabled people from road accidents.

"This is a humanistic act. It's for their safety on the streets," he told AFP.
Asked what the signs should read or where people should wear them on their bodies, he said this was up to the government to decide at a later date.

"They won't be penalised if they flout the rule; it's only a precaution for their safety," he added. (source)
So rather than making the changes necessary because that would involve time, effort and money, the disabled are to be publicly marked.  If the real concern was safety for the differently abled, proper accommodations would be a priority.  I suppose they believe that this isn't truly stigmatizing because the disabled person will not be penalized for a failure to comply; however, the suggestion itself serves to mark the differently abled as "other".  To be equitable, a society must consider the needs of the marginalized people. 

Julia Roberts May Adopt an Indian Baby

We have gone down this road on several occasions, but I feel that this is a conversation that we need to have repeatedly.  Once again we have another White earth mother type deciding that it would be a great idea to steal adopt  a so-called third world baby.

According to one of her closest pals she and Danny, 41, who married eight years ago, are set to follow in the footsteps of fellow Hollywood stars Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Madonna and Meg Ryan by adopting a child from abroad. 

“Julia has wanted more children for years,” the friend says. “But her past pregnancies were fraught with complications and she was forced into an extended hospital stay right before she had her twins. After all she has been through, she realises that adoption is perhaps the best way forward.”

The actress, who recently converted to the Hindu faith, has apparently put out ­feelers in the subcontinent.
“She has a special affinity with India and has contacts exploring the possibilities,” adds the friend. She is also said to have contacted an adoption agency in Bali, where she spent time filming Eat Pray Love.

“Julia and Danny love the idea of their kids having another baby in the house,” the pal says. “And it feels so right that the next member of the family should come from a different culture.” (source)
So far, this is simply conjecture but considering the penchant of White women for adopting babies of colour from the so-called third world, it is not wholly unreasonable.  This adoption that she is planning is not selfless no matter what do-gooders say about the opportunities she will be able to offer the child. The addition of any child to a family always includes an element of selfishness and in the case of White women adopting babies of colour, what can be certain is that racism and post colonial issues are ever present, no matter how much they claim to love said child.

For generations, WOC have been deemed unfit to raise their own children, allowing White women to step in with their supposedly perfected style of mothering.  From Asia, to Africa to North and South America, White women have presided over the wholesale theft of children.  In its most recent form, celebrities have made a sport of collecting adopting babies of colour to act as accoutrement.  No matter how well Roberts acquaints herself with India or the various Asian cultures, she will never be able to raise the child in the same manner as their biological mother would have. Many of these children are not homeless because their parents wish to give them up, but because of grinding poverty or a patriarchal culture that sees women as surplus population without value.  

Blackface Ain't Cool Or 'Fashion Forward', It's Offensive

This is a guest post by the fabulous Monica of TransGriot

As you long time readers know Jasmyne Cannick, yours truly and a long list of people inside and outside the TBLG community have long been pissed about a certain gay white man that does a New Millennium minstrel show that gay white folks think is 'humorous'.

Because of its long hundred plus year history of being used to denigrate and demean Black people, we not only are offended by any manifestations of it, we have zero tolerance for blackface imagery .

Lately we've had this irritating trend of white models being made up to look like Black women in high fashion photo shoots when there are thousands of Black models looking for work.  .

We ain't down with that high fashion form of blackface either.  

I'm on the rant about this because I stumbled across the Mike Ruiz photo shoot in which he had trans actress Candis Cayne not only made up look like Diana Ross, but in his Transformations series made her up to look like the late 70's Blaxplotation film icon Tamara Dobson. .

Um, Mike, what the hell were you thinking?  I'm not giving your behind a pass on this bull feces either because you're Latino.  You should know fracking better.

If you were going to do a photoshoot and wanted a transperson to recreate Diana Ross, I do believe in the New York metropolitan area there are two of my trans sisters in Isis King or Laverne Cox who could have easily done so.

Miss Continental 2000 Tommie Ross has built a career with her Diana Ross illusion.

All three would have been nice starting points in terms of models who would have been better choices to pull that off .

I love me some Candis Cayne, but using her in this photoshoot was problematic on a lot of levels.

There are Black female illusionists of my generation and beyond to whom Diana Ross is their beauty icon and role model.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Mike Tyson and Wyane Brady Get Their Bobby Brown on

I came across the following mash up at Clutch Magazine and I would be lying if I said that it did not have me cracking the hell up. Brady is hilarious and Tyson should never dance in public again. This BTW dispels the notion that all Black men have God given groove.  There might be hope for you and your hair brush and leather pants yet Sparky.  I suppose I should be thankful that they decided to lip synch the song instead of actually singing as well.  Look out for a little Bobby Brown cameo at the end.  Let it take you back to when Bobby was big and you thought you knew something about something.

Rosie Perez for Fight Back New York. Gay Rights are Equal Rights

The first time I saw Rosie Perez, she was dancing to Fight The Power in the opening sequence of Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing.  That woman caught my attention and has held it all of these years with her pure awesomeness.  She recently created a PSA for Fight Back New York in support of gay marriage.  I decided to post this video because White LGBT members often perpetuate the mendacious myth that people of colour are uniquely homophobic.  While Latino's were not falsely blamed for the failure of Prop 8, they are still much stigmatized by an element of the GLBT community because of a social culture of machismo.

Quite often to be a straight ally to  BLGT people means fighting many of the racist constructions of our communities because we want to help our same gender loving brothers and sisters.  Despite repeated attempts by straight people of colour to speak out in favour of gay rights, they are often quickly forgotten the moment a straight bigot of colour opens their mouth.  This ideology is supported by the just like you meme that has been pervasive in the community.  It specifically implies that due to homophobia, that White TLBG members are being treated like people of colour.  Just like you further suggests a desire to take advantage of all the privileges of Whiteness that are denied because of heterosexism.   It calls on White people to remember that  BLGT people are White just like them and to treat them as second class citizens devalues Whiteness. Race is not a determinate of bigotry and treating it as such not only turns off potential allies, and it erases people of colour who a members of the GLBT community.

Top 5 Sluts In The Movies

Slut is a word that truly troubles me.  It is a word that is used specifically to shame women for their sexual behaviour.  It is meant to discipline us into to being submissive to patriarchy.  When the term is used to describe a man, he is most often called a male slut to further highlight the fact that slut is a feminine descriptor.  When slut is attached to masculinity, it is understood to be an achievement because men are encouraged to have sex and see sexual activity as a form of achievement.

Slut shaming is rampant and is even used to attack rape victims.  Girls who have been slut shamed and attacked in high school, have become depressed enough to commit suicide.  We know that there are consequences to such labels and yet they continue to perpetuate.  It is meant to take the agency from the choice to have sex and teach women that they are only allowed to enjoy sex under situations prescribed by patriarchy. It has been repeatedly suggested that lesbians simply need a good deep dick to convert them.  This of course has lead to the phenomenon of corrective rape.  It is essential as women that we challenge the word slut in order to construct a woman friendly sexuality that is free of patriarchal coercion. The word slut much like rape is about power and shame.

The Rotten Tomatoes have released a series of lists of top five movies.
and of course  The Top 5 Sluts in Movies

Rutgers Student Jumps to His Death After Sex Tape Released Online

The digital age has left many with the false belief that they have the right to view anything and record anything that they so desire.  Moments that were once viewed as private, are now openly shared with the public on various social networking sites.  Once an image is placed on the internet, the owner of said image has little to no control over how it is used, or who views it -- making the violation of privacy that much more sever.  Now,  millions of people are able to instantly access said invasion at anytime, leaving the victim powerless and violated with each viewing.  We have heard of several teenagers committing suicide after they sextexted a partner, who then in turn shared the image with their peer group.  Parents, educators and authorities have worked hard to talk to students about sharing private images with anyone; however, this once again places the onus on the victim.

The following story illustrates why we need to have conversations about privacy and why the freedom of the internet does not translate into a free for all.

A freshman at Rutgers University posted a chilling goodbye message on his Facebook page before committing suicide after learning that his roommate secretly filmed him during a sexual encounter which was later broadcast on the internet, PIX 11 News has learned.

"Jumping off the gw bridge sorry," 18-year-old student Tyler Clementi wrote on Facebook before jumping to his death on Sept. 22. from the George Washington Bridge. According to sources, Clementi's car was later discovered nearby with both his cell phone and computer inside.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Blackface is Fashionable Again

It seems no matter how many times that Blacks say that Blackface is unacceptable the fashion industry refuses to acknowledge the racism of continuing this trend.  According to Jezebel, the following images are from Numéro, which features an editorial spread in which French model and Estée Lauder face Constance Jablonski posed in a brown Afro wig and dark makeup.  To ensure that they push the envelope of edginess she is given a Black child as an accessory.



image image image


When we consider the historical issues of White women stealing babies of colour, this photo shoot reaches such a level of insult that I barely have the words to register my rage.  There are thousands of Black models knocking on the door fighting for an opportunity to be featured and yet they are almost always universally rejected, but somehow racist Blackface is the look that these advertisers and agencies are looking for.  This advertisement is a complete and utter rejection of Black womanhood. It signals that we don’t belong and that there is no role out there that White women cannot best us at. 

I am often accused of hating White women and yet there is a continual failure to acknowledge the ways in which White women use race to attack us, belittle us and oppress us. This model had the choice to participate in this offensive photo shoot.  No one forced her to put on the makeup and stand next to Black child.  You cannot remove your White privilege but always have the choice of whether or not you are going to be actively or passively racist.  I don’t dislike White women, but don’t trust them because repeatedly it has been made clear that if the choice involves elevating White womanhood or acting in concert with Black women to promote womanhood and equality, the choice most often results in the promotion of White supremacy. This is not a simply photo shoot, because it is loaded racism and stands as yet another example of exactly how ingrained the desire to belittle people of colour is.

I Won’t be Your Flavor of the Month

I'm a 23 year old Sinhalese woman in Minnesota by way of Dubai by way of Sri Lanka. I am a Womanist, and part of my womanism is figuring out how to be in solidarity with my transnational sisters worldwide. I'm a daughter, a sister, a partner and a writer. I'm a brown girl who knows Shakespeare by heart and devours anything Toni Morrison. I believe in radical, revolutionary living and loving.  I blog at Irresistible Revolution. 

 Figuring out transnational race politics is no easy task. Race, like other systems of oppression, shifts and alters with geography, with time, with culture, with context. The way I experience race in the US, where I'm usually primarily seen as a woman of color (with my nationality/ ethnicity being secondary), differs from Dubai where my dark-skin and South Asianness is emphasized, which differs from Sri Lanka where I'm part of the ethnic majority and therefore privileged.

What inspired this blog post though, is a trend I've noticed lately in Hollywood that corresponds with something long prevalent in Sri Lankan communities I've lived in. In regards to Hollywood, I like to call this the 'ethnic lite' phenomenon. You know what I'm talking about. The one where it's trendy and desirable to have 'ethnic' features like full lips and curvy bottoms, so long as you're still white enough to be, well, white.
Think Angelina Jolie as Cleopatra. Think the swooning over 'dark beauties' like Megan Foxx. Think WOC celebrities like Beyonce, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez and Jessica Alba having to blond up and tone d0wn before going mainstream. Racialicious had a great post on how, when it comes to models of color, the fashion industry wants "white girls dipped in chocolate". I can't even list the number of nauseating articles I've come across in mainstream media outlets about how fashion is 'diversifying' and reflecting a globalized culture, when what's actually happening is WOC with sufficiently Eurocentric features are being exalted, with a particular emphasis on racial' 'ambiguity' and a fetish for 'exotic' mixed-race heritage that's actually extremely dehumanizing and reductive of the experience of multiracial people. This latest article by CNN basically sums up a disgusting, neo-colonialist, racist trend that's taken shape: where 'ethnic' features are commodified and appropriated, and used as weapons of further marginalization against the very people they once helped racialize. Now, WOC are measured not only against the white woman ideal, but against other WOC who fit the image of 'exotic' other.

How does this fit with my experience in Sri Lanakn communities? Let me explain. One of my many Sri Lankan friends has gorgeous golden skin, high cheekbones and a dancer's body. She in fact bears a striking resemblance to Jennifer Lopez. Whenever Sri Lankan people talk about her obvious beauty, they fall back on how great it is that she looks ethnically ambiguous i.e she could be from any number of countries between Asia and the Middle-east. This quality is seen as extremely desirable.

The Death Penalty: The State Must Have Its Pound of Flesh

In Canada the death penalty was abolished in 1976 and the last execution was in 1962.
"137 countries have abolished the death penalty. Argentina, Chile, and Uzbekistan outlawed the death penalty in 2008. During 2007, 24 countries, 88% in China, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States alone, executed 1,252 people compared to 1,591 in 2006. Nearly 3,350 people were sentenced to death in 51 countries. More than 20,000 prisoners are on death row across the world."

In my mind, there can be no doubt that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.  When we consider that the criminal justice system is known to be effected by the twin issues of race and class, a trial free of prejudice is nearly impossible.  Justice is not blind; it is filled with as many isms and ists as American society.  The law itself is not even practiced uniformly across the nation.  In eleven states, as well as The District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, there is no death penalty, therefore; making geography yet another determinate as to who will live and who will die.  

On September 27, Brandon Joseph Rhode was put to death by lethal injection in Jackson, GA.  He was convicted of murdering Steven Moss, 37, his 11-year-old son Bryan and 15-year-old daughter Kristin during a burglary.   What is startling about Rhode's case is not that he was sentenced to death, but the length the state went through to achieve it's pound of flesh.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Stop the Gay Agenda, No Gay Muffins

Heterosexism and homophobia are a large part of our society.  There was a time in which bigots attempted to make rationale arguments to explain their hatred, but now there seems to be this desperation to maintain privilege at all costs, as the GLBT community becomes more vocal about the various oppressions they are forced to live with.  Homophobes can no longer pretend that they feel anything other than virulent hate without cause. In a case of you cannot make this shit up, Just Cookies in Indianapolis has refused to accept an order from a gay student group at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.   
"I explained we're a family-run business, we have two young, impressionable daughters and we thought maybe it was best not to do that," said co-owner David Stockton to a local Fox television station. He then added that it's his bakery's decision to decide what is obscene. Apparently rainbow colors fall under that label. "We have our values, and you know, some things ... for instance, if someone wants a cookie with an obscenity, well, we're not going to do that."
Rainbows are obscene?  Wow, I guess he better inform every leprechaun looking for a pot of gold that he is doing something dirty.  Then of course there the risk to children.  Did you know that just being around rainbow cupcakes will destroy any possibility of success and happiness in their lives? Do these bigots even think before they speak, or have they just become so used to repeating these ridiculous tropes whenever they open their mouths, that they just go on auto pilot?

 I know that there are those who believe in freedom of association and trust the market to correct these actions, but the truth is, that unless businesses are forced to sell to marginalized communities, there simply isn't enough discipline to cause actual change.  Was that the groan of a libertarian I just heard?  Well here is a STFU to you, because you have no idea what it is to be excluded and despite your so-called leftist agenda, you are no different than these homophobes, if you support their right to be discriminatory.  The market is not the answer to discrimination and using state violence to stem the social malaise that has been created by this artificial hierarchical order, is the best possible option to bring about quick change.  They don't have to like acting like decent people, they just have to damn well do it, because the social good is dependent upon true equality, not equality in name only. 

It took laws to over turn Jim Crow and given the choice, no powerful body is ever willingly going to consent to change.  Why the fuck would they?  Once a group gains dominance, it must be wrested away physically and violently if necessary, if said power results in the oppression of others.  Might does not equal right and yet we continually act as if these bigots are having their rights impinged upon, when we attempt to force them to behave in a manner that is socially conducive to freedom and human decency to all.  Heterosexuality is not under attack and there is no gay agenda, beyond having the right to live their lives, achieve subsistence and share loving relationships.  If any of that looks familiar to you, it is because straight people have the exact same agenda.  When we have reached the point of politicizing baked goods, I think it is fair to say that for the bigots, the issue really is oppression by any means necessary.

H/T Danny's Corner of the Universe

Spark of Wisdom: A token insert can never reflect a community accurately or entirely

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.

ow, the media, and its portrayals of marginalized people, is definitely a beef of mine. Not my only beef or my main beef or even one of my top 3 beefs. I have lots of beefs. Hmmmm beef. This sentence had a point before being ambushed by beef...

Anyway, yes, media is something I ramble on about a lot (well I ramble on about anything at length, it has to be said) and one thing I've been accused of is being picky and impossible to please.

And y'know what? It's not inaccurate - at least with the way things are in the media.

I look for portrayals of people like myself - and I get irritated when there's a large cast or long running show and there is zero representation.

But I hate tokenism. One token insert always makes me roll my eyes - especially a sidekick or a BF or the comic relief. And doubly so if it looks like someone is doing a minority checklist. I dislike seeing them there as an obvious and meaningless nod to diversity

I hate that we only see a few very narrow members of a marginalized community, we see one face over and over, one idea, one way of being - nothing ever reflecting the full diversity and plurality within and certainly rarely representing the intersections of different marginalized groups.

I hate excessive stereotyping. But I also aren't mad keen on portrayals of marginalized people who are "just like you" and their marginalization has not even the slightest indication in their character (apart from anything else, it makes for easy tokenism when you can just handwave the entire checkbox quota with a label and move on).

I'm irritated by the idea that marginalized people must all suffer and die because of the marginalization - and I've ranted before about how being happy on screen means that that gay or lesbian person is going to die soon - and there are similar tropes for so many minorities - if not death, then some other pre-ordained fate. I've been triggered and had to leave the room watching some gay representations in some of my favorite programs.

When A Cat Hoarder Meets The Criminal Justice System

Hoarders which A and E describes as,"a fascinating look inside the lives of two different people whose inability to part with their belongings is so out of control that they are on the verge of a personal crisis," aired its first season last year. Since that time, there has been far more public conversation about hoarding; however, instead of inspiring a concrete understanding that we are dealing with a mental illness, a sense of voyeurism has been solidified. 

The response to Denise Bernett, a woman who was hoarding cats, reveals our continued failure to understand that this is a serious matter and not one to be reduced to asinine humour.

Twenty cats. Frozen solid.

Upper Darby police and health officials discovered a makeshift kitty morgue Wednesday when they searched a vacant rowhouse on Ardmore Avenue in the township's Drexel Hill section.

Neighbors say the home is owned by the mother of Denise Merget, 58, a cat hoarder who has been locked up at the Delaware County prison since Sept. 10, when she allegedly pulled her .38-caliber revolver on an animal-cruelty officer who tried to remove 55 cats from her uninhabitable house on Leighton Terrace.
Police Superintendent Michael Chitwood said the dead cats - mostly kittens - were wrapped in plastic and stored in a freezer. They likely belong to Merget, who is awaiting her preliminary hearing on charges of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and weapons offenses.

The cat corpses have been taken to the Delaware County SPCA for further investigation.

"I don't know what the cat autopsies are going to show," Chitwood said. "My expectation was that these cats just died, but I think being so mentally ill, she's trying to preserve them even in death by putting them in a freezer. Cryonics. That's exactly what's going on."

Chitwood said Merget could face animal-cruelty charges, depending on the results of the investigation. She apparently was watching the Ardmore Avenue house for her mother, who lives in a nursing home.
In conversation, many people have told them that watching Hoarders or hearing stories about hoarders inspires them to clean for fear of becoming like the people they are watching or reading about.  There is a distinct misunderstanding of the compulsion to keep what seems to be useless clutter about.  When animals are involved, protection agencies often intervene, as in the above case, which then leads the hoarder to a conflict with the criminal justice system.  Though their actions are impacting the community around them and their homes are truly uninhabitable, by using the penal justice system in this manner we are simply punishing them for an illness because we as a society find it intolerable.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Vampire Diaries: Bad Moon Rising

This episode Alaric, Damon and the ever irritating Elena took a road trip to Duke University to look through Isobel's folklore and paranormal phenomena.  Alaric introduces them to Vanessa Isobel's former research assistant.  She takes one look at Elena and Damon and feels threatened enough to attempt to kill Elena.  Damon jumps in front of Elena and takes what looks to be a stake to the back.  At this point Elena should realize that what Damon feels for her is real even though the stake itself presented no real danger to him.  They banter back and forth after Elena explains that she is a descendant of Katherine's and that Damon is indeed Damon Salvatore.  She desperately searches through Isobel's records to find some clue as to what Katherine wanted while Damon in his usual snarky way pleads for her forgiveness.  Damon tells her that Katherine is originally from Russia and they learn that a werewolf bite is deadly to vampires. As they are leaving Vanessa is warned off by Aleric not to become to involved in her research because Isobel became her research.

Once home Damon questions Elena as to whether or not she can find it in her heart to resume their friendship.  She demands to know whether he saw the ring on Jeremy's finger before he killed him and Damon admits he did not.  He says, "I kind of got lucky with that one, I don't know what I would have done". Elena makes it clear that the relationship between the two of them is over and Damon responds telling her that she is more like Katherine than she thinks.  I understand the need to keep the tension going between Damon, Elena and Damon but other than the fact that she is a doppelganger for Katherine what do they see in this young girl.  She is supposedly a teenager but has all of the freedom in the world. She is self-concerned and seems to want to be the center of the world at all times.  I have decided that this must be some kind of  prerequisite characteristic to play the female protagonist in any vampire drama.

Stefan stayed behind during the big fact finding mission to help Caroline Forbes adjust to the fact that her life has changed forever now that she has become a vampire.  Of course this involves the help of Bonnie, Mystic Falls witch.  What gets me about this scene is that even though she clearly has misgivings about making Caroline a ring she does so because Stefan tells her to trust him.  Since when did she trust any vampire?  It's ridiculous that whenever they have some task that needs handling along comes obedient Bonnie to the rescue.

Finish reading here.

Editors Note:  Tami and I will begin our weekly Vampire Diaries podcast at 6PM EST.  Please join us here and for those that cannot, I will post the podcast afterwords.

Listen to internet radio with Vampires In Mystic Falls on Blog Talk Radio

Muslim Pride Parade: An Image Can Complicate an Identity

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 26: Aliza Fatima, 12, of Queens and a descendent of Pakistani parents, participates in the American Muslim Day Parade on September 26, 2010 in New York, New York. The annual parade celebrates the presence and contributions of Muslims in New York City and surrounding areas. The parade, which attracts hundreds of participants, concludes with a bazaar selling food, clothing, and books from various Muslim nations. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
This photo really caught my attention, because it challenges the idea that Muslim and American are two distinct identities.   I think that this is especially important now that Muslims are constructed as destructive and other.  It reminds us that they cannot be reduced to this foreign being but are part of the very fabric of our culture.  I e-mailed the photo to Allison McCarthy, everyone's favourite Gus and this is what she had to say:

Discovery of Jewish Ancestry Converts Neo Nazi

Anti-Semitism is alive and well despite the terrible lesson we all should have learned in the ghettos of Poland and the concentrations camps. Many are still taught to hate anyone that is different, even though the emotion itself is incredibly damaging not only to the targets of the hate, but the person that must carry it with them on a daily basis. The only purpose of this form of hate is self elevation, because hierarchy is enforced by constantly seeking someone to oppress.

Ola and Powel met when they were 12 years old.  She immediately fell in love with him and was drawn into his world - neo-nazism. They would probably would have gone on hating together forever had it not been for the fact that Ola began to remember a conversation with her mother, in which she told her that she had Jewish roots.  After a search through records, she discovered that not only did she have Jewish roots, but so did her Jew hating husband. 
"I didn't know how to tell him. I loved him even if he was a punk or skinhead, if he beat people up or not. It was a time in Poland when this movement was very intense."
 Pawel confronted his parents only to discover that what Ola had found was indeed true.
"I was a nationalist 100 percent. Back then when we were skinheads it was all about white power and I believed Poland was only for Poles. That Jews were the biggest plague and the worst evil of this world. At least in Poland it was thought this way as at the time anything that was bad was the fault of the Jews..." he said.

What I Think About When I'm Not Thinking About Trans Stuff

Matt Kailey is a transman living in Denver, Colorado, and an author, public speaker, and trainer on transgender issues. He blogs at Tranifesto. In his ideal world, no one would be equal to anyone else – everyone would just be equal.

Although I write and speak primarily about trans issues, this is not all I think about. Here are just five of the many things that I wonder about for my own country in my spare “non-trans” thinking time:

1. If we can't have a mosque within a certain radius of the World Trade Center site because those responsible were Muslim, does that mean that we shouldn't have a church within the same radius of the Alfred P. Murrah Building site in Oklahoma City because Timothy McVeigh was a Christian? 

In fact, the majority of horrific crimes that occur in the United States are committed by Christians, because that is the largest religious population here. Using the logic behind the New York City mosque protests, there are a limited number of places in this country where we could actually build churches.

2. If the 65,000-plus gay, lesbian, and bisexual U.S. service members currently in the armed forces all came out at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, would a) Don't Ask, Don't Tell be immediately overturned, or b) we just draft all the straight kids - including Bristol Palin and the Bush twins, or c) we finally have to come up with a workable plan that doesn't include military action? I'm for “a” and “c.” 

3. If all members of Congress suddenly lost their full-coverage health insurance benefits in order to cut spending and reduce the federal deficit, would we finally get universal health care? And since that would be considered “socialism” by most conservatives, would they just go ahead and pay for their health care out of pocket? 

I don't think most of the “Tea Party” supporters have that kind of money. But it's likely that many of their candidates do. It's easy to speak out against social programs when you don't need them - when, like Sarah Palin, you can make millions by “writing” a book. And speaking of socialism …

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sunday Shame: Ugliest Article of Clothing Edition

Matt has been a regular contributor for quite some time and has thus far managed to avoid being Sunday Shamed, however no good thing lasts forever.  Every Monday Matt hosts a question and answer session with his readers at Transfesto, his home blog.  On September 17th Matt was asked about the ugliest item of clothing that he owns.  A sensible man would never have answered that question honestly with the threat of Sunday Shame hanging over his head.  Perhaps he thought that this admission would go unnoticed by me.  Perhaps he thought he had some kind of immunity to Sunday Shaming.  Unfortunately for Matt, no one is immune from the spotlight.  Without further ado, here is the shirt that Matt admitted owning.

I know it seems like a regular denim shirt.  What could possibly be shameful about such an item?  Though most people have a denim shirt in their closet, how many have one with a dead fish floating on it?  What is the point of a dead fish?  Is it some sort of weird Soprano's commentary?  Did I miss something?

Of course, nothing in my closet is that ugly.  I don't even want to hear a word about my fabulous crocs or my adorable doggy slippers.  Those show character, which is more than I can say for the whole swimming with the fishes denim.  Matt, you are officially no longer a Sunday Shame virgin.  If you share Matt's sense of bravery, share the ugliest item of clothing that you own in the comment section.  I am sure Matt does not want to swim with the fishes alone.