Saturday, October 30, 2010

Drop It Like It's Hot

Hello everyone, thanks for a great week of conversation. In the last few weeks we have had  a few new additions to the blog.  I would like to take this time to remind everyone that rules here have not changed and should you have a doubt, please read the commenting policy before submitting your comment.  I have not been able to moderate this space as closely as I would like recently, due to other commitments, but please do not use this fact as an opportunity to engage in any ism that demeans a marginalized community.  You may not understand why certain language is unacceptable, but I expect you to respect it for the sake of having a safe space for all readers and commenters.  I know that emotions run high because on WM we talk about subjects that are not generally covered in the mainstream, but that is exactly why we must be vigilant in ensuring that we are respectful of others. 

Womanist Musings is a community and therefore the more people that participate the more issues can be covered.  Though the contributors and I try our best to ensure that we are inclusive we will miss things.  Please feel free to send in a guest post via e-mail to womanistmusings (at) gmail (dot) com.  Please include a three line bio and image that you would like to represent your work.  The more of us that actively speak out and tell our stories the greater we can challenge dominant discourse.

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

If you want to know how we define masculinity in contemporary culture then you need do nothing more than go shopping for clothes for a young boy
Is Asexuality/Nonsexuality included under the LGBTQ Umbrella?
No-One’s Ever On Your Side: Betty Draper Francis Still Needs Your Love
The Ethics of Comment Moderation
Mommy bloggers: are some using their kids to get rich?
U.S. eugenics policy evident in Puerto Rico as well as Guatemala
The Tragic Mulatto Myth Debunked:  Hold Tight To All Of Our Roots
You Ain’t Gettin’ None
Part Two: How White Flight Brought Down the Economy
Transgender Academics and Sexism
Andrew Cuomo “Paraphrases” a “Native American Proverb”
WHERE IS THE PROOF THAT IT GETS BETTER?  QUEER PEOPLE OF COLOUR AND THE SOLIDARITY GAP
My Heart Breaks/Use of DNA to research African heritage
Winfrey Harris’ Law: Stop Comparing Things to The N Word
Solidarity?
My private parts are PRIVATE
Is The African American Woman’s Womb Dangerous
336 Pounds and Desperate to Stop Eating
Food, Water, Air and Care

Friday, October 29, 2010

It's Friday and The Question Is.....

Since it is the Friday before Halloween, I thought this week we could chat about Halloween.  What is your favourite part about Halloween and what costume are you planning on wearing?  Feel free to share what candy you are looking forward to pigging out on as well.

Speaking of Fetish: How To Attract Asian Women - Secrets & Tips to Pick Up Oriental Girls

The following image comes from an Amazon E-Book.

For a mere 7.95 you can find out how to attract Asian women.   We'll just have to ignore that Asia is a huge continent containing various cultures.  It's easier to slot them all into one big group and assume that there are tried and true methods to get into their panties.

Thankfully no trees were murdered in the creation of this racist and sexist nonsense but that does not make it any less offensive.  I suppose a book that simply said don't be a racist, sexist asshole would have been to obvious and hard to live by.

Carol Creswell-Betsch: A guardian angel comes forward quietly

This is a guest post from Gemna of Gemnaspeaks




Ellen Pryor making sure her dear friend is flawless on the day of the shoot!

Now that the world knows what I knew back then, I can blog about it! Tennessee’s attorney general, Bob Cooper, announced on Friday, October 22, 2010 that Fisk Alumna, Dr. Carol Creswell-Betsch, stepped forward with funds to keep the Stieglitz collection at Fisk University. To the shouts of many on the outside of the Fisk bubble, a Fisk alumnus was doing what alumni around the country do daily, support their school.

Let me give you a few behind the scenes snippet of what I have permission to share. On Monday I discovered, after much thought and prayer, Dr. Carol Creswell-Betsch decided to establish a fund at the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to help maintain the collection on the campus at the Carl Van Vechten Gallery. She did not announce it with a ticker tape parade or send press releases to shout it to mountain top. She did it Carol’s way that I have come to admire so deeply, with quiet elegance. After seeking counsel from others, she informed the Attorney General of her plans. I got a call from her to share with me her decision to establish the fund that would provide for the upkeep of the art at no cost to the school. She asked for my support which I gave immediately. I was flabbergasted that I was entrusted with such precious information. She was seeking input from others about her decision and building a pool of donors who believed in her mission. I thought the idea was extremely bold and courageous.

Dr. Carol Creswell-Betsch had thought long and hard about her convictions. She is deeply connected to the collection. Her mother, Pearl Creswell, was the first curator of the Stieglitz collection at Fisk University. Pear Creswell met and corresponded with Georgia O’Keeffe for many years. “This art has been a part of my life since I was young girl,” she told me once. Dr. Carol Creswell-Betsch is a 1955 graduate of Fisk University and she cares profoundly about the future of the school. Visit her home and it is evident that she has been raised around Fisk’s Art Collection which includes works by Picasso, Renoir, Cezanne, Marsden Hartley and Diego Rivera as well as O'Keeffe and her husband Alfred Stieglitz all her life. The influences are in every nook and cranny. As she points to what knots here and there, her sentences usually start with two enduring words, “My mother”. Her love for her mother and art is everywhere. Whenever I have come to “sit for spell”, I have been taken aback about the lessons in culture and life I have received on each visit. Her love of family and art is matched by her love of teaching even though she cries,” I am in retirement” often. My visits are lead by a teacher with much compassion and I am not allowed to leave until my teacher-friend has finished my life lessons for that day.

Cartologising Contraception Edition Of Cemented Stereotypes

Jaded16 is a Radical Feminist from India. She writes a humour blog Oi With The Poodles Already’, attempting to make her world a little woman-friendly using healthy doses of irony and sarcasm to de-condition the Indian masses. It is at times like these when she loses all her sense of humour and starts looking for a rock big enough to live under.
 
Since the advent of the industrial revolution, there are apparently only the two sects of people in the world, the People With Machines and the People With Farms and Dung if I were to believe Marx for every word he ever wrote -- and I don't -- between all the fine print where he justified colonisation as a system that would oppress the MudSquatters to the level that they'd achieve the level of the European proletariat to fully become human and worthy of attaining the shiny badge for unbourgois workers and other places where he seems downright uncritical of imperialism. But it seems that the world does endorse this view, so we have extremely clear dichotomies that pit these two kinds of people against each other to the extent they become different species and even speak different languages. After about 150 years (and more) we still relish these manufactured differences a tad too much; not because Marx still drives us so but because of the underlying ulterior motive we've planted in there, facelessly¹.

I remember reading the words, "India is an agrarian economy" from my school years in almost every geography book, at the same time being unable to imagine more than 80% of the population slaving away on the fields, having never seen a field myself, outside of a Bollywood film that is; till I realised most of these fields are located somewhere in Europe as well. As a member of the privileged class who has never had to do any manual, back-breaking physical labour in her life, or ever worry about meals; as a child I'd have a tough time imagining how the villagers must look like, what they must sound like and so on. For quite a while, media representations were my primary and the only source to form deeply tilted view of 'them'. Typically the bumbling village idiot, speaks in broken English, zie represents Old India or Orthodox norms and then the city would civilise him -- raise your hand people of the Olde Interwebes if this sounds ridiculously close to colonisation -- or an urbane protagonist would, disseminate proverbial knowledge and wisdom akin to the (ironic) role of the 'Good Native'. Where the villagers are plot devices to further the UberLiberalHumanist tendencies every urban character inherently is born with; sort of like a DesiDoucheColonial enabler on zie's own and the villagers welcome this taking over of bodies and idea with vapid simplicity. Some 'liberal' films will show the villager as a loyal servant to his ImperiallyKind Babu to the extent that boundaries between Master and Servant are blurred and they hop and skip all over the realities of bonded labour, zamindrai exploitation and systematic bankruptcy in the span of a two-minute dance number. Conversely, 'edgy' films made from the villager's point of view -- produced, written and directed in the city, of course --  place the urban antagonist in the coloniser's shoes, critique the 'loss of Indian-ness' and 'our values' while lamenting in the previously mentioned European fields where the scenes are shot. Any way this LadyBrain looks at the dichotomy, both groups are determined to lock each other out, only to the satisfaction of the Center that openly rejoices and engages in further wall-building.

This week while watching T.V. with my mum and her progenitor, we saw a contraceptive ad furthered by the government to educate the masses about the safety and availability of contraceptives . Here the discourse of contraception takes place between two rural women, drawing water from a well -- for what is more stereotypical of the village native than the Olde Water Drawing Trick? People in cities have taps and other modern things. Apparently -- talking about not taking responsibility for the next child one of them is carrying. Then her friend suggests a visit to the DoctorLady (because a dude doctor would be so uncouth in a situation like this, obviously!) for a box of trusty contraceptives. At first, I came very closely to cheering loudly as having women firmly stating they didn't want further children reeked of agency to me and was enough for my uterus to sing. Only on further analysis, I remembered a similar ad from a while ago and the problems came rushing back.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This Week in Blackness: Black Men Prefer Drug Dealing to Going to College

To anyone that pays attention, it is obvious that the Tea Party is racist.  In the latest example, Al Reynolds, who is considered the Tea Party candidate in Illinois’ 52nd District decided to share his opinion on Black men and college.
“I’ve been in the city and the dichotomy of the women and the men in the minorities, there is a difference in the fact that most minority women, either the single parent or coming from a poor neighborhood, are motivated more so than the minority men,” Reynolds said, when asked what he would do to increase diversity at state colleges. “And it’s a pretty good reason. Most of the women who are single parents have to find work to support their family. The minority men find it more lucrative to be able to do drugs or other avenues rather than do education. It’s easier.”

I’m Sorry Whiteness, You Can’t have Everything

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.  

Cultural appropriation. The race-relations hotbed of our time. We've all been guilty of it at some point. When we live in a globalized marketplace that's constantly revamping its buffet to pique our capricious consumerism, it's hard not to be.

Even though many a blogger has tackled this issue numerous times, I have to say my piece because, despite numerous bloggers cited above, white folks in the general western hemisphere still INSIST that cultural appropriation is either  a)harmless

b) just POC being oversensitive

c)paying a compliment

Before I plunge in, I'm going to offer a general explanation of cultural appropriation: it's when the dominant culture adopts symbols, iconography, customs, crafts etc created by a subordinate culture, without either gaining permission, giving credit, honoring the true spirit of the culture or ensuring that members of the subordinate culture are equally represented in the mainstream. It's like hey, we like the yoga stuff, but not so much the brown people that created it. 

 Now, a personal example to illustrate. Last week, the boyfriend and I were hitching a ride with some folks.  Myself, the boyfriend, and our friend Y were the people of color in the car. The other girl, whom I shall call Genteel White Lady, continued to speak Spanish almost the entire time to Y. My partner, who identifies as Latino, grew up in a Midwestern white family, and therefore is not fluent in Spanish.

For those who are wondering where this is going: for many people of color, language is a painful, poignant issue. Many of us have had our parents’ languages forced out of us through English-privileging education systems. Or, we have internalized so much shame and hatred about our native languages from the white colonial legacy,  that reclaiming our mother tongues is a lifelong, painful, complex process. Language anchors our history, our memory, our connection to community; the loss and dispossession of language entails a lifetime of anguish. For the Latin@/Chican@ community in the US, English-only programs and corporal punishment by white teachers ensured that entire generations grew up without the words to speak with their grandparents. Reclaiming language and celebrating bilingualism is therefore tied to the collective decolonization of communities of color.

When Genteel White Lady proceeded to blithely showcase her Spanish skills, ignoring the fact that my partner could not participate in the conversation, she was appropriating cultural prerogative. She was displaying her ignorance of the history of the Spanish language in the United States.  So here’s someone who’s studied Spanish for years, without ever considering the issue of appropriation and privilege that reap her Genteel White Lady self adulation for being ‘well-rounded’ while stigmatizing the same language in brown-skinned people.

Classic Fat Hating At Marie Claire But Anorexia is Important as Well

First, let me state that I am not a regular reader of Marie Claire and I stumbled upon Should Fatties Get a Room? (Even on TV) quite by accident. Apparently, the author Maura Kelly has a history of anorexia, but that did not stop her from going on a fatstravagnza of hate.
Hmm, being overweight is one thing — those people are downright obese! And while I think our country's obsession with physical perfection is unhealthy, I also think it's at least equally crazy, albeit in the other direction, to be implicitly promoting obesity! Yes, anorexia is sick, but at least some slim models are simply naturally skinny. No one who is as fat as Mike and Molly can be healthy. And obesity is costing our country far more in terms of all the related health problems we are paying for, by way of our insurance, than any other health problem, even cancer.

So anyway, yes, I think I'd be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other ... because I'd be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I'd find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.

Now, don't go getting the wrong impression: I have a few friends who could be called plump. I'm not some size-ist jerk. And I also know how tough it can be for truly heavy people to psych themselves up for the long process of slimming down.
Here we go again with marginalized bodies not being allowed to take up space.  She doesn't believe that she is size-ist, but had no problem saying that fat people are repulsive and giving out diet advice because of course all fat people want to be skinny.  Who ever heard of a happy fat person away from a Baskin Robbins store?  To make sure she hit every single anti-fat meme, she reminds us that she has "plump friends."  How could she be hateful when she chooses to associate with some people that are supposedly outside the norm?

I think this piece at Marie Claire is a great primer in just how blatant fat hatred is, but the lesser discussed issue is the anorexia Kelly is dealing with.  In her apology she stated:

Mosques and Partitions: The Participation of Muslimahs


WoodTurtle is a Canadian Muslim feminist currently using her extended maternity leave to explore developments of Islamic feminism in the Western and Muslim world.  As a woman who wears the hijab (owns several abayas and a niqab monogrammed with her initials in pink, sparkly sequins), she writes frequently on genderized Islamophobia. She also works toward dispelling myths and stereotypes about women in Islam for both Muslims and non.
There's a barrier in front of me and it's covered in orange felt. An unknown brown stain sits right in front of my face. Coffee? The imam is talking about supporting our community -- I think. I can barely hear him over the din of women gossiping about their children or that new muslimah who wears her hijab in a bun. I wonder if it's me they're talking about. What is that, coke? When I put my forehead against the carpet in prostration I can smell feet. The men are just on the other side of the barrier, and no one bothered to use odor eaters. Seriously, is it a dirty water stain? That's disgusting.

Partitions dividing the women's and men's sections is just one of many contemporary additions to our North American mosques. But unlike water fountains and basketball courts aimed at providing needed services, the barrier aims to silence and shut women out of the community under the guise of sacred personal space.

Islam has always had some form of sex segregation when it comes to communal ritual worship. For obligatory prayers, men and women have their own prayer sections -- with women either praying behind the men, or beside them with a separating aisle. Religiously suggested and sanctioned modes of dress and behaviour intend to help the sexes mingle chastely outside of worship situations.  When there are social requirements for the entire community to work together Islam encourages mixing.

Traditional, cultural and political appropriations of these logistics have not only lead to partitions, making us feel like second class citizens, but have also forced praying women into mosque basements or kept them hidden at home.

Over the past 30 years partitions have crept slowly across the face of North America.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Father's Abortion Story

Abortion is never an easy choice to make.  It is particularly tragic when one must make the choice to abort a wanted child. Aaron Gouveia and his wife, at 13 weeks of pregnancy were told that their baby had Sirenomelia. Otherwise known as Mermaid Syndrome, it’s a rare (one in every 100,000 pregnancies) congenital deformity in which the legs are fused together. Their child had no bladder or kidneys. Thier doctors told them that the survival rate was zero.  I cannot imagine the searing pain that must have ripped through this couple.

On what was probably the most painful day of their life, they arrived at a women's health center only to be accost by pro-life birth activists, "You're killing your unborn baby!," they screamed at the already heart broken couple.  Without knowing the back story of the Gouveia's, they had tried and convicted them because the pro life movement isn't really about helping women -- but forcing their bodies to perform like brood mares -- even in the most untenable situation.  Aaron helped his wife into the clinic and while she had the procedure, he went outside to confront the two with his camera phone in hand.

6 Months For Beating A Woman In Public: Has Justice Been Served?

Last year I wrote about the beating Tasha Hill. Ms. Hill is a U.S. service member and she was out having dinner with 7 year old daughter, at Cracker Barrel restaurant, when Troy Dale West decided to beat her while screaming racial epithets.  She curled into a ball desperately trying to protect herself, while her daughter screamed. Dale outweighs Hill by 100 pounds and is more than a foot taller.  Witnesses stood by and watched the brutal beating without coming to her aid.

Throughout the trial the defense engaged in victim blaming.  

Defense attorney Tony Axam portrayed Hill as a hothead who used her military status to intimidate people. Her temper got her into fights with neighbors and strangers, Axam said, citing a 2005 incident at Southlake Mall in which Hill was arrested for, in her own words, making “terrorist threats” against a woman.

The defense also played a 15-minute recording captured on Hill’s cellphone by 911 operators involving an explosive, obscenities-laden exchange between the reservist and her neighbors. Hill supposedly threatened the neighbors and their teenage sons after her home was burglarized.

"Her character is unbelievable,” Axam, an Atlanta criminal attorney from Atlanta who is representing Troy Dale West, told the jury.
What did any of that have to do with the fact that West chose to beat Ms. Hill while he called her racial epithets in front of her 7 year old daughter?  How did her "character" influence West's decision to beat her in an initial interaction that lasted seconds? Axam made it seem as though she deserved to be beaten because of prior actions.  In the name of defending his client, he put the victim on trial.  This is a common tactic seen in rape trials or when men engage in some form of violence against a woman.

West did not deny that he beat the victim, he asserted that it was a response to her allegedly spitting on him.  Hill denies that this is what occured. He saw his actions as justified.  Each day men physically and sexually assault women and then seek to erase the harm they have done by finding some reason to support the violation. Because we live in a patriarchal society, which teaches us that women do not have the same value as men, this faulty line of reasoning is believed.

Can I effectively counter racism while dating interracially?

I am a 36 year old disabled woman who has been variously labeled "fat", "crazy", and "a hippie weirdo." I now try to embrace labels that others use in an attempt to "shame" me into being someone more "acceptable". I am passionate about issues of race/racism, criminal (in)justice, fat acceptance, and mental health advocacy. I blog at My Name Is JuJuBe and I am on the team at The Intersection of Madness and Reality

I think maybe I need to stop dating. Stop having sex. Stop trying to befriend members of the opposite sex. It is simply not worth it. I do not want to have to worry that any man I date or have sex with is dating me because of deep seated psychological issues. I do not want to believe that a man chooses to get involved with me simply because he has a conscious or subconscious belief in the superiority of a white woman. It is not healthy. I do not want to have to contemplate every contact I have with a man in order to figure out if he is dating me because of the color of my skin.

I always thought the men who date me do so because I am an open, good hearted person who is fun to be around. Now, I am starting to believe that it has nothing to do with my personality. It has nothing to do with my intellect. It has nothing to do with any characteristic that makes me who I am. Instead, it has to do with my race. I fought against this idea for the longest time. I did not want to believe that the partners I have been with were buying into the “white is right” idea foisted upon them by this society. But, when I hear the same thing from a million different sources, I have to consider it. So, maybe I need to stop dating Black men. And since I am not attracted to white men physically, mentally, or emotionally, that means I would need to stop dating entirely. I do not want to contribute to weakening the Black community or the Black family. I am a firm believer in Black love, and have always been pretty much against most interracial relationships, which it seemed MOST PEOPLE were involved in for the wrong reasons. But I always thought I was an exception to the rule. I thought that since I am a “conscious” white woman, and I do not date men who express a single minded preference for white women, somehow I was not doing any damage. But maybe I cannot think that way anymore.

I have been reading a lot of books and speaking to a lot of people who have made me reconsider the idea of my being somehow an exception to the rule that interracial dating is detrimental to the Black community. I used to argue until I was blue in the face that the men I dated did not fit into the category of a self hating Black man, that they were not dating me as an “escape”. I thought that since I do not participate in social activities with white people, I did not have to worry about taking a Black man away from his roots. I believed that since I prefer to spend my time in the company of Black people, that I would not cause my partner to elevate European values over African values. I had the (probably misguided) notion that I could find a man who was proud of and embraced his roots despite our relationship. I thought that if I was involved in the struggle to end racism/white supremacy, I would find a man who shared my same values.

Respect Facilitates Progress

This is a guest post from Godheval

image I am a writer, a philosopher, a dreamer, and an idealist.  I have no credentials worth mentioning, and I don't presume to know anything about anything.  I am merely a man, and a person of color, and I am always contemplating what that means for me and my relationship to the rest of the world.  That relationship is negotiated by an overwhelming sense of justice, something I mitigate with a harsh rationality lest I come completely undone by my emotions.  I blog about social issues, culture, politics, philosophy, and entertainment at Godheval.net.

The following is an excerpt from the novel Flight by Sherman Alexie. The narrator is a homeless Native American man in his late forties, early fifties, who is bleeding from the face after being in a fight.

    I’m going to walk out of this sad-sack alley and find a bathroom. And I’m going to wash my face and clothes. No, I’ll steal some clothes. Good clothes. A white shirt and black pants. And I’ll steal good shoes, too. Black leather shoes, cap toes, with intricate designs cut into the leather. In good clothes, I can be a good man.

    And so I shamble out of the alley. No, I suck in my stomach muscles, straighten my spine, and hold my head level and I strut out of the alley.

    And I horrify my audience. People sprint around me. A few just turn around and walk in the opposite direction. One woman screams.

    Jesus, I must look like a horror movie. But that doesn’t matter. I am covered with the same blood that is inside everybody else. They can’t judge me because of this blood.

    “I want some respect,” I say.

    Nobody hears me. Worse, nobody understands me.

    “I want some respect”, I say again, louder this time.

    A man walks around the corner, almost bumps into me, and then continues on. He didn’t notice me. He didn’t see my blood. I follow him. A gray man, he wears a cheap three-button suit with better shoes. He talks loudly into a Bluetooth earpiece.

    “I want some respect,” I say to him.

    “I’ll call you back, Jim, I got some drunk guy talking to me,” he says into his earpiece, and hits the hang-up button. And then he asks me, “What the fuck do you want, chief?”

    He thinks the curse word will scare me. He thinks the curse word will let me know that he once shot a man just to watch him die.

    “I knew Johnny Cash,” I say, “and you ain’t Johnny Cash.”

    The man laughs. He thinks I’m crazy. I laugh. I am crazy. He offers me a handful of spare change.

    “There you go, chief,” he says.

    “I don’t want your money,” I say. “I want your respect.”

    The man laughs again. Is laughter all I can expect?

    “Don’t laugh at me,” I say.

    “All right, all right, chief,” he says. “I won’t laugh at you. You have a good day.”

    He turns to walk away, but I grab his shoulder. He grabs my wrist and judos me into the brick wall.

    “All right, all right, chief,” he says. “I don’t want you touching me.”

    He could snap my bones if he wanted to. He could drive his thumb into my temple and kill me. I can feel his strength, his skill, his muscle memory.

    It’s my turn to laugh.

    “What’s so funny?” he asks.

    “I’m just wondering how many white guys are going to beat my ass today.”

    “Chief, you keep acting this way, and we’re all going to beat your ass today.”

    We both think that’s funny, so we laugh together. And we almost bond because of our shared amusement.

    “I’m going to let you go,” he says. “And when I do, I want us both to act like gentlemen, okay?”

    “I want some respect,” I say.

    “Are you going to be a gentleman?”

    “I want some respect.”

    “How many times are you going to say that?”

    “I’m going to say it until I get some respect.”

    The man looks around. He realizes that he’s pinned a bloody homeless man against a brick wall. Not one of his prouder moments. But he’s scared to let me go.

    “All right, all right,” he says. “How do I show you some respect?”

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We Create Recidivism

The unemployment rate as of September 2010 is 9.6%. The unemployment rate for African Americans is 16.1 %, and it is almost 70% for ex felons. They have been hit particularly hard hit, despite the government tax credits for hiring ex felons.  No matter how much they re-train or improve their education, a second chance is more fiction than fact.
It didn't matter that Jonsson had been out of prison for fifteen years and had lived a straight life. He was turned down because of his criminal past, which continues to haunt him.

Since his release from prison in 1996, Jonsson says he has never been able to get a job that paid more than $23,000 a year. "Those positions always had a glass ceiling of pay and I was never able to get higher than I did at any one job," he said. "The stigma of my past is something that keeps holding me up, and I'm unable to do the things I want to do in my life, like have a family, children."

The forty-year-old Oakland resident is one of thousands of ex-convicts in California who struggle to find financial stability after incarceration. The problem is particularly magnified in Oakland, which has a large population of ex-felons and a high unemployment rate. The fact that even Jonsson can't catch a break, despite actively trying to succeed and not reoffending since being released, is indicative of how challenging the situation is. (source)
When we consider that African Americans and Latinos are over represented in the penal industrial complex, a racial angle to this situation is impossible to ignore. Race and class play a huge factor in who has contact with the police, and who gets imprisoned, therefore; it is possible to surmise that once again people of colour are being unfairly stigmatized when their sentences are finished.

If Little People Can't Serve in the Military Should LGBT People?

One of the many tactics that dominant bodies use is a divide and conquer strategy.  They purposefully set the marginalized against each other, in the hopes that it will create discord, thus causing both groups to ignore the shared pain of oppression.  When we fixate on each other, it is always the marginalize that lose and this is exactly why Massachusetts congressional candidate Sean Bielat suggested the following in a  Boston Herald interview:
"There's no absolute right to serve. Men under the height of 5 feet, 2 inches can't serve - I don't see anybody protesting. Where are the people standing in front of the White House, the short guys standing in front of the White House? You don't see it," Bielat said. "We understand that there's no absolute right to serve in all these other areas."
See how this works?  Because little people aren't able to enlist, it somehow invalidates the right of average size gay people to serve.  It certainly did not occur to Bielat that there are little people who are gay, who would find any attack against the LGBT community oppressive.  For minds like Bielat, intersectionality is non-existent. It also did not occur to him, that height as a restriction is also an abelist construction designed specifically to prevent a marginalized group from participating. I see no reason why accommodations could not be made to allow a little person to serve stateside at a desk or bureaucratic position, but I suppose that would require the population to consider the right of ALL people to serve.

Spark of Wisdom: My forgiveness cannotbe bought with a word

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.

Do you know what odd thing I've come to really dislike?

Apologies.

Yes, I really am coming to hate the word "sorry."

It's assumed to have these epic amazing powers. Sorry and all the damage is fixed. Sorry and the people you've hurt are no longer hurt.

And we value this word so much we demand it. We demand an apology. We demand that word. We don't demand education, we don't demand people learn, we don't demand they fix what they've broken, we don't demand they make amends or make it up or try to  correct the bad wrongness.

We demand a word. We don't even demand they know what that word means or why they're saying it - or at least not fully. We certainly don't demand they actually mean it (and even then, it sticks in the craw and people can't even give a real apology - we get "sorry you're offended" or "sorry you feel that way." They can't even give an empty word. And we're satisfied with an empty word?

But it has power.

After all, if they apologize, that's all you can ask of them, right?

It's churlish, rude - MEAN - to keep pressing after they've given you an apology, right? We need to shut up now. Be silent now. Be satisfied now. Drop it now.

Never mind if it's ongoing. Never mind if you're still hurting. Never mind the damage it did, the impact it had. Never mind that nothing has been learned, nothing has been fixed - even nothing retracted. They said sorry. It's over.

What Disability Has Taught Me

Nothing in my life prepared me for the challenge that disability has become. As a woman and a POC, I thought I understood what oppression really was, but dealing with this new identity is extremely difficult.  It would be much easier if I could find a correlation to other isms that I face, but I find it difficult to make that connection.   I find myself looking outside of the communities that I have always been a part of to try and understand the ways in which my disability is perceived.

I found that the desire of the able bodied to receive a cookie is beyond blatant.  When I don't need help there are ten people running to hold a door open for me and they all wait like puppies for a thank you.  I can almost see the tails wagging with glee.  When I need basic human respect, there is no one to be found. I have learned that I don't have the right to take up space.  I have learned that my very existence is an inconvenience. My disabled body seems to exist to reify the paternalistic nature of  the able bodied  and to satisfy curiosity.

When I suddenly have to stand to reach something off of a high shelf or to enter a building because there is no ramp, the stares are not only obvious, they are a accusatory.  It seems that if one uses a wheelchair or a scooter, having partial mobility is a sign of faking disability.  Every time people stare it makes me want to scream have you never heard of the term limited mobility?  For far too many able bodied people, there is no middle ground - able bodied or paralyzed.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Vampire Diaries: Plan B

This episode began sexy, sexy, sexy.  In one bed we had Elena making out with Stefan and another, Katherine making out with Mason. Unfortunately for Stefan and Elena, auntie Jenna actually heard them. I believe that this is further proof that they are teenagers in name only.  Very few guardians would sit quietly while this was going on. Why they didn't just age the characters to begin with is beyond me, because they don't behave like teenagers in the slightest. 

Once again this episode, Jeremy was an irritant.  He showed up at the Salvatore brothers home and told them that he knew the Lockwood secret.  He even went as far as to say that he could get Tyler to give him the moonstone. Ever timely, Ric arrives with the news that he believes that the moonstone is Aztec (yep appropriation and exotifiying another culture) may break the vampire/werewolf curse.

Elena runs into Bonnie and takes that opportunity to get her caught up.  The minute she ran into Bonnie I knew that Bonnie would be doing the whole witch sidekick thing this episode.  Of course, shortly after that Bonnie bumps into Mason and gets a vision of him kissing Elena.  After discussing it with Stefan, she realizes that the vision she saw was not Elena but Katherine.  Again, I feel the need to point out that the likelihood of a descendant looking so similar is astronomical.  Not even siblings look that much alike.

Finish reading here 

Editors Note:  Please checkout the Mystic Falls podcast as we chat tonight at 6pm EST to discuss all the goings on.  For those that are not able to listen live I will post the podcast later tonight.

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

Voting in the U.S. - Why We Must!


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.

Something evil is happening in the United States (more so than usual) - and it has nothing to do with our upcoming celebration of Halloween. It has to do, instead, with our upcoming election on November 2.

I used to think that the Tea Party - a radical branch of the conservative Republican Party - was a joke. And some of it still is. 

Christine O'Donnell, Tea Party favorite and the Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Delaware, had her name spelled wrong on a fundraising website until just a few days ago - but she's been campaigning for months. While this isn't her fault, it pretty much demonstrates the attention that her supporters actually pay to who she is or what she might even stand for. 


O'Donnell, right now, is most famous for not paying her bills and for likening masturbation to adultery (if that's the case, Christine, whoever you're dating is cheating on you - guaranteed).


O'Donnell is one of the funny ones. But Sharron Angle, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate (and Tea Party favorite) from Nevada, is not.

Bad Meal Prompts 911 call

I came across the following story and I must admit it cracked me up because bad food really and truly is a crime.
Buffalo Grove authorities fielded a 911 call from a 10-year-old boy complaining about an unhappy meal served by his father, police confirmed Tuesday.

The boy dialed 911 about 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14, and said while the dinner his father gave him was edible, it wasn't to his liking, Buffalo Grove police Cmdr. Steve Husak.

Husak didn't know what food was served. The boy's father was at the home at the time of the call, and police did speak to him, Husak said.

An officer advised the boy over the phone of when it is proper to dial 911, but no further action was taken. (source)

David Duke Supports the Tea Party

It comes as no surprise that David Duke would publicly announce his support of The Tea Party.  Though many of its members have denied the charges of racism from the N.A.A.C.P., when they are not being openly racist, veiled language is used to attack POC.  It is no surprise that The Tea Party came to rise after a Black men became president.Tea Party Chairman Jonathon Baloga.has a very different idea of the source of Tea Party consternation. 
"We are concerned about our government receiving 2.1 trillion in income last year and spending out $3.5. We just feel like we as a country need to focus on these issues right there so we don't pay much attention to things like this that people say." (source)
It is interesting that government spending was not an issue when Bush was driving up the deficit to never before seen heights with his illegal war.  I suppose the continual attack on undocumented workers is also not race related.  There is never any public concern about Canadians or Europeans, but a few bottles of water left in the desert, which have the potential to stop people from dying is a crime. How many times have Michelle and Barack been referred to as monkeys?   The Tea Party represents White voters who are terrified of a decline in the power Whiteness, wrapped up in voodoo economics, family values and good ole fashioned hate and ignorance.

Obama was forced to publicly walk away from the Reverend Wright during the election, despite the fact that Wright correctly criticized Whiteness in his sermons.  If Obama can be falsely dammed by his associations, then the tea party can be rightly attacked using its supporters.  David Duke supports the tea party and that fact alone should give rise to concern. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Shame: Halloween Costumes

This week we went shopping for costumes.  I have yet to find one I like and am seriously thinking of grabbing a wig and making it up as I go along.  The baby picked out two costumes.  For his school costume he is going to be a knight in shining armour and for trick or treating, he is going to be Winnie the Pooh (say aww everyone).  My oldest is going to explore is swashbuckling nature and therefore Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean was his choice.  We managed to get the costumes picked out in just under two hours which is some kind of record for us.

As I went through the aisles I kept seeing the cutest dog costumes.

Aren't they absolutely adorable? I kept taking small breaks from shopping for the boys to go down the pet aisle.  Finally I grabbed the cutest little princess costume you have ever seen and handed it to the unhusband.  Would you believe he had the nerve to laugh at me?  ME.  It seems he thinks it is silly to dress the dog up for Halloween and I believe since she is a member of the family she should have a little costume.  He then countered that it would be humiliating for Sookie. 

Since we could not agree I left the costume there, but I still have plenty of time to go back and get her one.  I think we need a ruling on this one dear readers.  I also think that you owe me one after siding with Sparky on the whole pizza on pineapple debate.  Is the unhusbad just sour pus with no sense of occasion, or am I over doing it? Let it fly in the comments and while you are at it, please share the weirdest thing you have done to or with your pet.