Friday, November 12, 2010

Cheating Death

Kateryna Fury is a 26 year old New Mexico native that works for equality for all, with a writing focus that deals primarily with disablism. She is currently working on writing several audio plays, a book, and blogs regularly at TextualFury. She lives with her two cats who constantly break all the rules and encourage her to pet them and play. When not satisfying her kitty overlords she writes, and writes, and writes some more!

The American Media has chosen their Celebrity Miner out of those who have survived the tragedy. A man who is mentioned by name not en masse with the other miners, and who has quickly been demeaned and portrayed as a hick, a savage, or damaged. I understand he was traumatized but it is for him to determine if his traumas will keep him from functioning and doing what he wants.

Edison Pena: The Chosen One

I understand too his need to compete in the New York Marathon. What I am struggling with is the reduction of this man to a single point of tragedy in his life. He is not a cheater of death, he is not merely a miner from Chile aka “The Chilean Miner” he is Edison Pena. I have no idea what that means for him but the media has spelled out in terms such as quaint and endearing that this adult man likes Elvis and how he cheated death by not giving up and continuing to run in the tunnels of the mine to keep the depression at bay. The condescension of the New York Marathon in presuming that this man would just want to hold the finish line tape astounds me.

The image in my head of him is alternating based on the descriptions in the articles that I have come across, not linked because I am mad and because one is in my cellphone, are of a kicked and useless puppy with a bad knee and of a towering paragon of Chilean Mineryness. He is either the hero or the desperate and needy man who needs a pat on the head and has the perceptions and wants of a child.

I am insulted as the reader. He should be insulted, though I suspect being the chosen one out of this mess by the US media and getting to go places like Graceland and on the David Letterman show will push this aside for him at least for a while, the media should be punished for this same old stupidity. I have only seen one picture of the men who survived this tragedy after their rescue. I understand that they had to fight to survive and I am glad they did. I have had a similar fight more than once, and so I get that surviving may not be over. Just the thought of being trapped under unstable rocks that could crush you for an hour or two is enough to make me nervous. To survive that way for months is impressive and likely most of these men will face Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The Disease Of Being Universal.

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.
This week, as India deals with the after-effects of Obama's visit,  where we dissect every word he said, try to re-read into the words he didn't say, search for any snippets of news that would piece the puzzle to just what did the President really want to convey, we somehow conspicuously forget to think about the organised deaths in the Kashmir Valley. This is an old strategy employed by Indian politicians and policy-makers, to completely dodge the issue and hope the problem -- this can mean anything: the poor, the huge population, silly Ladies asking for rights, take your pick according to your mood! -- will just dissolve away as we busy ourselves with four more years of systematic oligarchy. Every single newspaper since the past three weeks have been talking about the President's impending visit to India, covered every second of his visit and now are doing soul-deep articles on the clothes the First Couple wore and other extremely relevant topics while the account of four Dalit women who were raped yesterday just outside of Mumbai for pressing charges against army officials for previous episodes of unwarranted assault and violence are somehow unwritten about.

This morning as I seethed in fury at the sheer injustice of it all, another post about the Obama visit shines at me from its spot on the newspaper. I can re-hear the words, "I am so happy, that India has now left behind the rank of being a Third World Country" that had almost become the national rhetoric last week; only this time the question "At whose cost?" is glowing just beneath it and refuses to go away unanswered. Many history lessons from my school days come to mind where I'd read India's name in the list of 'backward' nations and shuffle around it, swirling the words in my mouth, imagining what 'forward' must look like then. And today, it seems that 'forward' is here; I'd always thought this day would somehow magically manifest itself over the calendar, be celebrated and leave a mark. Little did I know, this very mark will never come off of my skin, no matter how hard I try to scrape it off. I can't seem to understand our dedication to the words "global village" or "solidarity" especially since they've started to look more dangerous than ever to me, considering our fetish with borders and chalk lines; between nations and states, added to our affinity with using the many perks of 'democracy' -- military authoritarianism of course! -- or any other 'freedoms' can afford us. In some part of my LadyBrain I can for a few moments understand why would being 'Universal' appeal to us, for who wouldn't want to UnWrite the narrative of the Empire, People Of The Olde Interwebes? I won't lie, being the Inscriber has held its charm for me; I have dreamt many times how would possessing and prodding spaces feel like, instead of just 'occupying them'. But when reality sinks in, too many discrepancies between the dream and the lived reality become painfully visible.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Does Jesse Jackson Think Soledad O'Brien is Black Enough?

Soledad's O'Brien memoir, "The Next Story," she wrote an account of Jesse Jackson telling her that she is not Black.  The following is a small excerpt from the book.
Today he is angry because CNN doesn't have enough black anchors. It is political season. There are billboards up sporting Paula Zahn and Anderson Cooper. He asks after the black reporters. Why are they not up there? I share his concern and make a mental note to take it back to my bosses. But then he begins to rage that there are no black anchors on the network at all. Does he mean covering the campaign, I wonder to myself? The man has been a guest on my show. He knows me, even if he doesn't recall how we met. I brought him on at MSNBC, then again at Weekend Today. I interrupt to remind him I'm the anchor of American Morning. He knows that. He looks me in the eye and reaches his fingers over to tap a spot of skin on my right had. He shakes his head. "You don't count," he says. I wasn't sure what that meant. I don't count -- what? I'm not black? I'm not black enough? Or my show doesn't count?

I was both angry and embarrassed, which rarely happens at the same time for me. Jesse Jackson managed to make me ashamed of my skin color which even white people had never been able to do. Not the kids in the hallways at Smithtown or the guys who wouldn't date me in high school. I remember the marchers behind me at the trial about the black youth/kid who beat the Latino baby. The folks that chanted "biracial whore for the white man's media," even they didn't even make feel this way. I would just laugh. Biracial, sure, whore, not exactly, white man's media, totally! Whatever. But Reverend Jesse Jackson says, "I don't count?"
Do you believe that Jesse Jackson was engaged in identity policing, or was his commentary more reflective of the fact that light skinned people are the ones who seem to overwhelmingly get opportunities in the media?  

Radical Mothers Take Action To Save School Building

The media constructs motherhood using very narrow parameters.   Good motherhood means all sacrificing and loving, but it also means quite often White and affluent.  Even the bloggers most often understood to be "mommy bloggers" are White and middle to upper class.  Motherhood is also rarely seen to be a political identity because it is a role fulfilled by women and yet we know that in the name of motherhood women have completed acts of heroism, self sacrifice and political activism -- yet the media simply wants to fixate on reductive stereotypes of women.
For nearly two weeks, dozens of parents at Whittier Elementary School in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood have occupied “La Casita”, the fieldhouse and community space adjacent to the school that’s divided parents against administrators for over a year. In 2009, they learned that $350,000 of the $1.3 million in tax money the City of Chicago was using to renovate the school had instead been allocated to the building’s demolition. The saga started seven years ago, when parents and community members started lobbying Alderman Danny Solis to cull money from city coffers in order to fund a school expansion for the already-crowded campus. 

When parents saw that La Casita was slated to be demolished, they were appalled. “The fieldhouse is a great space to have,” Lisa Angones, mother of students in 6th and 7th grade at Whittier, told ColorLines on Friday. Angones plans to spend this weekend sleeping in La Casita in protest. “The funds that they want to use to knock down the school could easily be spent to make it into a library.”

While the city maintains that La Casita is structurally unfit to safely handle occupants, inspectors hired by the community say that with the exception of a leaky roof, La Casita is perfectly safe. (source)
Note that the source of this story is not a mainstream news site like CNN, ABC, Fox or MSNBC but a small blog about race.  Unlike mothers of class privilege, poor mothers must constantly agitate for basic human rights for themselves and their children necessarily making their very existence political. Many of the privileges dominant bodies take for granted marginalized women and children must fight for everyday and this is what makes motherhood so completely radical. 

The government must have known that this school did not have a library and rather than altering a structure already in existence they chose instead to demolish it.  What could more of a necessity to a school than a library?  Libraries are the great intellectual equalizer.  You many not be able to afford a class in sociology, philosophy or anything else that you are interested but a library is a place where the poor can learn free of charge.  For many the library functions as the only source of internet access and this school -- this supposed place of learning did not have a library.  What does this say about society's commitment to investing in those that do not have class privilege?

Hagar's Rite

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.

The only sounds breaking the silence were of their feet grinding against the rough sand, an occasional gurgle from the baby at her breast, and the faint tinkling of her leisso. As her husband led them deep into the Paran wilderness, she removed her girdle -- a colourful, woven cloth secured tightly to support her core as she recovered from the birth of her son. But tied loosely around her waist, dragging behind her, the leisso's decorative beads bounced and chimed against the ground, covering their footprints. "If that barren woman wants me out of her home, then I'm surely not showing her where we've gone."

After some time crossing a plain between two rocky hills, her husband stopped near a gathering of shrubbery and a lonely sarha tree. He unloaded a sack of dates from his back and untied her leather skin water jug from his waist. He set them down neatly at the tree's base and turned to kiss her forehead. Before she could say anything he walked away.

At first she thought he was going to go meditate and wanted her to rest. So she removed the baby from his sling and held him while she sat down on the rough ground, took a sip of water and surveyed her surroundings. A tree. The two rocky hills. No people. No settlements. Nothing. There was nothing here.

The nothing stretched out in every direction meeting the horizon wherever she looked. In the distance two dust devils danced in a light wind -- their dance made languid by shimmering heat waves rising from the ground. The oppressive silence surrounded her. Panic settled in when she glanced back at her husband disappearing in the distance and realized he was walking home. She untied the leisso and made a quick nest for the baby.

Running after her husband she shouted frantically, "where are you going? There is nothing in this forsaken valley! Stop!" Then, as realization of her situation set in, "To whom are you leaving us?" He slowed, and then stopped. His shoulders were slumped as if in pain. When he turned his head to reply, she thought she heard his voice break. "To God."

Dan Savage Attacks A Rape Survivor While Pretending to Give Advice

I know that I am a little late to this one, but having just read Dan Savage's advice to a rape survivor, I felt compelled to respond.  Let me just set it up for you and then we can go over the evidence that Dan Savage is indeed the king of doucebaggery.

 A woman has been in an open marriage for two years and was raped by a former lover.  She found that she could not resume a sexual relationship with her husband because it triggered her.  The relationship with her boyfriend changed for the better, in that the sex improved and she felt safe with him.  This caused her husband to be upset and he demanded that she end her relationship with her boyfriend and focus on the marriage. Seems pretty simply right?  Well it should be, unless of course your name is Dan Savage and you thrive on assholery.

Would you believe he thought the best route to deal with this woman was to shame her in an attempt to make her deny the little bodily autonomy she has recovered?  I know -- why did I expect any better from Dan Savage?  For my own sanity I need to break this down.

I'm sorry that you were sexually assaulted—that's awful, PTSD, and I hope you went to the police and I hope you're pressing charges. But I also hope you know that being the victim of sexual assault is not a Get Out of Being a Human Being Free card.
Rape is one of the most dehumanizing things that can happen to someone, but somehow, not wanting to fuck her husband makes her inhuman.   And how dare he suggest that she needs to press charges. After being violated in this way, the last thing you need is someone telling you what to do, let alone a misogynist asshole who has all the sensitivity and caring of a drive time shock jock. If a woman chooses not to press charges that is her right and how dare he sit in judgment of her decisions when the criminal justice system regularly puts rape survivors on trial rather than the rapists themselves.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Joe Jackson Does Not Regret Beating Michael Jackson

I have spoken many times about being beaten with a belt when I was a child and how much it continues to traumatize me to this day.  I know that this happened with a doubt and yet I have blocked much of it out.  What I remember most clearly, is the sound of my brother's screams when he was being beaten.  I remember how the sound ripped through the house and that there was nowhere to hide, as the belt hit his flesh, causing him to release the sound of anguish from the depths of his being.  I remember my own fear and the sure knowledge that not only could I not save him, I could not do anything to protect myself. To this day, I tell my children that I will have neither physical or emotional violence in my home for any reason.

Recently, Katherine and Joe Jackson did an interview with Oprah Winfrey. Oprah directly challenged the Jacksons on the reports that I am going to refer as child abuse, because that is exactly what they were. When evasion did not work, Joe and Catherine expressed pride in their actions.  I am going to place all further discussion about the interview and my reaction below the fold, because of the potential to trigger.

Thoughts On "For Colored Girls"

Spoiler Alert

On Friday I went to see For Colored Girls with my best friend.  I have since bought the play but have yet found time to read it.  Let me first say, that this is the best movie ever made by Tyler Perry, but that is not saying much, since his biggest claim to fame is producing genderized minstrel shows.  I have on many occasions referred to him as the king of coonery and buffoonery.  There has been much criticism of the movie thus far, but Ntozake Shange who wrote the play For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf on which the movie For Colored Girls is based had this to say:
I think all the actresses performed remarkably well. I hate to name anybody, because it's an ensemble cast. It's so difficult to pick one out as outstanding without picking the other, and so I'd have to say, all the actresses did stellar work. I think Tyler directed them well, because there were very few flaws I could find in the acting, so that's his work and their work.
 When asked if she agreed with the reviews which claimed that Perry cheapened her work, she responded with the following:
I haven't seen those people in 20 years. I don't know who those people are, they don't know me. I don't know who those people are. It cheapened, darling my work used to be for free. I used to do these poems by myself with a drummer or a tamboura player, or with a piano player, any kind of music player I could get. We would do it outside on a corner, and we would make art in the street, and people would throw things at us like coins. One time I had a group I was with called The Mushara Brothers and they gave me a tambourine, and I used to hop around with a tambourine to get our change for the night. One night we made $2.57 that's all we made, and we had to divide it between the three of us. 
I have to say that I enjoyed the movie and found myself nodding my head, though I don't understand several of the decisions that Perry made.  He felt the need to update the play, but he chose to do so in a way that is harmful to same gender loving people by including a character that contracted HIV from her husband who was living a life on the downlow.  Perry willfully decided to magnify a social myth and it is extremely harmful.  GLAAD has repeatedly attacked this in the media and I am surprised that they have not addressed this.  This myth presents gay men as diseased individuals who are deceptive and harmful to Black women.  Infidelity happens for many reasons and to claim that Black gay men are the sole cause of the the spread of HIV in the Black community, is based squarely in homophobia.  There are plenty of straight men that have no problem cheating on their spouses. When the husband was confronted, he could not admit that he was a gay man and instead simply referred to himself as a man who likes having sex with other men.  In another context, this might be acceptable, because bisexual men are a part of our communities; however, Perry did not intend to validate the sexuality of bisexual men in this movie.  His intent was to debase a gay identity.

My Flirtation with Phoniness

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

Remember Buckwild (aka Becky) from Flavor of Love? If so, the first thought that pops into your mind is "phony"! I remember the whole season she was on listening to her try to talk in her stereotypical perceived) "Black girl" fashion, until she got upset and the real Becky came out. And guess what? The REAL Becky sounded like a VALLEY IRL! Surprise, surprise! I HATED Buckwild from day one. She seems like she was perpetrating a fraud big time! I couldn't understand WHY she was acting so damn phony! And, then I spoke to my ex. He told me to think back a few years. He told me to remember what I was like when  first started spending more time with Black people than with White people. And I realized: I WAS Buckwild!

MY flirtation with phoniness did not last all that long. I thought I was SO COOL, using slang, talking with some sort of accent that I imagined REAL Black women spoke with (never mind the fact that my friends were not some monolithic entity who all spoke alike). I thought if I spoke in a phony manner, and called myself a "gangster bitch" somehow I would gain some semblance of acceptance, which is what I had always wanted in life. I really thought it worked. I started hanging out with more Black people. I was invited to parties where I referred to myself as the "token white girl". I thought it was because of my new found persona that I was accepted by my new friends. I never imagined that people were actually amused (and sometimes offended) by my antics. And I REALLY never imagined that I could be accepted by my new friends WITHOUT acting like someone who I am not!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What Womanist Musings Isn't

Nothing makes me angrier than when someone tells me who I am and what I stand for.  When people aren't erasing my womanism, they are declaring what type of blog this is.  Did you know that Womanist Musings is a race blog?  Well it is fucking news to me.  I write about race because as a WOC it plays a huge role in my life.  Since I don't believe in mincing words, what I have to say is most often direct and to the point.  At times people find my honesty off putting and I simply crack that up to their desire to maintain White supremacy or unacknowledged privilege. 

Two and a half years ago I started this blog to have the conversations I feel that most avoid.  Since then it has changed a great deal.  Almost everyday of the week a guest post appears from one of the regular contributors with topics ranging from sexuality, disability, religion, politics and gender. But, but, but, but, didn't you know Womanist Musings is a race blog? I personally write about a range of issues because I believe deeply that all isms are connected.  But, but, but, but, didn't you know that Womanist Musings is a race blog? This label erases the many facets of my identity, as well as completely silences the multiple of guest contributors who work very hard to ensure that the conversations that happen here are inclusive and cover a broad range of subjects.  But, but, but, but, didn't you know that Womanist Musings is a race blog?

There are plenty of blogs that focus solely on race.  Racialicious is but one example that has proven to be consistently good, but Womanist Musings does not fall into that category.  The consistent erasure tells me that despite my many discussions about the various isms that I face (racism, disableism and sexism), all that people see is my Black body.  Of course, this isn't viewed as a sign of their racism because many believe that the simple act of reading this space means that they are challenging their racism; in that you would be WRONG. If all that you can see when you interact with a Black person is the colour of their skin, then you have not learned a damn thing. Please note, I am not advocating the equally dishonest trope that progress means a purposeful colorblindness, because such an approach is equally racist.  I am however suggesting that POC be understood to be the diverse individuals that they are.

For the longest time I thought that the categorization of Womanist Musings as a race blog was a failure of mine.  I know from reading, that many of blogs claim to take an intersectional approach to issues but fail daily and instead affirm the very same harmful tropes that they claim to be fighting against.  I know that my experiences are limited and therefore, there will always be issues which I must fight my privilege to discuss.  This is a large part of the reason that Womanist Musings has an open guest posting policy and why the blog now has so many regular contributors. It is my goal that each regular reader will see a post that reflects their lived experiences at least once a week.  I know that I don't always meet this goal, but I feel as though a good faith effort is made by myself and the contributors each week. When I think about Womanist Musings the number one word that comes to mind is intersectionality not race.

I don't know what else I can do to change the perception of this space and so I would like some suggestions on how to make this space more intersectional.  I would also like to know what you would like to see changed and how we can increase diversity to make people feel as though their experiences are accurately represented.  

Police Brutality at the Oscar Grant Protest on November 5th, 2010

 This is a guest post

Inoculated City is a blog about how -isms are everywhere - even in the bay area. From questioning seemingly accepted discrimination to being a tattooed vegan, this is Berkeley, not West Bay.

I was arrested on Friday night along with over 150 other people at the peaceful protest in Oakland against Judge Perry’s minimum sentencing of 2 years with time served for Johannes Mesehrle, the former BART police offer who shot and killed Oscar Grant on New Year’s Eve 2009 at Fruitvale BART while Oscar was handcuffed and on his stomach.

The activities started at Frank Ogawa Plaza at 2pm, where live art and building an altar for Oscar Grant took place:

live art in honor of Oscar Grant - I took this photo but feel free to use it anywhere you want.
At 4pm, there were live performances (spoken word poems, hip hop and other genres of songs, etc.) and speakers.

At 6pm, we were no longer allowed to use the sound system in a public area, so we commenced with a protest headed towards Fruitvale BART, the original scene of the crime where Oscar Grant was senselessly shot and killed by Johannes Mesehrle. The protest consisted of marching, chanting, and holding signs.

my sign from the protest

We marched down 14th St. and continued in the direction of Fruitvale until we got to Laney college, where the police formed two walls on either side of the block we were on, thinking that they were trapping us, but all the while giving no order to disperse or communicating whatsoever. Unfortunately for them, their intimidation plan failed, because we cut through an empty construction site to the side and continued the march. Because of the police cutting us off, we were forced to enter residential areas, where we ended up getting blocked in once more by the police when we got to east 17th and 6th st.

Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth about Guilty Pleasure TV

Reality Bites Back is the new book by media critic Jennifer Pozner.  As someone who watches far too much reality television, (yes I know it rots my brain) I really felt that it was important to have a critical look at the genre that has taken over prime time television.  Pozner is well positioned to offer this analysis having watched 10 years of reality television herself.  

Pozner does a wonderful job of relating little known facts - for example, even though the cameras are 100% of the time less than 1% actually gets aired.  This as you can imagine allows the perfect opportunity to promote "story lines" on so-called reality television. Another trick employed are frankenbites, which involves splicing together words to make it seem like a contestant is saying something specific.

Beyond the gags behind the scenes, Pozner's analysis on race, sexuality, class and gender could not possibly be more spot on.   She points out quite accurately that on most dating reality shows, POC are simply there to give the appearance of an integrated cast, however they are quickly eliminated. Is it really any wonder that a separate romance genre that includes shows like Flava of Love had to be created to fill the void.  Lest you think that an all Black cast means a fair portrayal, think again.  According to Pozner, it quickly descends into a anti-woman carnival with women being called ghetto and made to do demeaning things. Even shows like America's Next Top Model, with Tyra Banks are specifically designed to break women down and has gone as far as to compare one models mouth with that of a monkey. If you were willing to give Banks the benefit of the doubt before, I promise after reading you will agree the woman is without conscience.

Spark of Wisdom: They Don't Believe I Am Gay

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. 

No, I don't have to respect all opinions

Sparky is in a grumpy mood this week, sleep deprivation completely damaging my normally sunny and pleasant demeanor (questioning my demeanor will refer back to the grumpy mood) and catching up on previous sleep this Sunday  was much disturbed - not only did my insomniac self have to drag out of bed to tell the religious people knocking at my door that eternal damnation was positively merciful compared to what I would do if they woke me before 10:00 on a Sunday again, but I also had a visit visit from Uncle Apologist Cousin

After various relatives have made a concerted effort to make me despair of my gene pool, I now have a stream of kin convincing me to kiss and make up. (I haven't been answering their phone calls. There's a reason for this). In this case, trying to push me to apologise to Uncle Fail for being his homophobic self with the following brilliant argument.

"We just don't believe in homosexuality" (yea, I noted the 'we' there).

"Fine. Goodbye. Door's that way."

And there was a flailing, yes yes there was. No, I didn't want them to explain or elaborate - there's no need to and no way he could.

Taking it literally, they don't believe I exist. OR they don't believe I am gay. The first is ridiculous and I can solve with a swift clip round the ear to prove my existence. The second is ridiculously insulting and beyond arrogant to believe they know who and what I am and my life in general better than I myself.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Vampire Diaries: Rose

The plot line of The Vampire Diaries is moving very quickly for a network show.  This week Elena is kidnapped.  I didn't even bother to get my hopes up that this would be the end of her. When she awakes to find herself in a room she believes the reason that she has been kidnapped is that she has been mistaken for Katherine.  Elena repeatedly tells them who she is and asks to be let go and when she will not be quiet, Rose punches her in the face, knocking her out.  I know I am not supposed to be thrilled by violence but I have been wanting to see Elena silenced for some time now.

Reminding us that this show is really about pseudo teenagers they actually had a scene in a school this week.  We see Tyler's frustration trying to open is locker when he accidentally rips the the lock off.  He questions Caroline desperate to know how she knows so much about him.  Jeremy approaches Stefan to tell him that if he and Elena are going to spend the night together that he has to give him a heads up so that he can cover with Aunt Jenna.  I found that line to be ridiculous because we all know that though Jenna is supposedly a parental figure, the last thing she ever does is lay down the law with these supposed kids.

Two Women Finally Inducted Into the Hockey Hall of Fame

Hockey is one of Canada's national sports.  It was a matter of national pride to win the Olympic gold medals on home turf.  Though I am not a fan of the sport per say, I do follow enough to know that the contributions of women are severely under appreciated. While the women's game is not as physical as the men's, there is no doubt that not only can women play this sport, they excel.  Today the first two women are going to be inducted into the hockey hall of fame. 

There are some that are upset that U.S. legend Cammi Granato and Canadian pioneer Angela James were chosen over hockey greats like Doug Gilmore or Pat Burns who is terminal, but that same reasoning could be used every year to ensure that women never get their day in the spotlight.  There is always a reason to exclude women when such action directly supports patriarchy.

Even as we celebrate the addition of these women into the Hockey Hall of Fame, we should recognize that the distance great distance that women still have to travel until we reach equality.  Even though there was no official ruling that kept women from being recognized The Hall of Fame did not feel it necessary to recognize women until today.  In any given year, a maximum of four players, two builders, and one on-ice official are inducted as members, however it should be noted that with this recognition comes the limitation of the number of women that may be added each year.  Women have been limited to 2 inductees every year, as though there is a shortage in the number of women that deserve to be recognized.  Perhaps it also stands as a sign that even though patriarchy is willing to recognize that women have greatly contributed to the support there still exists this irrational fear that equality really means a reversal of power roles.  

What is activism?

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.

Renee's Friday Question last week - “Is blogging activism?” - caught my eye. And as a blogger and an activist, I wanted to respond. But as a very verbose blogger and activist, I wanted to respond in a post, with an excerpt from a keynote speech, “Small Victories: Everyday Activism for Ordinary People,” that I made at Transcending Boundaries, a trans-focused conference in Worcester, Mass., in 2006: 
Sometimes the word “activist” can be more than a little scary and overwhelming. Sometimes we come to a conference like this and we see people up at the podium speaking, or we see people giving workshops and we read their bios and see all the things they've done, and we look at all the various leaders in each of our communities, and we think, “I can't possibly do what they're doing. I wouldn't even know where or how to start. I don't have the time, the energy, the resources, the skills, or even the desire.” 

Or we think, “I can't be out where I live or where I work. There's no way I can speak out or be visible like that.” Or, as an ally, we think, “I'm not a member of that community. Will they resent me or see me as an outsider? And how can I represent a community that I really don't belong to?” 

And then we just give up. 

But we don't have to give up. We all have a part to play, and it doesn't have to involve traveling around the globe giving speeches, or writing books, or being on TV, or holding a political office, or sitting on boards of directors, or running organizations. Those are all very worthy and much-needed activities, and the people who do those things are absolutely essential for our community. But the truth is that we are all absolutely essential for our community. And we are all activists - every single one of you here today is an activist. 

The simple act of coming to this conference makes you an activist. Why? Because you've come here for change. You've come here to learn so that you can make yourself better and, in the process, make the world better. You've come here in spite of a world out there that says that conferences like this one shouldn't exist and that the people in this room shouldn't exist - at least not the way they are now. But you believe differently or you wouldn't be here. And that makes you an activist.

If you are GLBTIQ or go by a different label but identify as a member of that community, you are an activist every morning when you get out of bed, whether you want to be or not, just by living your life. Every time you come out to someone, you are an activist - and you get double bonus points if you are out in your life, all or part of the time. 

If you're trans or have a “non-standard body,” every time you use a public restroom labeled “Male” or “Female,” you are an activist. If you're gay or lesbian or bi or queer, every time you go on a date or kiss your partner, you are an activist. 

If you're an ally, every time you use the correct pronoun when referring to a trans person, you are an activist. Every time you correct someone who uses the wrong pronoun or who makes an inappropriate comment about a member of the GLBTIQ community, you are an activist. 

Activism doesn't have to be big and bold and visible to everyone. Activism takes many forms and can be as simple as treating someone else with the respect that they are due. It can be as simple as welcoming a same-sex couple into your neighborhood or treating a transsexual store clerk like you would treat any other store clerk that you were dealing with - no better and no worse. When you make the decision, every day of your life, to treat everyone who you encounter in your life as a “normal” person, a deserving person, and an equal person - you are an activist.

It's that simple. Anyone can be an activist. 

When asked how to create a legacy, Ethel Percy Andrus, the founder of AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons, said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are today.” 

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are today.” 

And that's how each one of us can create a legacy of activism that absolutely shakes the foundations of our two-dimensional, either/or, binary society.

You start where you are. And you measure your success in increments, by small victories. I've considered myself a trans activist for the last nine years, and I measure my own success by increments, by small victories, by the little inroads that I'm able to make and by the minds here and there that I'm able to change. 

Start giving yourself credit for all the small things that you do - and keep doing them. Pat yourself on the back for all the “small victories” that you have - and keep having them. Acknowledge all the incremental changes that you are making in the world every day - and keep making them. 

What you're doing now may be as far as you'll ever go, and that's fine. You're already making a difference. But once you start paying attention to what you're already doing, and once you start adding something here and there when you see the need for it, you might just find yourself wanting to do more. You might find yourself saying, “If I can do this, then I can do that, too.” And you might end up moving beyond what you ever thought possible.

That was just a small part of my speech. But if you're not convinced that blogging is activism, take a look at Nerdy Apple Bottom's blog post, “My Son is Gay.” 

Womanism, Women and the World

I started out being a feminist.  I learned very early in life that sexism greatly affected how people chose to interact with me and the limits that I was given.  As I searched for answers, feminism felt like a natural fit, but the more that I explored, the more that I realized that though gender is a site of oppression for me, my race complicated my interaction in feminist spheres.  I could not forget for one moment that as a Black woman I faced unique challenges that feminism seemed determine to ignore, or cheapen when it did bother to address them.  Though I found the works of feminists like bell hooks to be fascinating and affirming, in the end, it was not enough to heal the chasm that White feminists had created with their absolute desire to maintain their privilege. Once again I found myself searching for a label that would best describe my desire to work for change and properly support my political beliefs.  Africanna Womanism is a natural fit for me.

Over time I came to know more women that identified as womanists and not all of them have been Black.  I have also seen the backlash aimed at these women for choosing to identify as womanist by those who seek to keep a womanist identity as completely Black.  This is policing and privileging one group over another and it is no different than the White feminists who sought to exclude us from their organizing drives.  There can be no doubt that Black women face unique trials and that we have no institutional other, but that does not mean that race does not negatively effect the life chances of other women of colour.  Can we really afford to reduce racism to something White people do to Blacks, when it has become an institutional part of our communities, effecting every single Brown/Black and Asian woman on the planet?  Simply because the racism that other WOC experience manifests differently than when Black women are on the receiving end, does not make it any less soul destroying.

First Nations women are dying.  There are over 500 missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada alone.  Indigenous women are 5x more likely to die as a result of violence and 60% of the known perpetrators are White men.  Race and a history of colonialism very much effects the life chances of Indigenous Women.  Their presence in the media is minuscule, making the crimes against them that much more invisible.