Saturday, November 20, 2010

International Transgender Day of Remembrance: Remembering Together

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.

International Transgender Day of Remembrance is set aside every November 20 to remember those people who have been killed or have died due to transphobia or anti-trans hatred and prejudice. 

In the twelve years since Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded the Remembering Our Dead website and the Day of Remembrance vigils, over 400 people that we know of have been murdered worldwide as a result of anti-trans hate or prejudice, according to statistics posted on the International Transgender Day of Remembrance website. Others have died due to medical neglect or suicide. There are many, many more deaths that have not been documented. (link to International Transgender Day of Remembrance website: www.transgenderdor.org)

As we continue to read about, hear about, witness, or even suffer from the brutality wrought by transphobia, I think we also need to acknowledge the other communities that it affects, because this is not just a “trans problem.”

TDOR Lives So The Trans Community Never Forgets The People Who Died

 This post was written by Monica of TransGriot


It's here.  The 12th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance.     I can remember when it was just a great idea that Gwen Smith organized in the wake of our pissivity over Rita Hester's 1998 death and  our alarm that we were already starting to forget about the deaths of transpeople such as Debra Forte and Chanelle Pickett.that happened in 1995.

Thanks to Gwen's and Ethan St. Pierre's efforts and a cast of thousands around the world, it has grown to become an event embraced by the international trans community and our allies.

As someone who was around and part of the local and national trans leadership when the TDOR started in 1999, as time inexorably marches on I have seen eleven previous TDOR's come and go.  I have that intimate understanding of why we have them and militantly resist the calls from some transpeople to change the focus from a memorial ceremony to a happy-happy joy-joy event because it's in their words 'morbid and depressing'

Fighting lynching and advocating for an anti-lynching law was 'morbid and depressing' for my African descended peeps as well for most of the early 20th century but they took on that grim task along with the NAACP.   Even though the bill got filibustered to death by the Dixiecrats,  they kept fighting for that goal of eliminating lynching deaths and filed that anti-lynching bill in Congress every year without fail for over 40 years.

70% of the transpeople we memorialize are people of color.  I don't want people forgetting that salient point either as we read this year's list of names.   Until anti-trans violence is reduced to nothing and the people who perpetrate it get properly punished for doing so, there will continue to be a need for the 'morbid and depressing' TDOR.

We also need to remind our allies that this is an important day for us as well,   Just as you in the GL community have certain events that you treat with reverence such as the upcoming World AIDS Day, do the same for our TDOR.

It has also been a part of my evolution as an activist as well.  I've gone from being a part of the audience to helping plan and being the keynote speaker for the first two events ever held in Louisville in 2002 and 2003 and being honored to be the keynote speaker at the LITDOR last year.

But no matter what my role is from year to year, and this year back in my hometown I'll be just one of the attendees in the AD Bruce Religion Center, I never forget why I'm at whatever venue we are holding a TDOR.

Today is Transgender Day Of Remembrance

TDOR is not a day of celebration, it is a day to reflect upon all the people that have been lost because of hate and ignorance.  Trans people are seen as disposable and trans people of colour are particularly vulnerable.  Each year I write a post on this day, but this year I have decided that the best way to be an ally is to be silent.  Cissexism means that cis people live in privilege. It also means that our voices are the dominant.  All to often, cis people are put into a position to speak on behalf of trans people, even though trans people are more than capable of speaking for themselves.  I believe that part of being an ally is knowing when to be silent and when to speak. On a day such as TDOR, the voices that should be heard are those of the trans community. I have not always been a good ally, but I hope that my silence and my support of the trans community, will help to bring attention to the violence that trans people face.  Today, I will be publishing posts by trans people regarding how they feel about TDOR, please be respectful, listen, and think before you respond.

Drop It Like It's Hot

 Hello everyone, thanks for another great week of conversation.  I am sure the regulars are aware, but I would like to remind everyone of womanist musings' open guest posting policy.  If you would like to join the conversations that happen here, please send either a link to your blog or your original work to womanistmusings (at) gmail (dot) com. Please include a three line bio and an image that you would like associated with your work.

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


New TSA Screening Guidelines Anger Sikh Travelers
Considering Pictures
Is Cyber Racism an Untameable Beast?
Racism toward African asylum seekers in Israel
FAT CAT MANIFESTO
Taking Babies From Undocumented Immigrants
Persian Poetry Tuesday: from Saadi's Golestan 
Virgen Art V
Coming Out Story - Leaving Chico
Kicked to the Curb: 90-Year Old Woman Loses Her Home to Foreclosure. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

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

This week I would like to talk about a pet peeve of mine.  On far too many occasions I will read what I consider to be a brilliant post only to see someone in comments attempt to invalidate the author because of their writing style or a grammatical mistake.  For the most part, when we see someone write there instead of their or where instead of wear, we know damn well what they meant to say, but somehow this interpreted to mean that the author has no basis from which to draw their conclusions.  I also see this as a form of disableism and classism.

When I have to take a large amount of drugs, because I am in pain, my ability to proofread is hampered.  I know that I am not the only disabled person to be in this situation and the idea that we are somehow illegitimate because of it, is disableist. What about those that have cognitive disabilities are they to be shut out of this new and expanding genre?

There are also a great many people blogging who have no post secondary education, but their life experiences have taught them much.  Should these people be ignored and silenced because their learning did not take place in a formal setting?  This is classist because higher education is not as readily available as so many seem to feel.

This weeks question is have you ever attempted to silence someone because of a spelling or grammar error and what did you hope to gain?  My second question is, how do we combat people who choose to silence people based in enforcing a standard form of communication that is both limiting and disableist?

Star's Sexist Man Alive

The Star recently did their list of sexist guys alive and being the pervert that I am, I had to buy the magazine.  Of course, I am drawn to these lists for all of the wrong reasons and I openly admit that they objectify men.  I will however qualify that statement and add that there is an immense difference between men and women being reduced to their physical appearance, because of the gender imbalance that we currently live with.  When we look at a man's physical body, it is never seen as limiting his potential, whereas for women, success is often judged on their ability to meet standardized norms of femininity.  Women are routinely viewed as fuckable objects, rather than autonomous beings.

The following are the men featured on the list:

Advice From A Cartoon Princess: Snow White

Disney has long been a hot mess and so the Second City videos that have been appearing on youtube really hit the spot with me.  It is extremely important to analyze the princess movies because they are targeted at children.  Many of the messages that we send to children that we construct as innocuous, are often loaded with racism, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, fat phobia etc., The desire to preserve these isms is not natural to children and in fact, it is adults who teach them what bodies are meant to be uplifted and praised.  When kids act out  in harmful ways, we excuse this as simply being a part of childhood, rather than acknowledging that it is a manifestation of their ability to internalize the harmful hierarchy of bodies that we have internalized.  A parent that seeks to flout this convention must fight big corporations like Disney and it is always an uphill battle.  Truly celebrating diversity is not seen as marketable and so corporations use this as a defense to support the harmful tropes that they regularly aim at children.  The market is what rules and not what is socially and ethically responsible.  It is impossible for children to navigate the minefield that we have set up for them without role models that are determined to flout convention.  I hope the series of videos encourages adults to talk to the children in their lives because this is the only way we are ever going to achieve any kind of progress. 

Caught Between Colonised Consonants

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.
 
 These last few weeks have been rather stressful for me, so by the time I get home, I'm more than exhausted, crash on my sofa and let the TeeVee numb my LadyLobes into oblivion for a while. This is around the time my grandmother's favourite soaps are aired and we've developed a routine between the two of us. I help her to get dinner going (in my limited capacities as a non-cook) and she fills me in to whatever I missed in the first 10 minutes of the show. Over these weeks, I have now become familiar with the plotlines of more than seven shows, each predictably depicting middle to upper middle class Hindu households, where the protagonist, generally a virtuous woman battling a myriad of obstacles  from abusive husbands to nose-parker neighbors, this Indian Daughter In Law suffers and endures rather vapidly, always quoting from some scripture or following orders to a T. This is TeeVee land after all, where women go to bed in saris and with their full make-up on, where the idea of a 'diverse' family is a multilingual Hindu family -- what? have a non-stereotypical Muslim or a Christian character? Never! The TeeVee roars back -- and where always, good triumphs over evil, after about every 200 episodes. Of course, when I'm watching these soaps with my grandma these quips are contained in my LadyBrain as she genuinely enjoys these shows. Plus if you saw her blushing the way she does when a Dude and a Lady on the screen brush hands, you'll get it too.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Should Abortion Be Chosen By an Internet Poll?

The decision whether or not to have an abortion has got to be one of the toughest a woman can make.  I have always said that if I ever became pregnant at a time in my life when it would absolutely not be feasible to raise a child, I would opt for an abortion.  Fortunately for me, this has never happened.  Unwanted pregnancies happen everyday, but not everyone uses the situation to gain notoriety.

 
Birthornot.com is currently running a poll to decide whether or not a potential mother to be should abort her fetus.

We would like to keep you informed on our pregnancy as if it was your own; posting our thoughts and feelings as we struggle to make this decision.  We would like you to see what we see and feel what we feel.  We invite you take this journey with us as we contemplate our own options and encourage you to utilize this site to vote and voice your opinion in a way that will have a real consequence… in a way that truly matters.  Here, your vote will not go unheard.

They have named the fetus "wiggles" and place the weekly ultrasound images on their site.  They are also give graphic descriptions of the development of the fetus followed by the number of heartbeats per minute.  At the time of publication, they had 19 days left to decide whether or not to have abortion.  So far the votes total 75.37% (8,756) for Give Birth and 24.63% (2,862 votes) for abortion. 

Monstrous Musings: The Colonial Gaze of Stephenie Meyer and the Resulting Representation of Indigenous Peoples as Monstrous

This is a guest post from Natalie Wilson

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

The following post examines how what Sherman Alexie calls a “colonial gaze” informs the Twilight texts, a gaze that silences and delegitimizes indigenous culture and theory. It is an abridged version of a talk I delivered at the NWSA conference on November 12, 2010. *
Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga romanticizes white privilege and the continuing rule of whites over “the Other” – which, in Twilight’s case, is the Quileute. Further, while the series has been complimented for depicting Native Americans in the modern day rather than in some mythic past, the saga nevertheless ignores present realities and injustices

Read as a racial allegory, a white, working class woman chooses between an ultra-white, ultra-privileged vampire and a far less privileged wolf of color.
 
The franchising of the phenomenon has capitalized on the Native American angle in a way that is culturally and morally dubious, much like the way we might question Meyer’s inclusion of Quileute legend for her own purposes – an inclusion that was done without extensive research or scholarly inquiry, let alone (it seems) with permission from the Quileute people.

We can thus read the story of Twilight as grounded in older tales of conquest and imperialism – and in the tradition of white authors appropriating native stories and voices - though instead of the whites and Native Americans that populated the Western films that re-enacted this conquest, we now have vampires and werewolves vying over land as well as women. 

Yet, if we examine Twilight in relation to the decimation of indigenous people, and with an awareness of how Christianity generally and Mormonism more specifically are related to larger colonial and missionary projects, it is no stretch to see that to ignore race in the saga is a glaring omission. 

This history cannot be ignored if one is to offer a full analysis of Twilight and the cultural work it is doing. Literature historically played a huge role in the framing of Native Americans as uncivilized and savage. Meyer’s texts carry on this project. 

Gender Jihad

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.

This October the Fourth International Congress on Islamic Feminism was held in Madrid, Spain.

The conference hosted over 1,500 globally represented attendees and lecturers who discussed topics on Islamic Feminism, including: problematics in defining Islamic Feminism, Qur'anic hermeneutics and feminist readings of the Qur'an, gender equality in the Middle East and Feminist Activism, and gender rights justice in the construction of male superiority over women in Islam.

One of the goals of these continued conferences is to validate Islamic Feminism as a growing phenomenon by providing a forum for intellectual discourse.  Aiming to celebrate and support women's rights groups and organizations around the world as they work toward reinterpreting scripture, giving women an educated voice and challenging patriarchal systems that use religion to subjugate women.

Two weeks after the conference closed, Saudi Arabia was voted onto the executive board of UN Women.

Saudi Arabia. Where women cannot drive, vote or leave the house without a niqaab. Saudi Arabia. Where women cannot visit a doctor, travel, go to university, work or leave their homes without the expressed consent of their male guardian. Saudi Arabia.  Ranking 130th out of 134 countries for gender parity.  Saudi Arabia. Where Saudi UN officials defend polygamy by saying it's required to help satisfy the sexual urges of men. Saudi Arabia. Where there are no laws protecting against child marriage and where rape victims are routinely punished for being alone with a man and charged as adulterers. Saudi Arabia. Home to Islam's most holiest sites, the birthplace of the Prophet, and the main source of petrol-funded, political Islam.

The Goals of the UN Entity on Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women includes advancing global gender equality by helping inter-governmental bodies formulate global policies and standards and helping Member States implement these standards.  The controversy over Saudi Arabia joining this executive board is clear: how on Earth does the UN expect to enforce these global standards on a Member State who clearly has a horrendous record of violating women's rights, and who falls back on a politicized religious interpretation to bypass any Western global standard of equality? As activist and liberal Muslim Mona Eltahawy so aptly points out in her special to the Toronto Star:

    In 2000, Saudi Arabia ratified an international bill of rights for women but stipulated that the country's interpretation of Islamic law (Sharia) would prevail if there were conflicts with the bill's provisions. So why sign in the first place? Especially as that interpretation is where so much discrimination against women originates — polygamy, half inheritance allotted to a man, little access to divorce and child marriage among them.
Talk about completely undermining the Islamic Feminist movement.

Happy Birthday Baby Man



Baby man I can't believe you are five today.  It seems like just yesterday you came screaming into this world 6 weeks early, weighing in at an even 4LBS.  Now that I have gotten to know you, I know this is typical behaviour for you. You are always the first one up in the morning and you always have a huge grin on your face.  Your top priority is breakfast and ensuring you get time to play before school.  It amazes me how you take these incredible journey's in your mind. Honey, you are capable of such flights of fancy and yet you are so sure of  who you are and what you will and will not tolerate.  There are days I wish I had your confidence.

You know you're something special every time you dole out kisses and hugs, after first assigning a number of each that are allowed to have. When you hear a song that you like, you are all about the boogie and I suspect that is all about your joy of life.  Your passion even includes karate and even though you are most often the smallest in the class, just watching you give it your all, often makes me smile and laugh.

In fact, much of the time I am around you I am smiling.  From the day you were born, you have made me deliriously happy and I love you so very much.  You are my tough guy who can take a fall and you are my independent baby man who can do everything all by himself. I won't say these traits don't drive me around the bend, but I do know that this is exactly what I am going to love about you as a man.

I so look forward to watching you grow up, but please don't rush it along, because each day is so precious to me.   I would miss your beautiful baby smile and that gorgeous laugh for which I have no words to describe. The last five years have been so great and I know what is to come will be even more wonderful.   

Happy Birthday Mayhem

Love Mom
 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dancing With The Stars: Operation Bristol

From the very first week that Bristol took the floor, I believed that she would make a speedy exist.  She was stiff and moved without any sense that she felt the music.  She is quite possibly the most privileged teenage mother in history but I was happy to see her earn an income, with a potential to free her from the grasping claws of her mother.  With the exception of one interview in which she admitted that absence does not work, every single word that comes out of her mouth is clearly from mama grizzly's playbook.  I watched last night sure in the belief that we had seen the last of Bristol, only to discover that the once again the Tea Party is supporting its teen advocate. Jimmy Kimmel quite accurately referred to her as hurricane Bristol.

Tangled: A Celebration of White Femininity


Tangled is Disney's version of Rapunzel .  To be honest, I have very little idea of how this move deviates from the the fairytale we are all familiar with.  If you are interested in the preview, you can check it out here.  What struck me about the story of Rapunzel, is the celebration of her flowing long blond hair.  I think it is no accident that Rapunzel was added to the Disney stable of princesses, right after Disney finally got around to creating their first African American princess. 

As a Black woman, I know all to well how complicated the issue of hair can be.  Looking at the above image, I found that I could not see beyond her long blond hair and blue eyes.  I believe that this will also become the focal point of many girls of colour.  The standard of long flowing blond hair as the epitome of femininity necessarily excludes and challenges the idea that WOC are feminine, desired, and some cases loved and therefore, while Disney is creating an image of Rapunzel that we are accustomed to, her rebirth in a modern day context is problematic, because her body represents the celebration of White femininity. 

The world is anything but equal and this is evidenced by what bodies we choose to celebrate and what bodies we choose either to denigrate or ignore.  Each day that a little White girl turns on the television, or opens a book, she can see multiple representations of White Womanhood.  In of itself, Rapunzel is not problematic, but in a world in which natural Black kinky hair is seen as unkept and downright ugly, Rapunzel amounts to a slap in the face. It tells little girls of color that they will never be beautiful, because they were born without the characteristics that are normal to White womanhood.

The fact that Tangled is coming on the heels of the first African American princess is indeed problematic.  It makes Princess Tiana seem like an impotent token, with Rapunzel appearing to reset the standard of what princess means and even more precisely what womanhood means.

If You Really Love A Child, Give them a Book!

 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 love to read. I have ALWAYS loved to read. I LOVE a good story.Although my parents were not big on reading themselves, they instilled a love for the written word in me early by reading my sisters and I a story every night before we went to bed. After I learned how to read, I was constantly found with my nose in a book, immersing myself in the world held between the pages.

I also LOVED learning. I remember when I was in 2nd grade, my aunt had been given a stash of discarded textbooks from my cousin's school. She was getting ready to throw them away, when I spotted the pile of books. I asked her if I could take them home, and when I did, I absorbed the information found within voraciously. One of the books was about the experiences of slaves in the United States, and reading inspired me to read more about and take action to support issues of social justice.

When my sisters, neighbors and cousins would spend the day playing games and sports, I would participate for only a short while. Then, I would go sit on a tree stump in the backyard, and read a story. How I loved the adventures of Harriet the Spy, Encyclopedia Brown and Superfudge. I learned how to eat fried worms, and I imagined I was a student at Sweet Valley High. I desperately wanted to be a "Greaser" and hang out with Ponyboy, Soda Pop, Johnny and the rest of the gang.

As a child, I was picked on and berated by my peers. So, I would lose myself in the world I found in my books, in a world of my own imagination. Everywhere I went, I carried at least one book. When my mother took me to the library I would pick out more books then I could carry. I even read the back of cereal boxes!

“How to Make Generations” By Kola Boof

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

A few days ago, a Black American academic calling herself “Dr. Goddess” became so fed up with my refusal to see biracial people as simply ‘black’—she wrote a scathing Twitter essay castigating me as a vicious, foul-tempered mentally unstable racist and narcissist.  According to her, I present myself as “an exotic Mother Africa figure who’s fucked Bin Laden” and has come here to divide and belittle the unity of Black Americans.
 

Claudine Prell Johnson, the Black American woman whose Tennessee-born husband adopted me from Unicef in 1978 and brought me to America in 1979, scoffed at Dr. Goddess’s commentary.  My mother immediately reiterated something she’s been telling me since I was a child, “They don’t understand your side, Naima, because our people were imprisoned on slave plantations for hundreds of years and conditioned not to value or respect black flesh or plat hair. They will always put a White face on blackness because that is the only way Black people know how to get over with the general White society.  The stinging insult you feel when people like that Hussy say that blackness is a state of mind or a set of cultural behaviors does not compute with our folks.  They cannot even imagine this notion you have that fudge cocoa skin, thick features and nappy hair is the most normal and best thing in the world.  To an American black, people who come predominately from a legacy of slave plantations and Jim Crow communities, you sound insane.  She is light-skinned and I bet many of her family members, just like mine throughout the South and yours in Sudan and Egypt are very light or even white looking. So for her, to have African people saying her blood kin are not the same as her and to say it so boldly and unabashedly, it’s fighting words.  She and all of them completely miss your natural instinct to identify and protect your own race because in America blacks were a servant class who never had access to that kind of thinking.  Protecting blood is something Whites or Chinese do, not niggers. Of course you’re a nut case to someone like her.  Of course she doesn’t feel insulted claiming that someone who looks white should be representative of people who truly live being black. Most of us in this country don’t give a damn about preserving Black blood because we’ve always been punished for it.”
 

My Black American mother is a product of the American south with her blood spanning from Georgia, Tennessee, Florida and North Carolina.  She is a very pretty brown pear shaped woman with a small, soft voice and raven-sharp black eyes that have always been able to see right through me.  When I arrived in her care at the age of 7 or 8 or 10 (my age is not known for sure), one of the things she and my Black American father, Marvin Johnson, stressed was that they did not want me to lose the acculturation I already had from my own country.
 

Despite the ignorance of academics like Dr. Goddess, I already spoke four languages when I arrived in America as a little girl. Unbeknownst to me, my vagina had already been infibulated, I assume at birth. My birth father’s name is written in Arabic on one side of my vagina—the other side, where the husband’s name goes has never been filled in, because I’m safe in America now.  But I had already been taught by the Zarpunni (the women’s body of our Covenant) “how to make generations”, the rules of “the bloodberry” (African identity rules); the history of my Egyptian birth father’s family (the Kolbookeks, who spent 120 years breeding the Black blood out of our Sunni Arab-Turkish-Felasha family line) and the history of my Charcoal-skinned birth mother’s tribe/clan, the Oromo, who are part of the great Waaq race (East Africans who worshipped coffee beans and The Crow).
 

The fact that I came to this country believing “The Crow” to be the supreme symbol of good luck and prosperity (because this is the Waaq-Oromo creed) was something that not only shocked and unsettled my Black American parents—it made them defensive and determined that I remain believing that the sight of Crows landing in the back yard was reason for extreme celebration and tears.  To them, Crows were bad luck; a blight against Southern crops!  But as my Black American father said, “I don’t want Naima’s beliefs changed. I think God sent her here for a reason.  There’s no way someone this young has so much tragedy and bad luck in their life unless they’re being used to bring some kind of message.”
 

In Sudan, of course, we have the world’s worst of everything.  We have genocide, slavery, people starving, mass rape, institutionalized Colorist-Racist pathology dictated by present Arabicized rulers in Khartoum and long ago British Imperialists.  Nothing is more hated in Sudan by the elite powerful Whites (olive and Arab brown people) than the Biblical days tribes of the Nuba Mountains and the South—the Charcoal-colored Cushites—from the Jiang tribe to the Chollo, Nuer and Blue Black Nubians.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

No Get Out Of Jail Card For Racism

Yesterday I wrote once again about the ongoing racism that my child has had to deal with.  As promised, I contacted the principal.  It seems that not only did the teacher not care enough to address the issue to the satisfaction of Destruction, she also did not inform the principal.  I have a meeting with the principal and the teacher in question on Thursday.  I thought that this would be the end of it, until fifteen minutes after speaking with the principal, I received a phone call from the teacher in question.  For the purposes of clarity, I am simply going to call her Madame, until such time as it becomes necessary to reveal her identity.

Madam informed me that she believed that the matter was settled.  When I asserted that Destruction, my child, felt that she did not deal with the situation with any concern, she told me that his feelings were wrong.  This would be mistake number one.  A privileged person does not get to tell a marginalized person that how they feel about a racist incident is wrong, furthermore; the insulted party is the one to decide when an incident is over.  Rather than acknowledging a failure to do her job and protect my child, Madame seemed far more interested in back peddling.  She told me repeatedly that I simply had to understand her point of view, as if she suddenly should become my main concern.  I had to inform Madam that the only person that mattered to me was my child.  After I once again asserted pending legal action, Madam quickly ended the phone call.  You see, throughout the conversation I made a point of repeatedly using the phrase poisoned learning environment, because I know that is a trigger phrase.

I believed that the incident would be laid to rest until we spoke again on Thursday, however Madame once again overstepped her boundaries. She pulled my child into the hallway to interrogate him.  It seems that she was "hurting inside" and understood his pain because she has Black family members.  She wanted Destruction to know that she was on his side.  It seems to me that she only became concerned about his feelings and his pain, after I made it clear that there would be consequences for her inaction.  As well versed as Destruction is in social justice, he is only nine and has not had the experience of White people using their friends and family members to excuse their racist actions.  Using your family or friends to excuse your racist actions is a sign of unacknowledged White privilege.  People are not tools that you can use at your convenience.  This is not an argument that Madame could have made with me successfully and I believe that she knows that and this is why she approached my child.

Yester Year Was Not Great For Most People

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 one of my pet hates is?

Nostalgia. I've come to really really despise it especially as it keeps being served up in front of me by everyone from various older relatives, no small shortage of politicians and a significant segment of the media, all reminiscing of simpler times, better times, times when "common sense" ruled and you didn't have to lock your door (because you had nothing worth stealing *snark*) and everyone knew everyone else and was decent to each other.

And it hacks me off.

Not, I have to say, the misty eyed, googly "awww remember that picnic and we had our first kiss awwww" schmoopy rose tinted personal nostalgia. It may provoke my gag reflex but it doesn't annoy me (cynical? Moi?)

But "oh things were better then, a better time, a better era, a better age!"

Yeah, that annoys me.

Sometimes it's so patently ridiculous that I could laugh. When my grandmother was more lucid she, along with my remaining great aunts and uncles, often spoke of how much more wonderful it was in the 40s - when they were huddled in Andersen shelters and got to wake up to see half the city destroyed...

But a lot of it is so very privileged it makes my eyes roll out of their sockets.

Because when people talk about how much better and more wonderful things were in the 40s or, 50s (or gods' forbid, when their rosy yesteryear is even further back in history), they're not just indulging in some heavily edited and rose tinted memories - but they're editing out a hell of a lot of badness and a hell of a lot of progress (though not nearly enough sometimes).

Westboro Baptist Church Find Themselves SOL

Crawling out of the bed to meet the dawn is not always a positive experience no matter how much Green Tea one manages to consume (quiet Sparky). I am sure you are all aware of the Westboro Baptist Church.  It largely consists of the Phelps family.  Essentially they protest military funerals, are virulently homophobic and wrap their hatred up in God and country. Apparently, "the Westboro Baptist Church has conducted over 30,000 pickets, in all 50 states, in over 500 cities and towns". These are the kind of people that really just need to disappear because all they preach is hate speech even as they hide behind free speech.  The U.K. had the good sense to ban them from entering the country. The British haven't make a good comedy sense Monty Python, but they know enough not to let this family have a platform in their country. 

Well I did promise you some good news so here we go:
Shortly after finishing their protest at the funeral of Army Sgt. Jason James McCluskey of McAlester, a half-dozen protesters from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., headed to their minivan, only to discover that its front and rear passenger-side tires had been slashed.

To make matters worse, as their minivan slowly hobbled away on two flat tires, with a McAlester police car following behind, the protesters were unable to find anyone in town who would repair their vehicle, according to police.

The minivan finally pulled over several blocks away in a shopping center parking lot, where AAA was called. A flatbed service truck arrived and loaded up the minivan. Assistant Police Chief Darrell Miller said the minivan was taken to Walmart for repairs.

Even before the protesters discovered their damaged tires, they faced off with a massive crowd of jeering and taunting counterprotesters at Third Street and Washington Avenue, two blocks from the First Baptist Church, where the soldier's funeral was held.

Miller estimated that crowd to number nearly 1,000 people, and they not only drowned out the
Westboro protesters with jeers, but with raucous chants of "USA, USA."

A few motorcyclists interspersed among the crowd also revved up their engines to muffle the protests. (source)
Tell me you didn't read that and smile.  I bet you can't.  Of course it was the demon Walmart that in the end decided that profit is worth more than people -- but is anyone really surprised?  Given the way that Walmart treats its slaves associates, they long ago proved they don't care where a dollar comes from, as long as it ends up in the family coffers.

Monday, November 15, 2010

9 Inch Heels: The Hobbling of Women or Just a Fashion Trend?

I stay away from fashion trends because I am more about physical comfort than anything else.  I do know the fact that everyone is wearing leggings means that the 80's are back ( yeah, yeah I know an updated version) but short of the very obvious, I have no idea what is going down the runway.  I was scanning quickly through Jezebel, as I do every couple of days, when I saw a story that caught may attention. Apparently the soon to be responsible for torn ligaments, bunions and sprained ankles, Sky Heel is coming to a shoe store near you.


Black Postal Worker Slapped and Called the N Word

Last October Hugson Jean attempted to deliver a certified letter to Hingham resident, Erika Winchester, 61.  Ms. Hingham became irate after signing for the letter and demanded that Jean take it back.  When he attempted to tell her that she would have to return it to the post office herself she called him a nigger and slapped him.  When asked if he wanted to press charges Jean declined but has since claimed that he was not notified of this and absolutely wanted his day in court. Winchester however was ordered to write a letter of apology to Jean which she did do.  
Winchester has been in trouble before, including at a 2007 “Cabaret” fund-raiser during which she threatened to mow down “anyone who wronged her” with a machine gun, according to court records.

She also told the arresting officer she was going to “chop off” his genitals, court records show. Disorderly conduct and other charges were later dismissed.
Jean has since been fired and alleges that he was fired because of this incident. The postal service denies this claim.  He further alleges that his supervisors did nothing to investigate this incident though it was all recorded on tape.  The video has been viewed thousands of times on youtube and Winchester has since been placed under police protection.

The stories recounting this incident refer to her as the "crazy White lady."  Others have since stepped forward and alleged that Winchester has mental health issues.  While I take issue with the disableism that is being used to target her, I do not believe we can ignore the racism that she engaged in.  Being neurologically atypical is not grounds to abuse anyone in this manner.  I do however believe that this incident is being compounded with the disablest language used to describe this woman.   While her actions are without doubt racist. using ableist language to attack her is committing another wrong and supports the very same hierarchy of bodies that lead to her attack on Jean.  One cannot eliminate racism by using disablism -- every ism is harmful.

The following are the youtube videos of the incident between Jean and Winchester.  Please be aware that extremely racist language is used throughout.

Dear Multicultural Canadians, Do Something About Your Racist Children

Friday normally means two full days of family time for me.  It means movies and popcorn, sleeping in, big breakfasts, laughing and the occasional silly dance.  This Friday was different than the norm and yet unfortunately it has become something we are used to as a multi-racial family -- you see, once again my little boy Destruction came home to report he was called a nigger at school.  He reported this to his teacher who simply told the child in question not to say that -- no further explanation was offered.  My boy as you can imagine was deeply upset and so he retired to a corner with his angry tears when he was approached by another teacher.  He related to her what happened and she spoke again to the offending child, but still no explanation was given as to why what was said crossed the line into hate speech.  My child is 9 years old and in his short time on this earth, he has repeatedly been reminded that the color of his skin makes him less than.  Each year his father and I go to the school and meet with the principal and hear about their so-called diversity program, only to have another racial incident happen.

When we reported what happened to his sensei at karate, because we knew he was not himself when he went to class, we were told that he has to get used to being called a nigger because the world is racist.  We were accused of not giving him coping skills, as though one ever gets used to being called a nigger.  We have done our due diligence with our child and I daresay he is far more socially aware than most and yet somehow his victimization was blamed on us - his parents. 

I am watching the clock now and waiting for 9 AM so that I can arrange yet another meeting with the principal to discuss this matter.  We are always shown terrible statistics about how children of colour are doing in school, but where is the discussion about the racism and harassment that they must deal with?  We all know that bullying is wrong and should never be considered a part of childhood and yet teachers turn their back everyday to what is happening right in front of them.  How am I supposed to instill a love of learning in my child, if he associates the very place I send him for an education with debasement?  The following is from the Ontario Human Rights Commission.