Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Hello everyone, I just wanted to say Merry Christmas to everyone that is celebrating today.  I hope that you have a wonderful day with friends and family.  Thank you for all of your support this year.  We just finished our breakfast to end all breakfasts as we call it around here, have opened all the presents and are about to watch our movies and relax. I got the most wonderful ugly slippers continuing on the tradition and when I get a chance I will post a picture so that you may shame me.  I also received Beyonce's new cologne, a wireless mouse, and a huge deep frying pan that I wanted.  I hope that Santa was good to you ;)

Friday, December 24, 2010

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

 This week's question was provided by the ever cool and eternally wrong (at least when it comes to crocs and pineapple on pizza) Sparky.

Okay, I was chatting away with Renee the other night, trying to fathom how things work in the land of moose, hockey and mounties and I was suddenly shocked to find that... they don't have suet! No suet?! No steak and kidney puddings, no proper dumplings! Oh such terrible deprivation, I don't know how she manages with such lack. I mean, how can you make Christmas pudding? Or mince pies...

And then Renee pointed out that mince pies were confined to specialty shops in her part of the world.

And this boggled me so much because here, the idea of not having mince pies for Christmas is like not having a tree. They're probably the most advertised food stuff at the moment. Even I have made a few dozen and I'm not even fond of the things (Beloved is willing to eat them for me. He's such a saint). Leaving mince pies out for Father Christmas, was as much a ritual of Christmas as a kid, as hanging up stockings and going to bed when it was still light outside.

And crackers! They only have crackers in specialist shops? How can you have Christmas without crackers, so parents and annoying younger kids can make annoying noises all dinner and dad can read out the not-funny-joke and nearly die laughing into his whiskey, and granny can put the paper hat on and cackle into the sherry (and maybe accidentally set the hat on fire. Because it's not Christmas if we don't risk immolation at least once).

So boggling on all this I find Renee makes... gingerbread houses? Iced gingerbread houses? And that it is traditional to have apple pie at Christmas They have allowed the glories of Christmas pudding to be usurped by apple pie? Catch me someone, I feel faint...

And sweet potatoes? Now I'm fond of yams.. but yams with brown sugar and marshmallows? What what is this? At Christmas dinner?! I can feel my old grandmother spinning in her grave, I can! Oh the humanity!

So now I'm curious and I had to pursue this. What is iconic in your Christmas? Not just in yours but in the culture around you? What thing can you simply not imagine not being there – and would it make the rest of us scratch our heads?

Build Me My FatherLand

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.

My father is a bit of a history buff; and I get my obsession with mapping events from him. However, when it comes to seeing history as a linear pattern of events, we part ways. My idea of history is too 'messy' for him, as I tend to always look at Subaltern points of view -- or the voices 'history' forgets, so to speak -- while he is content with historian's voices; and the fact that these voices come from a culture and a tradition of privilege aren't his concern. Needless to say, we have a lot of disagreements when it comes to understanding and seeing history, even when it comes to news and current affairs. Yesterday when Azam Khan questioned how 'integral' a part of India Kashmir really was, my father flew into a temper, indignant  at the idea that an 'Indian' had any doubts whatsoever regarding how much Kashmir means to us; he started talking about the Kargil war and how our 'Motherland' cannot be fissured any more if we want to maintain any semblance of stability. Later that evening, the same news flashed across major networks and my grandma grumbled how easy it is for people to talk about 'borders' and question the integrity of Kashmir without witnessing the struggle it took us to attain independence and make these 'borders' matter. And then she remember one speech Nehru gave where he lamented, "what was broken up which was of the highest importance, was something very vital and that was the body of India". The imagery both discussions conjured up was "motherland", "mother", "mother's ungrateful children" -- that is us -- and "mother's body" that 'we've hacked up beyond recognition'. While these words swirl around me, I can't get over the hyper-feminisation of space, as if this feminised space of imagining India as a "she" or a "her" is an entirely neutral construct and has no bearing on history whatsoever.

Celebrate Yourself for the Holidays

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. 

Ho, ho, ho isn't always so for everyone at the holidays. This time of year can be particularly difficult for trans people who have been rejected by family and friends or who have grown apart from the significant people in their life because of transition. 

One of the most important things about a holiday, no matter which one you celebrate, is the traditions and rituals that go along with it. You might have specific memories of chestnuts roasting on an open fire or yuletide carols being sung by choir. But now those pleasant memories become painful as you realize that the people you used to share them with are no longer including you.

It can make for a very sad time of year. But being alone doesn't mean that you have to give up the joy of whatever holiday you might celebrate. If you're starting over in your life, you are also in the unique - and possibly wonderful - position of creating your own traditions and rituals. You can do what you want to do, the way you want to do it, and make your special days all the more special for yourself.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Difference Between Race and Ethnicity

The conversations on WM are often stopped from deep and meaningful progress because invariably someone shows up who has not gotten their 101 on, and demands to be spoon fed.  I came across two great videos at sociological images that I thought would answer a lot of the repeated questions about what race actually means.

Have a very Muslim Christmas

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.

Brilliant, multi-coloured lights flash from storefront windows; giant wreaths, shining silver faux icicles and cartoonish depictions of Santa hang low from mall ceilings; giant 15-foot Christmas trees piled high with elaborate, wrapped boxes line entrance corridors; ready-made, delectable Christmas cookies and chocolates intoxicate passers-by with their sweet, comforting smell, and the latest secular Christmas pop tunes pour out from Starbucks and other trendy hot-spots. People crowd the malls looking for the perfect gift or are drawn by the holiday deals. Babies are enthralled by the lights and kids run around with Santa hats. The Christmas spirit is running high, and is only briefly interrupted by the call to prayer. It's Christmas in Kuwait.

I have to admit, my first trip to Kuwait to meet the in-laws was a cultural shock on many levels. Forget about meeting an extended family so large that after years of marriage, close relatives I have never heard of are still coming out of the woodwork. Never mind the joys of eating halaal McDonald's, Pizza Hut and Subway and finding a mosque on every street corner. Let's ignore my blundering attempts to connect to my family by speaking a Yemeni dialect (poorly) and wowing them with my bhangra dance moves (much better). What shocked me the most was finding a Muslim country that celebrated Christmas -- at least, the secular, consumer culture aspect of the holiday season.

Especially since I believed Muslims don't, cannot, and will not celebrate Christmas.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Disability and Christmas

As Christmas gets closer, Mayhem and Destruction are over the moon with excitement.  We have discussed the annual artery clogging breakfast and what the coma inducing dinner will consist of.  We are looking forward to having a day to focus on each other.  What my boys don't know and what I cannot share, is the pain I know that these two days will bring for me, because it will require that I push my body beyond its limits.  My children would never knowingly want me to suffer, but as their mother, I am determined for them to have all the creature comforts possible to celebrate this day.

Christmas morning, I will wake up at 6:30 AM to begin making the massive breakfast.  I know that my legs will shake from the effort and my hands will ache and beg for mercy, but when we finally sit at the table to eat, every face will be filled with a smile.  I will get a short break as we open presents and then it is off to get the turkey in the oven and clean up after the breakfast to end all breakfasts.  We will admire and play with our presents and then watch xmas movies together on the couch.  Hopefully, I will have filled them up so much, they won't even think of lunch.  Every hour I will rise, my knees screaming to baste the turkey.

Finally, when it is time to take the turkey out, I will begin making gravy and put the sides in the oven. The boys and the unhusband will set the table.  We will each take turns bringing the food to the table.  I will then hit the wine, because at that point my pain pills will have stopped even pretending to work.  We will eat and feast until our stomach feel like they are going to explode and then will come the process of cleaning up and putting all of the left overs away.

By the time nothing remains of the feast and the day is over, I will feel like I have been run over by a truck.  I have been trying to convince myself to be thankful that I have the ability to rise above, even though it will cost me 2-3 days on the couch to recover, but right now as it looms in front of me as I can think about is the searing pain that is coming my way.

Much of the holiday traditions that we take for granted involve a lot of work.  It is difficult for a TAB person and so imagine what it must feel like for a disabled person.  I could certainly skip all of the tasks that are awaiting me, but to do so would mean that the boys would not have the Christmas to which they have become accustomed. I wrote this post because I want people to think about the fact that the ability to do something is often taken for granted and even something that is seen as universal like the celebration of holiday can impact the life of the differently abled.    The most common sentiment that I have heard when it comes to disability, is that we can do everything the TAB, just differently.  What is perhaps more true, is that when we attempt to do what the TAB do, there is most often a cost of some sort that is paid by us. 

In the years to come, I know my children will become aware of the pain and sacrifice, and I will tell them that it is an act born out of my love for them.  I don't believe that such an effort should be required of the disabled everyday and yet it most often is.  What may seem like the smallest task to you, can be the equivalent of a marathon to us.  As you go through your day, stop and think about how things would change if your body suddenly became disabled. 

Michael Moore On Rachel Maddow

Those of you following the #MooreandMe thread on twitter, might be interested to know that Moore appeared on Maddow last night.  Since not everyone has cable, I thought that I would post it for you.

Antoine Dodson Goes Straight to Buffoon

Antoine Dodson first went viral, when a reporter filmed his outrage, when a man broke into his home and tried to attack his sister.  Since then, his rant was turned into a song and became a download sensation.  He has a line of merchandise for sale and even created the Antoine Dodson Bedroom Intruder Halloween Costume.  With the money he earned, he managed to move his family out of the projects.  The following is his latest Bedroom Intruder incarnation.

What do we mean when we talk about a “White Christmas”??

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 remember a few years ago, I worked as a customer service representative at a credit card company. Most of my coworkers were Black women. One of the women enjoyed making crafts, and was selling items for Christmas. I bought a pretty little angel. It had a Styrofoam head that was painted brown and brown yarn for hair. I thought it was beautiful, but for some reason most of my coworkers were pretty shocked that I purchased a Black Christmas decoration.

I took my little angel home, excited to show it to my family. Well, my sister told me that it was ugly, and that she did not want this angel on display anywhere in the house. When I asked her why, she told me that angels are supposed to be "pure" and "beautiful". I then inquired as to what was wrong with MY angel that she did not meet those qualifications, and my sister promptly told me that "pure and beautiful" meant that the angel was supposed to be white with blond hair!

My jaw damn near dropped to the floor. I could not imagine that my own sister had such bigoted ideals! I guess I had kind of blinded myself to the racism of the people closest to me. I just did not want to believe that my sister was a bad person, and to me, racists were the worst type of people imaginable. So I never saw her racism because to do so was to recognize that she was not the open minded person I thought I should have in my family. And even my mother, who was the most beautiful, loving open minded human being I knew, capitulated to the demands of my sister and told me that I had to keep the angel in my bedroom. (A few years later, I noted with pride that my mother had purchased a display set of Black Christmas angels that she gave a dominant place in the living room). 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When It Comes To Rape, Keith Olbermann Can't Hear You

I have been following the #MooreandMe protest very closely, though I have not written about it until now.  There is a part of me that is not completely surprised by Moore's position, because his movies have largely concerned the downtrodden White male and not a universal look at the way that class really effects the U.S. population.  There has never been anything inherently feminist or pro woman about the man. I did however feel differently about Keith Olbermann until recently.

It seems that Olbermann retweeted a link from Bianca Jagger, that incorrectly claimed that "the term 'rape' in Sweden includes consensual sex without a condom," and that named Assange's accuser.  The naming of a rape victim opens her to threats of violence, which indeed is what happened. This is hardly the act of a responsible journalist. The response was immediate and swift, but Olbermann responded by throwing a fit, and banning people.  When he realized that this was not simply going to go away, he took a twitter vacation -- the online equivalent of taking one's ball and running home. The pull of social media dragged him back yesterday and he tweeted.
I endorse, sympathize with, and empathize with, the rape consciousness goals of #mooreandme, and have already apologized accordingly. But I cannot defend and will not accept their tactics which mirror so many of the attitudes and threats they fight. I do not know of what Julian Assange is guilty, if anything, and neither does anybody else. But given the extraordinary efforts by Sweden to extradite him, to say he is benefiting from some form of rape apologism is not fact-based. It is also unfair to condemn as anti-feminist those who merely address the juxtaposition of this prosecution to the fact that Assange threatens the secret and nefarious activities of dozens of governments.
Instead of admitting that he plain and simple fucked up, according to salon he finished up with:
"And I will not engage those who suggest that those who do not prioritize one issue to the exclusion of all others should succumb to forced financial contributions, or should 'kill themselves.'" He followed up by retweeting one of the messages in question, which read in part, "Seriously, kill yourself." Then he retweeted a call for him to donate $20,000 to the anti-rape organization RAINN as atonement. His antagonists have been quick to point out that he cherry-picked the "kill yourself" tweet, which is an exception in the thread, and that the call for "financial contributions" is simply in the interest of rape victims. One user wrote, "we WILL NOT be satisfied UNTIL you retract the false information you publicized re: Assange allegations." Olbermann responded, "you'll have to accept a block instead."

DADT Repeal Does Nothing For Trans Soldiers

This is a guest post by the ever fabulous Monica of TransGriot

While the GL community is celebrating the passage and imminent signing of the DADT repeal into law by President Obama, pardon the trans community if we are feeling as though we just got handed another lump of coal in our civil rights Christmas stocking.

Once again the GL community threw us under the bus in order to selfishly pass legislation that benefits only them.

And nope, that's not just Moni talking.   Other trans themed blogs aren't feeling the love of the holiday season either on this issue.  It's also what Transgender American Veterans Association Vice President Angela Brightfeather pointed out in its press release..
"It should be recognized that DADT has never included directives concerning Transgender people serving in the military.   Therefore, there was no call from Transgender Americans to equally serve in the military of their country, without persecution and discrimination. However, Transgender people who have and still do serve under the same pre-DADT conditions, still find it necessary to lie and hide who they are, contrary to the best traditions of the military." 
"We now press our GLB brothers and sisters to finish the job and help provide the means for Transgender people to be able to serve their country openly and equally as do all Americans."
It's going to be interesting to see if the GL community is going to practice what they screech at the POTUS and be 'fierce advocates' for Autumn Sandeen and the trans community in terms of getting us the same ability to serve openly and proudly in our military that they loudly demanded for themselves.

Stop Defending R. Kelly

There are 2,894 post in the archives of this blog. The pieces cover a myriad of subject matter and yet some of the most commented on posts are those directed at R. Kelly.  Despite having Black sons, Black brothers and a Black father, I am not one of those Black women that feels the need to uplift Black masculinity at the cost of Black women.  Call it a sense of preservation.  I fundamentally believe that Black women matter, and that means that though we share the same race, Black men do not have the right to abuse us at will, to uplift themselves in the project of maintaining the Black male patriarchy.

I recently got yet another letter regarding my post on R.Kelly's song When a Woman Loves.
I've just read your blog on R kelly's new single 'When a Woman Loves.'

Although you claim to be a pacifist and a humanist, your comment (or should I say your opinion) about the artist suggests you are neither.

What pacifist would use as vitriolic a  language as the one in your blog? What humanist would relegate reason and rationality to the back seat for some personal gratification?

You can quibble all you want, but one fact is clear: R Kelly has accomplished  more through his music than you and your blogging will ever dream of replicating. Little wonder you have to keep reminding yourself of the ludicrous evidence made up by an over-zealous prosecutor in an attempt to tarnish R Kelly's reputation.

I can only feel sorry for the two kids you are supposedly raising; how sad that they have a pessimistic, vindictive, bigoted, and self-righteous woman for a mother. Humanist? Please look up the word again. Sleazy and disgusting people like you make me sick.
I am not going to deal with the personal attacks in the e-mail because they are irrelevant, what matters is the suggestion that not supporting R.Kelly makes one deficient in some way.   Black women are continually accused of being angry and unreasonable, when we speak out against the harmful actions of abusive, violent, rapist, Black male celebrities. The fact that some find Kelly's music pleasant to listen to, should in no way invalidate the fact that he has a history of abuse.  (Yes, I remember his so-called marriage to a teen-aged Aaliyah)

When Will Gay People Be Happy?

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.

"When will you be happy?"

I was recently asked this question by a friend, much to the nodding agreement of those around, in response to my complaining about various political/equality issues after my opinion was solicited. Because, y'know, I never am. Whenever they ask me about equality, gay rights, prejudice or anything like I'm always such a depressing complainer. They need a less depressing gay friend, they do.

They especially need gay friend who will not give them side eye and threaten to give them a ding round the ear 'ole for statements like that.

See, the whole statement "when will you be happy?!" (and it's unspoken translation "aren't you satisfied yet?") bugs me a lot, because it's easily answered.

I'll be happy when our humanity is universally acknowledged (or even majority acknowledged for that matter!) as being equal to that of straight people. Until then, I'm going to be a grumpy gus with my grumpy face and my grumpy activism. 

And then I get the eye roll. Because I'm asking so much, because I'm being unreasonable.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Teen Rapper Says, 'Stop Looking At My Mom'

You are going about your day with your child, when some ignorant rude man decides to stare you down like you're a beautiful t-bone steak and he has not eaten in days.  For the sake of your child, you try to ignore it and move on, but you cannot say that you are not bothered, even as you  hope that your child did not witness what was occurring.   This is a common everyday occurrence.  When I first became a mother I thought that the mere presence of my child would bring an end to this kind of treatment but it did not take long for me to figure out that when the opportunity to reduce a woman to sexual object occurs, few are willing to forgo it.
A Brooklyn rap prodigy who is sick of guys eyeballing and catcalling his mother is burning up YouTube with a song titled "Stop Looking at My Moms."

The video by Brian Bradley, a 14-year-old who performs under the name the Astronomical Kid, has racked up nearly 200,000 views.

"Just 'cause I'm a shorty, don't think I won't do you no harm - stop looking at my moms!" he raps, wearing an '80s-style gold rope chain and a mohawk.

The tongue-twisting lyricist, who looks about 10, says his inspiration came from real life.
"I didn't like the way people were staring at my mother when I walked down the street. It was very offending," the Bedford-Stuyvesant teen said.

"Every kid goes through that; every mother goes through that.

"Women, they are not pieces of meat. They are human beings. They should be respected," he added. "Men should know better."

Brian, a 5-foot-3 high school freshman, said he was infuriated by drooling men hollering, "Yo, Ma! What's good, Ma?" at his mother on the street.

"I decided instead of being violent, and going about it the wrong way, I'd put it on a record," he said. "It's a track everyone can relate to. I don't like people lookin' at my moms. I'm pretty sure nobody likes it." (source)

The War On Drugs Attacks Black Barbershops

Barbershops and hair salons are a staple like bread, milk, and butter, in the Black community.  They do much more than provide a service.  They are a place where we can come together and discuss issues of the day without prying eyes - in short, they are a rare safe space in a White supremacist world.  The war on drugs has disproportionately effected the Black community.  This has manifested in higher sentences for crack than for cocaine, as well as disproportionate marijuana arrests.  Though Whites actually smoke more marijuana than Blacks, 7 out of 10 marijuana arrests involve Black people.  Is the issue really stemming the tide of drug addiction, or further oppressing Black communities and creating a surplus population that can be used for slave labour? Drug addicts of any race, sex, age or creed are welcome to join drug abuse treatment programs and get the help that they need.

Continuing the directive of assaulting Black people, Black barbershops were recently raided without warrants.

Making Major Life Changes: Five Trans Suggestions for Non-Trans People

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.  
In some places, including the United States, the end of the year is often seen as a time of reflection - mostly about the things that you screwed up over the past twelve months - and New Year's Day brings yet another chance to start fresh and head down a new path.

New Year's resolutions are a big part of that ritual. But resolutions are often made to be broken, because many of us are so set in our ways and in our life circumstances that real personal change is often difficult - and scary.

However, it can be done, and done successfully, as trans people know. Transition from female to male or male to female is a huge and life-changing step, but it is life affirming as well. And non-trans people can take some tips from trans experience for making changes of their own.

If you are contemplating a major life change, consider the following as you prepare your New Year's resolutions, especially if those changes you desire will seriously affect you and those around you.