Saturday, April 9, 2011

Drop It Like It's Hot

Good morning everyone, thanks for another great week of conversation.  Once again, I wanted to remind everyone that we cannot always agree, and that the point of what goes on here is to be exposed to new ideas from perspectives we may not be familiar with.  It can sometimes be contentious but if we just bury these issues and pretend that they don't exist nothing will ever change.

I wanted to remind everyone that I am still looking for a Latina contributor.  There are issues that are very specific to the Latino community and I as a Canadian Black woman, am hardly fluent.  In an effort to make this blog as intersectional as possible it is my hope that someone will read this and take on this role.  If you are interested in joining the team, please send in two examples of your work and a short note about why social justice is important to you.  This is a non paid position but you must be prepared to blog either weekly or bi-weekly.  Preference will be given to those who are able to do a weekly commitment.  Please send your info to womanistmusings (at) gmail(dot) com.  As always those who are interested in submitting a guest post may use that address as well.  Please include a link back to your blog, an image that identifies you and a small three line bio.

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

Rare News for the Female Sex. Or, Good Luck at Last
Me, Me, Me
Trust: Should Rape Be "R" Rated
Woman in the Mirror
Discrimination creates racial battle fatigue for African-Americans
Your Fee Fees End Where My Body Begins
Canadian Election Tidbits
The Wage Gap and Women's Choices
Racial PTSD and Paranoia
Archaeologists Find 5000 Year Old Trans Skeleton
Gary Freeman Exposes The N Word
A Few Basic Truths; What I Think About "Concern Trolling"
The American People
Tide Knows Dad Better Than He Knows Himself
My Body My Privilege
We're All Mad Here
Mercy, Mercy Me: Hip Hop & Mister Cee Ain't What It Used To Be
I Caved....
A Talk to Teachers by James Baldwin
Raising children to be submissive members of the lower caste
Daughter of Slaves Not Recognized As World's Oldest Woman
Padding and Patriarchy: The State of American Girlhood
saddest thing about emergency food budgets
Amazon Often Rejects Porn But Helps White Racists Publish Books
Where Do You Put Your Garbage?

Friday, April 8, 2011

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

I know that it's Friday, but this week I am going to share with you one of my shames.  I love watching Shark Tank and it's Canadian version Dragon's Den.  Basically, both shows involve small business owners getting the opportunity to approach multi-millionaires, and in the case of the U.S version, multi-billionaires about investing in their companies.  Every time I watch, I know I am totally buying into the bullshit lie that meritocracy works, and that capitalism is good for people.  Every bone in my body says that this show promotes everything I think is wrong with the system, and yet I am still watching it.  I finally had to borrow a page from LaToya Peterson's book and say, fuck it I like it.  What show are you watching that you simply have to say fuck it I like it?

James Caan and Everyday Racism on The View

James Caan and Keeanu Reeve were on The View this morning to promote their new film Henry's crime. The following is a transcript of a part of their conversation.
Elisabeth: Keenau not only did you star in the film you produced it. How did you get James Caan involved?
Keeanu: It was a gift from above
James Caan: It was an old Indian trick, he fell to his knees and begged and it worked.
What Caan had to say was absolutely disgusting, but what disturbed me more than what he said, was the reaction to it - everyone, and that includes the audience, and the ladies of The View laughed.  Not a single person saw how coming from a White man with more privilege that you can shake a stick at was being racist.

The complexity of the term breeder

Pregnant woman black and white shadows
By Tom and Katrien (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The main slur that has been directed at me from the LGBT community is the term breeder.  I understand that this a reaction to the fact that straight people constantly shame same sex couples for their inability to reproduce.  Though many straight couples spend a lifetime together and chose never to become parents, the biological impossibility of two women, or two men producing a child has been constructed as a negative.  This is without doubt absolutely oppressive, and I can completely understand why the desire to respond with a pejorative is necessary.  As I wrote earlier this week, dominant bodies can be hurt by name calling, but it does not rise to the level of a specific oppression or a slur, because they still have access to power.

The term breeder has been a very difficult one for me.  I fully acknowledge that I have straight privilege, and I did in fact produce two amazing little boys as the result of sexual activity that is completely sanctioned in our heteronormative society.  These are simply facts that cannot be denied.  My issue with the term breeder originates in who is deploying the word to hurt me.  Coming from a POC who is GLBT, I completely understand and accept it, because it is a commentary on my straight privilege however, coming from a person who is LGBT and White, and therefore exists with White privilege, the term takes on a significantly different meaning.

My Future Generation

Dan Waters is a snarky 22 year old queer biracial wonderment who is part White, Portuguese, and Native American (Wampanoag-Kiowa). He currently lives in Massachusetts, and plans to become a Lawyer. That is, if he can survive Algonquin language classes and polyamorous dating right now! He also identifies as Two Spirit, and prefers male pronouns, but cherishes his female body that he was given graciously by the Creator. He blogs at Identity Exposure.

Growing up, I fell in love with My Little Pony (MLP). It was easy, really. Almost like it was in my blood. Kiowa are Plains people, and many Plains people were also Horse people. I loved horses, and the bright pastel colors that they came in just were a match made in heaven. I had Rainbow Dash, a blue Pegasus with rainbow mane. It was my favorite of them all. I wanted to someday pass on this appreciation for a simple plastic toy to my children, but I regretfully inform you that I can’t now.

My Little Pony had a recent comeback on TV, with a series entitled “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic!”. In Episode 21 (click here to view the episode), Applejack is heading back West and gets caught up with a disagreement between the Buffalo and Apple-oosa Settlers. In this piece, I will be discussing the inaccuracies and fallacies in this episode that is geared towards children. If this doesn’t validate claims that racism is learned from a small age, I don’t know what is.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Becoming Joanna: The struggles of a Latina Trans Girl

Becoming Johanna, is the the story of a 17 year old Latina trans girl and the issues she had to deal with regarding her transition. TLBG youth are extremely at risk, and unlike many kids, a significant percentage cannot count on the support and protection of their families.  Just watching my child negotiate White supremacy in the last 4 years, I know that the ability to come home and be embraced and accepted for who he is makes a large difference in his self esteem, and ability to feel safe.  No child should ever feel unsafe in their own home, and it is an absolute betrayal and denial of parental responsibility to treat TLBG children as if they are damaged. 

Johanna's religious mother, had her daughter committed to stop her from transitioning.  I cannot begin to imagine the harm that this must have caused.  We live in a society where we are taught that a mother's love is unconditional however, in many cases, when it comes to an TLBG child, this is not the case.

The Youth and Gender Media Project have created a series of films specifically to highlight gender non conforming youth.  Their other documentaries include, The Family Journey: Raising Gender Nonconforming Children and I’m Just Anneke.

From the Youth and Gender Media Project: 
The films introduce radical new concepts for many audiences, from the very idea that a young child can be transgender and have the wherewithal to fight against the pressures to conform to a binary gender paradigm, to the new and still very rare use of hormone blockers to delay puberty. However, since the films are structured around universal themes such as parenting and acceptance, identity and difference, growing up and coming of age, tolerance, love and self-esteem, they remain accessible and deeply moving even to people who are resistant to the idea of transgender youth.
This series is an absolute good, and if it helps even one child who is at risk, it is something we should all promote.  Not all children are equally loved or valued, and it is time we stop presenting this mendacious myth to help those who need us.  

Criminal Minds: Gender, Disability and Disableism

Though I know that cop shows can be problematic as hell in many ways, I must admit that I still watch them and occasionally cringe to get through them, or skip it all together if it is triggering.  I know that I am not the only marginalized person that faces this quandary every time we sit down to watch our favourite crime drama.

Last night after putting my little men to bed, I sat down to watch Criminal Minds.  I actually like this show because it is about a specialized FBI unit that travels across the country to take on cases that are beyond local law enforcement. Most cases are solved within an hour using behavioral analysis. Also, to be perfectly honest, Shemar Moore is very, very easy on the eyes (I call dibs).  On last night's episode, a woman went on a killing spree.  It began in a gun store where she shot four people and then continued as she shot cops and attempted to shoot paramedics.  It was made clear that because she is a White woman, she was not initially viewed as a threat.  I was actually happy to see that because it showed one of the ways that White female privilege can be an advantage.

What could possibly make this nice White suburban mom become so violent?  Well it seems that she was in a car accident and her son died.  She felt that the police and paramedics did not do enough to save her child.  I am a very fortunate woman because not only are my children living they are both in excellent health.  Everyday I am thankful for this and I cannot imagine the pain that would come from losing a child.

Once Again Comedy Justifies Racism

I am late to the following story, but it really demands as much attention as we can give it. On March 22, The Dave Ryan Show in Minneapolis decided that it would be fun to use the Eric Clapton song Tears in Heaven to racially attack the Hmong community.  I suspect, that this attack was triggered by White fear due in large part to changing racial demographics.

According to the 2000 census, Saint Paul’s total population grew by a modest 5.5% from 272,235 to 287,151 people.

Between 1990 and 2000, the population statistics for Saint Paul showed decreases, increases, and status quo population data:
  • The Caucasian population decreased from 81% to 64%.
  • The Asian population, primary comprised of Hmong and Vietnamese, increased from 7% to 12%.
  • Saint Paul’s Hmong population is one of the largest contingents of urban Hmong in the United States.
  • The African-American population grew from 7% to 11%.
  • The Latino population, the fastest growing population in the United States, grew from 4% to 8% in Saint Paul.
  • The Native American population remained constant at 1%.
  • Multiracial population data, for the first time in United States history, was gathered through the census and 3% of Saint Paul’s population declared themselves as multiracial. 

Act Like The White Folk Do

My best friend and I talk about race quite a bit.  The fact that we are both Black and living in a small town, means that we have have very similar experiences.  He recently embarked on a project that I have nicknamed act like the white folk do.  This means instead of waiting for the inevitable racist response from the bigoted White members of our community he acts in a proactive manner.

While I laugh at each of his antics, I know that they serve the point of teaching people about racism in a way that they certainly didn't expect.  When he got tired of White women jumping into a corner the moment he entered an elevator, he decided to teach them what this felt like.  Now when he enters an elevator, he cramps himself into a corner, clutches himself and looks with fear at the White woman.  Often times this has brought about a deep blush.  Lesson learned.

Shopping for anything in this area is also an opportunity for a person of colour to expose themselves to racism.  After we go through the deeply shaming experience of either being ignored outright, or directed to cheaper items, the cashier makes sure to shame us. I personally have been referred to as a "gal" and been offered layway because my colour indicated I didn't have enough money to pay for the item that I was looking at.  Ironically, I knew that at the time, I made more money than the woman who was showing me the product I sought to purchase. It is nothing to stand in line and watch as cashiers hand change directly to White people, and then put the change on the conveyer belt, rather than touch our hands because we are of colour.  To preempt this, he has begun to demand in advance that all change be placed on the conveyer belt, sending the message that he does not want to touch them.  This of course often brings a look of utter embarrassment, not only from the cashier, but from anyone White who witnesses the exchange. Lesson learned.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Sun's rays

Itoro Udofia is an artist and writer living in Amherst, MA. Currently, she is attending graduate school to study social justice and education. Her work focuses primarily on the African Diaspora, black womanhood, identity, solidarity, and love. She hopes to continue using art as a tool for social justice. 

Little girl’s trying to chase the sun’s rays
Hoping to bag it ‘fore the lights go out
Someone told her she’s one of the sun’s chosen ones
That the sun makes sure to kiss those it loves
Someone explained.
 “That’s why you’re dark skinned.”
Ever since…
She’s been trying to bag the sun’s rays
Keep it for herself to play
And to fend off those who say she should be other
Than what she is

Fibromyalgia Disability, Miracles and Judgment

Praise the Lord!!!
Miracle in the alcohol aisle.

I was sent the above image with the caption via email yesterday from Virginia, a fellow fibromyalgia sufferer.  I must admit that when I saw the image, I was absolutely enraged.  What is disturbing is though this image and caption are absolutely ableist, I found myself filled with the desire to defend myself, based in large part because gatekeepers decide who is legitimately disabled. Unlike any other label, disability requires the approval of someone else, even though the individual knows best how their body functions.

I have personally been subject to the kind of disableist harassment that was expressed in the commentary for this photo.  The very idea that if you use a mobility device, and suddenly stand or take a few steps that you are faking a condition is pervasive.  For many, it is either full range of motion or paralysis. There is no consideration about the effort ad the cost of those few simple steps, or rising to one's feet.  We are placed into the position to put added stress on our bodies, specifically because society is built for able bodies.  No one even bothers to ask if people who have limited range of motion would stress their bodies, if the TAB made sure that people could negotiate the world? Even as I wrote that, I know that the ability to play super crip is also a privilege, because there are those who don't have the ability to push their bodies beyond certain boundaries.

A History Lesson in Blood Quantum

Dan Waters is a snarky 22 year old queer biracial wonderment who is part White, Portuguese, and Native American (Wampanoag-Kiowa). He currently lives in Massachusetts, and plans to become a Lawyer. That is, if he can survive Algonquin language classes and polyamorous dating right now! He also identifies as Two Spirit, and prefers male pronouns, but cherishes his female body that he was given graciously by the Creator. He blogs at Identity Exposure.

I told myself I was not going to write anything about blood quantum, because I have such mixed views about it and whatnot. But when NPR decided to discuss about benefits, I couldn’t bite my tongue. Take the clue, NPR: THE GOVERNMENT WANTS THE BENFITS TO GO AWAY! And even if they do qualify, here’s the thing: many tribes, and individuals, do not even get those fucking benefits even if they meet the criteria. NPR also seems it relevant to just narrow the focus to strictly being about benefits (and thus ignoring that the government doesn’t want us to have benefits). No, being Native is not about culture, or community, it’s simply us wanting to bleed the taxpayers dry. I got pissed; no one was going to reduce my identity to a fucking number and some petty cash.

Here’s a history lesson as to how the Blood Quantum shit went down:

America wanted to give Indians a “New Deal”. Everyone finally found the Dawes Act a fucking mess, and way too many Boarding School graduates were returning to the Rez to get back to their roots.

“We thought we took care of the Indian problem with the schools!” exclaimed America. Apparently they did not.

Straight People Need Therapy

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

You heard me: straight people NEED THERAPY.

Let me explain.

Recently, someone very close to me who is gay, confided in me about some aspects of their experience living amid homophobia and heterosexism. As someone who benefits from heterosexual/ cisgender privilege, I was overcome with the usual emotions that I suppose overcome allies: frustration, pain, sadness, helplessness. As much as I love and care for this person, as much as they are a part of me, I can't love or hug institutional heteronormativity away. My person lives in a country where there are NO publicly funded counseling options, much less the chance that therapists can be openly affirming of gay identity. As I was contemplating how I could help them access safe and affirming counseling, I was struck by the invisibilizing of privilege embedded in how so many of us think about social progress.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Irish Anti-Bullying Campaign: "Stand up for your LGBT friends"

The following is a great Irish PSA which deals with homophobic bullying.  A young teen is being harassed for holding hands with a fellow male student.  When the bullies decide to confront him in a public space, the other kids join hands with people of the same sex to stop the bullying.  I think it is a great PSA because it shows we all have a role to play in ending homophobia and its damaging effects.

Talking racism, sexism with Ricky Gervais, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Louis C.K.

I am a writer, black woman, bibliophile, music lover, nappy head, geek, eccentric, Midwesterner, wife, stepmother, sister, aunt and daughter. I am a liberal progressive. I believe in equality...of gender...of race...of sexuality...and I believe in working PROACTIVELY toward same. I am anti-oppression. I believe in justice for ALL. (Knowing that, you may label me as you wish.) I am a genealogist and I believe there is strength and knowledge to be found in the lives of our ancestors. Good living, good food, good music, good books, good people and good conversation turn me on. I blog at What Tami Said.

On April 1, through Ricky Gervais' podcast feed, I received a teaser for his upcoming special, "Talking Funny." The show, which debuts on HBO on April 22, features Gervais and fellow comedians Jerry Seinfeld, Louis C. K. and Chris Rock talking about their craft. Following is an exchange from the clip, which can be downloaded for free from iTunes, Audible or Gervais' website. I cannot seem to find this extended clip on You Tube or HBO's site:

    Louis C. K. (talking about Chris Rock's style of comedy): Chris does it in a way that is even more blatant, cause he'll even keep repeating...If the premise is, y'know, women can't live without money...or whatever it is you're...all your chauvinist bullshit things that you say...


    Chris Rock: (Possibly referring back to an earlier conversation):

    Louis C. K.: He'll keep repeating it...

    Jerry Seinfeld: Women can't go down a lifestyle.

    Louis C. K.: Women can't go down a lifestyle! That's his thing. Women can't go down a lifestyle. Then he'll explain it from 50 angles and he'll say (mildly adopting Rock's cadence), "Women can't go down in lifestyle. They can't. They can't go down..." And then he'll explain...

    Seinfeld: Well, he has to do that, cause that's a richer idea than they're used to hearing from a comedian. So, he has to teach them.

    Louis C. K.: Oh, I think he's doing the right thing, but that's...yeah.

    Rock: And a lot of comedians have great jokes and they don't like...Why isn't this working? It's not working because the audience doesn't understand the premise. So, I'm going to make sure...If I set this premise up right, this joke will always work, but if I kinda go namby pamby about setting up the premise...

    Louis C. K.: (Referring to Rock): One of my favorite bits of his is that when white people are rich, they're just rich forever and ever. Even their kids are rich. But when a black guy gets rich, it's countdown to when he's poor again.


    Rock (Referring to Louis C.K.): He's the blackest white guy I know. All the negative things we think about black people...this fucker...

    Louis C.K.: You're saying I'm a nigger.


    Rock: Yes, you are the niggerest fuckin' white man I have ever...

It's hard to capture the spirit of a discussion simply through a transcript. I encourage you to go to one of the sources mentioned above and see the thing for yourself. And I want to know if this exchange makes you as uncomfortable as it did me.

Let's Talk About Supposed Slurs: Cracker, Paleface and Honky


Slurs can be extremely harmful and are used specifically to hurt a marginalized group.  In many cases, though marginalized people have made it clear that certain words cause incredible pain, dominant groups continue to use them in their every day language, because they either don't care about the pain that they inflict with these words, or they intend to cause damage.  If a White person and a Black person are in a disagreement, the White person can immediately assert their power over the Black person by using the word nigger.  It elevates the White person, while sending a message that the Black person is inferior. There is no word that a Black person can call a White person that has the same effect, or the same historical meaning.

Yesterday in the comment section, there was some consternation over the word paleface.  There were claims of being hurt and offended at the label.  Paleface is a descriptor; it is not now, or ever will be a slur.  If an Indigenous Person chooses to use the term, it is done in reaction to a history of racism, and does not come from a place of purposeful oppression.  Even if said Indigenous person were attempting to debase a White person, the fact of the matter is, that there are no words or phrases, that carries the same sort of impact of any slur a White person could call an Indigenous person.

Famous people in history, being GBLT and the Gandhi drama

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. 
Ok, there be a drama llama flying around because an author has declared that they believe Ghandi to have been bisexual or gay. Cue massive explosions and meltdowns. So I thought I'd put my thinking hat on - I put this hat on without expressing an opinion on whether Ghandi was gay/bi or not. I don't know and don't have enough information to make a decision.

So, first of all I'm going to maybe surprise people and say, yes this actually matters. I know, I know, it's very tempting to say, especially to the people having screaming meemies, that "gay, bi, or straight, the man was a great man and did great things - why does it matter?"

Monday, April 4, 2011

Teasing A Black Child About Her Hair is Abuse

All Black women have a story to tell about their hair and how it has impact their vision of what beauty is. I know that for quite sometime as a child, I thought I was ugly in large part due to my hair.  I envied the White girls I went to school with and so I was ecstatic when I could finally straighten by hair. I processed my hair until the age of 26 sure in the belief that natural Black hair was not only unkept but ugly.  For me, this was certainly a reflection of my internalized racism.

The feelings I had about my hair certainly did not manifest from nowhere.  They were absolutely a reflection of the fact that my mind had become colonized because I lived in a White supremacist state.  (Breathe easy Canadians, racism is just as bad in Canada, we just hide it better) When I have written about what Black women go through with their hair, inevitably some White person tells me that they can identify of that Whiteness does not care about Black hair.  Of course, none of this is in the last bit true. Little Black girls are bullied constantly about their hair, and it does not always come from other children.

A 'Gender-Free' World Might Default to Male

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 response to Monday's post about the need to transition in a gender-free world, some readers questioned what such a world might look like and whether or not it could actually exist. I personally have no idea, but that has never stopped me from writing about something before.

My theory, which was always kind of a formless collection of thoughts, but which has taken on more structure in my mind after contemplating Monday's discussion, is that a socially constructed "gender-free world" would not be gender free at all – at least in Western culture, it would default to male.  

My thinking is not based on scientific fact (it rarely is – my sister, not me, is the one who reads books about quantum physics and string theory for pleasure). It's based on a series of random observations.

The Most Interesting Black Man in The World is Certainly Not Gay.

I think a well done spoof can be really fun.  I recently came across a spoof of the Dos Equis beer commercials. Now, lets just be honest and say that the celebration of masculinity in these ads is ridiculous and they aren't even amusing to boot.  The following spoof stars Billy Dee Williams, so I was really expecting much better.

More Subway Strife: Black Women Defend Themselves

Okay, Last week I posted a video that showed a subway altercation.  What I found shocking, is that some commenters seemed to feel the need to give the White woman the benefit of the doubt.  Let me just say straight up, fuck that noise.  I ain't even trying to hear that shit. If a Black woman cannot get the benefit of the doubt after being called an animal, then when can she?  The bottom line is that when Blacks and Whites share a space, Whites still feel that they have the right to assert their authority at will.  This is not helped by Blacks who think that calling people hoodrats  is acceptable, while looking upon them as though standing up for yourself is shaming the community.

Of course the video starts off with the Black women yelling.  God forbid we get one of these things that shows the beginning of the disagreement.  From what I can surmise, the two young women were attempting to defend their aunt because of something said by a White woman, when two White men decided to intervene.  Heaven forbid a wilting White woman be left to deal with her own issues.  This btw for those of you are curious, comes down to White female privilege.  Tell me the last time you saw a White man come to the defense of a Black women.  Nope, we are tough and not feminine enough.  This is the perfect example of sexism against women, can in certain cases become a benefit for White women.