Saturday, April 23, 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.
Vintage Black Glamour
Targeting Black Athletes: The BYU Case
Strange Bedfellows
Royal Wedding Video Spoof Video Guests More Diverse Than Actual Attendees?
Arab Women Aren't the Only Women in the Middle-East 
toss out the stereotypes 
The Joy(s) of Being A (Black) Woman
Princess Kate's reality TV wedding
Trans Respect vs Transphobia (trigger warning for discussion of violence against trans people)
If the Holocaust Was Black History
Passover Traditions from Jewish Cultures Worldwide  
Beyond the Binary: Body Image
Caribbean Teachers: The 'Indentured Servants' of the NYC Board of Education
How Losing Weight Made Me A Feminist
Advocacy as a Mitzvah
In the Bedrooms of the Nation I: A Brief Canadian History and Political Forces 
Ross Douthat's racial paranoia
Black Feminist Pornography: Reshaping The Future of Adult Entertainment
On Hitler's Birthday in 1943: The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Should Schools Force Kids to Eat "Healthy" Foods?
Home Birth Is Safer, Cheaper and Can End Disparities in Moms Dying
Dancing in Pulsing Funeral Halls 
Damn Dirty Apes! The Evolution of Prejudice as Scientists See the Beginnings of Racism in Monkeys
Party Like It's 1677
Women of Grassy Narrows Speak About the Longest Standing Blockade in Canadian History
Teaching The Real History of The United States
Perez Hilton and Bullying
My Top Questions About Dealing With Multiple Lovers

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hair and the Scalping Fiascos

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.

This post was prompted by two discussions I’ve had over the year: one I had with a few friends, who are well-meaning cis-allies but they have their moments of fail, and a blind-date conversation that turned horrible racist. With my friends specifically, I didn’t feel this was necessarily a trans-fail, because, to be honest, I know very few white-FTM individuals who actively keep their hair long. It sort of seemed like a race-fail, with some gender-fail sprinkling on top of it. The other guy? Well, you’ll see he had no excuse.

The question was: Dan, why do you keep your hair long?

It went into the typical argument that I’ve even heard amongst transgender community: I wouldn’t be taken seriously as a male. Really? Hair suddenly determines my sex and gender identity? I actually thought my hair determined if I was emo (see: days when I had scene hair), and what tribe I was from, or if I washed it that day. Of course, I doubt most tribes have purple in their hair, but I digress.

The Beat Down of Homeless Men

Socially the homeless are considered to be disposable because of their standing as members of an under class.  This is expressed through the few services that they are offered, as well how easily we walk by them each day, while failing to make eye contact, or even admitting our shared humanity. Because of their vulnerability they are seen as a mass simply waiting to be exploited by those that have the wherewithal to do so., a fetish site allegedly has been hiring homeless men to be beaten on camera by women for between 25-50 dollars.  It is the very vulnerability of these men that makes this offer enticing and it amounts to exploitation. 
It sounded like a good idea to George Grayson: Get $50 for submitting to a 12-minute videotaped beating by an attractive female.

A homeless man, Grayson needed the money.

So he followed the recruiters to a St. Petersburg townhouse on seven different occasions over the last few months, he said, and let five different women use his body and face as a punching bag.

Grayson, 37, became one of many St. Petersburg homeless men allegedly targeted by recruiters from, a locally operated website that sells for as much as $900 videos of scantily clad or semi-nude women beating up men, according to a lawsuit.

"I'm still in a little bit of pain from a couple of weeks ago," Grayson said last week. "I'm just trying to deal with it mentally right now." (source)

Apparently, Michelle Obama Is Tracy Morgan's Type

Tracy Morgan 6 Shankbone 2009 NYCphoto © 2009 David Shankbone | more info (via: Wylio)

Michelle Obama has been attacked from the moment Barack decided to run for president. Racists have constructed her as the quintessential angry Black woman, and some have gone as far to question her weight, refer to her as mannish, and to suggest that she is ugly.  Michelle is none of these things, and these characterizations have everything to do with the sexist racist stereotypes that have been encoded to the Black female body by Whiteness to justify the oppression of Black women.

Though Michelle lives with great privilege in terms of class, sexuality, ability etc., these combined privileges, are not always enough, as we have seen, to nullify her two obvious sites of oppression - race and gender.  Tracy Morgan recently appeared on The George Lopez Show, and his commentary about Michelle left a lot to be desired.

Niqab is not the problem

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.

Assalamu 'alaikum sister. How are you tonight?  Her eyes twinkled and suggested a smile. I returned the Arabic greeting of peace and smiled back. She flipped up her long black niqab, grinning – would you like to come to my party?

Last week, we were out running errands and were still on the road when it became time for the sunset prayer. Driving all the way home would mean that we’d miss the small window of opportunity to pray on time, so we drove to the closest mosque in the hopes of catching the congregational prayer.

The Hubby went through the mosque’s front door and entered the large, main prayer hall, while I made my way around the building to the women’s entrance at the back and up two flights of stairs to the women’s balcony with Eryn on my hip. That’s when I was halted by six women in niqab. They cooed over Eryn and after some chit-chat, invited me to a halaqa – a religious learning session.

I agreed to attend without knowing the name of the scholar, the audience, or even the lesson topic. I didn’t know what to expect. And while I certainly had preconceptions based on experience – being told at previous halaqas that I was praying wrong, wore my hijab wrong, and that I should reject western-feminist, liberal, progressive, reformist worldviews in favour of more conservative, political, Islamist doctrines – these ladies were just so excited and friendly that I couldn’t say no to the invitation.

The halaqa was held in the organizers’ trendy, condo party room -- only a third of us wore the hijab, and just a handful walked in with niqab. Some were young professionals and students and some were homemakers. My curiosity about the speaker and their affiliation to the community got the better of me, and I started asking questions.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Haiti and the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided

Last night I sat down to watch Black in Latin America, a documentary created by Henry Louis Gates Jr (I hope Soledad watched and took notes).  The first segment was entitled: 
Haiti & the Dominican Republic: An Island Divided

In Haiti, The Root Editor-in-Chief Henry Louis Gates Jr. tells the story of the birth of the first-ever black republic, and finds out how the slaves' hard-fought liberation over Napoleon Bonaparte's French Empire became a double-edged sword. In the Dominican Republic, Gates explores how race has been socially constructed in a society whose people reflect centuries of intermarriage, and how the country's troubled history with Haiti informs notions about racial classification.
I have long been fascinated with the history of Haiti, because it was site of the first slave rebellion in the western world that led directly to emancipation.  Haiti was the first independent Black republic in the western world. It has not escaped my notice, that Haiti is still being punished for this fact today. I was not as familiar with the history of the Dominican Republic, and so I was fascinated by Gates suggestion, that they desire to disown their African heritage.

Step Clap Go

I love step, and this all female crew just absolutely hits it out of the ballpark.

Step, Clap, Go! from Opening Ceremony on Vimeo.

H/T Hoydon About Town

Don't People Realize Gwyneth Paltrow Works Her Ass Off?

photo © 2011 Daniel Oines | more info (via: Wylio)

As I have said before, people love to hate on Gwyneth Paltrow, and to that I must add that it is with good cause.  Could there be a more clueless, rich, cisgender, straight, White woman running around? I know that before I even start reading an article about her, that I am going to be irritated, and yet my masochist tendencies mean that I still read it through.  Of course, this ends with me spewing epithets, while I go on a five minute or so rant, about her obliviousness to the world around her. 

Paltrow recently did an interview with Pop Eater and true to her history it was yet another extravaganza of over privileged White lady syndrome.
So, there is a contingent of people who are for some reason irritated by you. Do you know what I'm talking about?
Uh huh.

Why do you think that is? I have my theory, but I'll say afterward.
My theory is twofold. I think there's a part of me that because I think I do a lot, I think my work ethic is the reason why I'm successful. I think that a lot of people don't want to put in effort and it's easier to not change, not do something good for you, not work on your relationship, not make yourself a meal, not work out. [They're just] pissed off at someone else doing that. Everything in my life that's good is because I worked my ass off to get it and to maintain it. I also think, for example, like Mario Batali used to make fun of me all the time if I had soy milk in my coffee or if I was doing a cleanse or something. He used to grill me like, "Oh what are we eating? Squeezed out asparagus and seaweed?" And now he's the one doing a cleanse and having almond milk. I think people mistake me trying to be the best version of myself for me telling them you're not, or they just think well, what does that make me then, you annoying f**king person on the soapbox. But I can't please everybody, all I can do is focus on the people who seem to appreciate what I do and put into the world. I'll just do what I'm doing because, especially now, we live in a world now where everybody is able to express their opinion.

And anonymously.
Yeah, which almost sort of rules out the opinion. If everyone has an opinion then no one has an opinion. Ultimately, it's not about me.

It's about themselves.
Exactly. It's a projection. Sometimes if I hear of something really unkind or somebody's really misunderstood me or something like that for a second I'll be like, "Oooh wow that hurt," but almost immediately I'll be like, "poor guy." What state are they in that they're seeing that or projecting that.

Can we talk about...?
What's your theory?

Oh, that people are jealous. I know I'm going to sound like a suck up, but you're gorgeous, have a great career, two beautiful children, married to a big rock star. It all looks so effortless. You're well spoken. It just rubs people the wrong way. You look perfect.
It's funny because I'm so not. Of course, some of it is luck. My parents had money and they sent me to a good school, but it's like, what do you choose to do with that? You can rely on that and not do anything with it or you can say, "How am I going to justify that good fortune? How am I going to say my parents didn't waste their money on me?" I just think I'm really all about hard work and I honestly feel like anyone can have or do what they want as long as they put their mind to it.

Activist Olympics

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

Anyone familiar with this blog knows about “oppression olympics”, in which people who are victims of various -isms attempt to trump each other by declaring that their particular type of oppression is more damaging than another’s. Well, I seem to notice a trend going on, which I will call “activist olympics”.

It seems to me that in “white anti-racist” circles (a term which I despise) there is a lot of competition to prove who is the most openminded, the best activist, the least offensive and the most willing to admit their white privilege. Every time I read an article online about “white anti-racist” activism, it seems like there are dozens of responses from white people about what the person did wrong, how offended POC should be by this particular person or brand of activism, and how the activist is “showing their privilege”.

And when the “white anti-racists” are done with their critiques of the person who performed the activist work in question, they retreat into their corners, read a book, write a blog, and do nothing to promote justice in any concrete way.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"The Silence"

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.

As a survivor of abuse myself, I think that there is a great need for Native communities to speak out against systemic injustice. Tonight at 9:00PM EST/EDT, on PBS FrontLine, there will be a documentary called "The Silence", created in partnership with the Native community of Alaska that was effected by the abuses of a priest. There is also a live viewing online here, for folks with no cable/no PBS.

There will also be a twitter party online, and an AIM chatroom as well. For details, email me ([email protected] or on twitter (danny_waters). Thank you all, and hope to see you there!

The Help: White Woman Saves The Day Makes A Great Movie

The following is a short description of The Help written by Kathryn Stockett.
Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody's business, but she can't mind her tongue, so she's lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women--mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends--view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.

Apparently, Black Friends Gives White People a Free Pass On Their Racism

If you have not already heard about it, Marilyn Davenport, Tea party activist decided to send the following image to her closest White sheet wearing buddies.

The caption with the photo was:  "Now you know why — No birth certificate!"

Marilyn Davenport, is an elected member of the Republican party's central committee, in Orange County.  Proving that she is beyond shame, she apparently described the email as "much ado about nothing."  How dare Blacks get upset with the suggestion that we are sub human.  In fact, it is far more upsetting that anyone would have the nerve to suggest that Ms. Davenport is a racist.
"Oh, come on! Everybody who knows me knows that I am not a racist. It was a joke. I have friends who are black! Besides, I only sent it to a few people - mostly people I didn't think would be upset by it," explained Marilyn Davenport , Teapublican activist and member of the Orange County Republican Party Central Committee. (source)
 I wonder if this woman realizes that the imaginary friends that she had as a child don't actually work as a get out of being called a racist card.  No individual who interacts in a respectful manner with Blacks, could believe for one moment, that this email was not offensive. I wonder how many White woman's tears were shed with this excuse?

Lady GaGa's Bad Romance: An American Sign Language Version

Though I am not a fan of Lady GaGa, I was absolutely fascinated by this version of Bad Romance.  I have been told that the signing is pretty accurate and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.

Internet Censorship

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.
Net censorship never seems to be a topic that dies, in particular censoring all that dirty naughty porn for the (eternally) sake of the children. I think the most extreme version was a proposal by the Tories in the UK to try and create a blanket porn filter for the whole UK (like they could) that people would have to opt-out of (rather than opt-in).

I was not impressed, nor were many others.

But, regardless of that extreme example, we all know everything from schools and work places to public community centres, libraries, internet cafes, universities - in fact just about everywhere. I've seen internet filtering being used everywhere from WIFI in hotels to even the US Amtrak (and I'm not even sure I know what AMTRAK is, but I've seen a story about it's internet filters).

Now you're probably looking at me and asking "why Sparky, why do you need to see the naked people humping everywhere you go?" well, because it makes the day interesting - no, actually I have another motive.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Fangs For the Fantasy: Come Chat With Us

vampire (re-edit) -pimped by copdawootphoto © 2010 Andy | more info (via: Wylio)

Hey urban fantasy fans, I thought I would post a quick reminder about the podcast tonight.  Once again, Paul (who is always wrong) Tami of What Tami Said , our very own Dan and I, will be getting together tonight on talkshoe to discuss the latest happenings. We will dish about Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, which we are currently reading, as well as the latest episodes of Being Human and The Vampire Diaries.  We will be live at 6PM EST.  Please join us.

If You White Trans People Were Being Dissed, Would You Be Happy About It?

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

The Handle Our Chocolate Trans Business post I wrote is blowing up in the comment section on my FB page    The 'united we stand, divided we fall' line and the 'we're a small powerless community' talking points have predictably been deployed in this conversation.

But if that were the case, that trans unity sure isn't a concern when the invites to TBLG White House receptions and Christmas parties get dished out, transpeople are needed to testify at Congressional hearings, lead lobbying organizations,  lecture at colleges or gender conferences, talk to the media or be keynote speakers at trans themed conventions or events.

I don't hear that 'were a small, powerless community' rhetoric when it comes to policy formation and implementation and when it's time for people to get paid for advocacy on our community's issues.   

The issues of African American transpeople also aren't a concern to elements of the white trans community such as the WWBT's when they are desperately trying to reclaim the white privilege and status they lament losing. 

Denny's Baconalia

"The sacred festival of bacon.  A crispy feast of epic proportions"
Yes: Bacon meatloaf, bacon sundae, bacon sampler

I can honestly say that I watched this and was not tempted, simply because it involved American inferior bacon.  I should seriously get flyers printed up to say that Canadian bacon is better. Why is there all this denial regarding the quality of your bacon?  At any rate, I thought I would open this thread up to all those who love to talk about their bacon fantasies. What everyday item would you like to see paired with bacon?

'The Root' Is Wrong, Kobe's Slur is Anti-Gay

Kobe Bryantphoto © 2010 Cliff | more info (via: Wylio)

By now I am sure that many of you aware the Kobe Bryant has been fined 100,000 dollars after calling a referee "a fucking faggot" in a fit of rage.  He has since apologized and claims that the language he used is not reflective of how he feels about the LGBT community. Uh huh, not buying that one for a second.  When someone says something homophobic, it is normally only a matter of time before justification of the comment begins.  The very fact that this slur came from a Black man, was enough for me to realize that conversation would not be productive in the mainstream and sure enough, David Kaufman at The Root, more than adequately affirmed my belief. 
Armed with their well-oiled media machine, both groups quickly issued formal statements blasting Bryant, which were snapped up by major LGBT blogs whose writers and readers have now declared the pro-baller America's homophobe-in-chief.

Although Bryant's word choice is certainly unfortunate, equally worrisome is the near-instant racial -- and racist -- overtones now permeating this debate. At its core is the comparison of the word "faggot" with "nigger," a comparison that has become emblematic of the LGBT movement's unabashed co-option of the African-American struggle. In this case, reader comments on blog after blog repeatedly invoke the word "nigger" in their Kobe takedown as -- in the words of Joe.My.God reader "beeblmeyer" -- they "wonder how Mr. Bryant would feel if someone said, 'Fucking nigger.' "
The real wonder here is how folks could think there is anything to compare in the first place. Without a doubt, Bryant uttered the epithet in anger, but in a fit of homophobia? Not necessarily, at least until we know for certain whether referee Bennie Adams is gay.

Despite what gay, black ex-NBA player John Amaechi might have said in today's USA Today, calling someone a "fucking nigger" has an entirely different historical meaning and context. A black person is called a nigger precisely and exclusively because he is black. Period. And the core of the word's offense -- and racism -- stems from this sheer conspicuousness. I've been called a nigger more than once, and there’s no doubt it was because of the color of my skin, not because I'd pissed someone off.

We cannot necessarily say the same thing about Kobe's -- or perhaps anyone's -- use of "faggot." Yes, the word is loaded with offense and has been a centuries-long tool of homophobes. But unless we're certain Bryant expressly chose this word to specifically dis Adams' sexuality, this charge of homophobia doesn't hold up. Nor do the overwrought responses by GLAAD and HRC, who clearly have far more important enemies to battle than Kobe Bryant.

And hopefully they'll soon start doing that, now that Bryant has been slapped with a $100,000 fine by the NBA and released an official apology statement to GLAAD late Wednesday. Sounding both on message and most likely sincere, Bryant said that his actions "were out of frustration during the heat of the game ... [and] do not reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities." I, for one, never thought they did.

White Critique and Glass Houses

Stained Glass Coat of Arms, Montacute Housephoto © 2006 bixentro | more info (via: Wylio)

On Friday I posted a piece by Daisy entitled What can white women do? To be honest, because my fibro was flaring the better part of the last few days, I did not stay on top of it as I should have.  When I read through the comments, I saw one recurring theme and that was self proclaimed White allies speaking out to refer to her attempts as paternalistic.  I know that there were other POC on that thread that agreed with this position as well.  I don't assume to speak for others or declare them wrong, and so I will simply state that my feelings about this piece were different.

What Daisy wrote was very important because we have been talking a lot about White female privilege, without White women coming forward to suggest the ways in which they could combat their various privileges.  As a POC, I refuse to make suggestions because it is not my responsibility to dismantle White supremacy, because I did not create it.  Part of taking ownership for a history of wrongs is figuring out how to combat racism in one's own life.

I was quite shocked to see White allies stand up and quote chapter and versus from the good ally handbook, without risking a damn thing themselves.  I don't mean to speak for Daisy, but I believe the point of what she wrote was to challenge others to look for ways in their daily life to examine their White privilege.  It is not enough to say I believe in the equality of all people, without acting on it in real and fundamental ways.