Saturday, May 21, 2011

Drop It Like It's Hot

Thanks again for a marvelous week of conversations everyone.  Also, thanks so much for welcoming Eva.  It has long been a goal of mine to make Womanist Musings a truly inclusive and intersectional site and I believe we are finally well on the road to that.  It is my hope that at least once a week all readers will see an issue that directly effects them discussed on the blog. I really want this to be a space for marginalized people to gather and discuss issues safely. We may not always get things right, but please trust that a good faith effort exists.

I am currently seeking someone to join the team to talk about issues related to fat activism.  I would like someone who feels comfortable talking about their own experiences, as well as taking an FA perspective to conversations around body image.  If you are interested in becoming part of the team, please send an email to womanistmusings (at) gmail (dot) com with two samples of writing and an explanation as why it is important for you to explore this issue. Please note, this is a non paid writing assignment.

As always, Womanist Musings retains its open guest posting policy.  If you are interested in sharing an original piece or work that you have previously published on your blog, please use the above email.  Please include a small three line bio, and an image that you feel best represents you.

As usual, below you will find links to stories that I found interesting this week.  A link does not necessarily mean endorsement, it simply means that something about the piece caught my attention.  Please show these bloggers some love and check them out.  When you are done, don't forget to drop it like it's hot and leave you link behind in the comment section.

Black Feminist Book Club: The Europeanization of African Hair
Still Separate and Unequal, Generations After Brown V Board
SlutWalk: A Stroll Through White Supremacy
Should We Be at War with Obesity?
Why Bisexual Vampires Suck
And I Should Know
Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things: Disability in Game of Thrones
The Freedom Rides 50th Anniversary  
The Conservative Bootstrap Single Mom Dreamboat 
On Being A Fat Southern Woman; A First Rumination on Class
Why Slutwalk
I Spy With My Fat Eye; On Seeing And Being Seen
U.S. syphilis  in Guatemala "infected 1,300"
Radical Childbirth

Friday, May 20, 2011

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

House Industriesphoto © 2009 Lee Lilly | more info (via: Wylio)

Garbage and recycle day for my household is Friday.  Every Thursday, we walk around the house looking to make sure we don't miss anything that should be out on the curb.  As the items leave our home to get placed on the curb, Sookie (yes, she is named after Sookie Stackhouse) starts to angst.  She whines and walks back and forth by the front door and the big bay window in the dining room.  This is a sign that she has gone on guard duty mode.  You heard me, guard duty mode.  It seems that Ms. Sookie has made it her responsibility to guard the family garbage and recycling each week.  

We all know the story of dogs and mailmen,  but my dog has an issue with the garbage men and the men that come to pick up the recycle.  From the moment we put the garbage and recycle on the curb, she guards it, barking and growling at anyone who walks by it.  I swear she spends a good portion of the night Thursday just staring out the window to make sure no one touches our precious garbage.  When the garbage and recycle people finally arrive on Friday, she looses her ever loving mind barking and running circles around the house.  Just in case I miss her antics, she makes sure to nudge me and make me aware that someone is taking our precious garbage.  This can go on for a good fifteen minutes or so until she finally calms down.  Once she deems her duty done, she will lie down and not actively guard anything until the following week.

Okay, I don't get it, so this weeks question is: can you explain her behaviour, and while you are at it feel free to share any unexplained behaviour that you pet has.

Learning Relevance Through Erasure

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. 

One of the few things people connect with India besides Slumdog Millionaireand hub of cheap Third World labour are the epics Ramayan and Mahabharat— which are of course, anglicised to Ramayana and Mahabharata. Almost always, these epics are seen as the narrativisation of ‘the great oral tradition of storytelling’, basing this tradition in the past, which not only increases the net worth of such a text but also binds the epic with ‘history’; it’s seen as a ‘pre-colonial’ Indian¹utopia and as the ‘pure’ culture, while neatly obliterating the existence of more than a few hundred narrativisations of these epics — which are subjective to the caste and class of the community they come from — and they’re seen synonymously with Hinduism and our religions — meanwhile western epics like the Iliad and Odyssey are seen as Great Literature and not the representative of a population. Thanks to this pact with ‘history’, these texts are seen as — forcibly — situated texts that describe how Things Were Back Then and almost always read when mirrored with Christianity or the western gaze. So when the text turns out to have any contemporary beliefs or depict any ‘modern’ behaviour, it is hailed as a new ‘discovery’, when in reality these ‘discoveries’ have always existed in the texts. Insert quip about colonisation here.

"We're All Immigrants!" Excuse

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.

So Renee wanted me to expand and make a more article-like piece for my anti-“We’re All Immigrants” stance. Many remember it from my tumblr, and subsequently some anons asked me why I called it an excuse. To give it credence as an ‘argument’ would mean that I see it as a justifiable or legitimate piece. To the contrary, I think it was something uttered by liberal white guys with long hair and rose glasses sitting on their micro bus. It caught on, especially amongst white-run immigrant rights groups, and I can’t help but wonder if they actually looked behind them and saw the arrows pointing at them.

To give full disclosure, I myself am a child of an immigrant. I was raised by immigrants. My Vavo (grandmother) lived with us; I’ve lived in close vicinity of family. I have about 20 cousins, and majority are immigrants themselves. My grandfather, Antonio, moved to Canada and then went to America to make money to send back to my mother and other relatives there. In the post-Salazar rule, poverty was even higher in the Azorean islands, which my family is from. I grew up speaking Portuguese and English. As much as I am a Native First Nations, I am also equally as Portuguese and had an upbringing from the lens of immigration. Portuguese people face the similar stereotypes as Mexicans, and Black people. We’re loud, do cheap labor, make ‘ghetto’ or Portagee repairs, etc.

George Takei's Answer to Tennessee's Don't Say Gay Bill

Thursday, May 19, 2011

From The Ground =/= Green

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 know, I know. Some of the readers wanted to read a scathing “Fuck you” to the government about the Geronimo codename. However, I believed that many others did the information justice and many more famous Indians have covered it. I thought that my voice would have just been my own ego-rage-ranting. But I digress.

An issue that should probably deserve more attention, especially from so-called Green Eco Friendly Liberals, is the issue of energy. Uranium is still marketed as a clean way to make electricity, even in the wake of Japan’s tsunami. However, I disagree with Jeff Gerritsen (link above) that poisoning and side effects were unintended. The effects were quite known, and it was a simple case of the government not giving two shits. Hell, it’d ~*FIIINAALLLY!*~ get rid of their Indian problem in the West.

Effects of Uranium mining, for example, are: birth defects, leukemia, cancerous growths, breathing problems (from inhalation of contaminants in the mines), stomach problems (from ingestion of contaminants), blindness, bone/limb injury, infection of open wounds, head injury, tetanus, fainting spells/dizziness, etc.

Coal mining (which was proposed by Bush as super awesome; I am sure many remember the pro-coal ads) is also toted as a viable solution. Sure, if you’re poor and not-white, that is. Notice the majority of the mining accidents over the few years are in poor, POC filled areas. Even south of the border was affected. These are expendable workers, and often face the same human rights violations as other hard labor workers. Efforts to unionize and demand better pay, treatment, and care have been violently resisted; folks may remember Harlan County versus megacorp Duke and the subsequent shitfest that was.

The Face of Islam

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.  

After a morning shower, I get dressed and put on my hijab -- quickly praying before dashing out the door to catch my bus. I eat a packed peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, get caught up on email, and call my mom, thanking her for dealing with the baby’s chronic cough with a home remedy. In the afternoon, I take a break to pray in the “quiet room” – a work diversity and religious inclusiveness  initiative. On the way back to my desk, I chat up a colleague about Doctor Who and congratulate him on his recent engagement -- gushing over the ring. After work, when the Hubby and baby come home, we teach her how to sing the Muppet’s “Mahna-mahna” song over a halal chicken dinner. Later, when we've said our evening prayers, she says “ameen” and goes to bed. Finally, with some time to ourselves, the Hubby and I research a local Islamic Montessori school while catching up on the third season of True Blood.

There are some pretty telling things about this tiny snapshot of my day: it's the privileged life of a middle class, heterosexual, able bodied, multi-lingual, extended Canadian family. It’s also pretty upbeat, a little revealing about things I like and seems fairly innocuous that we live in accordance to certain Islamic rules and guidelines.

But for some, this snapshot illustrates the threat that my family poses to Western freedom. The “quiet room” at my place of employment is solid proof that multiculturalism in Canada has failed by “tolerating the intolerant Muslim.” The Qur’an is nothing but a collection of hate-filled lies that’s no better than Mein Kampf and it should be banned along with the hijab. Any community work I'm involved with is just a ruse to slowly turn Canada into an Islamic state.

The National Organizations for Marriage is Worried About the Kids

The moment that there is a push for same sex rights, the fundies grab the children in a panic and start to throw a fit.  The kids, oh why oh why won't someone think of the sweet innocent children? The National Organizations for Marriage has spent 500k to send the above mailer to New Yorkers, in an attempt to stop same sex marriage.

As a parent, there are so many things that I find absolutely maddening about the post card.  It seems to me, that the only time these groups can show concern for children is when kids can be used as a tool to deny a marginalized group their civil rights.  Where is their concern for the children living in poverty who go to school hungry, or the purposeful under education of children of colour, or the fact that school budgets are continually being eradicated?  Children only seem to matter when they can be used as a weapon and this evidences not only their homophobic beliefs, but a complete lack of concern or respect for children.

More Laws to Police My Body

Eva Rivera is a proud lesbian Chicana, daughter, sister and sex worker who can walk in 6 inch heels and twirl naked on a pole in front of total strangers but is still viciously afraid of moths. She hails from Fresno, CA and is a poet and aspiring film maker. You can find her more personal writing on her blog.  

I figured I should start with bringing us all up to date on the current laws and political/social atmosphere that affects sex worker's lives in the US. Our bodies are already in the spotlight. The spotlight of the male gaze, telling us what we must look like to be a desirable/fantasy woman. The spotlight of a society that tells us we are morally corrupt for selling images of and time with our bodies. And of course the legal spotlight which dictates how far we can go with our own bodies. Prostitution is illegal in every state with the exception of several counties in Nevada. Sex workers who feel its the right fit for them will often choose stripping for various reasons. Often its simply safer. Or a sex worker may be a stripper and provide other services which are illegal but she has cover as a stripper and a safety net. Lawmakers have been succeeding at taking away that cover and safety net as well as putting thousands of hardworking women and men out of work.  

I happen to live in a state (Missouri) which recently has banned nudity and lap dances and which has put into place several other limitations which are effectively shutting strip clubs down. For those of you who don't know, lap dances and/or private dances are a primary source of dancer income. Stage sets do not usually bring in much cash. Now that Missouri, in a struggling economy by the way, has put thousands of sex workers out of a job we have the choice to either travel across state lines which is unrealistic for many, or enter a new line of work. Let's examine these two choices. I was able to travel across the state line into Kansas and worked in a club 30 miles away from my home. The club which at one time had a peaceful and profitable balance of worker to customer ratio is now over saturated with women from Missouri. Profits plummet, fights break out and customers are no more morally pure than they were before. Entering into a new line of work entirely is difficult due to the lack of decent paying jobs in the area. Of course workers can also enter into escort/prostitution services and risk jail time and a blotched record which is what lawmakers are supposedly trying to avoid in the first place. Oh the tangled webs we weave. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

There is More to Schwarzenegger's Affair Than Sex

When it was released that Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver had decided to separate, I must honestly say that I didn't care in the least bit.  Even when it was revealed that he had been unfaithful, I continued to ignore the issue.  It is only when I learned that he had been unfaithful with an employee, who btw is a woman of colour, and that they had produced a child together, that the story finally caught my attention.

Today I learned that the media and multiple blogs have discovered her identity, and have released her image as well as her child's to the public.  There is nothing like sensationalism to start the day.  Please meet, 50 year old, Patricia Mildred Baena.

When her picture was revealed on The View this morning, the audience positively groaned.  The ladies made it clear, that they didn't find her attractive, while making sure to say that she may have been more attractive years ago, when the affair first began.  This response has been mirrored on blog after blog that I have seen discussing her thus far. Her appearance is only deemed relevant to this conversation, because we live in a sexist culture, that is absolutely determined to reduce women to their physical bodies at all times.

Don Lemon: Homophobia, Racism and the Wider Culture

When Don Lemon first came out, I was surprised.  His sexuality makes no difference to me personally, but the conversations that have happened since he announced to the world that he is gay, are another matter entirely.  Lemon has made it absolutely clear that he has experienced homophobia in the Black community.  I have no intention of questioning his lived experience, though I absolutely refute the idea that Blacks are uniquely homophobic.  This is something that has been inferred from his commentary, because he has continually failed to discuss homophobia as a systemic force.  Homophobia exists not simply because some Blacks are homophobic, but because society is homophobic.  The Black community is simply a microcosm of the larger community on this issue.

Much attention has been given to Lemon's commentary about the Black community, while ignoring what he had to say about his fear of what kind of reception he would receive from the  LGBT community.  This kind of silence tells me that once again a very specific narrative has been chosen to present to the public.  In an interview with Loop21, Lemon had this to say regarding his fear of coming out:
One of the reasons I didn't come out earlier is because I am not the Ken doll that represents the gay community. I didn't think anyone in the gay community would support me because I'm not the classic gay role model. I’m not the Clark Kent type. I would go and host events at gay organizations as a news anchor and I would be the only African-American in the room so I thought maybe, nobody's going to care because I'm not the blonde, white guy. That was a concern for me. (source)

Where is Psychology Today's Accountability?

Sorryphoto © 2007 patrick kiteley | more info (via: Wylio)

By now I am sure that many of you have heard about the racist article entitled, Why Are Black Women Less Attractive by Satoshi Kanazawa that was published by Psychology Today. I first read about this article on a blog. and when I went to the Psychology Today site, I found that it had been removed without a trace.  After searching the internet for awhile, I finally found a copy of the entire article.

There can be no doubt that what Kanazawa wrote was both intellectually dishonest and prejudicial (note: I use the term prejudicial instead of racist because Kanazawa is a man of colour and does not exist with the institutional power to be racist.) Just look at this for example:
There are many biological and genetic differences between the races.  However, such race differences usually exist in equal measure for both men and women.  For example, because they have existed much longer in human evolutionary history, Africans have more mutations in their genomes than other races.  And the mutation loads significantly decrease physical attractiveness (because physical attractiveness is a measure of genetic and developmental health).  But since both black women and black men have higher mutation loads, it cannot explain why only black women are less physically attractive, while black men are, if anything, more attractive.

The only thing I can think of that might potentially explain the lower average level of physical attractiveness among black women is testosterone.  Africans on average have higher levels of testosterone than other races, and testosterone, being an androgen (male hormone), affects the physical attractiveness of men and women differently.  Men with higher levels of testosterone have more masculine features and are therefore more physically attractive.  In contrast, women with higher levels of testosterone also have more masculine features and are therefore less physically attractive.  The race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races.
He managed to assert that Black men are dumb but yet are sexually exciting. Gee I wonder where that came from?  Could it be the historical sexualization of Black male bodies by Whiteness to reduce their humanity?  He then when on to assert that Black women are ugly because they are manly.  Why would Kanazawa begin for one moment that this is original?  Didn't Sojourner Truth ask Ain't I A Woman, years ago in response to the masculinization of Black women? Kanazawa proved that he is a useful fool, because he clearly fails to understand, that it is in his best interest to partner with other people of colour to fight racist oppression. He chose instead to perpetuate oppression based in race, in the false belief that in doing so, he elevated himself.

Introducing Eva Rivera

Eva Rivera is a proud lesbian Chicana, daughter, sister and sex worker who can walk in 6 inch heels and twirl naked on a pole in front of total strangers but is still viciously afraid of moths. She hails from Fresno, CA and is a poet and aspiring film maker. You can find her more personal writing on her blog.  

Ever since I was a kid I knew I would be one of those women. The kind who would do whatever she had to do to be independent. At twelve I was baking brownies from dollar store brownie mix and selling it to other kids for an inflated price. I never intended to be broke so sex work came naturally to me. No, I don't have the "ideal body" whatever that is. I was never really into makeup or long nails or heels. I was simply tired of working for someone else and on their terms. At the time I quit my waitressing job I was clocking $3.15 an hour plus tips. People grudgingly left me crumpled ones on their dirty tables and I stressed about making my rent on time.

My mother didn't raise three girls and bust her ass through shitty jobs and college to see me living paycheck to paycheck. And how could I give my sisters advice about being independent and strong women when I didn't have the courage to quit a job I hated? So I walked out one day. Handed over my apron for 6" plastic heels and I haven't looked back.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Alexander Skarsgård On The June Cover of GQ

He's mine and you're welcome 

Editors Note: Here is a link to the article.

I Don't Have Time For Your Privilege

I am a proud Anishinaabekwe of mixed heritage and I strongly identify with my Anishinaabe/Ojibway roots. I am an author, writer, poet and healer. On my blog, I share my life experiences through my poetry and stories. Areas and interests covered in my writing and poetry include: Anishinaabe heritage and culture, Anishinaabe territory, Native identity, Aboriginal/Native/Indigenous/First Nations issues, Native feminism, matriarchy, the Great Lakes, Michigan, Mother Earth, environmentalism, earth based spirituality, healing and the healing arts. 

White middle class privilege. College, a good job, a house, a dog, food in the cupboard, don't have to worry about the bills, can buy nice kitty liter and there's more, of course. You can buy a latte everyday from a coffee shop. Gee, if you saved the money you spend everyday on a latte by the end of the week you could buy a bag a groceries for a low-income individual. For middle class folks things go your way because of "luck." Its not luck, its privilege. There are some people I run across who complain of being poor and don't have a clue what that means when they have a husband and flaunt their diamond wedding ring in front of me. Before you speak about how poor you are, how you have struggled or what you know about the struggle take a good hard look at your privilege. Wait, I'm dreaming. Right?

Middle class people taking a good hard look at their marriage privilege, Christian privilege and the fact that they often benefit from white male privilege. They won't do that. Middle class folk love their comforts, cars, cushioned sofas, matching flower pots, matching kitchen knife sets and matching dish sets. They believe it is "Gods will," that they have the good job and an excessive amount of material goods. They believe that they pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and were able to achieve success by doing so. They have no clue that some folks aren't even given boots to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

A Review of Feminism For Real

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.

Never have I wanted to literally devour a piece of literature in the hopes of it staying imprinted in my brain and body until I read Feminism for Real, an anthology edited by Jessica Yee. I have no critique, or nay-says, or boo’s. The shame is I have an e-copy, since my physical copy is in shipping limbo and probably detained by the government thinking I’m some uber-womanist terrorist. Once the feds have released it, I’ll be able to snuggle with my hard copy.

Jessica Yee is the editor of the book, and founded the Native Youth Sexual Health Network. Feminism For Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex is the second book she’s worked on. She guest blogs at Racialicious (along with book contributors Andrea Plaid and Latoya Peterson!), and can be found on twitter at JessYee. You can pick up a copy of this great book here.

One of the strangest things about me is that I form crushes on individuals’ writing. Yes, you can make fun, just like the rest of them. Jessica Yee is one writing crush that I have, but there is also Latoya Peterson, Andrea Plaid, and Shaunga Tagore (who are also long-time writing crushes) and are in this book as well!

So, let me dive right on in with Latoya Peterson’s The Feminist Existential Crisis (Dark Child Remix), a piece which speaks volumes and felt personal. In Dark Child Remix, she discusses how she came to feminism and the subsequent baggage that comes with it:

Carlos Santana Speaks Truth at Baseball Civil Rights Day

DSCN7434photo © 2009 Jessica S. | more info (via: Wylio)

Whiteness is always looking for sell outs to encourage people of colour to be passive.  Every once in awhile, they choose the wrong person, and it comes back to bite them directly in the ass. The Braves recently hosted a civil rights day in Georgia (I know, ironic considering their name), and they decided to honour Carlos Santana.   It seems that Bud Selig should have approached a sell out from Fox news rather than Carlos Santana.

Though Carlos would obviously not be effected by the recent passing of HR 87, a law that mimics Arizona's SB 1070, in criminalizing Latino people, he chose the opportunity to speak out. Gotta love it when power is forced to confront truth.

Oppression is the Cause of Gay Death

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. 

Marginalisation comes with many costs. Many personal costs, costs to life, costs to lifestyle, and certainly costs to health. Being marginalised can hurt you in a myriad of ways and I'm sure most people can see that and understand that.

Which is why it never fails to annoy me - or cause me grey hairs - when privileged people use the symptoms of our marginalisation to further attack us. They take our scars and try to bludgeon us with them.

And rarely is this so clear than in the right wing cluckings about the "gay lifestyle." Because that's a meme isn't it? That' we're unhealthy? That we're diseased? Even that *gasp* being GBLT will lower your life expectancy! Yes, GBLT people are doomed to die young! They have to protect the kiddies from the dreaded gay because it will kill them! BEWARE THE GAYDEATH! GAYDEATH stalks us!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Saving the Children, or Destroying Them?

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 Denver, Colorado, USA, where I live, there’s a guy with a large van that is plastered on all sides with photos of the results of late-term abortions, which are illegal in the United States anyway. Some people tell me the pictures have been Photoshopped. Maybe they have and maybe they haven’t. It doesn’t matter. The pictures are not pleasant to look at.

It’s obvious that the person who drives this van is anti-abortion and that his goal is to send a message about abortion. Perhaps he hopes that he can stop it this way, or discourage some women from having one – unlikely, because the pictures are so far removed from any intelligent discourse on the matter that those who see the van end up disliking the person driving it, no matter how they feel about abortion.

The problem is that if you asked this man, and others like him who display these photos on oversized placards at anti-abortion rallies, what he is trying to do, he would no doubt say that he is trying to “save children” or “protect children” or “protect innocent lives.” Yet I’ve noticed that the people who most espouse the “protect children” argument – when it comes to abortion or any other social issue – are the ones whose philosophies and actions damage children the most.

This particular van was intentionally parked in front of my nephew’s elementary school a couple of years ago. The children in school could see it out the window. The school personnel could do nothing, because it was parked on public property. The children were very upset. They couldn’t concentrate in class. My sister discovered, after talking to some of the other mothers, that some of the children had nightmares that night. 

Don Lemon of CNN is Out, But Not All is Well

Those who know me really well, know of my obsession with Don Lemon, so the moment he came out, I was inundated with emails informing me of this fact.  Unfortunately Don, my obsession with you continues on, though I must however admit that I am disappointed.  Okay, before you get worked up, I am not disappointed that he is gay. Don has chosen to speak his truth in a book entitled, Transparent. The following is Don's official statement.
"Today I chose to step out on faith and begin openly living my own truth. And let me say right up front that I hope many of you will be inspired to do the same thing in your daily lives. Some of the things I've chosen to reveal in my book Transparent were very difficult to share with even those closest to me.
There was a time when I was terrified of revealing these things to the person I love most in this world - my own mother. But when I finally mustered the courage to tell her that I had been molested as a child and that I was born gay, my life began to change in positive ways that I never imagined possible. Yet I still chose to keep those secrets hidden from the world. I, like most gay people, lived a life of fear. Fear that if some employers, co-workers, friends, neighbors and family members learned of my sexuality, I would be shunned, mocked and ostracized. It is a burden that millions of people carry with them every single day. And sadly, while the mockery and ostracizing are realized by millions of people every day, I truly believe it doesn't have to happen and that's why I feel compelled to share what I've written in Transparent.

As a journalist I believe that part of my mission is to shed light onto dark places. So, the disclosure of this information does not inhibit in any way my ability to be the professional, fair and objective journalist I have always been.

My book is dedicated to the memory of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who jumped to his death from a bridge after his dorm mates streamed his private business over the Internet for the world to see. Tyler might still be with us today if more gay men and women had chosen to live proudly and openly. It is also dedicated to the millions of young, gay people who believe they are alone when dealing with their own sexual identities. You are not alone! There are people, like me and many others, who are thriving in their personal and professional lives and although we sometimes have a hard time with it ourselves, we are here to show you by example that you too can overcome any obstacle as long as you stay strong and, most of all, stay alive."
With love and honesty,

Don Lemon
May 16, 2011
So far so good.  Don risked a lot  revealing to the public that he is a gay man because of homophobia.  It was also brave to reveal that is a survivor of abuse, in our victim blaming society. I cannot even begin to imagine how much his experience will help others, who are currently struggling and feeling isolated. It is particularly important for young gay Black males to see someone out, proud and successful.

Final Thoughts on 'The Vampire Academy' Series by Richelle Mead

A beginning of the week treat from Sparky of Spark in Darkness
This is your official spoiler warning

Okay, let's have one big review of the Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead, now that I have finally finished the 6th book, the Last Sacrifice. 

Now I am normally a very very wordy person, but even I have limits of my repetition, so my review of the first book is here and my review of the series up to book 6 is  here. Both are on our Tumblr,  Fangs for the Fantasy, which is all about Urban Fantasy. 

Now to the 6th book and general social justice musings related to the book.

Firstly on the book - well sadly to begin with I have to take away some of the praise I had for the series in my last review:

The canon is now groaning in pain and Rose's actions are just becoming less and less reasonable and less and less excusable.

First of all I have to look at Victor Daschkov again. The villain from the first book, Lissa's worst fear who Rose randomly frees from prison on a virtual freaking whim.

Anyway, he's dying from a degenerative, chronic, terminal disease. The whole point of the first book was Lissa and Rose fled from school to escape him - and later he kidnaps Lissa and tortures her to force her to heal him.

Do you know what's a shame? If Victor knew another spirit user - a powerful healer who could return Strigoi from the dead. Even better, if this spirit user was a devoted relative, like a brother, who loved and adored him and would do anything for him

Why hey there Robert, Victor's devoted spirit-using half brother! Where did you come from?

No Parental Consent Needed To Spank Children in Texas Schools

corporal punishment paddles and whipsphoto © 2006 Thomas Carter | more info (via: Wylio)

Children exist without any social power.  They cannot vote, they cannot financially support themselves, and they have to develop the rationale to make decisions on their own. This makes them absolutely dependent upon the adults in their lives for protection. Unfortunately, this dependency is often abused by those placed in positions of trust.  The Texas house recently voted to end the policy of getting parental permission for corporal punishment. 
"One of the biggest problems teachers faced is discipline in the schools," said Bill Zedler, R-Arlington. He said "spit-wads and that sort of thing" were the biggest problems in classrooms 30 or 40 years ago and that teachers face much more serious discipline problems now. "The very parents who will allow schools to use corporal punishment are the ones that have good discipline at home," he said. "Then we expect the teacher to teach and then at the same time we're taking all the tools away."
"This is not abolishing corporal punishment," Allen reiterated. "This is a parental rights bill."

Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, said the schools should have a uniform set of rules so they don't have to keep track of which children can face which kind of punishment when they misbehave. Allen, a former teacher and school administrator, disagreed.

"Every child that has ever entered my building or my classroom was different and ought to be treated as an individual," she said.

Republicans were split, but they accounted for almost all of the opposition, with 71 of the 73 "no" votes coming from the GOP. Among the ayes, there were 24 Republicans and 45 Democrats. (source)