Saturday, September 17, 2011

Clarification of Question and Yet Another Apology

Last Tuesday, Sparky wrote the post, Is There Really Such a Thing as a Safe Space? In the comment section, I asked:
I just have two question for you. You said that the only way you could find yourself in safe space if you were surrounded by people that are gay. You have two sites of oppression that you must negotiate. You are disabled as well, and so wouldn't there be a potential to have disability fail around people who are GLBT as well?

Also even if you are in all GLBT, they are capable of making all kinds of fails that are not GLBT related does that not make the space unsafe as well? I don't know about you but even when a comment isn't about my marginalization per say, I am still incredibly troubled when someone says something that actively promotes an ism
Since it has come to light that there are those that believe the question in and of itself is homophobic, I thought I should address it publicly.  I asked this question of Sparky because as one of the few disabled people I know, we have had many occasions to talk about disability and how best to negotiate it.  One of the common frustrations that I have discussed with him, is that even in situations that are safe for me in terms of race or gender, quite often there will be failure when it comes to disability.  Don't get me wrong, I love my friends dearly, and while they would never dream of saying something racist and or sexist to me, disableism is something that I am constantly having to educate about. 

I found that when you exist with more than one marginalization, finding an exact match to you is a very difficult thing.  When I am in a space that is largely populated by women, sometimes race and disability function to make the space unsafe.  When I am in a space that is all Black, sometimes it's gender and disability that makes the space unsafe.  I have yet to be in a gathering which represents all three of the marginalizations that I currently negotiate.  I know that there are Black, disabled women out there, I just have not had the good fortune to be able to gather or actively talk to them.  Invariably, when I want to talk to someone about disability, who actively gets that fucking recommending goji juice to me at every damn turn is disablist as hell, I turn to Sparky.  We have had many laughs over the recommendations of goji juice and vitamin C.  Hey, did you know that they are a cure for everything that ails you?

I didn't ask Sparky this question because I think that GLBT spaces are inherently unsafe.  In fact, they are necessary in the same way that I believe that all groups need to be in spaces with others who represent their lives.  Sometimes you just need to have a family conversation, because only family truly gets what you are going through.  I love the unhusband most desperately, but he cannot understand how much disableism truly hurts, in the manner that someone who is disabled can. He can empathize, and he ensures that he doesn't say anything disableist, but as much as we share a life, talking to someone who is disabled creates a level of understanding that just is not possible anywhere else.

So, when I asked Sparky this question, it was based in my own lived experience as a disabled person. As I mentioned earlier, I have yet to find a space that is truly safe in terms of disability.  For me, it was about finding a space where I could potentially interact with others without being told about the latest cure, having to repeatedly explain my disability and god forbid, go without being offered goji juice.  Can someone please explain the fucking obsession with goji juice and vitamin C? He says he has found a safe space in terms of disability within his interactions in the GLBT community, and honestly I envy him that.  As someone who is straight and cis, this is a community that I am not a part of and would never dream of honing in on to alleviate the disableism that I face, but it is nice to know that there is at least one community that is getting it right. 

I know that I have had my share of GLBT failure and that is probably why the benefit of the doubt was not extended to me.  I can understand and respect that decision, as I myself am not always the most forgiving person of continual fails.  All I can tell you is that like anything else, learning to negotiate my privilege and to be more respectful of other marginalized groups is something that I am actively trying to improve.  I am going to be perfectly honest and tell you that I will fail again, because decolonizing one's mind is lifetime project not a sprint.  I get angry when I shouldn't and am resistant and this is a reflection of my personal privilege and a quick temper.  I sometimes relate it to Buckleys; it tastes terrible but it works.  I don't want to hear when I have failed, but I know that I need to, to grow as a person and be a better parent to my children.

In this case, I was not insinuating or declaring that GLBT community is inherently unsafe, but asking if it is possible that any group that is not a disability group can possibly be safe, because I have not found one.   I apologize to those who were offended by the question unequivocally, and fully understand the high level of distrust about anything I may say about the GLBT community.  I know that intent is not a magic elixir but I truly didn't mean to offend and understand that my personal history plays a large part in how my comments were received.  Once again, I apologize to all of those who were offended by my question.

Friday, September 16, 2011

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

After writing the post about spanking, I really feel the need to finish this week on a light note.  I saw the following two videos on youtube and they relaxed me.

This week's question is: when you're in the mood for nonsense online, where is the first place you head and what kinds of things are you in search of?

Dear Black Community: Beating Children With Belts Is Not Discipline, It's Abuse

I came across the following video on facebook, and it triggered me to the point that my whole body is shaking and I am crying.  If I didn't wholeheartedly believe that the beating of children with belts needs to stop, I would not post this video or comment about it, because the personal cost of watching the video, let alone writing about it, is extreme. 

Please be warned, this video contains both emotional and physical child abuse.


The following rolls on the screen:

According to the sentencing project, 1 out of every 8 black men are in prison & 1 out of every 3 black men today are expected to go to prison. According to the 2009 census: there are 2, 500 00 black people are in college. Only 919,00 are black men.  There are 827, 680 black men in prison/jail. "It still takes a village to raise a child"

Apparently a little Black boy has been acting up in school.  He has already been spoken to and beaten once for this behaviour.  The father takes him into the bathroom and questions him about his behaviour with a belt hanging loosely around is neck.  The child is very obviously scared and answers yes sir, no sir to the questions while never making any kind of contact.  The father makes it clear that he is there to learn not horse around.  He asks whether the boy is acting up to impress the girls and when he says no, the father suggests that he is acting up for the boys, thereby implying that the child is gay. As punishment, he tells the child that he is not allowed to have any hair on his head until he learns to behave and then proceeds to shave the childs head.  He stops part way and takes the child into the hallway and demand that he remove his pants.  We can then hear the father striking the child repeatedly with a belt while the child screams and begs him to stop.  In response the father tells him that this isn't hurting him and that he needs to stop crying. He further goes on to state that he is going to give the child a reason to cry and then beats him some more.  In the next scene we see the child outside with a tear streaked face.  The father makes him run, crab walk and then do push ups.  When he realizes that the child did the push up on his knees he accuses him of cheating and demands 15 push ups.  At the end of the video you see the child doing a push up with strain more than evident on his face with the words job well done on the screen.

Making Our Bodies Matter

"Jaded is a writer who is extremely unsure of labels and ideologies. These days she self-identifies as a "ruin-in-progress". 

A friend and I started talking about communities, alliances and feminism(s) a few months ago — this conversation is a brief culmination of our identities and ideologies.


Jaded: Writing about bodies isn’t too difficult for me, that was until I realised “writing about bodies” meant writing of bodies other than mine, or even if I were to write about myself, the language automatically becomes clinical, my gaze objective and the talk goes to whatever is ailing me — it’s never about how I feel about my body, my relationship with my scars or what I see when I look in the mirror. As I am now living in a new city and adjusting to the weather patterns here, I have to take more care of my skin here than in I did in Mumbai, I have to leave myself notes to apply [x] cream before my heels crack and bleed — it’s such a jarring experience to see that my body has carried on without me (in a sense), has already started cracking, started healing in some parts while I have gone on and done something else. It all came to a head when I was thinking of Suheir Hammad‘s words — when she says “What am I saying when I say I sit in this body, dream in this body, expel in this body, inherit in this body” — where she posits the body as a start to all experiences, and here I was forgetting to take care of my body altogether, even in the most routine and seemingly trivial ways. I’ve often complained to friends that I feel ‘bound’ in this city — as public transport systems are irregular and auto rickshaws are a luxury I cannot always afford — so most of my ‘movement’ is between my apartment, the massive Uni campus and its libraries. Now that I re-think what I mean when I say ‘bound’, I mean more than just physical limits to where I can go or am kept from, I find limits in my syllables and expressions — precisely because my body feels those limits more intimately and primarily, as if my body translates these borders in the silences that creep up everywhere, from my thoughts to my academic writing. It’s only when I completely stopped producing words and syllables a week ago, went for a three-hour long walk, felt my words come back to me as I described to my guardian just why were my heels bleeding this time I realised how closely my body felt limited here*

*This isn’t to say there weren’t other barriers in Mumbai, just that navigating these particular changes is an entirely new experience for me.

Renee: It’s equally jarring to see your body stopped in time, unable to keep up with you, and trying to formulate contingencies for when it starts to slide backwards in time. This has been my experience since losing my job just more than a year ago.

My teeth hurt all the time now; one has eroded almost to the gum line, and I touch them constantly with my tongue and my fingers to make sure none are loose. I waited out a UTI two months ago, but an ear infection still lingers (and makes my teeth ache even more). There is no money for a doctor or dentist to attend to current ills, never mind the dreams I once had for my body. Most upsetting, when my current stash of hormone pills runs out, in perhaps a month or so, I may not be able to afford more, and at that point the person I know as me officially begins to disintegrate. I never really knew myself before starting hormones, and the threat of losing that is terrifying beyond what I can describe. Already I find myself glancing in the mirror more often, touching my face, to make sure I still exist.

But it’s not just the physical degradation I feel. For now, I’m staying in a friend’s spare room, sleeping upon a mattress on the floor, with all my worldly possessions piled in boxes around me. My days are lived largely in the space between my bed and the downstairs basement, where the household television is. I have few reasons to go anywhere else, and fewer resources to do so. I wear the same clothes most days, because to do anything else means doing more laundry, which inevitably costs someone money, even if that someone isn’t me. I don’t shower every day, or moisturize, or shave, or wear makeup, because all of those things are an expense too…and so again my body suffers.

It’s apropos that my body gets neglected first and most, as it’s the rejection of my body by others that led me here. Slowly it decays, out of sight and forgotten.

Jaded: Right, we’ve discussed this before. It’s not so strange, when you connect this ‘disappearance’ of any marginalised body (or in our specific contexts: a trans body and a third world woman’s body) to the larger theoretical hyper-visibility in academia, where you have theories on our bodies but empirical absence of our bodies. We’re still people who need “welfare”, we are still debating whether “woman” as a category can be made inclusive — basically, we don’t go beyond the boundaries our bodies set for us in academia, these ‘bodies’ (the way we see and live them) are wholly absent within mainstream feminist discourse. At the same time, there are people voicing us, fixing who we are and who we should be like, either they’re making theory for us or about us. Your bit about ghosts makes me think of our theoretical ghosts in academia. Sometimes I just don’t understand how to counter most theory I find about “third world” people(s) in any field. Recently I came across a study that talks about the dire condition of transgender people in Bangalore done by [x] European academic institution, where the entire focus was to show how pitiful and “unlivable” their lives are — the lives they’re leading sitting in their third worldly bodies as we talk and will continue to do so long after we’re done talking too —  and for a week and a half, I kept on going over their words, unable to respond in any manner at all. There is no denying that people here need help, specifically speaking, I would love help in [x] areas of my life too. But only if you see how much help you need too, how we can both help build each other’s identities. I’m not that interested in “self-sufficiency” as much I’d like to build alliances and common ground where there is little to go by, you know? Especially within theory, [as I’ve often ranted to you] I feel like a lot of my work, or the work the organisations put in, comes to signify very little change, if perceivable at all. There is, often a literal and a metaphorical wall when it comes to the subjects of development policies, between us and the people we are allied with, between my different selves (of different racial and gendered molds), that quite honestly I wonder if my body and voice exist, if anyone is listening at all.

And it’s not just recently I’ve started feeling invisible within academia — I remember reading things like “India is a backward and orthodox third world country” as a child in my geography text books and I’d mouth the words in my mouth, to see if the iteration of the word would somehow make them more believable — where in our daily lives we’re constructing “national pride” (at the cost of someone else’s border, always) and in school I was taught a different tale of India — but it’s now that I am beginning to learn the terms with which this exclusion in academia is accessible to me. Feeling isolated but not having the terms to legitimise your experiences — there’s something to be said about that, no?

The Great Banana Bread Conspiracy

'Banana pound bread' photo (c) 2010, Kari Sullivan - license:

I love to be in the kitchen when I am able, and I love to cook for my family.  I watch hours of the foodnetwork everyday as I write blog posts, looking for new ideas.  I like to continually introduce my family to different foods and new flavors.  Baking however, is something that I am not a fan of.  It could be because cooking is art and baking is a science.  Whether you are baking a cake or cookies, inevitably the measuring cups and measuring spoons have to be used, whereas; when you cook, you can add a bit of this and that, and alter the recipe to your particular palate.

My love and respect of food, means that I cannot stand letting food go to waste.  The desire to ensure that everything we purchase gets consumed, means that at least once a week, I get into a battle with the kids about eating the leftovers. When I notice that the banana's have reached the point where they are singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot, inevitably I will bake a banana bread to ensure that they are consumed.  This is something that I used to hardly ever do, because my family loves bananas.  They are usually the very first fruit eaten, that is until recently.

The last three weeks, I have found 6-8 bananas well past their prime in the fruit bowl, and so I have made a double size banana bread, which was consumed in one day btw.  At first, I was really pleased that they ate the bread, but when it happened again the next week, I started to realize that something was most definitely up.

Last night, I couldn't sleep and so I decided to surprise them with peanut butter and jam muffins for breakfast.  The children love it when I bake, and I knew that this would be a wonderful breakfast surprise for them. As I mixed the peanut butter with oil, brown sugar, flour and eggs, I thought back to a few years ago when Destruction pointed out that other mommies bake far more often than I do.  At the time, I really saw it as him using my gender to get me to create culinary delights for them, and quickly pointed out that I would be happy to take him to the bakery. When that didn't work, he actually attempted to order me into the kitchen.  Though he was only four at the time, as you might well imagine, this did not have the result that he intended.

The Black Community Needs To Live Up To The Nguzo Saba Principles

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

We transpeeps are your brothers and sisters as well and I hope that instead of hating, disrespecting and directing violence against us, you will do a much better job this year and from now on of incorporating African descended transpeople into our shared African descended family.    TransGriot   January 2, 2011

That's what I wrote the day after I finished a series of posts putting a trans spin on the 2010 Kwanzaa celebration and how each one of the Nguzo Saba principles were congruent with our chocolate trans lives.

And as a refresher before I start musing on that comment, here are the seven principles of Kwanzaa that are celebrated each night:  .

  • Umoja (Unity): To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination): To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility): To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers' and sisters' problems our problems, and to solve them together.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics): To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  • Kuumba (Creativity): To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  • Imani (Faith): To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

It's now mid-September, and I have witnessed the opposite dynamic happening from when I wrote those optimistic words on January 2.

I have seen a disturbing spike in anti-trans violence and killings   We are several weeks away from another somber November 20 TDOR ceremony in which the list of names read will disproportionately have a non-POC flavor.  I angrily witnessed the NAACP, one of our legacy civil rights organizations hosting a trans free panel discussion on LG(bt) issues at their recently concluded convention in Los Angeles.  I have noted displays of transphobic ignorance in our African descended community aimed not only at transwomen but cis African American women as well.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reading Group: The Kid

Hello everyone.  Awhile ago I attempted to start a reading group for Sapphire's The Kid. Unfortunately, my efforts were stymied when I discovered that I got could get the book in Canada. Even refused to sell me a copy.  Well, I am happy to report that I finally have a copy of The Kid and so Iwould like to start our reading group now.  On Thursday September 22, we will have a discussion of the first section of the The Kid: Book One: I'm Done, and then every week thereafter, we will discuss a new section until we come to the end of the book.  I would like to thank everyone for their patience and hope that this will be a successful reading group and that we can continue on with other books.

Monstrous Musings: True Blood’s Monstrous Homage to True Love in the Season Four Finale

Natalie Wilson, a Women’s Studies and Literature professor at Cal State San Marcos, is author of the recently released Seduced by Twilight: The Allure and Contradictory Messages of the Popular Saga.
She pens one of the academic blogs analyzing the saga at She is also author of the blog Professor, What if? and writes regularly for Ms Blog, Girl With Pen, and Womanist Musings. Her home page can be found and her Twitter handles are @seducedbytwi, @drnataliewilson, and @professorwhatif.

 In the penultimate episode to season four, the closing scenes depicted Sookie looking from Bill to Eric, not sure which she loves – or, more aptly, which she loves more. The season focused on the Sookie/Bill/Eric love triangle a great deal, as in the episode which had Sookie dreaming about a threesome with her two vampire lovers. 

While the love triangle is certainly not a new trope in vampire narratives, True Blood (up until the finale) offered the queerest, most progressive take on the love triangle. Two other vampire series of the moment – Twilight and The Vampire Diaries – also feature love triangles. If we put these three series on a love triangle continuum, Twilight represents the most regressive triangle, Vampire Diaries falls somewhere in the middle, and True Blood  falls most to the progressive side of the continuum.

Rather than the more traditional triangle where males fight over a female pawn, trying to “out-macho” each other as they vie for her affection, True Blood focuses more on Sookie’s feelings of love and desire for both Bill and Eric – she is not a pawn, but an active, desiring subject. Though there is a certain amount of jealousy and fighting between Bill and Eric, it is nowhere near on the scale of that portrayed in traditional representations of the love triangle, as with, for example, the bitter rivalry between Edward Cullen and Jacob Black in Twilight.  

Tim Hudak Will Make Prisoners Work

'Tim Hudak takes the stage' photo (c) 2009, Ontario Chamber of Commerce - license:
Ontario has just commenced a provincial election.  Normally, I don't write very much about politics, but PC candidate Tim Hudak scares me. In typical PC style, his vision of law and order involves exploitation. 
Today, Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak announced that a PC government would require inmates at provincial facilities to give back to society and work up to forty hours per week of manual labour.

If elected on October 6, a Tim Hudak government will end the practice of letting convicted prisoners spend their time watching TV and will require work programs to be mandatory.
Under Dalton McGuinty, prisoners in Ontario are given perks like “Freeing the Human Spirit” yoga classes, writing workshops, cooking classes and premium cable television with high definition channels. While Dalton McGuinty allows taxpayers’ money to pay for perks, work for prisoners is voluntary.
An elected Tim Hudak government would:
  • Make convicted criminals work up to 40 hours per week of manual labour (rake leaves, cut grass, pick up trash, clean graffiti)
  • Make this work mandatory, not voluntary, as it is now under Dalton McGuinty
  • Make criminals earn credits, through work, for the benefits they receive (instead of getting them without earning them as they do now)


“We’re not asking convicted prisoners to do anything more than what hard-working Ontario families do every day: work.”
– Tim Hudak, Ontario PC Leader
“Prisoners, through their own actions, have taken enough from society. It’s time they give something back.”
– Tim Hudak, Ontario PC Party Leader (source)
 Uh huh punish the baddies.  This kind of rhetoric is always popular during elections. Hudak is preying upon the resentment that working class and declining middle class are currently experiencing.  Giving them a group of people to actively exploit helps to distract them from the way in which to the top income earners continue to impoverish them.  Though the gap between rich and poor in Canada is not as wide as in the U.S., the gap continues to grow each year.

The Game And DJ Vlad Teach How Not to be an GLBT Ally

The three most common isms promoted by rap and hip hop are misogyny, homophobia and transphobia. Industry leaders like Russell Simmons and Kanye West have spoken out about homophobia.  In fact, Simmons filmed an advertisement for the Human Rights Campaign regarding marriage equality in New York.  Last March, Russell Simmons was given an award for excellence in media by GLAAD. 

Following in the footsteps of West and Simmons, The Game recently did an interview with DJ Vlad, creator of the popular hip-hop video news site to express solidarity with the GLBT community.

Trigger warning on the video for homophobia and transphobic slurs. Transcript below the fold.

New Orleans Sex Workers Win Victory, Then Lose Again

 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. You can catch her more of her here

Police brutality is nothing new to many sex workers who meet clients on the streets or in bars. There are numerous accounts of rape and sexual abuse at the hands of clients as well as police in this community which has little to no recourse against these crimes. These are particularly brutal examples of violence against sex workers but they are not the only instances of violence that sex workers face. Incarceration, criminal records, and the entire justice system ultimately working against them are also examples of the violence sex workers must protect themselves against on a daily basis. It seems that even when legal gains are made after the laborious work of sex workers and ally activists, the police still find ways to insert themselves violently into sex workers lives. 

A recent example of this is the New Orleans Police Department's attack on sex workers who meet their clients on the street or in bars. SCAN, which is the crime that sex offenders are charged with, was used against sex workers until June 2011. This meant that, once charged, sex workers would become registered sex offenders and required to take all the steps that registered sex offenders take-- reporting their addresses, notifying neighbors of their status and also meant the inability to qualify for food stamps or public housing. Thanks the hard work of folks like Women With A Vision in New Orleans, sex workers are no longer charged with SCAN. Just as a new victory has been achieved, NOPD decides its time to crack down, arresting 60 sex workers in just the last two months alone, along with 29 "Johns".  Fortunately, SCAN (Solicitation of Crimes Against Nature), has been revoked.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I should have spoken up: A story of race fail

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

Every two weeks I go to “mobile foodshare” sites around the city I live in. It is a program that shares fresh fruit and vegetables with people who are unable to afford them independently. Since my food stamp allowance has been reduced significantly since I moved, I have been taking advantage of this service to prepare healthier meals. Since they distribute enough food for a large family to each individual, I usually take some of what I am given and give “care packages” to other friends in need,

The other day, the people at the foodshare site were giving out cases of yogurt. The people in the front of the line were given one case each, while towards the end of the line, everyone was given two cases, since the people running the site knew how many people that needed to feed by that point. I was given one case, but when I walked past the site again while waiting for my bus, one of the women volunteering offered me a second case, which I gladly took.

Then, as I was still waiting for the bus, a Black man was expressing his anger that he had received only one case of yogurt. He was told that since he had already passed through the line, he could not go back again and get another case. He said “I see how it all only want to take care of your own people!” (all of the foodshare volunteers at this specific site are Latino/a as are most of the people who use the service) Since I live alone, I offered this man my second case of yogurt. At first he declined, but when I offered it again, he did take the yogurt and left the site. And I went home thinking I had done the right thing.

Were the Cops Getting To Frisky At The West Indian Day Parade?

Anyone who is West Indian or has West Indian heritage, will tell you that getting your grind on when the music hits is common and a lot of fun.  When Rhianna did this at carnival, a round of slut shaming quickly ensued. She answered her critics by saying rightly that her behaviour and dress were cultural.  Can police officers who are not of  West Indian culture use this same  repsonse for their decidedly unprofessional behaviour at the West Indiant day Parade in New York?

LGBT Deaths and The Unacknowledged Genocide

'end_homophobia' photo (c) 2005, istolethetv - license:

According to The Guardian there are 82 countries in which homosexuality is a crime.  In many cases it is the result of religious persecution, however I think that it is worth noting that this is nothing more than prop to attack LGBT members to uphold straight and cis privilege.  No matter which group that we speak about globally, there is always a desire to have one group placed at the bottom of the hierarchy pyramid to actively oppress.  

To be perfectly clear, someone's sexuality or gender identity has no effect on the larger population other than that which we create for nefarious purposes.
Last Thursday, three men were hanged in Iran for the crime of lavat, sexual intercourse between two men. The case is considered extreme even by Iranian standards, because while the death penalty is in place for homosexuality, it is usually enforced only when there is a charge of assault or rape alongside it; the accusations in these three cases were of consensual sex.

In Uganda, politicians have been seeking since 2009 to institute a strikingly nasty piece of legislation: the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality" (being homosexual more than once) and, in a totalitarian touch, penalties for teachers, doctors and even parents who suspected that someone in their care was gay but didn't report them. In Belize, there is a law on the statute books that criminalises homosexuality; a gay rights group in the country, Unibam, has brought a motion challenging the law, and had this reply from the minister of works, Anthony "Boots" Martinez: "My position is that God never placed anything on me for me to look at a man and jump on a man. I'll be clear on it … How would you decriminalise that, I am sorry, but that is law. Not only is the law made by man, that is a law made from the Bible. Why you think God made a man and a woman, man has what woman wants, and woman has what man wants, it's as simple as that. I'll fight tooth and nail to keep that law." (source)
Targeting a group of people for death based in their identity is genocide.  Across the world the GLBT community is specifically targeted for death and yet genocide is a word that is rarely associated with their deaths.  Sometimes I think it is because the language used to describe the nations that have specific laws on the books regarding the criminalization of homosexuality is decidedly imperialist.   In the same breath that we are talking about Uganda and Iran we need to remember that one can still die for being a member of the GLBT community in the so-called enlightened West. Simply referring to these deaths as hate crimes in the West means that heterosexism as a globally instutionalized force need never be actively recognized and challenged.  The issue of GLBT genocide is global one and not one restricted to backward countries.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Marines Explore Their Barbie Side

After doing a long patrol these marines just need to blow off some steam.  The long hours must be both stressful and boring but how it resulted in this, I simply cannot imagine.  At any rate since it had me giggling, I thought that I would share it with you.

Is There Really Such A Thing As A Safe Space?

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.

So on my repeated visits to therapy blokey to fine tune my meds and try to maintain something resembling an even keel. His latest suggestion to me is, after discussing various triggers of mine, to try to spend the next fortnight in places I feel safe.

Well, easier said than done. I mean, I could spend a fortnight at home, skip work and when I go out drive around town in a great big tank (hmmmm... wonder if they sell them on ebay) but I suspect I may face some objections.

I would have to spend a fortnight at home. I wouldn't be able to go to work, my colleagues and . I wouldn't be able to turn on the television or use the internet. I most certainly wouldn't be able to speak with my family, they're most certainly unsafe. My friends? Well, except for the gay men, I'd have to avoid them, since all of the rest have said or done something homophobic.

Staying safe is, frankly, not something I can guarantee. The best you can do is play the odds. And even then there are an enormous amount of times when the odds are awful and there's very little chance of you leaving a situation without being hurt, offended or, at worst, severely triggered. This is why I always carry my pills.

Which meant I found myself again in the unpleasant position of arguing with my therapist with snark and sarcasm (of course). Because guaranteed safe spaces? Don't exist, not outside my own home with no external inputs at all – which is nigh impossible and certainly impossible to maintain. You can try to avoid the worst spaces and places – but guaranteed safety just doesn't exist.

And it occurs to me this isn't limited to him – though he gets a special prize for his rather quaint innocence. I've often been advised to avoid people or places that have sporked with with homophobia. Stay out of the cesspits, cut off people who hurt you, it's unhealthy to maintain these destructive relationships. Stay away from people and places that hurt you.

All of it very true –  and very good advice. But how much can you avoid? How many people can I cut off? Is it even possible to cut them off? I cannot cut off my work colleagues, bosses, family, friends – how many of them would survive such a cull? Not many...

How Not To Talk To Children About Color

Note: an accurate transcript is available on the video itself.

The following is the reason the father posted this video:
So my 3 year old daughter asked me why some of her barbie dolls were black and some were white. Jokingly, I replied that all little girls turn black on their 4th birthday (as her birthday was roughly a week away) and the reaction was worth recording……
First, let me start off by saying that I don't believe that the child was being racist when she cried about not wanting to be Black.  She is three years old and at that age, children are only just starting to piece together that difference might potentially mean something.  At the end of the video, he laughs and calls her his racist daughter, but if anyone was being racist and irresponsible in that video it was the father.

I get asked quite a bit how I manage to talk about social justice issues with my children and the answer is quite simple really - I jump on opportunities just like that father had in the video.  He could have told her that people come in all different colors and that all colors are beautiful.  He could have used this opportunity to lay the ground work for future conversations that would have taught her about racial discrimination and the White privilege that she was born with, but instead he chose to tease her and laugh as she asserted repeatedly that she does not want to be Black. I shudder to think that this is his version of enlightened parenting.

Jackie O was not a fan of MLK

Kennedy' photo (c) 2009, Magnus Karlsson - license:

MLK motivated many people in his lifetime and his tireless efforts for social change have caused many to absolutely worship his memory. In 1964 Jackie O taped a series of interviews with  Arthur M. Schlesinger, that have recently been released to the public.  She had some rather unpleasant things to say about MLK who she referred to as "tricky" and "phony".
Mrs Kennedy said her view of   King was formed after being told of secret FBI wiretaps which showed him trying to organise a sex party before he attended the March on Washington in August 1963, at which he delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.

She said her brother-in-law Robert told her that King made disparaging remarks about JFK at the funeral and about Cardinal Richard Cushing, who delivered the eulogy. 

‘I just can’t see a picture of Martin Luther King without thinking, you know, that man’s terrible,’ she said.

‘He made fun of Cardinal Cushing and said that he was drunk at it [the funeral] – and things about they almost dropped the coffin. I mean Martin Luther King is really a tricky person.’ 

She said Robert told her of the FBI wiretaps: ‘He said this with no bitterness or anything, how he was calling up all these girls and arranging for a party of men and women, I mean, sort of an orgy.’ (source)
There are some who have expressed outrage over these interviews.  I for one think that if she views MLK as a phony for his sexual escapades then her husband is also a phony.  It is a well known fact that JFK had affairs with various women over the course of their marriage.  Today, such lechery would make him unelectable in the U.S.  If you doubt that just think about Gary Hart or John Edwards.

I don't think that the fact that MLK was a lecher diminishes his achievements in any way. The reason people are upset is because Jackie sat in judgement of MLK while refusing to comment on Jack's numerous infidelities.  In what I feel was a preemptive defense, Caroline Kennedy said:
the comments didn’t reflect her mother’s true feelings about King, pointing out that she was proud to attend his funeral following his assassination in April 1968
Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of John and Jackie, said her mother’s comments about King were evidence of the ‘poisonous’ activities of then FBI director J  Edgar Hoover.
The truth is, people hated King for for less valid reasons in his lifetime. Today King may be considered a hero, but when he died, he certainly was not as popular as he is today.  Even though there was a mass outpouring of grief at his funeral, there were plenty of Blacks that felt that King was moving to fast, and some that felt that he was selling out to the White power structure.  Among Whites there were plenty that felt that he was a Black man who didn't know his place and was riling up the good negras in their communities.  His commentary on Vietnam and his intention to unify the races based in shared class oppression hardly made him someone that upper echelons admired.  Today it might be considered gauche to speak negatively about MLK, but it most certainly was not then.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Apparently, Dressing Your Daughter Like A Sex Woker is Better than Putting her in Sports

I am sure that you heard that for the season opener of Toddler's and Tiaras that a three year old girl appeared dressed as Julia Roberts from the movie Pretty Woman.  For those who have not heard, please see the image below.

I am quite sure that in this space, I don't have to talk about why it is wrong to sexualize a three year old and since many blogs have already covered this issue I had to decided to leave it alone until I read the following:
Wendy says, "I'm raising my child just as well as any mother does ... I take my kid to church every week ... at least I'm not forcing them into sports and getting my child injured like some parents."

Wendy adds, "People need to look at their own family and what they're doing. I don't know why people are focusing so much on pageant moms when there's much more harmful things people are letting their children do!" (source)

Disney's Jasmine is the Archetype of White Colonial Fantasies

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.

As a woman of color, I have a love-hate relationship with Disney. The bald-faced racism, sexism and imperialism make me cringe, and have left psychic wounds that require a lifetime of decolonization to heal from. At the same time, many of the images and songs are almost synonymous with my childhood, icons of the inspiration, creativity and love that shaped my early desires. I yearned with Ariel to explore the world beyond my own, and break free of Sinhalese gender norms for how ‘good girls’ behave. The scenes with Belle walking down the street with her nose in a book spoke to my own bookish little girl heart, and I even imitated the action a few times. I still get a little lump in my throat at the Circle of Life sequence in “The Lion King”, and my heart swells with fierce pride when Mulan chops off her beautiful dark hair and girds herself for battle. At the same time, the constant and unquestioned elevation of hetereosexual marriage, the unspeakably Eurocentric beauty standards, the racist caricatures and white-savior tropes and the circumvention or downright erasure of women's ambitions in favor of 'Love', are deeply troubling. This schism of love and loathing that informs my relationship to pop-culture is a consequence of being a WOC in a heterosexist, white supremacist society, and this schism forces me to acknowledge that, when it comes to its princesses of color, Disney operates with clear double-standards. This was meant to be a one-post look at how Jasmine's body is inscribed with histories of colonial-sexual violence, the vestiges of which WOC navigate daily; but as I started writing and looking at her pictures more, I realized that my relationship to her, and my own body/sexuality, is far more complex than could be encapsulated in a single post.
First, let me start by saying: I LOVE Jasmine. I love her wit, courage and diplomacy, and her rebellion against patriarchal norms. I love that her image - the long hair black as deep night, the almond eyes, and dark-toffee skin - makes me recognize and love those aspects of my own body. If we lived in a world unburdened with the history of European colonization, where skin color was not fused with a hierarchy of power and desirability, the image of a beautiful, sensual brown girl with a bare belly and midnight eyes would be simply that: an image, one among many.

James Craig Anderson Was Killed Because he was Black not Because he was Gay

Hopefully by now you have heard about how James Anderson died but for those who haven't,  seven White youths in Mississippi decided to beat him while yelling racial slurs, and then drive a truck over his body. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a racial hate crime. I found his murder incredibly triggering and that is why I didn't write about it before. I have however been following this story very closely.  As a Black mother with Black sons, what happened to Anderson represents my worst nightmare.

This weekend as I was going through my reader, I noticed that several gay blogs have finally gotten around to writing about this story. Please note that Black blogs have been writing about Anderson's death since it happened, and I doubt that without their constant attention, that this story would have made the national news.  At any rate, reading these gay blogs I learned that Anderson was Black and gay. A light bulb clicked on, and I realized why his death had suddenly been deemed worthy of coverage - his sexuality.

When Anderson was just another Black man, who was a random victim of White supremacy, none of the GLBT blogs had a damn thing to say about it.  I suppose it was considered not to be a gay issue. Now that it has been revealed that Anderson was a gay man, being beaten and then driven over by a truck is suddenly deemed horrifying.  To that I say fuck you - fuck you ten thousand times over. They weren't screaming gay slurs at Anderson, they were screaming racial slurs at him and believing  that you can appropriate his death to advance the cause of gay rights is repulsive.

The moment that it was revealed how and why Anderson died, it should have been an issue for every single social justice blogger, because his life was worth something.  It should never have been about what group he did or did not fit into, because looking at any individual is never enough to know exactly what oppressions they have to negotiate on a daily basis.  Social justice is supposed to be about intersections, because most people will negotiate multiple site of oppression throughout their lifetimes, but for the GLBT blogs that decided to ignore what happened to Anderson, until it was revealed that he was gay, apparently that is not a truism.

True Blood: And When I Die

Okay WHAT THE FLYING FUCK WAS THAT?  This is the first episode all season that I pretty much sat on the edge of my couch afraid to blink, while I continually cursed.  This episode started off with Jesus making Lafayette breakfast and promising that they could both avoid magic from then on in.  Slowly Jesus realizes that he is not talking to Lafayette but to Marnie.  She ties him to a chair and demands that he give up all his power or she will hurt Lafayette.  Finally, Jesus agrees and Marnie stabs him in the stomach leaving him for dead.  I know that all season Tami and Sparky having been saying that Jesus is on borrowed time but I was really upset with this.  I firmly believe that Jesus was considered disposable because he is a gay man of color.  I do however think that it is worth noting, that in the director's cut, they talk about where the relationship will go from there, so perhaps there is some hope for growth in their relationship yet.

Tara and Sookie sit in her kitchen to have a coffee together.  Sookie tells her that she feels as though Adele is in the house with her, after having a vision of Adele's dead bloody body on the kitchen floor. Tara tells her that Adele will always be with her and they share a laugh about the advice that Adele would give them both.  Sookie expresses a desire to grow old and sit on her porch watching her grandchildren play.  It is Tara who says that she hopes that she will be able to join her and that should have been a clue that something terrible was in the wings for Tara.

Sam stands in front of Tommy's grave, and is joined by Mrs.Hoytenbury.  She tells him that though Tommy was not blood, he was a son to her.  She then goes off to list a bunch of things that Tommy stole and Sam tries to excuse Tommy saying, no one ever taught him to love without hurting someone.  In the end, Mrs. Hoytenbury promises to stop by with the most horrendous casserole ever thought up and tells Sam that they have to be there for each other now, because they only have each other now thanks to Tommy's passing.  Watching, I could almost hear Sam screaming please God noooooo in his head.

Jason decides to go over to Hoyt and tell him about Jessica.  I had to laugh about Jason making Hoyt put down the saw before telling him.  Hoyt gets predictably upset and tells Jason that he is never going to have anything real with Jessica or any other woman. Jason reminds him that Jessica was a free woman when they slept together, but Hoyt tells him that there is something broken and missing in him that causes him to try and solve everything with his dick. I suppose this brought the end of one love triangle and I was quite happy to see it come to an end.

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