Saturday, October 1, 2011

Enter For A Chance To Win Volume 1 and 2 of The Walking Dead Graphic Novels

Are you counting down the days until the second season of The Walking Dead starts? Last year when AMC first aired The Walking Dead, I wasn't sure that I was going to like this zombie show, but each episode drew me in as I realized that this show is about so much more than supernatural beings.  It's about how you survive when everything that you know is gone.  In fact in volume one: Days Gone Bye, the author writes:
To me, the best zombie movies aren't the splatter fests of gore and violence with goofy characters and tongue and cheek antics. Good zombie movies show us just how messed up we are, they make us question our station in society ... and out society's station in the world. They show us gore and violence and all that cool stuff too ... but there's always an element of social commentary and thoughtfulness.

With The Walking Dead, I want to explore how people deal with extreme situations and how these events change them.  I'm in this for the long haul. You guys are going to see Rick change to the point that, when you look back on this book, you won't even recognize him. I hope you guys are looking forward to a sprawling epic because that's the idea with this one.
This is why The Walking Dead sums up some of the best that urban fantasy has to offer.  It's not just about woo woo; it's about the human experience.  If like me, you have become a fan of the series, I am sure that the chance to own:


Is hard to pass up.  This month we are giving away volume 1: Days Gone Bye, by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moorem as well as Volume 2: Miles Behind Us, by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard and Cliff Rathburn of the Walking dead graphic novels. The lucky winner will receive both volumes.

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The Vampire Diaries Season Three, Episode Three: The End of the Affair

This episode brought the return of Katherine.  I was so hoping that narrowly escaping with her life last season, would be enough to end the characters purpose on the show.  More than anything, Katherine shows just how much Nina Dobrev needs to take acting classes; however, I suppose that as long as  Paul Wesley is playing Stefan, she will never hold the title for the worst actor on The Vampire Diaries

Shall we get right into it? Damon tracks Stefan down to beantown and brings Elena along for the ride.  This episode is filled with flashbacks from the roaring twenties, when Stefan was the ripper.  Not only did he kill willfully, he wrote the names down of his victims -- so that he could remember and experience the kills again.  Think of it sort of like a vampire trophy.  Damon takes Elena to Stefan's old apartment (okay, gotta say, why is this building still standing, and why is it in such good condition?) and she sees the list for herself.  Any normal person at that point would go screaming for the door. All Elena can see is a vampire in need of help to get over his little habit of draining people of their life blood.  Awww poor baby waby just needs help.  I don't for the life of me understand how she can still see him as good, when she now has evidence of exactly what kind of killer Stefan is.

In the flashback we learn that Stefan and Klaus had a friendship.  They were so close that Stefan referred to Klaus as his brother.  Stefan and Klaus were introduced by Rebecca, Klaus' sister.  It seems that over time, Stefan and Rebecca had a relationship, but when someone bursts into Stefan's bar, shooting wooden bullets, Klaus decides that it is once again time to leave town.  Before he leaves, he orders Stefan to forget about them, until he tells him to remember and this is why Stefan has no memory of his previous relationship with Klaus.  Rebecca refuses to leave without Stefan, and when Klaus tells her that she has to chose either himself or Stefan, Rebecca chooses Stefan.  Never being one to accept the word no, Klaus stabs her with knife making it impossible for her to move. She is essentially dead.  If you remember, this is what happened to Elijah last season. 

The reason Klaus brought Stefan to Chicago was to find out why he was not able to create more hybrids. Of course the answer lies in finding another witch and surprise, surprise, surprise, the witch is a woman named Gloria who used to work in the club that they hung at during the twenties. Gloria appears to not have aged a day, and this is because she is a powerful witch and is able to slow the aging process. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

‘The Vampire Diaries’: What People of Colour Do When They Aren’t Snack Food

Over the three seasons of The Vampire Diaries, several characters of colour, not including the random walk on characters that were usually fed on by Caroline have appeared on the show:

Bonnie Bennet (Kat Graham)
Sheila Bennet (Jasmine Guy)
Emily Bennet (Bianca Lawson)
Pearl (Kelly Hu)
Anna (Malese Jow)
Luca Martin (Bryton James)
Dr. Jonas Martin (Randy J Goodwin)
Greta Martin (Lisa Tucker)
Bethan (Jenny Perillo)
Harper (Sterling Sulieman)
Tyler Lockwood (Michael Trevino)

This may seem like a decent representation; however, what the numbers don’t reveal, is that these characters were either in servile positions, or were so far separated from their African-American culture that they were rendered almost invisible or race neutral. It is also worth noting that this story is taking place in the south, and the ratio of Black to White is far higher than what is actually represented on The Vampire Diaries.

The only two characters to show any real independence and self interest were Shelia Bennet and Emily Bennet.  Shelia wanted to impart her culture and history to Bonnie.  She set very strict boundaries on her interactions with vampires, and made it clear that she did not exist to serve them.  In fact, Shelia actively threatened Stefan to warn him from harming Bonnie in anyway.  Yet, for all of her warnings and precaution, she still ended up dying to free the vampires from the crypt. 

Emily was in a servile position because she was a slave; however, she used the power that she had to create a better future for her descendants, demanding that they would never know what it was to be a slave. Emily was also not afraid to use her power against vampires when she felt that it was a public good.  Considering that Bonnie has a heritage of strong Black women, it is hard to understand why her cultural awareness is almost non-existent.  It is almost as though Bonnie is a White girl conveniently painted Black for the purposes of inclusion cookies.  I can say this confidently because in the books written by L.J. Smith, not only is Bonnie White, there are no regularly occurring characters of colour. 

Bonnie often seems to have no real independent existence outside of Elena. She exists to serve Elena, on our podcasts we even joked about Bonnie being put back into the “plot box” until Elene needed her again. It seems especially gross to see this when we consider that Emily, Bonnie’s ancestor was a slave who served exactly the same purpose for Katherine. Both was there to provide magical solutions to whatever problems Elena/Katherine had. A matter only made more distasteful by Mystic Fall’s constant worship and romanticism of the Founders that Bonnie is expected to participate in. As a descendant of slaves, Bonnie should take no pleasure in any celebration of antebellum south.

Even when Bonnie herself disagreed with what she was asked to do (being considerably more suspicious of the vampires) she still acted for Elena. Even when the spirits of dead witches, of Bonnie’s ancestors, are telling her not to do something, she ignores them in favour of Elena. Though Bonnie realises that she is pushing herself to perform more and more magic, she ignores the personal cost up to and including, nose bleeds, passing out and extreme pain. Most glaringly of all, at the end of season two Bonnie is ready to die to save Elena. 

Outside of Caroline whom Bonnie distrusts now that she is a vampire, and Elena, Bonnie is closes to Jeremy Gilbert, Elena’s brother. Jeremy actively pursues Bonnie and she is resistant at first because of the age difference between them rather than race. This stands of another example of the desire to construct Bonnie as White though she is supposedly a character of color.  Anyone in an inter-racial relationship will tell you that race is something that constantly needs to be negotiated and yet Bonnie and Jeremy have had no such conversation. Bonnie has not even wondered privately if she is being fetishised and considering the history of Black women and White men in an American context, I find this extremely unrealistic. 

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Should States Allow Online Gambling

'Poker Hand Rankings' photo (c) 2008, Blaine Rumsey - license:

There was a time when gambling was solely the preserve of the mob.  Today it is big business with everyone from corporate giants to Native Americans getting in on the game. Poker stars of today are well known entities, now that tournaments are televised.  The popularity of poker is based in the idea that unlike many other casino games, there is an element of skill involved.  One must not only be able to play the odds, but the player as well.

Each time a new casino opens, there is a debate as to what it offers a community.  Some see casinos as offering middle class jobs, while others believe that casinos are actually a drain upon a community.  Should the government be in the business of gambling, when addiction ruins families?  When I think about this debate, I think about alcohol. No, not shaken not stirred, but the attempt to make alcohol illegal during prohibition. Much of the same reasons that we cite as justification to eliminate gaming today, are exactly the same as were cited to end the sale of alcohol -- and we all know how that turned out.

The truth of the matter is that all vices, whether it is gambling, prostitution or drinking are socially engrained.  Even when people aren't actively betting money, they are gambling.  Who hasn't bet with their partner about doing a chore? Is allowing online casinos any worse than the state being involved in the lottery, which by the way has it roots in the numbers game, formerly run by the mob?  We know that the odds of winning the lottery are worse than being struck by lightening, and yet every week people line up to their tickets.  Playing the lottery is about dreaming, more than it is actually winning. I know that when I buy my ticket every Friday, I always say, "dear lord if you don't see fit to let me win, please let someone who loves me win."  This has become my lottery mantra.  For me, it comes down to a dollar to dream.

Why A Trans Rights Bill Is Needed In Canada

This is a guest post from the fabulous Monica of TransGriot

Liberal MP Dr.Hedy Fry and NDP MP Randall Peterson just introduced Bills C-276 and C-279 a few days ago in the Conservative majority dominated Parliament.  

Why did they do so?   Because it's clear that the Great White North and the trans people who live inside its borders need that human rights coverage.

A blatant case of anti-trans discrimination has blown up and become international news centered on the Trail's End Farmers Market in London, ON.

On September 10 Karen Clarke, the cis female owner and proprietor of True 2 You of London, a business that sells candles, oils, air fresheners and incense was called by the manager of the farmer's market and told she could not set up a booth in their 'family friendly' facility the next week if she planned on having a trans person running it. 

Clarke had worked a morning shift in the booth, then left it in the hands of her trans employee Dani Dominick in order to prepare for the next day's business.   She was shocked to receive the transphobic call at 8 PM that evening.
"He said it made everyone uncomfortable and it just wasn't right. This is a family place, a family market and this just isn't right. I just kept insisting what happened that was wrong and he said you walk up to the person and they're dressed like a woman and they've got big hands, a deep voice and tattoos and it's just not right. It's just not a family place he kept repeating that over and over again. And I kept trying to get from him what was wrong, what was so not right, what was it that people were complaining about and there was no details forthcoming that way. He called them 'those people' several times."  
Dani, the employee in question is according to Clarke one of her best employees and has worked without issue at the Children's Festival, Rib Fest, and Food Fest this past summer. In addition to working for Clarke, Dani also lives with her as part of a rent-for-work agreement.

Berkeley College Republicans Racist Bake Sale

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
Sometimes I just don’t have words....

The Berkeley College Republican’s decided to hold a bake sale to protest the reinstatement of Affirmative Action on their campus. Apparently they didn't know that there are ways to argue both sides without using overt racism (difficult I know, but possible). Despite numerous attempts by marginalized students to call out the student group on their horrifically racist idea for a protest, the group decided it just had to be done. They weren't being racist, they were trying to make a point! And the best way to do this was to sell baked goods at varying prices dependent on race/ethnicity. 

White/Caucasian- $2.00
Asian/Asian American- $1.50
Latino/Hispanic- $1.00 
Black/African American- $.75
Native American- $.25

$.25 off for all women

I’m not even going to comment on Affirmative Action or the school’s demographics. I think it’s beside the point. The problem here is how these students decided to use racism and appropriation to further a cause. They decided to put values and prices on bodies based on race/ethnicity/gender. Some of them even wore mock headdresses to appear Native American. Yes, I get that they are attempting to mirror what effects they see affirmative action having on the campus. But by doing this, they are targeting students of color, erasing students who call them out on it, and completely bypassing the conversation and putting Whiteness once again in the spotlight. This conversation went from how do all students feel about the effects of  affirmative action on campus- specifically those who it directly affects--to How Do White Folks Feel About It? 

Review of Sapphire "The Kid" Part Two: Falling

This review was written by Sparky

This book remains a very powerful and very very difficult book to read. Reading this section I had to stop and put the book down several times, it was too hard a book to tackle in one lump and is very stark in its presentations, the abuse detailed and frequent, casual use of slurs.

J.J – the name Abdul has now embraced – has been moved again this time to St. Ailanthus Catholic school/home for boys. Again he has no power in where he's going – and his presence there is only explained after the fact. JJ is constantly moved around without consultation.

St. Ailanthus is presented as a decent school – it seems to have capable teachers, a broad base of knowledge – but even then facilities are limited and they're “lucky” to have a doctorate on staff. Opportunity is limited to the very best performing rather than being universally offered for all of these 13 year old boys. Though JJ is one of the best performing so we don't see it through his eyes, we do see other boys in the home, those less able, and their own struggles while JJ earns pats and plaudits for his own ability

But beyond opportunity and limited resources, it's still a very dehumanised space. The boys who live there have little to no privacy at all – their lockers, their possessions, everything is open to the Brothers to examine. They live a highly regimented live that is strictly controlled and policed. When JJ sees a display of African dance – one of the few things he sees and experiences that actually moves him and calls to him – he is prevented from going. This is one of the few things that truly reaches him and he has to break the rules to attend – beyond internal academic standards there's no real reinforcement or encouragement for the boys to develop as people. It strikes me as being far more about training to fit a mould than it does about educating and encouraging development

And one thing is glaringly missing from St. Ailanthus – there is no attempt at affection. The ridiculously pathetic attempts of some Brother's to be appealing to JJ – to be modern and young and to understand them garner more contempt than respect and most of them do not try that much.

One thing St. Ailanthus most certainly isn't is safe. Abuse is rampant in the home – some from the Brothers and between the boys in the dorm. Victims are ignored or not believed – especially when their victimisers are held in higher esteem by the Brothers (abuse by the Brothers themselves is not even considered reportable). Victims are discounted as liars, fantasists and trouble makers. The Brothers use physical violence without even the slightest expectation of any kind of consequences. Again, the boys and teens in St. Ailanthus are not treated as people, children, to nurture but as things to control, to hem in and to train.

Jamey Rodemeyer Is Not Better Off Dead

 (trigger warning for rampant homophobia)

When I first learned that Jamey Rodemeyer had committed suicide, I simply didn't have the words to talk about it.  As a mother, this is one of my greatest fears for my sons.  We have had some bullying off and on throughout the years and the principal is well aware of my name.  My  heart simply ached for his mother, father and sister.  To lose someone you love is bad enough, but to lose someone because of something as senseless as bullying, must simply be destroying them.  It is enough to make you despair humanity.

When I learned that Lady Gaga had dedicated a song to him, I was happy because his short life was being commemorated. I learned today however, that even death Jamey continues to be bullied.  Apparently his sister went to home coming and when a GaGa song came on, the same kids that were bullying him began to chant, "we're glad your dead", and "you're better off dead."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Bullied Disabled Boy Commits Suicide

Far too many still see bullying as a right of passage in childhood, but it has proven to have terrible consequences.  Though schools claim to have a zero tolerance policy, bullying happens everyday.  More often than not, the kids that are targeted are vulnerable and marginalized.  How many children have to die, before we start to take this seriously? 

I firmly believe that bullying starts and ends in the home.  Kids that are being subjected to corporeal punishment are more likely to be violent with their peers.  Another source of bullying comes from parents who refuse to social justice parent.  You need not actively teach your child racism, sexism, homophobia or disableism for them to internalize and normalize these terrible isms.  Silence is enough for them to internalize their various privileges and act upon them.  As parents we need to teach our child to respect others and this means actively engaging them about the isms, and not shucking our responsibilities by claiming that we are ruining their childhood by talking about adult matters.

If you doubt that this is necessary, read the story of Mitchell Wilson:
TORONTO - Mitchell Wilson worked so hard to be a normal, happy-go-lucky kid.

Lord knows fate didn't make that easy. The 11-year-old lost his mom to cancer three years ago and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis the following year. He never could run and jump like the other children. Still he always maintained that goofy grin on his face. He was a joker who loved swimming and go-karting, driving with his dad and making silly jokes with his younger stepsisters.

And Mitchell loved to walk. Six times a day, he'd be pounding the pavement around his Pickering, Ont., home because the doctors told him he had to "use it or lose it" -- that the only way of slowing the atrophy of his muscles was to exercise them. And while he used a walker at school -- more as protection from the jostling of his fellow students -- he proudly walked outside on his own, his young shoulders pressed back so that he could maintain his fragile balance and not fall.

"Everybody in the neighbourhood knew him. He walked in the rain. He walked in the snow," recalls his dad, Craig Wilson. "Every step Mitchell had to make was like 10 steps of ours in effort. I don't think I ever understood how hard it was for him to do the simple tasks.

"He tried so hard to make it through each day and he was so tired at the end that he could barely make it up the stairs."

Yet he never gave up -- until a young bully stole his will to live; a young offender who will likely walk free next week. (Read More)

Alice Walker: Beauty In Truth

'alice walker 1.jpg' photo (c) 2003, CODEPINK Women For Peace - license: 
No other activist and writer has influenced my life and my work the way that Alice Walker has.  I have read most of her books and listened to as many as her various speeches and lectures, as I have had access to over the years.  She overwhelms me with her beautiful truth, and her ability to stand firm in the face of such obvious rage and oppression.  Alice ventures, where so many fear to tread.  

Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth - Trailer from Kali Films on Vimeo.

ALICE WALKER: BEAUTY IN TRUTH is a feature documentary film about the life and times of a foremost American writer. Alice Walker made history as the first Black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1983 for her ground breaking novel The Color Purple, which was made into a successful film by Steven Spielberg.

ALICE WALKER: BEAUTY IN TRUTH has been 4 years in the making. During this time we have most definitely rolled up our sleeves, put our heads down and dedicated ourselves to getting this film out in the world by any means necessary. On this ever eventful journey, we have been joined by some truly committed and amazing people who share our vision to tell this inspiring story of hope. We have got this far with the help of generous donations from individuals, grants and awards, major extensions on our personal credit cards and most recently filmmaker support from ITVS. We have now completed 85% of the filming and are working towards the completion of a rough cut. 

The filmmaking team is award-winning filmmaker Pratibha Parmar and producer Shaheen Haq.
There you have it folks, a movie about one of our greatest sheroes produced by women of color.  What a beautiful symmetry.  Unfortunately, donations are needed for the completion of this film. It is hardly surprising considering that the media does not support the work of women and even less so the work of women of color.  They are actively looking for donations for:

Dear White People Stop Showing Your Ass to the World

To the best of my ability, I try to make sure that Womanist Musings is an intersectional space. I have labored to ensure that the contributors have vastly different life experiences to share with us.  Some are White and some of color, but all are marginalized in someway.  That being said, this no in way entitles you to spit your racial privilege all over my blog.

Recently, we have had a new influx of commenters to Womanist Musings, and while I appreciate new readership, I have very little tolerance for the idea that we should all return to the 101 level because some jackass has not bothered to educate themselves before interacting in this space.  We are all going to make mistakes, including myself, but 101 level mistakes are not tolerable because they are a reflection of the fact that the person has not even bothered to do the most basic work to challenge their privilege.  If you are commenting on this site, this means that you have access to the internet and therefore have the ability to educate yourself.  There are a multitude of resources online to help guide you.  It is unfair to those that have done the work, and to the people who negotiate the ism being discussed to have to educate you.

I find this particularly infuriating when the conversation is about Blackface or most recently yellowface and slurs.  If you are not of color, you don't get to have an opinion on Blackface/Yellowface or another racist appropriation other than it is bad.  People of color don't give a fuck what you think.  Your opinion is meaningless, because you benefit from the racism to begin with.  It stands to reason that you would argue that the portrayal in and of itself is not racist.  When you can benefit from arguing against something being labelled racist, the benefit in and of itself means that your point of view is anything but neutral.  Furthermore, you don't get to decide the appropriate response to a racist act, as long as it does not involve a violent response, or use another ism to attempt to address the problem.  This also means that if two people of color differ on the degree to which the portrayal is racist, that you don't belong in the conversation.  This is what we call a family conversation, and White people need to learn what is and isn't there business to comment on.

Here are two examples to further illustrate the point.  If the GLBT community is engaged in a conversation about which groups belong in the alphabet soup, as a straight, cisgender person, it is not my business to comment, because that is a family conversation.  If disabled people are discussing whether or not the word lame, crazy etc are indeed ableist, and the degree to which it offends us, that is not your opportunity to pull out a dictionary and interfere in the conversation. I trust from the two examples I have given that you get the point.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Jane Lynch Chats With Ellen About Being a Lesbian, her Career and her Struggles with Alcoholism

I thought that I would post this for those who missed the interview and are Lynch fans, or fans of Glee.

DJ Khaled Says He's A Nigga

Here we go again, with people thinking that they have a right to reclaim a slur when they don't belong to the group which the slur is commonly aimed at. DJ Khaled who is Palestinian recently faced some push back over his decision to claim the identity of nigga.  Apparently it's all about love and understanding for him.

Your Friend Deserves Better

This is a guest post from Sparky, of Spark in Darkness.  Many of you are  familiar with him from Livejournal, as well as from his insightful and often hilarious commentary here. Each Tuesday, Womanist Musings will be featuring a post from Sparky.

Ok some things hang around far too long. They're not only wearing out their welcome, but they're lurching around, rotting, smelling like an extra on The Walking Dead.

And most certainly one of them is that old, stinking excuse “I have X friends” (or cousins, or co-workers or employees or someone who once passed you in the street) and it's related zombies “My friend said X”.

Apart from anything else, it's useless. I'm always amazed when one marginalised person says “hell no” and then some privileged person turns round and says “but my friend says...”. Why? Why does your reported friend overrule the marginalised person in front of you saying it's not ok? Sometimes even multiple marginalised people are supposed to bow to this. Does your friend have the grand imperial veto or something? Supreme Godfather of the Gay Agenda? International President of all Black People? Supreme Dictator of Translandia?

Shockingly enough, even if your friend did say that (and more on that later), marginalised people do not have the same experiences, the same triggers, the same hurts, the same tolerances, the same minds. Your friend's lack of triggers, lack of offence, lack of hurt do not invalidate the hurt in front of you. This is especially true when I see such wonderfully ridiculous things as quoting a Lesbian friend over a Trans person's offence, or a South Asian friend over a Black person's hurt.

Robert Downey Jr. Dons Yellow Face for New Sherlock Holmes Movie

Why is it that White people can always find a way to appropriate from other cultures?  Robert Downey Jr. has a history of douchebaggery that is well documented, and he certainly did not do his reputation, or Asian people any favors by dawning yellow face for his new movie, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.

Uh huh, I wonder if he shuffled his feet, smoked opium, worked in laundry and moonlighted as a pimp?  Yes, those are the stereotypes associated with Asian men from that time in history.  I know that Holmes is a detective, and it makes sense that he would go undercover for an investigation, but as an Asian man?  Really?

Monday, September 26, 2011

The Vampire Diaries Season Three, Episode Two: The Hybrid

I should have known that bad ass Stefan wouldn't last long.  He is supposedly blood drunk and has become Stefan the ripper, but somehow he cannot stop mooning over Elena. The girl has some long lasting musty effect on men.  
When we last left Klaus and Stefan, they were torturing a werewolf to force him to hand over the location of his pack.  They return with him to the Tennessee mountains and see his camp backpacking so that they can enjoy the freedom of letting their wolves run wild.  One by one, Klaus attempts to turn them into vampires.

Tyler wakes up and his mother lectures him on letting his prostitutes sneak out in the middle of the night. Funny how the slut shaming was reserved for Caroline, though Tyler took part in the sex as well.  I don't expect much from the WB, because it targets a youth audience, but with that in mind you would think that they would at least attempt not to fill their program with so many anti-woman themes for their young female viewers to internalize, but I suppose he's a stud, she's a slut plays well in the ratings.  Tyler does correct his mother, but it was still disturbing that the line was used period.  He pours himself some coffee, but tells her that it tastes funny and heads out.

At the bar, 'cause none of these kids go to school -- though they are officially in high school -- Elena asks Tyler about where werewolves go during the full moon.  He admits that Stefan would not be in the situation that he is in, if he hadn't bitten Damon.  Never mind that Damon spent a lot of time goading him.  He uses her phone to pull up a map.

Jeremy, who is looking hotter and more muscular this season approaches Matt asking for his help to contact Vicki.  When Matt asks why he just doesn't ask Bonnie for help, he makes some crack about it not being appropriate to ask Bonnie for help with his ex girlfriend.  Speaking of Bonnie, is she going to make more than a two second appearance this season? It's starting to feel like they can only have one WOC per episode, and they did after all let Anna say one sentence this episode.

Tyler decides to stick around and have a coffee.  Yeah, why not relax, it's not like he should be heading to school?  When Matt brings him a coffee, he takes a sip and complains that his taste buds are off today.  Matt tells him that as per the Liz's instructions, he occasionally puts vervain in the coffee.  He was surprised that Matt could taste the vervain, because coffee normally masks the taste. You could almost see a light bulb flash over Tyler's head.

Carol Lockwood calls a mysterious man to inform him of her little vampire problem.  She's conflicted because she has known Caroline since she was little, but the man assures her that they must handle the situation.  When Tyler returns home, he asks his mother why she slipped vervain into his drink.  He specifically wants to know if she thinks he's a vampire, and she admits that because he was spending so much time around Caroline that she was nervous.  Carol then goes on to call Caroline a monster, and tells Tyler that she does not want him hanging around Caroline.  Tyler walks towards his mother telling her that Caroline is not a monster and says, "you don't know about me do you?"  

An Open Letter from Black Women to the SlutWalk September 23, 2011

We the undersigned women of African descent and anti-violence advocates, activists, scholars, organizational and spiritual leaders wish to address the SlutWalk. First, we commend the organizers on their bold and vast mobilization to end the shaming and blaming of sexual assault victims for violence committed against them by other members of society. We are proud to be living in this moment in time where girls and boys have the opportunity to witness the acts of extraordinary women resisting oppression and challenging the myths that feed rape culture everywhere. 

The police officer’s comments in Toronto that ignited the organizing of the first SlutWalk and served to trivialize, omit and dismiss women’s continuous experiences of sexual exploitation, assault, and oppression are an attack upon our collective spirits.  Whether the dismissal of rape and other violations of a woman’s body be driven by her mode of dress, line of work, level of intoxication, her class, and in cases of Black and brown bodies—her race, we are in full agreement that no one deserves to be raped.

The Issue At Hand

We are deeply concerned. As Black women and girls we find no space in SlutWalk, no space for participation and to unequivocally denounce rape and sexual assault as we have experienced it.  We are perplexed by the use of the term “slut” and by any implication that this word, much like the word “Ho” or the “N” word should be re-appropriated. The way in which we are perceived and what happens to us before, during and after sexual assault crosses the boundaries of our mode of dress.  Much of this is tied to our particular history.  In the United States, where slavery constructed Black female sexualities, Jim Crow kidnappings, rape and lynchings, gender misrepresentations, and more recently, where the Black female immigrant struggle combine, “slut” has different associations for Black women.  We do not recognize ourselves nor do we see our lived experiences reflected within SlutWalk and especially not in its brand and its label. 

As Black women, we do not have the privilege or the space to call ourselves “slut” without validating the already historically entrenched ideology and recurring messages about what and who the Black woman is.  We don’t have the privilege to play on destructive representations burned in our collective minds, on our bodies and souls for generations.  Although we understand the valid impetus behind the use of the word “slut” as language to frame and brand an anti-rape movement, we are gravely concerned.  For us the trivialization of rape and the absence of justice are viciously intertwined with narratives of sexual surveillance, legal access and availability to our personhood.  It is tied to institutionalized ideology about our bodies as sexualized objects of property, as spectacles of sexuality and deviant sexual desire. It is tied to notions about our clothed or unclothed bodies as unable to be raped whether on the auction block, in the fields or on living room television screens. The perception and wholesale acceptance of speculations about what the Black woman wants, what she needs and what she deserves has truly, long crossed the boundaries of her mode of dress. 

We know the SlutWalk is a call to action and we have heard you.  Yet we struggle with the decision to answer this call by joining with or supporting something that even in name exemplifies the ways in which mainstream women’s movements have repeatedly excluded Black women even in spaces where our participation is most critical. We are still struggling with the how, why and when and ask at what impasse should the SlutWalk have included substantial representation of Black women in the building and branding of this U.S. based movement to challenge rape culture? 

Black women in the U.S. have worked tirelessly since the 19th century colored women’s clubs to rid society of the sexist/racist vernacular of slut, jezebel, hottentot, mammy, mule, sapphire; to build our sense of selves and redefine what women who look like us represent. Although we vehemently support a woman’s right to wear whatever she wants anytime, anywhere, within the context of a “SlutWalk” we don’t have the privilege to walk through the streets of New York City, Detroit, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, L.A. etc., either half-naked or fully clothed self-identifying as “sluts” and think that this will make women safer in our communities an hour later, a month later, or a year later.  Moreover, we are careful not to set a precedent for our young girls by giving them the message that we can self-identify as “sluts” when we’re still working to annihilate the word “ho”, which deriving from the word “hooker” or “whore”, as in “Jezebel whore” was meant to dehumanize.  Lastly, we do not want to encourage our young men, our Black fathers, sons and brothers to reinforce Black women’s identities as “sluts” by normalizing the term on t-shirts, buttons, flyers and pamphlets. 

The personal is political. For us, the problem of trivialized rape and the absence of justice are intertwined with race, gender, sexuality, poverty, immigration and community.  As Black women in America, we are careful not to forget this or we may compromise more than we are able to recover.  Even if only in name, we cannot afford to label ourselves, to claim identity, to chant dehumanizing rhetoric against ourselves in any movement.  We can learn from successful movements like the Civil Rights movement, from Women’s Suffrage, the Black Nationalist and Black Feminist movements that we can make change without resorting to the taking-back of words that were never ours to begin with, but in fact heaved upon us in a process of dehumanization and devaluation. 

TV Guide ErasesTaraji P. Henson in their 'Person of Interest' Cover

It has always been tough to be a Black woman in Hollywood. At this years Emmys, 25 awards were given out, and of the six people of color that were nominated, no one took home a golden statue.  So as far as Hollywood is concerned, we are most definitely not post racial. One of the most anticipated new shows this year is Person of Interest. It stars, Michael Emerson, Jim Caviezel, and Taraji P. Henson.  TV Guide is apparently doing a feature on the show but it is only interested in Emerson and Caviezel.  Hmmm what would that be?  Henson is an Emmy nominated actress so it's not like she doesn't have the chops to be recognized.  Could it be because Emerson and Caviezel, are both White men?  Yeah, that's what I think and so does Taraji P. Henson.

She took her disapproval to Facebook and Twitter

WOW!!!! TV Guide is NOT including me on the cover with my cast memebers……..I am the female lead of a 3 member cast and I’m not included on the cover!!!!!! Do you see the sh*t I have to deal with in this business…..I cram to understand!!!!

 Of course TV guide didn't mean to be racist and sexist.

Man Uses Sexism to Heckle Bristol Palin

'Bristol Palin' photo (c) 2011, Gage Skidmore - license:

Bristol Palin first gained media attention as the pregnant teenage daughter of Sarah Palin.  Though she is now twenty-one, I firmly believe that she is still very much under her mother's control.  Even though this is the case, I believe that she is old enough to be accountable for her own actions.  Bristol was recently at a bar riding a mechanical bull when she was heckled. 

As she fell off the mechanical bull, Stephen Hanks yelled out, "your mother's a whore".  He even had the nerve to ask, "Did you ride Levi like that?" Unsurprisingly, Bristol walked over to confront the man. I don't care what kind of marginalization a man negotiates, slut shaming a woman as a form of attack is sexist. For her part, Bristol said,"Is it because you're a homosexual and that's why you hate her?"  When he answered, ""Pretty much ... and why'd you say I'm a homosexual?" She responded with, "Because I can tell you are."  The shouting match conversation ended with Hanks calling Bristol Wassila Trash.

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What this conversation shows us is that when you deploy an ism to fight an ism, there is no way to have a conversation that is conducive to change or a possible positive outcome.  There is no doubt that the Palins have said racist and homophobic things however, using sexism to attack them does not address the issue with their statements.  It is simply reaching for something to hurt them viscerally, while invoking privilege.  Hanks may indeed be a gay man, but he will never know what it feels like to be slut shamed or how this contributes to the continued divide between men and women.  Similarly, as a straight woman, Bristol has a lot of privileges that she clearly has ignored and normalized.

Below you will find a follow up interview that Stephen Hanks did with TMZ.

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What Does It Mean to be a Black Man in America

I saw the following image over at Neo-Prodigy's place. As a child of the African Diaspora and the mother of two Black sons, it effected me very deeply.

 When you look at this image what comes to mind.  If you are Black, do you find that it speaks an authentic truth and how does it make you feel? If you are White, how does this image make you feel relative to the privilege that you enjoy today? And finally to all races, do you feel that the image accurately reflects the state of race relations today?