Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Sixth Birthday Baby Man


Six years ago today, my little man, affectionately known to you as Mayhem was born. Like anything else, he was in a hurry to make his mark, and was born six weeks early.  He was so tiny, that I had to tape the newborn diapers to keep them on him, but that would change quickly, because no one could attack a bottle faster than he could. I may have mama eyes, but I still believe that Mayhem and Destruction were two of the cutest babies evah.

Being premature and my last baby, I intended to baby him along, but he had other plans.  The minute he could do something for himself, there was no helping him.  It was like he was born with a can do attitude. Whatever he chooses to do, he's in it to win it, and his strength and determination continue to surprise me, even as I struggle to let him grow into the person he was meant to be.  Looking at him today, I can barely see the cute cuddly baby he once was, and instead I see a distant shadow of the man that he will one day be.

I worry that he will soon decide that he is to old for bedtime kisses and hugs, as it is, he barely still fits in my lap. Even as he easily accepts my hand to cross the street today, I know that the time is quickly approaching, when even that will no longer be necessary, because he is quickly learning about the world around him. So much has changed in six years, and six years from now, I won't even recognize the little boy that he is today and that is truly the heartbreak of having children; they grow so much faster than parents can possibly be ready for.

This morning I got up and sang, "hey shorty it's your birthday, we're gonna party like it's your birthday," and you gave me a huge smile.  I live for those smiles, because you smile with your entire body, and you always have my little love.  Not only do you smile with your entire body, you laugh with it as well, your little tummy shaking in glee.  To see you truly happy, is to experience the truest joy.  Over the years you have brought so much love into our home.  You may be the tiniest member of our little family but you are loved and needed by all. Your joy of living is matched by no other.

For all of your energy, you are extremely sure of yourself, and never afraid to speak up when necessary. You demand that you are listened to and taken seriously.  You never accept a simple no for an answer, and need an in-depth explanation each time.  There is no challenge that you are unwilling to meet, and you are absolutely tough as nails.  If it's time to scrap, you make sure you get your licks in, and as little as you are, your voice is loud enough to be heard across the street, even when the doors are closed. For such a little man, you're a dynamo, and though it frustrates me at times, it comforts me to know that you are already ready to handle what life throws your way.

In your quiet moments, when you cuddle with your brother on the couch, you are just so sweet to watch.  Every day, you take time out of your day, to make sure that every single person in the family receives some sort of affection from you.  Whether it's the quick hug and kiss on your way out the door, or slow cuddles, love is what you are all about.  I hope that you never loose the ability to be so free with your feelings, and I pray that they are always returned in kind.

For this come year, I wish you success in whatever endeavor you attempt to pursue. I wish you happiness and all the love in the world, because you deserve only the best my precious son.  I hope that you will have time for your play, because we know that's a priority.  Most of all though, I just want to say, thank you for being you.  Thank you for coming into my life and filling it with joy.  I want you to know without any doubt, that I will love you every day of my life, and you will and forever have a special place in my heart.

Happy Birthday my special boy,

Love always and forever, Mama.

Paranormal Romance: Engorged, throbbing and fainting, Oh my!

'alot like LOVE.' photo (c) 2008, Jason Clapp - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
This week we’re going to go for a lighter discussion point - one heavier on snark and giggles than major social justice issues. We’re going to talk about sex. Bad sex. Bad bad bad sex. The kind of sex that gives you a headache and makes masturbation seem like a good idea.

And oh, isn’t this a huge subject? Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy intersect a lot and it can be hard to figure out which is which sometimes. So, quite often we have run across a few books that have raaaaaather a lot of sex scenes per chapter (Laurell K Hamilton, yes we’re looking at you), though it could be argued that Hamilton did a bait and switch, because the first few Anita Blake books are legitimately urban fantasy, and then the rest fall squarely into the category of five cent porn -- actually maybe five cents is being generous.

One of my favourite tropes will always be the Anita Fug, which has always amused me ever since we first noticed it. Let’s face it, sex, if done vigorously, often leaves you sweaty and often covered in other substances as well. If you don’t clean up, there’s going to be a smell issue. Laurell K Hamilton’s Anita Blake has sex a lot in the books. And in a lot of places - including many places that preclude cleanup. Off the top of my head I can recall her having a threesome in the car before returning to a concert, having sex in her office (that left her sopping wet to the knees and left a stain on the carpet) before going back to work and numerous occasions of her just chaining sex on sex on sex on sex. Let’s face it, she’s not exactly going to be fresh after all that - and I can’t help but read the rest of the book imagining the smell.

Of course, while Anita is certainly the worst offender, she’s hardly the only one (after all, several members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood get their jollies on in the bathroom and sure they wear leather, but the smell still clings) and there’s a lot of Paranormal Romance characters wandering around being all kind of fugly.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ricky Gervais Plans to Make Holocaust and Pedophile jokes

'Ricky Gervais @ Tribeca Performing Arts #2' photo (c) 2007, Matt Hobbs - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/



I don't know about you, but I was absolutely shocked that Ricky Gervais is going to host the Golden Globes again this year.  Many of the celebrities in attendance last year, were very upset and felt that he was unnecessarily mean.  Normally, I would not problem with people so blessed with extreme privilege being taken down a notch, but I have to agree there were instances of just plain mean, masquerading as comedy.  There was also an attempt to out a "famous scientologist" which I felt was completely uncalled for coming form a straight man.

Ricky Gervais has always been a self concerned, extremely arrogant douchebag.  I cannot recall a time ever thinking that he was funny, and his latest tweet concerning his plans for The Golden Globes does nothing to convince me that there is anything even remotely amusing about him.



what the Prophet said

WoodTurtle is a Canadian Muslim feminist currently using her extended maternity leave to explore developments of Islamic feminism in the Western and Muslim world.  As a woman who wears the hijab (owns several abayas and a niqab monogrammed with her initials in pink, sparkly sequins), she writes frequently on genderized Islamophobia. She also works toward dispelling myths and stereotypes about women in Islam for both Muslims and non.

The Prophet said:
If a man calls his wife to bed and she refuses, thereby upsetting him, the angels will continue to curse her until the morning.
If it were permissible for a human to prostrate to another, I would have ordered a wife to prostrate to her husband because of the enormity of his rights over her. By God, if there is an ulcer excreting puss from his feet to the top of his head and she licked it for him – she would not fulfill his rights.
After my conversion it didn't take long for the advice to start rolling in. A lot of it was couched in more cultural expectations, such as: "change your name to a more Muslim (read: Arab) sounding name" or "you can't be a vegetarian now, God has made meat allowable for you to enjoy." But sometimes people would give me sincere religious advice based on sayings made by the Prophet. A few were excellent and made sense to me: "Eat and drink moderately," "please your partner sexually," and "tie up your camel" -- meaning: do everything you can to ensure your safety, protect your property or implement a plan, and then trust in God. But if you just leave everything up to God and hope that everything will turn out okay, instead of taking personal action, your camel will walk away.

But sometimes I was offered advice based on sayings that didn't sit well with me. Especially the religious advice for women that seemed to come at the price of personal freedom or with the threat of hellfire -- and backed with, "well the Prophet said it, so it must be valid and important" and "if it doesn't sit well with you, you're not being faithful enough." True, for many Muslims worldwide, following the Sunnah or the Prophet's example is just as important as revering the Qur'an as the word of God. The Prophet is untouchable, a model human to be admired and loved. To deny any of the sayings attributed to him could be blasphemous.

To the Indigenous Woman, a poem by the 1491s

I found this video at Anishinaabekwe, and it was so incredibly powerful, I simply had to post it here.  When you're done please consider checking out Anishinaabekwe because she writes powerfully about Indigenous issues.
Raise Awareness and Help End the Epidemic of Violence against Native Women in the U.S.—Please Share this Video from the Indian Law Resource Center, www.indianlaw.org

Native women are murdered at 10 times the national rate; 1 out 3 Native women will be raped in her lifetime, and 3 out of 5 physically assaulted. Even worse, 88% of the perpetrators are non-Indian and cannot be prosecuted by tribal governments. Stand and take action now to restore safety and justice for Native women. Do Something! Visit www.indianlaw.org.

Someone Needs a Lawyer: The Infamous Bedtime and Homework Battle

You would think that bedtime would be the most peaceful time in my house, but in actually it is not.  Bedtime means that it's time to negotiate, and to find a way to make mom grant even five extra minutes. All manner of excuses have been employed, but last night Destruction tried a first that was so original, I simply had to share it with you.

Destruction was watching a movie (note: I have been specifically banned from telling you the title, and Sparky has made the same promise, on pain of death I might add), and I had to pause the movie to set up the PVR for the night, as the unhusband was out.  This of course meant taking away a few brief minutes of his official television time.  He reasoned that since I had used his time, that I owed him an extra five minutes.  When I rejected his suggestion, he decided to employ a new approach.

While this whole conversation was going on, he was aware that I was chatting with Sparky via skype.  Since Sparky is a lawyer, Destruction decided to interrupt my conversation to hire Sparky to argue his case.  Yes, my little man tried to bring in the big guns.  Apparently, the rules of precedent were supposedly on his side. I know that at the age of 10, fairness is a huge obsession with kids, but it is absolutely nerve wracking and quite frankly, a pain in the ass.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Is The Desire For White Skin In Thailand Negatively Impacting African Diaspora Transwomen's Chances To Win The MIQ Title?

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


I wrote about the controversial conclusion of the 2011 edition of the Thailand based Miss International Queen Pageant and wondered aloud about the interesting factoid that no transwoman from the African Diaspora has ever won this event in its history.

Could it be because white skin is considered desirable and beautiful in the Land Of Smiles and other countries in the Asia-Pacific rim and those prejudices for white skin are impacting the chances of darker skin beauties to win an international trans pageant with all Thai judges?  

Skin bleaching and lightening creams are not just an issue in the Caribbean, African nations and the rest of the African Diaspora, they are also an issue in the Asia-Pacific rim as well.    A survey done by marketing company Synovate discovered that 4 out of 10 women in Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea and Taiwan use a skin lightening cream.  

There is also region wide stigma, racism and negativity attached to having dark skin as well.   In Thailand as in other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the stigma of darker skin is rooted in language.   It's not surprising as a child of the Diaspora to learn that a common Thai insult aimed at someone of lower social standing is "tua dam," or black body.  Along the same lines are "e dam" (black girl) or "dam tap pet" (black like a duck's liver). 

Leave It To Whoopi Goldberg to Defend Blackface

'Whoopi' photo (c) 2006, Archman8 - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/


Watching The View this morning, I was given yet one more reason to wish that Goldberg came with a mute button.  You know it's a bad day, when you find yourself saying thank heaven for Sherri Sheppard.

It all began when Whoopi Goldberg brought up the incident in which 6 Southern Miss Sorority girls were suspended for wearing Blackface to dress as the Huxtable family, from the 80's sitcom The Cosby show for Halloween.
"Though it is clear that these women had no ill intent, it was also clear that they had little cultural awareness or competency, and did not understand the historical implication of costuming in blackface," Dean of Students Eddie Holloway said in a news release.

What "probation" means exactly is unclear. Phi Mu Fraternity National President Kris Bridges said Phi Mu does not make public specific disciplinary actions taken against individuals.

Bridges said in a news release that she is "deeply disappointed" in the actions of the girls but added she does not believe they had any "malicious intent."

"That is why some of the sanctions the members will face will include opportunities for education on this topic," she said.

Chapter sanctions include diversity and cultural competency educational requirements, including the sponsorship of a campuswide program with a nationally known speaker on diversity appreciation. (source)
I think to most people, dressing up in Blackface is understood as an instant no no, but there are others who always seem to find a reason to defend it and they are not always White, as the following transcript from this mornings segment of the view will show.

Enter to Win The Twilight Breaking Dawn Celebration Package

Hello everyone, it's time for another exciting giveaway.  As you all know, Breaking Dawn part 1 hits theaters Nov 18, and so we thought in celebration, this months giveaway would be a Twilight extravaganza.  This is your opportunity to win:


Yep, a Robert Pattinson watch, a Breaking Dawn 2012 calender, and a Breaking Dawn tote (note: the third image, is the image on the tote bag).  This everything a twi fan needs to celebrate the release of Breaking Dawn Part 1.

To enter, you must be a resident of Canada or the U.S.

Remember, even if you are not a fan of the Twilight juggernaut yourself, this prize would make a great gift for someone who is a fan.  

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Masturbation and Motherhood

When you're pregnant, they tell you that your life will never be the same, but you can't really imagine the changes that will happen.  I expected there to be a cramp in my sex life, but I never expected it take the nose dive that it did.  To be clear, I love having sex. I love the closeness and I love my orgasms.  I remember the days when we could spend an entire day in bed, making love, laughing, and sharing, but today, with a dog, a cat and two kids, those days are a distant memory.

I have watched the shows about parenting and making time for romance and spontaneity, and I call bullshit. Sure I could make time, but what about the energy level or the interest after fighting about homework and chores being done.  There is also I don't like that at the dinner table, as well as the ever popular bedtime wars.  By the time eight o'clock hits, we are tired.  None of this means we don't have desire, we just plain and simple don't have the energy.

The more involved I become with my kids, the greater advocate I am for masturbation.  When the unhusband and I have sex, it is still great and the attraction between us has not dimmed in our 20+ years together, but the one thing I know for certain, is that aroused or not, my body cannot always drum up the energy to roll around in the hay.  Masturbation requires no great effort on my part, and gets me exactly what I need.  It heightens the desire, because it gives me the opportunity to fantasize, thus building the excitement for the next time that we are together.  It also allows me to keep an ongoing dialogue with my body.  I use the term dialogue intentionally, because as I age, my body changes and with that my desires change.  

When you become a mother, your identity is expected to shift.  All of your concern and your energy is to be spent directed on your family, and the very idea that you have sexual desire is supposedly impossible, unless of course, your partner wants to have sex. I am further bothered by the constant suggestion that we are to be turned on when our partner does something like the dishes, takes the kids out for a few hours, or does a load of laundry.  I don't know about you, but that does not push my buttons in the least.

Nowhere do we see the suggestion that time for ourselves, also means time to please ourselves.  I believe it comes down to the idea that we aren't supposed to have identities outside of our families.  Motherhood means your vagina is for your husbands usage, or to birth kids, but it is certainly not a place that you can turn to on your own for stress release, or a simple uncomplicated orgasm.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Disability Does Not Remove One's Humanity

'Accessible latrine features (Tanzania)' photo (c) 2011, SuSanA Secretariat - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/



I don't often read our local paper because the news is recycled, and I can better info online, but the unhusband emailed me the following article.
When the Rick Hansen 25th Anniversary Relay tour arrives in Niagara Falls Monday, Greaves said it will be coming into a city that is progressive in the way it thinks about accessibility.

In a tour of the Gale Centre earlier this week, he pointed out that Niagara Falls had a disability advisory committee in 1997, four years before the province mandated it under the Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
"That's quite significant and it indicates the attitude in this city — both politically through the city councillors, and through the staff, who really put it into motion," he said.

Both Greaves and Brian Kon, who also serves on the committee, said the Gale Centre is a good example of how buildings should be designed.

"Some of the things you see would never be built into a building like this 10 years ago," Kon said. "Niagara Falls was ahead of the game. A lot of places only implemented them when they had to."
Municipal buildings are now designed under the Facility Accessibility Design Standards (FADS) document, which takes accessibility a big step over and above the rules outlined in the Ontario Building Code.

"Often times people will say, 'Well it meets the code,' but buildings like that aren't accessible. FADS is a good start," Kon said.

Among the accessibility highlights at the Gale Centre are wheelchair-friendly viewing areas; lower water fountains, sinks and counters; automatic doors; proper railings in the washrooms; an elevator big enough for large power wheelchairs; and an entirely separate handicap parking area.

Most of those features were in place when the arena complex opened last year, but Steve Hamilton, the city's manager of recreation facilities, said it's a constant work in progress.

"I think every time we get presented with a new guideline for enhancing accessibility, we look at how we can do that here," he said. "I think it's just progressive change."

As Greaves points out, private businesses often lag behind what municipalities are doing with their buildings.

"We can access some places easily, and others we can't get into at all. There can be some very nice places that you can't get into and that's frustrating," he said. "We're talking about enabling people to enjoy life to the fullest."

But with only about 3% of all disabled Canadians needing the use of wheelchairs, Kon and Greaves said accessibility needs to go a step further.

"We can't just focus on the physical – things like ramps. How do we deliver healthcare properly to people with disabilities? And a very high level of persons with disabilities are unemployed, even though they're well-educated," said Greaves.

"It's frustrating that people assume certain things about the disabled community," added Kon. "But things are progressing. At least the thought process is there."
Between disability activists who are willing to sell out with the whole, things are getting better routine, and businesses and the government who are unfeeling, and unwilling to promote real accessibility for disabled people, I am frustrated beyond belief.  I have written repeatedly about my experiences with my scooter in the city in which I live, and hearing "it's getting better," does not help me, when I can't take a city bus, cannot enter business, or my personal favourite, cannot even cross the damned street because of a lack of curb cuts.

After reading this article, I wrote a very nasty letter to the editor, but I feel that even if they do publish it, that it won't change a damn thing.  The only reason The Niagara Falls Review decided to focus on disability in the first place, is because Rick Hansen, plans to be in town today for his 25th anniversary relay. Instead of taking the opportunity to raise hell about the ways in which the differently abled community is disenfranchised everyday, we get things are getting better.  CRUMBS, that is exactly what we are being offered.

Occupy Toronto Has Been Given an Eviction Notice

'IMG_3007' photo (c) 2011, michael kooiman - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/



The eviction of occupy Wallstreet was watched online in Toronto by the protestors, and today they are now faced with their own eviction notices. By-law officers, accompanied by the police, taped the following eviction notices to all visible tents.

NOTICE UNDER THE TRESPASS TO PROPERTY ACT – NOVEMBER 15, 2011
You are herby given notice that you are prohibited from engaging in the following activities in St. James Park and in any other City of Toronto park:
  1. Installing, erecting or maintaining a tent, shelter or other structure;
  2. Using, entering or gathering in the park between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.
The City of Toronto herby directs you immediately to stop engaging in the activities listed above and to remove immediately any tent, shelter, structure, equipment and debris from St. James Park.

If you do not immediately remove any and all tents, shelters, structure, equipment and debris from St. James Park, such tents, shelters, structures, equipment and debris shall be removed from St. James Park by or on behalf of the City of Toronto.

You are further ordered immediately to stop using, entering or gathering in St. James Park between the hours of 12:01 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.

Please be advised that this notice may be enforced in accordance with the provision of the Trespass to Property Act, R.S.O. 1990 c. T21 or by any other legal means available to the City of Toronto.

Please be further advised that under the Trespass to Property Act, every person who engages in an activity on premises when the activity has been prohibited under the Act is guilty of an offence and is liable, on conviction, to a fine of not more than $2,000.
Protestors are currently holding a general assembly meeting to decide what to do at midnight, when the eviction is scheduled to happen.  One of the proposals is forming a wall of resistance around the park.  Others have begun to move to Queen's Park.   On twitter, #occupytoronto is currently asking for volunteers to come down and support their movement.

I am really caught at this point.  I think that economic inequality is absolutely an issue that needs to be actively discussed and fought against.  The problem with the occupy movement, is that it has no cohesive goals and appears to me to be about anarchy.  Bringing attention to economic inequality, with no plan on how to create real and lasting change feels pointless to me.  What does sitting in St. James park accomplish?

There is also a healthy and safety aspect to consider.  What are these people using for bathroom facilities?  What about the different incidents of violence across the occupy movement?  There has been at least one death in Canada that I am aware of so far. There is no control over who is coming or going. Some residents of the St. James area, say that they are scared.  Toronto is cold during the winter and at this point, the protestors are lucky that it has not yet snowed, and that we are experiencing unseasonal highs. What happens when the temperature drops, how are these protestors to remain warm?  Already there has been a discussion about open fires within the city limits, and I believe that plan can reasonably be perceived to represent a true health hazard. Only one fire needs to get out of control, for there to be an issue. There have been problems with drugs and alcohol at St. James as well.

Mommy I'm Not a Rat

'Brown Rat - Rattus norvegicus 1a' photo (c) 2011, Sarah - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/
We are not the kind of parents who wait until report card time to talk with teachers.  We are highly involved because we place great value in education.  Every night, Destruction and Mayhem have to read something. At this point I don't really care what they are reading, just that they are reading.  Working with Mayhem, I have noticed that he is struggling and so I contacted his teacher to find out where he stood in comparison to other children and what I could do to help him along.  I cannot always go to the school because of my disability, but I can always pick up the phone and call.

In our discussion last night, it was affirmed that my assessment of his reading skills was indeed correct, and so we are going to double our efforts. I did however get some information that I was not expecting. Madame L. told me that Mayhem has one other problem.  Apparently my boy who is never shy about handling his business, refuses to talk to the teacher about any problems he has with other students.  He is very vocal and has no problem saying stop, or I don't like that, but will not take it a step further to tell.  When she asked him about it, he said quite simply, "I'm not a rat," and as far as he was concerned, that was the end of the conversation.

When I asked him about this issue later in the day, I got pretty much the same response.  I love that he is independent enough to feel that he can handle whatever comes his way, but I also worry about the idea that he does not feel that he can depend on others.  Telling when someone is not respecting your boundaries is not being a rat.  To be clear, he is not being bullied and there isn't a specific problem with any child in particular.

Stop Defending Homophobia and Devaluing GLBT People

 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.

One of the eternal things that seems so extremely clear when battling for equality is how little we’re valued. In the arguments they make, the defences they make – and in what they care about it’s really clear how little our personhood matters.

Currently there’s been a completely pointless anti-bullying law in Michigan which actually has an exception in it that gives the bullies a step by step guide how to bully and get away with – so long as they can religiously justify their hatred it’s ok.

And I’m not surprised. We see the same fight in law after law created to try and protect us and grant us equality. From hate crimes, to marriage, to anti-discrimination clauses through to repealing laws that perpetuate anti-GBLT genocide. The same excuses and the same battles – religious freedom, the right to hatred, our holy book demands we get to hate these people.

So, I’m not surprised by it –  but it is another clear indication of how much we are valued. I mean, really, what kind of priorities do you have to have when the right to religious hatred is privileged over a child’s right not to be persecuted? What kind of messed up priorities do you have to have when you think prejudice in a holy book is worth more than someone’s personhood? Or even their very existence? How can you have this priority?

Because the lives don’t matter. Because the pain doesn’t matter – because these people, these victims do not matter.

And what about when a religious institution discriminates? What about when major religious figures make truly hateful, despicable speeches? Why they’re defended, or excused or maybe no-one talks about it, looks the other way and quickly changes the subject so we can pretend it doesn’t happen. We don’t treat it like it is, we don’t treat them like the bigots they are. Because it’s faith, it’s a matter of doctrine! We can’t interfere or criticise that –it’s rude! And their bigoted faith is, again, valued more than our existence. We don’t matter, we’re a lesser priority than their hate.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reclaiming Language and Who 'Gets' to Say What

Matt Kailey is a transman living in Denver, Colorado, and an author, public speaker, and trainer on transgender issues. He blogs at Tranifesto. In his ideal world, no one would be equal to anyone else – everyone would just be equal.

Besides polyester, disco, and hideous hairdos, the late '70s and early '80s were also somehow ripe years in the U.S. for the “Pollock” joke. The jokes were never funny, and you could substitute any ethnicity and they would turn out the same, but for some reason, Poles were the popular targets of the era, and the jokes were intended to make them appear stupid.

My boyfriend at the time was first-generation Polish-American. His parents had come to the U.S. from Poland after World War II, and they both had the tattooed forearms of concentration camp survivors. My boyfriend was born in the States and spoke fluent Polish and English. He also told a lot of “Pollock” jokes.

At the time, I thought it was a defense mechanism - an “I'll make fun of myself before you can make fun of me” kind of thing. I also thought that it might have stemmed from some internalized shame at being a member of a group that was so disparaged in the United States then.

But my boyfriend was proud to be Polish. Although he had a Polish first and last name that were difficult for native English speakers to spell and pronounce, his parents had allowed him the option of Americanization by giving him the middle name of Jim (not James - just Jim). That way, if he chose not to go by his Polish first name, he had an out - but he never took it.

He told everyone he was Polish and he insisted on the correct usage of his name. He was patient with people who took their time to learn the spelling and pronunciation, but he expected that everyone eventually would. And although he told “Pollock” jokes himself, the only other person who could do so without offending him was his very best friend, who was not Polish.

It Seems That the Dutch are not As Tolerant as Many Believe


I came across a very informative post on Tiger Beatdown

[Content warning for very racist images, links to videos of police brutality and depictions of State endorsed racism]

Ah, my home, The Netherlands. Tourists from all over the world wax lyrical about the tulips, the windmills and the widely available weed. What these tourists hardly ever get to see is how institutionalized racism works in this country and the lengths the State will go to in order to protect it. Or how, if you are personally affected by this racism and you summon the strength to protest it, you will be brutally beaten up and arrested.

Now, here is the thing: this is a small country. All matters of racism happen here but they go unreported in international mainstream media because the Dutch language is mostly inaccessible to the world at large. So, these matters remain untold, underreported, downplayed or just ignored. However, international media loves to talk about our most famous homegrown xenophobe: Geert Wilders. His influence is far reaching and international. His words repeated all over the international press; he gets invitations for public engagements and speeches; fellow populist and xenophobe politicians from all over Europe and places as dissimilar as the US, Canada or Australia cite him as a source of “inspiration”. Meanwhile, the general public abroad struggles to come up with an explanation of why, a country that is present in popular imaginations as “tolerant”, “multicultural” and “modern” could be represented by such a divisive and racist force. That is, because systematically, mainstream media misses the context. And I believe that the events that transpired on Saturday, during the official opening of what I like to call “Black Face season”, can provide some of that context.


“Black Face season” is not exactly the official name for what, in reality, is a children’s holiday known as Sinterklass. This is the time of the year when Dutch people carelessly don black face and speak in a faux Surinamese accents. This is the time of the year when, if you venture the streets, you are likely to encounter sights like these:

[Image description: a group of eight White adults wearing multi-color satin and velvet costumes that imitate those of Colonial times. All people in the photo wear Afro wigs and make-up commonly known as “Black Face”]

Photo via
Or like this:


[Image description: two White women walk down a street while wearing a satin costume in orange and purple colors, Afro wigs and make-up commonly known as “Black face”]

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The Walking Dead Season Two Episode, Five: Chupacabra


The episode opens with Shane, Lori, Carol and Carl stuck on the highway.  Shane discovers that they have stopped broadcasting about the refugee center. They watch as helicopters fly over Atlanta and drop napalm on the streets. This scene really struck me because what it represents, was the U.S. government giving up on its people.  Most Americans have no idea what it is to live in a war zone, and if the walkers didn't make the situation real to them, then watching the napalm fall most certainly did.  Everything that they had hoped, believed, built and dreamed was lost in that one moment.

When Lori wakes up, Carol is doing laundry, and she suggests to Lori that if everyone pitches in, that maybe they can get together and cook dinner for Hershel and his family.  Carol tells Lori that since she's Rick's wife that makes her their unofficial first lady. Isn't it enough that the men are struggling to be alpha dog without asserting hierarchy amongst the women?

Darryl decides to go to a higher area to see the entirety of the search grid.  Dale brings up the chupacabra and when they tease him about seeing blood sucking monsters, Dale asks them if they believe in dead people walking around. Apparently, Dale saw a chupacabra on a hunting trip.

Glenn is playing with guitar, when Maggie walks up and he tells her that he still has eleven condoms. Maggie responds by telling him that she sees eleven minutes of her life, that she doesn't know if she will get back.  He tells her to think about it, but she says that she doesn't even know if she like him. I have to say that at this point, I really like Maggie.  She feels no guilt or shame about what they did and firmly.

Rick tries to engage Shane and brings up girls he used to date.  He says that the only way to get him talking, is to talk about the girls he slept with in high school, and of course, Shane who should be dead, immediately starts bragging to Rick, about all of the women that he slept with.  Finally, Shane looks at Rick and says, "we shouldn't be talking abou this stuff. That life is gone, and so is everyone in it. It's hard enough accepting what happened without digging up the past. Tell you nostalgia, its like a drug, it keeps you from seing things the way they are".  Shane asks him why they are searching for a girl that is most likely dead.  He tells him that after 72 hours you're looking for a body.  "Sophia only matters to the degree in which she don't drag the rest of us down", he says.  Is anyone at all surprised that Shane would see Sophia as disposable, considering what he did to Otis?  I think I was particularly disgusted with him that he tried to blame Rick for Otis' death, by claiming that he was lost because they stopped to look for Sophia. Rick tells him that he failed Sophia. "I think she's still alive and I'm not going to write her off".

Riding along, Darryl shoots a squirrel climbing a tree.  This serves as yet another reminder of how good he is in the outdoors.  He gets off his horse when he sees a doll floating in the river, but when he calls for Sophia, no one responds.  Darryl continues to ride along until his horse gets startled by a snake. He gets thrown and ends up pierced with his own arrow. Darryl struggles out of the water and ties off the wound.  He starts to hear noises in the bushes, but when he reaches behind him, he realizes that he does not have his crossbow and so he digs through the water to find it. He slowly begins to climb back up the mountain and you can see that each step is torture.

 Glenn confronts Lori, and she tells him rightfully, that it is none of his business. When Glenn notices that Rick and Shane are on their way back, Lori tells him that he cannot tell anyone.  Rick tells Lori that Shane wants to stop the search.  Lori is actually supportive and says that he is making the best decisions that he can, with the information that he has, and that she does not see soft in that.  I suppose, Shane who should be dead is actually getting to Rick. I don't get why he cannot see that Shane has an agenda.

Trying to climb further up the mountain, Darryl falls again.

Hershel confronts Rick, and tells him that one of his horses was taken without his permission, and Rick promises to speak to Darryl. Hershel then asks if they took Jimmy out, and wants to know if he thought he had his consent.  Hershel tells him that Jimmy is 17, and that he is responsible for him. He goes on to say that these things need to be cleared with him. Rick tells him that they need to work on their communication. Hershel says, "I'll control my people, you control yours".  It is clear that Hershel is very much into controlling his environment.

When Darryl opens his eyes, he sees his brother, "why don't you pull that arrow out dummy you could bind that wound better", Merle says.  "Your the one that's screwed from the looks of it, you're going to die out here little brother".  He tells him that Sophia is missing, but his brother points out that he isn't looking for him anymore. He tells him that he is nothing but redneck trash to the group, and that "one of these days, they're going to scrape you off their heels like you was dog shit.  They ain't your kin". Merle tells him to shoot Rick in the face, and that nobody is going to care about him except him. Of course it turns out that Darryl was hallucinating. and the person he was talking to was a Walker.  When another walker comes out the woods, he pulls the arrow from his body and shoots it in the head. I have to say that this was an awesome scene.

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