linkage

17.December.08

i just back from bowling with my co-workers for our christmas…and it is about 2 hours past my bedtime. so this is a quick but awesome post.

My friend from high school posted on her facebook something about supporting the dismantling of the non-profit industrial complex, and to support Left Turn magazine, and left media in general. What is the non-profit industrial complex, you say? Read on, my friends:

The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex

Review of THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE FUNDED: BEYOND THE NON-PROFIT INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX, edited by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence
South End Press, 2007

Following the Ford Foundation’s reversal of its decision to award INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence a $100,000 grant after reviewing their position on Palestine, the radical feminist organization sponsored the 2004 conference, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, where most of the essays in this collection were presented. This resulting anthology offers some of the best analysis of the government and the corporate elite’s attempts to co-opt social movements in the US. It answers an urgent call to confront the normalization of what has come to be known as the Non-Profit Industrial Complex (NPIC)—the corporatization of progressive and radical social movements.

For those who work in the non-profit sector, the insights offered by this diverse array of activists can be enlightening, but also sobering. Perhaps the most disheartening fact is the NPIC’s power to shape our approaches and tactics for social change. As Dylan Rodriguez points out, “[m]ore insidious than the…constraints exerted by the foundation/state/non-profit nexus is the way in which [it]…grounds an epistemology—literally, a way of knowing social change and resistance praxis—that is difficult to escape or rupture.” This epistemology is responsible for the belief that activists must conform to 501(c)(3) status for legitimacy and funding and that social services serve a greater need and purpose than the arduous task of social change….

Collaboration is stifled when fierce competition for funding and stringent, narrow grant guidelines divide groups that are working towards the same goal. Worse yet, in many cases, non-profits are formed by individuals with the primary intention of creating jobs for themselves. These groups have no interest in true collaboration, but thrive on dominating the non-profit sector and maintaining the status quo. Post-Katrina, an alarming number of new NGOs were established by non-local, non-profit opportunists in response to the proliferation of foundation and government grants for “relief” and “rebuilding” efforts, while long-standing, displaced and struggling local organizations were squeezed out of the funding grab.

Tiffany Lethabo King and Ewuare Osayande warn that “philanthropy never intends to fund revolutionary struggle that demands the just seizure of wealth, resources, and power that has been gained by exploiting the bodies, lives and land of people of color worldwide.” The NPIC’s tentacles reach far beyond the US. Movements in the Global South are already under the threat of becoming non-profitized and co-opted. As activists in the US, we have an obligation to continue this discourse, learn from one another’s mistakes and organize beyond the NPIC.

very interesting. as one who is looking to work in the legal field of this NPIC, it is enlightening to see the critiques mad against the very establishments..

and a GREAT post (though a few months late) for all of my white feminist sisters out there. I know you are there, and reading this. This piece really hits upon many things I struggle with as a class-privileged white feminist. It is a bit long (not really, though), so I just picked out some of my favorite sections. It is originally from make/shift mag: feminisms in motion (from the media links page at leftturn.org):

On Prisons, Borders, Safety and Privilege: An Open Letter to White Feminists

There is no role for the white liberal [in social change]; he is our affliction. -James Baldwin, 1963.

In 1983, when I was in kindergarten, white (Jewish) lesbian feminist Adrienne Rich implored a white-led feminist movement: “Without addressing the whiteness of white feminism, our movement will turn in on itself and collapse.” Twenty-five years later, I’m dubious about a movement — “ours” or otherwise — that has not only failed to honestly and consistently address its whiteness but has also, in so doing, become something far less than a movement for social change.[1]…..

I thought about calling this an open letter to liberal feminists, or to mainstream feminists, or some other things, but I finally decided on the adjective white — not because race is the only defining difference between the liberal/reformist so-called feminism I’m critiquing and more radical social-change-oriented feminisms, but because I see many of the strains of this argument threading together around whiteness — if by whiteness I can mean not only skin privilege but also straightness,[6] liberalism[7], a sense of entitlement to safety (especially within existing social structures), and other markers of an identity and worldview shaped by assimilation to power. Because, of course, whiteness is no essential fact; it is a construct, a lumping together of different people and practices into a dominant, powerful whole.

I’m using whiteness here to talk broadly about assimilated identities and assimilationist politics, which undermine movements for social change. As white people in the twenty-first century, we can’t undo or deny the skin privilege we have been granted via generations of erasure of cultural differences and assimilation to power. But as white feminists, if we are working toward profound social change, we can choose not to engage in political work that is about assimilation to and achieving “safety” or “empowerment” or “freedom” of movement within existing power structures — especially when those structures (e.g., militaristically enforced national borders, the prison industrial complex) are designed to make others unsafe, and unfree.

I wonder again: What is your feminism for? If it is for disruption and redistribution of power across society (i.e., not just for women like you), it cannot be so ignorant of, exploitative of, and even counter to the prison-abolition and immigrants’ rights movements — not only because marginalized women are involved in and affected by those struggles, but because they are where some of the most significant challenges to power are being made today.

Privilege is a kind of poison — insidious, it obscures, misleads, confuses — and this is part of how power is maintained, as well-meaning privileged people miss the mark, can’t clearly see what’s going on and how we’re implicated, are able to comfortably see ourselves as not responsible. Liberalism and assimilationist politics are safe ways for privileged people to believe they are fighting the good fight; liberalism and assimilation, I think, are privilege’s — power’s — instruments….

If feminism is about social change, it is about recognizing that safety in this society is a fantasy afforded only by assimilation to power, and the cost of that fake safety is the safety of those who cannot, or will not, access it. If feminism is about social change, it is about radically challenging prisons and borders of all kinds.

If feminism is about social change, white feminism — a feminism of assimilation, of gentle reform and/or strengthening of institutions that are instrumental to economic exploitation and white supremacy, of ignorance and/or appropriation of the work of feminists of color — is an oxymoron. And it is not a thing of some bygone era before everyone read bell hooks in college. It is happening now; you might be part of it.

Yeah. Just let that soak in for a second.

and another gem from Macon. this is seriously one of my BIGGEST pet peeves, and I oftentimes have difficulty explaining to people why. he pretty much sums it all up for me here:

use “ghetto” as an adjective

“Dudes, that’s so ghetto!
Okay, now, just a sec, don’t start smiling . . . “

One bit of slang that I find annoying, and that I’m hearing more and more often from white folks these days, is the conversion of a particular noun, “ghetto,” into an adjective. I’m not a grammar cop, so it’s not the “incorrect” usage of “ghetto” as an adjective that bothers me. I just think that since the noun brings to most American minds stereotypical images of exclusively non-white urban areas, the white use of it as an adjective is racist. And since the noun also denotes an impoverished urban area, and the people I hear using it as an adjective are mostly middle- and upper-middle class white folks, it’s also classist.

I also find the word irksome because for white people, it has a “Get-out-of-jail-free card” quality to it. To illustrate what I mean by that, ask yourself why, when white folks use the word “ghetto” to describe another person’s clothing or accessories, or their car or something about the way they’re acting–why don’t they use the words “trashy” or “trailer park” instead?

It’s true that those words, which bring to mind classist notions of “white trash” or “rednecks,” sometimes don’t fit, because what’s being described conjures up for the speaker certain stereotypes about black people, instead of stereotypes about poor white people. But that specifically “black” connection is often only there in what’s being described because the speaker is using the word “ghetto,” instead of “trashy” or “trailer park.” There’s nothing especially black about fixing things with duct tape, for instance, or eating inexpensive foods, or otherwise saving or stretching a buck. So why say “ghetto” for such things, instead of something else?

I think that for a lot of white people, using the word “ghetto” as an adjective has an extra element of daring and hipness to it, and also an air of knowingness, about the noun that is, the actual places called “ghettos.” It’s almost as if the white person is claiming (in a way that’s nearly always unwarranted) that they really know what “the ghetto” is like because they’ve been daring enough to actually go there. And it has a “Get-out-of-jail-free card” quality to it because although the speaker is conjuring up and basically uttering racist stereotypes, that’s supposed to be okay because there’s something hip about saying “ghetto” like that.

But then, this piece of slang is becoming so common that it’s already losing that kind of edge, as well as much of any connection to the places and people brought to mind by the word “ghetto.” Kind of like the word “gay,” which so many white kids use to describe something they think is wrong, or awkward, or “stupid.” I’ve called kids on this usage of “gay,” and then asked if they know what “homophobic” means, but they acted like they’d temporarily forgotten that the word they were using means “homosexual.”

For an example of how “ghetto” is also moving away from its original meaning, listen to this one-minute video that a guy made about his lawn mower; notice how (from what I can tell) he uses “ghetto” and “redneck” interchangeably:

A lot of slang gains currency precisely because it’s inappropriate. Many of the elders still do not approve of racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, and sacrilegious language, so the rebellious young ones still use and abuse it. But slang also gains currency from novelty; new words and phrases get old fast, and then move into the realm of cliché. As slang words get old, many of them also lose their forbidden edge by drifting away, for their users at least, from their inappropriate racism, sexism, homophobia, and so on.
As for the racism of the adjectival “ghetto,” I looked up the word at Urban Dictionary, which describes itself as “the slang dictionary you wrote.” I don’t know how “urban” this popular, user-written site really is, and you also usually can’t tell who’s contributing a definition. A white person’s casual use of “ghetto” is certainly different from that of a non-white person’s, as is a white person saying it to white versus non-white people. Still, the debates that develop at Urban Dictionary over certain words and terms can give a good overall sense of what they mean, and as an added bonus, the poetry that slang has always had is often on display (okay, it’s sometimes on display).

Readers there have contributed dozens of suggested definitions for “ghetto.” Some insist that the word is a noun and should stay that way, while others recognize that it’s now widely used and understood as an adjective, and insisting that it remain a noun isn’t going to change that.

What do you think? Should people, white or otherwise, stop using ghetto as an adjective? Are there good or bad ways of using it? Do other objectionable words or phrases like this one come to mind?

For the uninitiated, I’ve copied below some of the contributors’ examples, where “ghetto” is used the way I’ve been hearing it. (Note to grammar cops–I haven’t edited these sentences . . . so I hope they don’t make you [sic].)


Marcus’s South Pole jeans that sag down past his knees are very ghetto when paired with a doorag.

Replacing a broken window with a trashbag and ducttape is ghetto.

“Look how ghetto I look!” Muffy said as she put on her gucci sunglasses.

Jane hid her head in embarrasment as her mom shamelessly committed the ghetto act of stuffing the restaurant’s bread rolls, sugar packets, and silverware in her purse.

You might be ghetto if your car has rims which cost more than the car itself.

Yo Koolaid got so much sugar in it, that it’s Ghetto.

Your Cd player has dents in it. It’s so ghetto.

Word. That backpack is so ghetto! Where did you get it? At the Ghap?

greatness. it reminds me of an article I read last year about the ghetto culture machine

ok, i could post a million other articles, but i’m falling asleep as we speak.

i leave you with a video that made me laugh so hard i almost cried:

guy is actually really good at all of the dance moves, too.

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