Posts Tagged ‘feminism’

it’s a woman’s world

5.January.09

that’s right. it is.

i usually don’t theme an entire post on one subject, but I feel like its good time to share some links that have mostly to do with women.

this was in yesterday’s new york times: an article on how many latina women in nyc are performing their own abortions by taking misoprostol, a medication usually taken for gastric ulcers. there are many reasons the women choose to abort in private; they are ashamed, lack trust in the health care system, worry about deportation, etc. Women have been performing their own abortions since the beginning of time, so this does not completely surprise me. though i feel it is unfortunate that many of these women do not feel comfortable going to their neighborhood free clinic or planned parenthood to have the procedure…but i do understand their lack of trust in the health care system, and fear of the after effects of a faulty procedure…

Ms. Dominguez, for her part, said she had no insurance or money to pay for an abortion, and could not fathom getting one for fear her mother would find out. One of her friends had spent $1,200 on an abortion that left her with a uterine infection, and another friend endured the procedure without anesthesia, she said. In addition, Washington Heights is a tightknit community where abortion — as well as birth control — is shunned; if Ms. Dominguez were spotted entering a clinic, rumors could fly.

“There are scary moments, and you got to have a friend right next to you,” said Ms. Dominguez, now 30 and a mother of four. “It’s cheap but dangerous. Certain people are more delicate than others. But afterwards, I felt relief.”

A friend of Ms. Dominguez’s said her stepsister took the pills last year because she was in the country illegally, and worried that a doctor might turn her in. “She was just scared,” the woman said, speaking on the condition that her name not be published to protect the stepsister’s privacy. “She had no papers, no insurance, no nothing.”….

The Planned Parenthood study concluded that women in both nations “seemed to see inducing the termination of pregnancy, or abortions, as a part of the reality of their lives,” in a community where, as one interview subject put it, “we are all doctors.” The report noted that in a culture steeped in machismo, birth control is generally seen as the woman’s responsibility.

“If I introduce the condom into a relationship, I’m basically saying I’ve had somebody else, and I’ve not been faithful to you,” said Haydee Morales, a vice president at Planned Parenthood of New York.

Check out nojojojo’s take on this article, from Angry Black Woman

Another attack on a transwoman in TN has been reported. This is the third reported shooting of a transgender woman in Memphis in the last six months.

Another Transgender Woman Shot in Memphis

On Christmas Eve, a Memphis television station reported the shooting of Leeneshia Edwards in Memphis. She becomes the third transgender woman shot in Memphis in just six months. At last report, Leeneshia is in critical condition. We extend our hopes and prayers to Leenashia for a speedy recovery.

We also ask for anyone with any information about this latest crime to call Memphis Crimes Stoppers at (901)528-CASH.

The shooting of Leeneshia Edwards helps shed light on a disturbing trend in Memphis. Transgender women who work in the sex industry in order to survive are now being targeted by a pervasive culture of violence.

The indifferent attitude of law enforcement towards the February 16, 2006, murder of Tiffany Berry, and the February 12, 2008, beating of Duanna Johnson by Memphis Police Department officers, has sent a message that the lives of transgender people are not important. This has fed the culture of violence that has permeated the second half of 2008, and is exemplified by the July 1 murder of Ebony Whitaker, the July 28 murder of Dre-Ona Blake, a two year old girl who was killed by the man who had previously been charged with the murder of Tiffany Berry, but was allowed to walk free for two and a half years, the November 9 murder of Duanna Johnson, and now the shooting of Leeneshia Edwards.

This open season on transgender people in Memphis and elsewhere, regardless of whether or not they engage in sex work, must come to an end right now.

We call on business people who refuse to hire transgender people to open their doors immediately to transgender workers so there are alternatives to working on the streets.

We call on shelters that routinely turn away transgender people who are seeking help, to open their doors so that transgender people do not have to live on the streets.

We call on religious leaders who preach intolerance towards crossdressers and transsexuals from the pulpit to cease immediately and begin preaching messages of love and acceptance of diversity.

We call on political leaders of all parties to stop campaigning against transgender people and start supporting fully inclusive employment non-discrimination and hate crimes legislation to show that the lives of transgender people have value.

Please visit transphobia’s call to action for trans rights in Tennessee. The link has more information on donating to the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC). As someone who comes from the midwest (i would actually call Tennessee more of the south), I know that the levels of homophobia are ridiculous, so I can only imagine the attitudes towards the trans community in Memphis…

On a lighter note, Sarah Haskins is the host of a hilarious segment on Current TV called “Target Women“. I realize the holidays are over, but I can’t tell you how sick of those damn jewelry commercials…Haskins gives us her take:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

funny as hell.

and in light of the new year and everyone and their mother joining a gym and making it their goal to lose weight….tamara blue. (i stole this one from womanist musings):

for ALL women out there (whether you consider yourself thick or not!! and big-ups to st. louis for loving the booty!

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!

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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.

insert witty title here

24.November.08

ok, so I have much to post, little time, so lets get to it.

1. I’ve been waiting to find some commentary on this catchy but messed up song, you know, “Arab Money” by Busta. The song has a hot beat…but is pretty racist. I found a good article at Racialicious:

Busta’s Busted: “Arab Money”

by Special Correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie

I know, I know. If you’re looking for socially conscious rap or hip hop, you don’t go to Busta Rhymes. But this still surprises me:

Maytha from KABOBfest has highlighted Rhyme’s song “Arab Money,” which has some disgustingly racist lyrics. Maytha brings up some great points about this video, namely, that it is a blatant example of the acceptability of anti-Arab racism……

Busta Rhymes’ song (and its fakey Arabic chorus–shudder) is just one more instance of hip hop’s cultural appropriation of Middle Eastern music (producer Timbaland has been “sampling” Arabic songs for years: remember Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin”? That is Egyptian artist Hossam Ramzy’s “Khusara Khusara” that you hear)….

When I first heard the song, I didn’t know whether to be angrier about the sexism (Rhymes makes reference to “Middle East women and Middle East bread”—things), the racism, or the casual name dropping in what Maytha calls “baseless stereotypes masquerading as knowledge….

The major problem with Rhyme’s song is that it uses cultural appropriation to perpetuate stereotypes, which are not only absorbed by non-Arab audiences, but can be internalized by Arabs. Case in point: Maytha shows us Arab American hip hop artist/producer Noose’s reworking of “Arab money” into an equally stereotype-ridden video. Perhaps it was missing the icing, however: there wasn’t a belly dancer…..

Another thought that crosses my mind is that “Arab” is used not as an ethnicity but as an adjective for money. Which begs the question, what kind of money is “Arab” money? From Busta Rhymes’ and Noose’s songs, I gather it has something to do with an obscene amount of wealth, which is in itself a stereotype. But this is especially dangerous in that colloquialisms are easily twisted (please reference the history of the terms “gay” and “queer” for further examples), and “Arab” could (and in some cases has) become a pejorative term, used in negative ways just like “African”, “native” and “Jew” have been.

This is the problem with cultural appropriation: initially, things are appropriated for a reason (wearing a keffiyah to show solidarity with Palestinians, for example). But quickly, this same appropriation turns into empty name-dropping, outright stealing (here’s looking at you, Timbaland), and/or derogatory usage against the original “owner” of whatever was appropriated.

I can’t help but wonder whether Busta Rhymes will get any Arab money for this album.

Great commentary. I’m glad I found this. Though I can’t help laughing (and secretly doing when i hear the song) at Busta’s dance to the song.

2. I found this article on Feministe on mixed race relationships. I must admit I think I have found myself saying some of these before, more than once:

What not to say about mixed race relationships

Inspired by this (The comments thread rather then the article itself) .1) You’ll have such beautiful children.

“But that’s a nice thing to say!”. Yes but it’s also a tired old stereotype. Plus, nothing magic happens when mixed race people procreate, i.e two less than averagely good looking people will probably have a less than averagely good looking child.

2) Any cooking metaphors/ animal husbandry metaphors

Mix..blend…yuck, yuck, yuck. Remember you’re talking about human beings, not food. People can’t actually mix or blend. Also, people in mixed race relationships (MRR) have children for exactly the same reasons other people do, not as some kind of eugenics project. When people say “Oh x ethnicity with y ethnicity, that’s a really good mix”, is that meant to be taken seriously? Is there such a thing as a bad ethnic mix? Are they expecting people in MRR’s to be grateful for their approval?

3)Whether you approve of them or not

Yes, everyone’s entitled to their opinion but consider the wisdom of sharing that opinion, and whether the person you’re talking to wants that opinion. If the reason you don’t approve is “It’s not fair on the children”, then the 1960’s are calling and they want their prejudice back.

4) Speculate as to why they are having a Mixed Race relationship.

Unless you are dating that person, then it’s really none of your business. Even if you think it’s just a big fetish, so what? Are you the love police, ready to bust up any relationship that doesn’t fit your criteria?

Again, people in MRR’s, are probably with each other for the same reasons as any other relationship – because they like each other and being together.

5)Any stereotypes (positive or negative) or your general opinion of their partner’s ethinic group.

Aside from having heard all the stereotypes already, do you think the person you are talking to will say “Oh you’re right, all “n” men are domineering/romantic/generous/mean (delete as appropriate). I should leave him/stay with him forever.”?

Makes to step back and think about things….

3.  A blog from Salon has voted Jay Smooth one of the Sexiest Men of the Year. I second that motion.

Jay Smooth is the hip-hop vlogging, self-confessed nerd, founder of New York’s longest running hip-hop radio show, and mastermind of hip-hop video blog Ill Doctrine. Ill Doctrine comments on contemporary hip-hop, something I admittedly know very little about but of which I am now an avid slobbering novice fan, as well as everything that touches, informs, reflects, and develops hip-hop. Which is everything. His videos are intelligent, funny, and make me slightly ashamed that the most I contribute to the Internerd are posts about peanut butter (this blog) and yoga classes (old blog).

Sexy to me has a lot to do with a combination of two crucial elements: intelligence and self-confidence. And I don’t mean that kind of swaggering and unchallenged self-confidence that we attach to so-called sexy men, the Clooneys and Pitts of the world. What I see in Jay Smooth is that intelligence coupled with that good sense called humor. His posts are relevant and challenging, and they demand a lot of critical thinking from his viewers, and they avoid bombast. He doesn’t take it easy. He makes his ideas complex, and he does it with this smile — eyes at half-mast, eyebrows a-quizzical — that shows he’s comfortable and confident with who he is and what he says. That, my friends, is the crucial combo.

Plus he’s cute as hell

4. And last but DEFINITELY not least….another reason I love me some JT:

p.s. 1:01 –  Wtf is Samberg doing??

1:13- Go ‘hed Paul Rudd. Go ‘hed.

***AND, I found this amazing article on Beyaki from PostBougie, originally posted by BlackScientist:

If You Liked It Then You Shoulda Put A Ring On it: Beyonce and Socially Conservative Idealogy

Let me say upfront that Beyonce is my choice poison. If I had to choose one musical artist with a crappy message who I could listen to for the rest of my life, it’d be her (beating out weezy f baby only because of her music videos). I love Beyonce. She is my favorite overachiever. You can find me any day naomi campbell walk-ing back and forth in my bedroom to “Freakum Dress” or trying to shake my derriere to “Single Ladies”.

THAT BEING SAID.

Beyonce is like the feds when it comes to promoting a conservative social agenda. She alone is policing social behavior like bill o’reilly is paying her do it. The whole time I’m getting down to her jams I’m just like “dang b! thats jacked up!” The messages in her songs almost always encourage patriarchy, female subservience, and heteronormativity like a mug! –pretty much conformity overall (including gender conformity) to the socially conservative status quo. In her songs, Beyonce celebrates the oppressive power dynamic that exists between men and women, while simultaneously trying to imply that women can utilize the subordinate position in a heterosexual romantic relationship to empower themselves. If he doesn’t marry you, step! That’ll show him who’s boss. She perpetuates this entanglement of systems of inequalities, such as marriage, with other concepts that have been socially constructed such as love and gender.

And i understand she’s talking to her audience and that many girls and boys can relate to what she’s saying, circumstantially. But I just wish there could be some critical analysis of her implications, and maybe the tweaking of a few words here and there. The fact that she legitimizes only certain expressions of ‘love’ (commitment), masculinity and femininity, and what that means for young girls and boys who are trying to shape their identities, as well as for grown folk who are expressing themselves in alternative ways. Also how those particular expressions that she endorses are part of the larger structure that keeps people in their places, acting as productive bodies for the economy. I want whoever is on her team to at least consider these ideas, and how they could alter her message to communicate a more progressive politics on gender, sex, sexuality, and certain institutions.

Now for kicks, I want to highlight some lyrics that have stood out to me as being particularly annoying and as leaning right of center. Please, add some if you have any! or argue with me about how Beyonce made “Independent Woman” or whatever.

Lyric: If you liked it then you shoulda put a ring on it.
Translation: If you liked it – “It” most likely refers to a woman here, and perhaps one’s relationship with her, or her sexual abilities. If you liked the woman you were with, you should have married her because not only is that the only way to keep a woman but it is the only legitimate form of recognizing love.

Lyric: Pull me into your arms. Say I’m the one you own. If you don’t you’ll be alone. And like a ghost, I’ll be gone.
Translation: This is why you put a ring on it. Marriage has historically been about who has property rights over women. So tell me you own me, it makes my heart warm.

Lyric: You need a real woman in your life. Taking care of home and still fly. And Ima help you build up your account. When you’re in those big meetings for the mills, you take me just to compliment the deal.
Translation: I’m a trophy wife. When you make business deals, you tote me along like a new car. I’m your favorite prop. Oh, and I can clean the kitchen, wash clothes, cook your dinner, AND put your durag on, all in monolo blahnik heels.

Lyric: I can do for you what Martin did for the people. Ran by the man but the women keep the tempo. It’s very seldom that you’re blessed to find your equal. Still play my part and let you take the lead role, believe me. I’ll follow, this could be easy. I’ll be the help whenever you need me.
Translation: I’ll validate your masculinity by letting you take the ‘lead role’, because the only way I know how to support you is by ensuring that you feel control over me. I’m comfortable fading into the background and being your hot assistant sidekick.  You’re the block, but I’m the lights. You’re the diamond, and I’m the little glimpse of light that makes you shine.

I can’t even start on “If I Were A Boy”… that’s like a whole nother blog in itself.

These are just a few examples trying to illustrate why Beyonce is one of the biggest, albeit flyest, proponents of a retrograde conservative ideology that is restrictive to everyone’s expression, normative and non-conforming alike. It either traps you within (with limited options of expression and often oblivious privilege) or marks you outside (in what is sometimes a more intimately liberated but nonetheless socially and politically marginalized space).

alright, sleepy time for me. later haters.

back in attack

15.November.08

Hey y’all! I know. It has been more than a week. I’m a terrible blogger….I’m sorry. I’ve been busy and my craptastical laptop has been at circuit city (who happened to go bankrupt the day after I dropped my computer off there…nice) getting a diagnostic test. I just picked it up last night; thanks to some god it still starts up and works, (enough to deal with), but the Firedog guy said there was a “hard drive failure”. I love how the people there talk to me like I don’t know anything about computers…anyhoo, long story short I am currently on Laura’s computer (she had a great dinner party last night and I ended up passing out here) and I have some ish to post.

So first, one of my facebook friends posted on of her friend’s pictures that he received from election night of the Obama crew. here are some of my faves:

Barack and Michelles mother

Barack and Michelle's mother

Barack and Malia

Barack and Malia

creepy grandpa joe? haha. just kidding. precious.

creepy grandpa joe? haha. just kidding. precious.

Mother and Daughters

Mother and Daughters

yes, that light is god

yes, that light is god

Ok. Now onto the mess that is Proposition 8. If you haven’t heard about THIS, then you have been living under a rock and don’t know that we have a black president; because the two have been HUGE in the news.

I found a group on facebook that pretty much sums up my views on this whole situation, regarding the reports on who voted for Prop 8 and why. These two guys created a blog about it…here is the group description:

Facebook Group: I Still Think Marriage is the Wrong Goal

A lot of stories are circulating right now claiming that Black and Latino voters are to blame for Prop 8 passing. Beneath this claim is an uninterrogated idea that people of color are “more homophobic” than white people. Such an idea equates gayness with whiteness and erases the lives of LGBT people of color. It also erases and marginalizes the enduring radical work of LGBT people of color organizing that has prioritized the most vulnerable members of our communities.

Current conversations about Prop 8 hide how the same-sex marriage battle has been part of a conservative gay politics that de-prioritizes people of color, poor people, trans people, women, immigrants, prisoners and people with disabilities. Why isn’t Prop 8’s passage framed as evidence of the mainstream gay agenda’s failure to ally with people of color on issues that are central to racial and economic justice in the US?

Let’s remember the politics of marriage itself. The simplistic formula that claims “you’re either pro-marriage or against equality” makes us forget that all forms of marriage perpetuate gender, racial and economic inequality. It mistakenly assumes that support for marriage is the only good measure of support for LGBT communities. This political moment calls for anti-homophobic politics that centralize anti-racism and anti-poverty. Marriage is a coercive state structure that perpetuates racism and sexism through forced gender and family norms. Right wing pro-marriage rhetoric has targeted families of color and poor families, supported a violent welfare and child protection system, vilified single parents and women, and marginalized queer families of all kinds. Expanding marriage to include a narrow band of same-sex couples only strengthens that system of marginalization and supports the idea that the state should pick which types of families to reward and recognize and which to punish and endanger.

We still demand a queer political agenda that centralizes the experiences of prisoners, poor people, immigrants, trans people, and people with disabilities. We reject a gay agenda that pours millions of dollars into campaigns for access to oppressive institutions for a few that stand to benefit.

We’re being told marriage is the way to solve gay people’s problems with health care access, immigration, child custody, and symbolic equality. It doesn’t solve these problems, and there are real campaigns and struggles that would and could approach these problems for everyone, not just for a privileged few. Let’s take the energy and money being put into gay marriage and put it toward real change: opposing the War on Terror and all forms of endless war; supporting queer prisoners and building a movement to end imprisonment; organizing against police profiling and brutality in our communities; fighting attacks on welfare, public housing and Medicaid; fighting for universal health care that is trans and reproductive healthcare inclusive; fighting to tax wealth not workers; fighting for a world in which no one is “illegal.”

One of the group members also posted an interesting blog post from Frank Leon Roberts and his view on “marriage“:

Clarifying my position on “marriage.”

If We Have To Take Tomorrow
(Edited by Frank Leon Roberts and Marvin K. White,
Institute for Gay Men’s Health, 2006)

Several years ago, while I was still a young-little lad, Bay Area poet Marvin K. White (a former member of the 1980s performance troupe PoMo Afro Homos) and I co-edited a small collection of essays entitled “If We Have To Take Tomorrow (HIV, Black Men, and Same Sex Desire).” The book was published by AIDS Project Los Angeles, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the Black AIDS Institute. It featured original essays by E. Patrick Johnson, Tim’m West, David Malebranche, Kenyon Farrow, Thomas Glave, Rev. Osagyfeo Uhuru Sekou and many others.

The book has since fallen out of print, but hopefully it will finally be available through amazon.com later this year. You can download a free copy in PDF format by visiting the following websites: AIDS Project Los Angeles or the Black AIDS Institute. Even though if I could do it again I would do a lot of things differently, I think the collection is still worth taking a look at.

In the book I contributed a brief essay entitled “Why I Hate Gay Marriage, or, Notes on Queering Black Gay and Lesbian Politics.” In light of some of the mail that I’ve been receiving in response my recent post on Duanna Johnson, I’m encouraging folks to read If We Have To Take Tomorrow, where you can get a fuller sense of my position on the same-sex marriage debate . Though my essay in that book is tinged in somewhat of a youthful naivety, most of my positions remain fundamentally unchanged.

Some folks have accused me of being insensitive to those queer people who actually want to get married. That was and is not my fundamental intention. Let me be clear about something. I have long said that I am not necessarily opposed to gay people getting married as much as I am opposed to the gay marriage movement. I should explain that distinction.

Though it may wreak of a liberal humanism, I do believe that people should be allowed to marry whomever they want. Nonetheless, I believe in an obliteration of “marriage” as a legal institution. I believe that marriage should remain a religious or symbolic exercise for those that wish to engage in it (sort of like a Bar Mitzvah), but should never form the basis by which critical legal rights are distributed.

I continue to find myself longing for a more sophisticated and democratic queer agenda that would advocate for more widespread redistributions of the legal rights associated with marriage, rather than simply a reinscription of the legitimacy of this troubled institution. The problem with “gay marriage” is that it never critiques or challenges the assumption that “marriage” must be a state-sponsored legal institution rather than simply a religious or symbolic exercise.

Too often marriage allows for an unfair legal path to healthcare, insurance, or citizenship rights that single people (or couples that choose to remain unmarried) do not have equal access to. Unfortunately “Gay Marriage” discourses in no way challenge these fundamental legal inequities. It simply asks to “make more room at the table” rather than attempt to burn the table down.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Time does not allow me to get into a more substantive debate about the gay marriage movement. Luckily there are plenty of other, far more knowledgeable, queer scholars who have critically addressed this issue in recent years. I would encourage folks to review the important work of historian Lisa Duggan, among others.

Good stuff. Now onto some more sad but still very relevant news. Another facebook friend of mine posted this post from AngryBrownButch about Duanna Johnson, a trans woman from Memphis, TN, who was brutally beaten by a Memphis cop in February 2008 and who was recently murdered:

A Google News search for “Duanna Johnson” yields 50 results, many syndicated and therefore redundant. Much of the coverage is tainted by the transphobia and victim-blaming that tends to inflect media coverage of violence against trans women of color (like this Associated Press article). A search for “Proposition 8″? 18,085 results – 354.6 times more than for Duanna Johnson.

The skew in the blogosphere is less severe but still pronounced. A Google BlogSearch for Duanna Johnson: 2,300 results. For Prop 8? 240,839, or 100 times more.

Don’t think I’m being deliberately unrealistic or dismissive here. I don’t deny that the passage of Proposition 8 is harmful to the LGBT community and bears much anger, attention, and agitation. I understand the difference in magnitude of the number lives directly affected by the passage of Proposition 8 versus the number of lives directly affected by Duanna Johnson’s murder. I get that.

Yet still, the disparity in attention is damn stark. And that skew isn’t limited to this particular incident; it is a skew that is present in the collective coverage of and attention paid to all violence against trans women of color. And it is a skew that reflects what the GLb(t) mainstream chosen to prioritize with time, energy, and resources, and what it has chosen to address primarily with lip service and leftovers. An apt example of this: the Prop 8 op-ed written by Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese communicates more anger, more commitment to an enduring fight for justice, more of a sense of giving a damn than his brief, comparatively tepid statement in HRC press release on Duanna Johnson’s death.

There is a call out for people to donate money to help Johnson’s mother pay her funeral expenses, which are right now expected to total $1195. Unfortunately, there is some confusion about how to make donations and concern about whether the funeral home is doing right by Mrs. Skinner. I advise folks who wish to donate to use caution; I hope that a clearer, more secure way of donating is established soon. UPDATE: It’s been established.

But when it is possible to make donations safely, I hope that many people donate whatever they can. $1195 is a relatively small amount to raise. Given that the No On Prop 8 campaign was able to raise $37.6 million – or 31,464 times the cost of Duanna Johnson’s funeral – raising this far smaller amount should be no problem for our community. Right?

So sad how this news is not brought up by the media, but Prop 8 is. And another very sad story about a Mexican immigrant who was beat to death in Suffolk County, NY, by some drunk high school kids just for the hell of it:

Friends of Jeffrey Conroy, a star athlete at the school, say he was known to do it, too. And last Saturday night, after drinking in a park in the Long Island hamlet of Medford, Mr. Conroy, 17, and six other teenagers declared that they were going to attack “a Mexican” and headed to the more ethnically diverse village of Patchogue to hunt, according to friends and the authorities.

They found their target in Marcelo Lucero, a serious-minded, 37-year-old immigrant from a poor village in Ecuador who had lived in the United States for 16 years, mostly in Patchogue, and worked in a dry cleaning store, sending savings home to support his mother, a cancer survivor.

After the boys surrounded, taunted and punched Mr. Lucero, the authorities say, Mr. Conroy plunged a knife into his victim’s chest, fatally wounding him.

The attack has horrified and puzzled many in this comfortable Suffolk County village of 11,700. Prosecutors have labeled it a hate crime and County Executive Steve Levy called the defendants, who have pleaded not guilty, “white supremacists.” And some immigrant advocates on Long Island have described the attack as a reflection of widespread anti-Latino sentiment and racial intolerance in Suffolk County.

What gets me is that this attack “puzzled’ he residents on this town. I am not proud to say that something like this does not surprise me. I would also like to point out that just because we voted for a biracial president, does NOT mean that we all of a sudden live in a post-racial world.

Ok, back to sleep. I may upload some more uplifting stuff later…

post-debate thoughts

18.October.08

on by drive back from my interview in illadel yesterday, I listened to the 3rd and final presidential debate on my iPod.  it has gotten so bad with McCain that I actually pity the man. And props to Obama for keeping his cool. I mean, he has to, really.  Or else he will be seen as the angry black man. But McCain was, I guess one could say, more “aggressive” last night than in other debates. This does not mean that he made any sense. Or made any strong arguments are clearly answered any of the moderator’s questions. Hey, that’s politics, right? No. It shouldn’t be. I was VERY happy that the candidates finally spoke about women’s issues. It only took, oh, months of campaigning for the two to talk about Roe v. Wade in a public forum (I could easily be wrong by this statement…so correct me if I am).  I mean, I almost died when Biden mentioned VAWA twice during the vice-presidential debate. His office did draft the bill…but I don’t think Palin even knows what VAWA is. McCain’s brushing off of the “health of the mother” was quite disturbing. Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards seemed to think the same:

I don’t know if I have written this on my blog before, but I can not understand why anyone, other than white heterosexual males, would EVER vote for John McCain. I can’t. Why are people lying to themselves?

I found this gem on Racialicious:

The latest newsletter by an Inland Republican women’s group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.

The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps — instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of “Obama Bucks” — a phony $10 bill featuring Obama’s face on a donkey’s body, labeled “United States Food Stamps.”

it is said to say that i’m not surprised. but its just more ammo against McCain, and can work in favor of Obama.

Oh, yeah. and the REAL facts about our friend Joe the Plumber:

Joe the Plumber’s story sprang a few leaks Thursday. Turns out that the man who was held up by John McCain as the typical, hard-working American taxpayer isn’t really a licensed plumber. And court documents show he owes nearly $1,200 in back taxes.

“Joe,” whose name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, was cited repeatedly in Wednesday night’s final presidential debate by McCain for questioning Barack Obama‘s tax policy.

Wurzelbacher instantly became a media celebrity, fielding calls during the debate and facing reporters outside his home near Toledo on Thursday morning for an impromptu nationally televised news conference.

The burly, bald man acknowledged he doesn’t have a plumber’s license, but said he didn’t need one because he works for someone else at a company that does residential work.

And some more videos from Salon.com’s Video Dog:

a review of Oliver Stone’s new film, W

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Tracy-Clark Flory responds to an abortion law that intimidates women rather than educating them

Vodpod videos no longer available.

P.S. a follow-up on the project runway finale rant: Jezebel has a nice rundown of the finalists’ collections.

girl on girl

1.October.08

Why do we find women arguing with one another and talking over each other entertaining? Ladies and gentlemen…I present to you….The View:

I must admit that I am not Elizabeth Hasselback’s biggest fan. Actually, sometimes when I am at the gym at work and The View is on, I have to change the channel because most of the things that come out of her mouth make me angry and upset.

Is this similar to people’s obsession with watching reality TV shows like The Real World, and Big Brother, and The Guantlet, to see the women get into cat fights? This is all very disturbing…