The Silence of Our Friends

Thursday, May 31, 2007

FIERCE, violence against women of color, support

Forwarded to me:

New York, NY April 2007
By Bran Fenner
Information/Updates based on court and trial support

On the night of August 18th, 2006 a group of young black lesbians from Jersey intended to hang out in the village as was an occasional routine until they encountered Wayne Buckle, 29. Buckle approached them making vulgar gestures and remarks that were severely homophobic and sexist. As the verbal interaction progressed Buckle eventually responded by spitting in one of their faces and flicking a lit cigarette at their faces as well. There were points captured on the video where he pulls out the hair of one of the young women leaving large patches, hair later found scattered on the ground. There are also parts of the footage as well as testimonial that shows Wayne Buckle on top of one of the women choking the life out of her. It was then that another young women (Patresse Johnson 4’11” 105 lbs. pulls a kitchen knife out of her purse to injure his arm and stop him from potentially killing her friend). At that moment two unidentified men came to the women’s aid without being asked to and beat Wayne Buckle. When asked at the hospital who had attacked him, Buckle responded at least twice that some men had attacked him. There was no evidence that Patresse’s kitchen knife was the weapon that penetrated his abdomen, nor was their any blood or testing done on the kitchen knife. There is even footage of them cautiously walking away from him while he continues to walk after them. To say the least many of us who were at court everyday seeing the trial happen were surprised (due to naivety) that they could be found guilty. Even the night they were arrested they thought they would be going home as an officer told them while never looking for the men that inflicted most of Buckle’s bruises and wounds.
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Family Values: Made in America?

The following is an excerpt from a great post by Priscilla Huang from the NAPAWF. Go read the whole thing!!

Notably, the study also cites Daniel Patrick Moynihan's infamous 1965 report, "The Negro Family: The Case for National Action," which attacked the matriarchal structure of poor African-American families and proposed military enlistment for young black men as the solution to the "deterioration of the Negro family." Both the Moynihan report and the CIS study assume that nuclear family structures are the ideal standard and both dismiss alternative family structures—particularly those that are headed by single or unmarried women—as morally destructive and socially deviant.

In addition, it's important to note the more underhanded reason that the CIS study compares the out of wedlock birth rates of immigrant women to that of African-American women: to divide communities of color on the immigration debate. The sexual and reproductive decisions of women of color have always come under scrutiny, and the United States (along with many countries in the Global North) has a long history of trying to control the fertility of low-income women of color. As such, women's bodies have long been the political battleground for oppressive policy-making. Immigration reform is no different.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

suicide, guantanamo, breaking news

Hello to all!
For those of you who don't know, I'll be cross posting at Donna's for a while until she gets herself settled in to her new home--I hope that I live up to the high standards you have come to know while reading Donna! --bfp

I just surfed over to bbcnews and found this teeny little blurb:

Guantanamo Saudi 'kills himself'
A Saudi Arabian prisoner has died in an apparent suicide at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, the US military has said.

A statement by the US Southern Command said the inmate was found unresponsive and not breathing by guards, and attempts to revive him failed.

Two Saudis and a Yemeni prisoner were found hanged in an apparent suicide at the camp in June last year.

About 380 prisoners are held at the camp, some for as long as five years.

First off, what's up with the scare quotes around "kills himself"--I ask because the u.s. government has been particularly vehement about repositioning "suicide" as "terrorist actions" (as in, committing suicide is not a sign of depression and as such, an indicator of the horrible evilness that is Guantanamo, but rather a continuation of the terrorist mentality that got the person imprisoned to begin with) and I'm wondering if 'kills himself" will eventually be reworked to reflect the u.s. government strategy.

Second--why does this particular piece of 'breaking news' seem like it's going to die off really quickly? It's not even front page news at BBC--OR front page news in the "Americas" section.

And lastly--I realize that headlines are hard to come by some times--but there is just something patently wrong to me with the man in question being called a "Guantanamo Saudi". as if his nationality has been overwritten to such an extent he's no longer a Saudi, he's a *Guantanamo* Saudi. He's a forced citizen of a new nation/state.

A forced citizen of a new nation/state where the nation/state has the right to control when you can breath, sleep, eat, exercise or look at pictures of your children.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Goodbye Cruel World!

The time has come to take apart this computer and pack it away for the move. There is a possibility that I can set up the other computer to get access for one more week, but I am not counting on having the time to do so, or having the time to go to the library etc. So you might not hear from me for awhile.

It's coming down to the wire. The closing on the house, the move out east, buying a house out there, it's just too much for blogging to be a priority now. But know that I will miss you all and send my love. (Especially Bint Alshamsa. If you haven't been to her blog and given her all the love and support you are able, get over to My Private Casbah now!)

Monday, May 21, 2007

a guest post from bfp

Thank you so much to Donna, who has so kindly offered her space to me. I can't express how much I appreciate your constant support Donna, thank you so much.)

Samhita has an opinion about FFF and there are a few things about her opinion that I would like to discuss.

First. Intersectionality. Samhita feels upset and erased because many women of color bloggers are upset about Jessica’s book, Full Frontal Feminism.

I myself was very upset about the book—to the point I made several nasty remarks about it. For this, I apologize. I have a real substantial critique of the book, which I’m not going to get into here because I want this to address Samhita and not Jessica. But suffice it to say; at the time I made my remarks, I was in the middle of a personal crisis that I am still recovering from. So while my remarks have some substantial critique in them—at the same time, yes, I did say that Jessica sounded like a valley girl. And I was pretty aggressive even outside of that comment. For that—I am sorry.

Having said that, I personally (other woc bloggers have their own opinions) take issue with the idea that “intersectionality” and “inclusivity” are in anyway linked. I furthermore take issue with the idea that a “lack of inclusivity” is the main thrust of the problem with Jessica’s book or with feministing.

There seems to be this idea that if women of color are “included” that we should then shut up and leave it alone. The author did the best she could, and that is that. In her post, Samhita conflates intersectionality with inclusivity (as do MANY defenders of this book). That is—Samhita personally writes about intersectionality thus feministing is “inclusive” and therefore, her “voice as a women of color is integrated to the greatest extent that ANY voice can be integrated into a blog.”

A big problem with this logic is that “inclusivity” is not the answer to the problems white women face. Jessica’s book alone demonstrates that. So why is it the answer for the problems facing women of color? An even bigger problem is that the final outcome of an intersectional analysis was never “inclusivity” to begin with.

Intersectional approaches were used by radical women of color feminists to not just more accurately and thoroughly name a problem—but to come up with solutions to those problems. Thus—the goal of radical women of color feminists was not to “include” women of color in an already formed movement whose goal was to get better wages for upper class white women. It was to eliminate colonialism because it created the prison industrial complex that imprisons impoverished native women whose land the government wants. They did this in many ways—some of them being, for example, refusing to participate in the not-for-profit community and organizing feminist freedom schools.

To bring it back to feministing and Jessica and FFF and Samhita—sure, women of color were included in FFF and women of color are included in feministing—but is that inclusion doing anything to improve the quality of life for women in any of our communities--or on a less grandiose scale—to improve the quality of blogging experience for women of color bloggers?

In other words—intersectionality as used to name problems is fine—but the important part of intersectionality comes when it’s used to FIND ANSWERS. Is inclusivity really the answer to the intersectional problem of poor queer black women being thrown in jail because she can’t afford her medication and she attacked her children? To link it to Jessica’s book—is inclusivity really the answer when imprisoned teenage female youths (a devastating problem that is permeating through vast populations of native, black and latina communities) are forcibly put onto Depo-Provera and raped by prison guards? Is “getting on birth control” and “masturbating” really the answer to these youths—who, in general, also reject the term “feminism”?

In short, women of color are brought up lots and lots of times as a part of the “problem”—but we are patently ignored as “not part of the target audience” when it comes to solutions. If we were “included” in the solution of women not identifying with “feminism”—FFF would be a completely different book and feministing would be a completely different site.

I also want to address the idea put forth by Samhita (and many many maaaany of Jessica’s supporters) that women of color bloggers are “hating” on Jessica.

I met Jessica from feministing and Amanda from pandagon at the NAPW conference earlier this year. I liked both of them a lot. Especially Amanda—who, for the first time, made me see why people think southern accents are sexy.

At the conference, I joked with Jessica about the size of her boobs, talked at length with Amanda about Texas/Mexican border issues and living on farmland—I liked them both a lot, and was really happy to that I met up with them.

And then I got back home, and continued blogging and continued to be pissed off by Amanda’s analysis of X and Jessica’s understanding of Y.

It is possible to heartily disagree with and dislike what a person says in a blog and how the represent themselves on that blog and to really like them in the real world.

The disagreement women of color bloggers have with Jessica/feministing has never been about how much we hate hate hate Jessica. Ever. It’s been about how we have been treated and how our community has been treated.

Samhita says that it is a shame that one thread at feminsting defines all of feministing. Of course, she is referring to the thread in which former blogger, Nubian, was attacked for her views on the book FFF.

Besides the fact that this one thread (while it is pointed to often) does not represent the entirety of the problem that many woc bloggers have with feminsting (Nubian was attacked multiple times on multiple threads, including an interview that she contributed to and the FFF thread, Bint Alshamsa and Black Amazon were both attacked as well, to the point that Black Amazon and Nubian were accused of being the same person. And that’s not even getting into the actual content of feministing) there is also the point that while this singular thread may have been just a thread to Samhita—a member of our community (the radical women of color feminist blogging community)—a leader that opened a truly radical space whereby queer black women specifically and women of color in general had their views represented and honored in the blogosphere—was attacked on multiple threads by multiple members of the feministing community. Attacked to the point that Nubian DOES say these multiple attacks were a contributing factor to her NO LONGER BLOGGING.

Something that was "just a thread" to Samhita contributed to an irrevocable loss to our community that has not and probably never will be filled.

But it was just a thread, after all, and it’s a shame that feministing is being judged by that one thread.

I myself think it’s a bigger shame—a fucking devastating injustice—that unabashedly radical queer black feminists have one less blogger in the blogosphere. That unabashedly radical queer black feminists now know what will happen to them if they speak out on a blog dominated by “liberals” that are “trying to learn more” about WOC issues. And yes, I will go there, because it’s intimately connected, even though nobody wants to admit it—what will happen to YOUNG queer black feminists if they speak out.

Shortly after Nubian was attacked, she stopped calling herself a feminist. She called herself a womanist and changed the blurb on her site to reflect that. She was 24 at the time—an age that all of us women of color bloggers have been told, is considered “young.”

She stopped calling herself a feminist as a direct result of the virulent racism she experienced at the hands of white feminists that “want to learn” about women of color issues—many of which, came to her site directly from feministing.

I wonder if she is the “target audience” of Jessica’s book?

In the end—I agree with little light—this has been a long time coming (whatever “this” is). Contrary to popular opinion—radical women of color bloggers don’t expect Jessica, feministing, or Samhita to be “everything” to all of us. But we do expect that if you’re going to “include” us in the problem, that you “include” us in the answer. And when you only show up to our blogs to defend Jessica or to lambast us for not “defending you” (when you have had scant little to say about any of the various attacks that any of us have been on the brunt end of, including being outted along with your child, being threatened with dick slappings and fist fuckings, being told you’re a part of a “dirty race,” and being endlessly confronted and challenged and talked down to by white feminist women) well, I’m sorry, but that’s not creating an answer that any of us can live with.

At this point, I can only say that I hope, Samhita, that there is some answer out there somewhere that all of us can get behind.

Friday, May 18, 2007

New Kid On The Block

Ok, maybe not that new. I've seen her around. I'm out getting the mail and she drives by, or she's taking a stroll that takes her past my house in the late afternoon, maybe in line a couple customers ahead of me at the grocery store. She seems really nice and I overheard a conversation or two where she has wonderful, intelligent, and interesting things to say. I think I'd like to get to know her. Maybe you've already stopped by and welcomed her to our lovely POC neighborhood. If not, let's take a walk over to her place and say, "Hi!" together.

Ok, Magniloquence is the newest addition to my blogroll. But there are other new WOC blogs recently added too, and you might want to pop by their blogs and see what they have to say: Vox ex Machina, No Snow Here (Meet her in person at the AMC!), She Who Stumbles, Make It Plain (Nanette recommended her!), and Race and Gender (Aradhana recommended her!).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Untrustworthy and Unreliable

From Jill
From Piny
More from Piny
From Zuzu

Back in March at Everybody Comes from Somewhere, Scribe40 was mystified about something that had gone wrong with one of her friends, she was giving a presentation which her friend attended. There was a segment for interaction with the audience and the friend raised her hand, but Scribe didn't see her, and didn't call on her for quite some time. Afterwards the friend was decidedly cool towards her, even after Scribe explained that it wasn't an intentional snub, she really didn't see her. One other thing you should know, Scribe is white, the friend is black. Scribe wanted to know what was really going on and I said:
That lady knows that sometimes people are nice to her and still hold the notion that she is inferior. She thought you were ignoring her in a room full of superior white people, and sent her to the back of the line to wait her turn until the “important” people had their say.
This kind of thing is common enough that I bet every POC has experienced it, and it's happening in the blogosphere right now. Over at Feministe Jill writes a review of Full Frontal Feminism, a book written by Jessica of Feministing. Since I've been following the reviews and criticism at blogs written by women of color and other allies, I was interested. I expected the posts at Having Read the Fine Print and Anti-Essentialist Conundrum to be included, and possibly an older one at Blac(k)ademic but when I finished reading the post, they were noticeably absent. Why? Jill says:
I found the posts criticizing Jessica through a BlogHer summary and through a Google search. I didn’t see either of their posts; I’m sure there are many, many others that I also missed. I was also focusing on the criticisms that I thought were unsubstantiated and cruel — while I don’t completely agree with Sylvia or blackamazon, I do think they make substantive points, and they didn’t engage in the kind of personal attacks that some other bloggers did.
Uh huh, she didn't see those black women with their hands up. What's odd is that both BlackAmazon and Sylvia were making similar arguments in the comments thread of the post Petitpoussin wrote, which was linked. Wonder how she missed that? But wait, she was only looking for unsubstantiated and cruel criticism...

Anyone have a problem with that? The black women have a good point, so ignore it and pretend they don't exist, because she needs to show loyalty for the "important" people, her white friend. She actually wants to hide valid criticism from view of her readers.

I have Feministe in my blogroll for a reason, they do cover racism and all the other "isms" in a serious way. While not all the blogs I link to are actively anti-racist, they are non-racist. I don't expect this kind of disappearing and dismissal of POC voices. While Scribe simply didn't see her friend in the back of the room, Jill was putting the "important" white person first and telling the black women to get to the back of the line.

It's true, middle class white Americans are untrustworthy and unreliable.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Enough! Stand Up Against The Bullshit!

Many of you have probably already seen this cartoon. It's several years old and the artist is Ampersand at Alas, A Blog. I saw it for the first time probably two years ago, before I had a blog. It's simple truth spoke to me about the blindness of those who climb over others to gain power for themselves, and then forget how they got there. I'm sure it's why a corrupt and incomplete version of history is what we are taught in American schools, we are supposed to forget.

I want to draw for you a continuation of that cartoon. Imagine it, the brown kid is Condoleeza Rice, or Alberto Gonzales, and the next brown kid to come along is Martin Luther King Jr. What happens next? The first brown kid climbs on the second brown kid's back to get to the top and instead of helping him up, does the exact same thing the white kid did, claims they did it all on their own, the civil rights movement and death and suffering of that era had nothing to do with it.

White isn't just a skin color, it's an idea, it's about hierarchy, power, and an "I got mine, SUCKERS!" mentality, that's why there can be and is white POC. It also isn't limited to rightwing racists, we have them in progressive circles too. A common tactic used against people of color who want to discuss our issues and concerns, especially when we are angry because we are ignored by those on our side, is to tell us, "We have more important issues! We have to work on our issues first, and then we will get around to your special interests. Racism is dead, we are all colorblind now." (Notice in Amps cartoon, the brown kid does drop the shackles. I thought that was a very astute observation on his part. The brown kid is slightly better off, but nowhere near equal.)

This isn't an issue purely of race, feminists have heard liberal men parrot this line to them too, so have environmentalists, so have those fighting for the rights of the disabled, so have those who are poverty activists, so has labor and consumer rights activists, so has the GLBT community...BUT some of those people are also climbing on the backs of others. Here's an example, read Maha's description of Heaven and Hell at 23, and my answer at 31, it's the same as the cartoon. Notice how she and her ignorant supporters never answer my question about whether they would have had a problem with that lunch being attended by all men, except the one who wants to make a joke. Now that white women have access, they have no problem slamming the door in our faces. Their "important" issues are being addressed, so go away with our petty unimportant "identity politics", and "jealousy". That comments thread is a screaming indictment for how deep racism runs in America. No, it ain't just the rightwing bigots or skinhead extremists.

Another thing that happens commonly when people bring up the fact that America was built on racism, slavery, and genocide, is for some white people to pipe up about how they are not responsible for that. Their Irish great grandfather arrived after slavery was abolished, and reservations were established for the Native Americans, and not only that, he was discriminated against too! It's true. The Irish, Italians, Greeks, Jews, Catholics, anyone who wasn't a WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) were at one time discriminated against. They didn't enjoy all the privileges of being white -enough-. Now that cartoon doesn't make sense, those people didn't step on anyone to get up there! Because there is more to the cartoon, there isn't just one brown boy at the bottom and there isn't just one white boy at the top, and the white boy isn't as passive as the cartoon appears. When the brown boy tries to climb up on his own, the white boy pushes him back down. The white boy likes it that power is consolidated amongst a select few and he can't allow everyone to make it to the top, that means less for him and those like him. But he also has a bit of a problem, those at the bottom keep growing, and he and the small group of other whites aren't strong enough to push them all back down. So occasionally they give a hand up to a few more to help keep the others down. That's what I think about you and your great grandfather. You haven't done a damn thing to help anyone else up, and have instead been helping your former oppressor to keep everyone else down. "I got mine, SUCKERS!"

I wrote this post for the Radical Carnival of Action, first proposed by BFP and being hosted by Sylvia at the Anti-Essentialist Conundrum. You may think that I haven't suggested any grassroots activism, but I have and I will make it clearer: grassroots activism isn't just organizing protest marches, or soup kitchens, or domestic violence hotlines. I feel helpless because I would have a difficult time with any of these very important projects until I have successful surgery. But BrownFemiPower inspired me to write this. That is grassroots activism too. She energizes and motivates me to DO SOMETHING! I dedicate this post to her. I send her love and healing energy.

My grassroots activism is to inspire you to do something too.

I can see a day coming when the crowd at the bottom is going to overwhelm the few at the top. The majority of Americans are already discriminated against or oppressed in some way, but this is as it has always been. The difference is that today there are more of us discontented, alienated, and unrepresented since the turn of the century. Many of us are people of color and it's time for us to come together and shove each other to the top and pull those behind us up too. I'm tired of us vs them in every discussion. I'm tired of people saying to each other, "I must have my important issues first, then we will get back to you", and always it isn't enough. They always have more important issues and never get back to 'you'. I want to motivate you to stand up to these white people, and I do not mean skin color, reread the third paragraph.

1) The next time you hear that bullshit, stand up to it, don't let them tell an immigrant woman imprisoned in Hutto that her problem is a "pet project" that must wait, don't let them tell a disabled man that his problem is a "pet project" that must wait, don't let them tell a transwoman that her problem is a "pet project" that must wait. Don't let them tell you that your problem is a "pet project" that must wait. Don't let them dazzle you with their illogic, "We are on the same side, no circular firing squad!" argument. We are not on the same side if it is only about THEIR needs and never about ours.

2) Don't let them shove their DLC pro-wealthy candidates down your throat. Don't vote for them. I don't give a damn anymore that the Republicans are much worse than the Democrats, because no, they aren't. DLC Democrats are still consolidating power for the few at the expense of the many. Using the Democrats logic the whole Civil War could have been avoided by making sure the slaveholders didn't whip the slaves. No one with any sense in their head would say that that compromise is good enough. But that's the kind of compromise candidates the Democrats expect rousing support for? Voting for either bad or worse isn't a choice. How about we force them to run GOOD for once?

3) Don't just sit it out. Write to the DNC and DLC and tell them why you will not support candidate X, Y, or Z. Tell them "electable" isnt really. Do vote for and support real progressive candidates. Write to those candidates and politicians showing your support. Write to your newspaper or other news outlet that has letters to the editor.

4) Write a blog post like this one. Or like this one. Or like this one. Or like this one. Or like this, all of it. Speak for yourself, speak for others, speak out against the lies and bullshit and games people play to climb on others backs to achieve their own goals.

UPDATE: Ok there she goes, that, that, Sassywho! Writing almost the same thing as I wrote here, only in her fancy pants edumakated way*. For once you can say, "You're just jellus!" and I will agree.

*No she isn't one of the thieves we've been talking about lately. She didn't get the idea from me, and I didn't get mine from her. But, like me, I bet BFP was an inspiration to her too.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Do You Know Where Michael Patrick Vaughn Is?

While chatting at Devious Diva's yesterday Kevin aka Thin Black Duke of Slant Truth updated us on the search for his brother, Michael Patrick Vaughn. There is no update. He is still missing and the family is very worried. He had been known to take off and do his own thing, but he also checked in to let everyone know he was ok. He hasn't done that in well over a year. When he last contacted the family he was in California. He may be there, he may have moved on to somewhere else, no one knows. If you have any information about his current whereabouts or what he has been doing in the last 1+ year, contact Kevin.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

It's Imperative!

I've been tagged by Sylvia to answer the question, "What is the imperative of my life", I've also been tagged by BlackAmazon, who corrupted the question, she asks, "What is it imperative for people to know."

The imperative of my life is difficult to answer because I have always been flighty. So I am tempted to answer, death and taxes. LOL The real answer is probably something closer to, knowledge. Everyone is always learning, whether we are paying attention and realizing it or not, but what I mean is seeking it out. Before I got a computer I practically lived at the library, I still go, but I love that my computer can take me anywhere right from the comfort of my home. I even like useless trivia, in fact, much of my learning is trivia, and that's ok, as long as it's something new to know. So knowledge it is.

What is imperative for everyone to know, is that the majority of middle class white American people are untrustworthy and unreliable. (A handful of these people have discovered this, and those are the ones who tend to be trustworthy and reliable.) The reason for this is that they are completely self-centered. So you ask, "But Donna, isn't everyone self-centered?" Yes, but it is the extent I am talking about. MCWAs' are oblivious to everyone else around them and throughout the world. Only their problems, their issues, their concerns matter. Everyone else is just a "special interest". In the blogging world, the major liberal/progressive/Democratic blogs are close to useless for informing or being informed by anyone but MCWAs. The only time people of color; poor people, including whites; those with disabilities; foreigners; labor, especially blue collar; just about anyone who isn't a MCWA is mentioned with any concern on their blogs is when that person can be used for their agenda, not because the concern is real. Sometimes appearances is the only agenda, because when they can make themselves appear like they care, they all get to sit around and feel all warm and fuzzy and enlightened.

I gave up on the male-centered liberal mainstream blogs long ago. I thought that maybe since the women had to deal with the oppression of sexism and misogyny that I'd have more in common with them and have a place to work through our issues together. Wrong. Because they are privileged, but blind to it, they only see their issues. Since they are middle class white Americans, usually able bodied, usually heterosexual, usually white collar workers, etc they pay lip service to issues related to poverty, people of color in the US, anything about another country, anything about disability, most GLBT issues (but since some middle class white women are lesbians, this gets a little more interest), or anything having to do with blue collar workers, low level white collar, or part time/temp workers.

No, the big issues on their blogs revolve around preserving only what they already have and getting more for themselves, they really could care less if you are out in the cold looking in. Oh sure, sometimes they talk about poverty, or women in India, or immigrants in America; but look at the framing. Almost every topic leads back to how it affects them, it's not really about the people they are using. If they don't center it on the middle class white woman, someone (usually several) will do it in the comments. Even on our blogs, we have white people show up wanting us to reassure them that they are good people. That is tiring for those with little to keep propping up those with much. Figure out another way to work on your self esteem, like maybe doing something to make a difference, instead of whining that you don't mean to be racist. I much prefer the ones I usually get, if they ask anything, instead of asking me to tell them that they are good people, they ask, Am I doing something wrong? What should I be doing? But I have seen this on other POC blogs and expect it as I continue blogging.

They are untrustworthy and unreliable and we should stop looking to them for any sort of help. It won't be there. But you know something, in this country they are a minority, just like they are in the rest of the world. So whose issues are "special interests"? We the POC, the poor of all colors, the labor movement, the disabled, people from all over the world, all of us who are oppressed and truly care for each other need to come together and help each other. We don't need them, they will soon be needing us. We will remember the ones who were by our sides and we will remember the ones who turned their backs or used us. So you middle class white feminists might want to jump on the bandwagon right about now, show some real concern for women who aren't just like you. I'll be happy to help you with your problems, but not at the expense of my problems, we will work TOGETHER. It's not good enough to work on you keeping your privileges at my expense.

I tag anyone who wants to answer either question. Go ahead, you know you want to do it. Leave a comment so that I can check it out at your site.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Read Superbaby Mama

Ok, so there I am checking out all the blogs linking to the Best Blog Post EVAR!!!!1!!!!!11! (Nezua's posts, not my post about his post) and am checking out Kactus, since she linked there too, but what really caught my eye was this must read: "My body exists politically in a way I can not prevent". Get over there and read it!

Oppression Olympics

I was loving this really well written article on Axis of Logic except for this part:
Nonetheless, to a "liberal," the previous comment is racist and wrong, because black people, unlike the days of slavery, are now "like us," meaning white Anglo-American society, whereas Arabs and Muslims (as if they are a unitary, monolithic people), can still be labeled wholly as "backwards, ruthless, Jew-hating animals."

This person hasn't seen much interaction between blacks and whites in America, including the liberal kind. There are very few true non-racists in America, the ones who in all instances look at people of color as equal to themselves. More often than not you come across those who don't really have anything against a particular race or ethnic group but does in the back of the mind see them as inferior, or at least is aware of a certain power dynamic (white privilege) and is quite happy to take advantage of it. By this I mean that they can turn on and off their concern for racist issues and incidents, where if they were POC in America this becomes very difficult.

This is why they think we are oversensitive, when in fact they are insensitive. We are appropriately sensitive to our situation, if we ignore those instances when we are degraded and dehumanized, it doesn't just hurt our widdle feewin's, it sometimes leads to violence and death. A good example was the POC outrage, and dismissive attitude of many whites, over Rosie O'Donnell and the ching chong incident. Kai said:
"Ching chong" has been the last sound I've heard before a good 90% of the fistfights I've gotten into over racism, from kindergarten to just a few months ago when someone said "ching chong" to me on a basketball court (except that guy was more honest than ABC because he at least knew it was racist and unambiguously meant it as such). So for me, when I hear "ching chong", I assume it's on and there's no turning back.

Black people have never, to this very day, never been seen as "like us" ...the white Anglo-American society. Not even at the height of the civil rights movement when there seemed to be so much hope for an egalitarian society. Anytime that the powerless appear to be gaining ground with regard to those in power there is a backlash and that is what has happened since those days of the late 60s and early 70s. The hard won rights they did gain have been slowly but surely eroded and it continues now. That's why I hate to see any POC writer say things like that at the Axis of Logic. We can't pit ourselves against each other. Instead of being envious and resentful of blacks for the small moments of respect they get, they should be thinking that it is well deserved, that all of us deserve respect and dignity. When I see things like this the feeling is more one of, "If I don't get respect and dignity, you shouldn't either."

We've discussed this at many times, there is nothing wrong with making comparisons between yourself and others, including oppression. What is wrong is this one upmanship, the Oppression Olympics, the jealousy that someone is getting more table scraps from the masters table than you are. That bullshit is frustrating and infuriating, fighting over tiny crumbs, instead of looking at the pig hoarding the feast and laughing at us.

Which reminds me of another recent incident, a discussion of Obama and CBS shutting down the racist comments at Pandagon. In the comment Cara says:
I’m also extremely surprised that there would be more racist comments towards Obama than misogynist comments towards Clinton. Misogynist comments seem to be so much more socially acceptable than racist ones– though it’s possible that because they’re more acceptable, they’re not really seen as misogynist and therefore not shut down.

Same thing. Heaven forbid that a feminist website have a discussion purely about race. I mean, hell, every other post is about white middle class women's concerns, so we can't let this one be about something else, can we? What is odd is that these are the same women who would smack down a man who showed up in the comments whining, "But what about the men???" but don't see when they do the exact same thing. This gender trumps race bullshit is so damned tiring and so predictable.

Anyway, to wind this up, go read the Axis of Logic article, it's about how it is acceptable in America to hate Muslims and Arabs, even by liberals and I think it is right on the money...with that one exception of the Oppression Olympics.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Best Blog Post EVAR!!!!1!!!111!!!!!

It's a long one, and I don't want to hear any complaints about that, because it's like getting the best book you ever read in your entire life for FREE! You should be grateful! Not enough time? Make time! Read it! I'm posting links to all three blogs it's reposted at because I want to go back and forth and read the comments. (I'm gonna kick ass if anyone anywhere gives Nez a hard time! No one better criticize the best blog post EVAR!!!!!11!!!1!) You could do the same or you could just pick one and read the post there.

The True Front of Progressivism at Unapologetic Mexican

The True Front of Progressivism at Jesus' General

The True Front of Progressivism at Corrente Wire

UPDATE! You gotta check out this post over at Vox ex Machina!
And Vox Aemeliae too!

And BlackAmazon too, and she makes me mad again, because she writes these fantastic posts that are unquotable. If I look for the one sentence or paragraph that speaks to me, I'm bamboozled. The whole thing speaks to me, always!

Oh boy, the Angry Black Woman too! (I love her quote at the top: Why are black people so angry all the time? Oh it's probably some dumb shit you did, white girl.)

More Update! Oh holy crap! I've been added to Orcinus' blogroll! I added Orcinus to my blogroll last night, but certainly didn't expect a reciprocal link. Too cool, I think I'm a celebrity now!

Allied Media Conference

The Allied Media Conference will be held in Detroit on June 22 - 24. BrownFemiPower of Women of Color Blog and Nadia of No Snow Here, both from Detroit, will be there, which is one of the best reasons to go, you could meet them! I'm almost certain that BlackAmazon of Having Read the Fine Print will be going too. Go ahead, just try to tell me that you don't want to meet her. I won't believe you!

But what's it all about? It's about alternative media, it's not limited to bloggers, there will also be people in radio, magazines, artists of all types, any communication except mainstream media. It's major theme is organizing communities for social justice issues, how to get the word out, how to motivate people and keep them involved. There are workshops, panel discussions, films, and caucuses.

It isn't just for people of color, although hopefully white folks will be interested in fighting racism too, some of the past topics were about media and youth, media and disability rights, and media and labor organizing. Everyone of all walks of life, all ages, and all communities can benefit from and participate in the AMC.

I'm disappointed that I won't be able to be there. I will be in the middle of a move from Wisconsin to New Hampshire. But I want YOU to be there, having a blast, learning alot, and telling me all about it!

BFP is all fired up about this conference, and will have the best updates about it. So be sure to check her blog often (that link is specifically for posts on the AMC). She plans to have a post about ideas on how to fundraise for those of you who want to go but think you won't have the money for the trip, so check in for that too.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Lighten It Up A Bit

I'm an older woman, so you young whippersnappers get off my lawn! Oh that's not what I meant to say. I see everyone else posting their videos or random 10 playlists and think I should get in on the action and post a few of my favorites, 80's and 90's stuff for me.

First, Fergie thinks she knows glamorous? Pffffffft! Here's glamorous!

A double shot of Mariah. I love Mariah! But the old stuff.

Don't break my heart, Mariah! Kick him to the curb!

That's more like it! Boy you're gonna pay 'cos Mariah is the one keeping score!

And I saved the best for last! I loved this song the first time I heard it and love it just as much today!

White POC & Other Ruminations On Self Serving Asshats

As I said in my last post, I'm having a hard time organizing my thoughts into a single coherent blog post. I've been thinking about several things and I don't know where to start, what is the priority? So I am just going to follow my thoughts where ever they might lead.

I've noticed that online recently many POC writers in general and WOC writers specifically are becoming demoralized and aren't as motivated as they once were. Many of us have or are taking a break, sometimes it's to get things done in the real world, but I also think there is a component of things happening on the internet that we have to absorb and make decisions for ourselves about. It's like we have to re-evaluate what our purpose is.

I'm probably going to misinterpret him, but I don't think he will mind, and he will correct me if I am wrong anyway. Once upon a time, Nezua asked me why I was so involved in the flamewars and online drama. At the time it puzzled me and I explained that it was just the place I found myself in growing and understanding things. I think he already knew I was spinning my wheels and was trying to give me a push forward, but I needed time to discover it for myself. He has a relevant quote in the comments here.
I think we have to accept that until we fight for human rights equally applied to all, we can't expect anything to get better, and we dont really have the right to single only ourselves out for rights. Seems simple. Like you, I am not interested in fighting for the status quo that props up one privileged class and type, but am for giving all people the power and autonomy and respect and chances that we all feel we should have.
BlackAmazon writes a related post too, Truth Telling. I can't pull out the one good quote because I would end up just reposting the entire thing. Nezua's post is all good too (read it), but that one quote was a powerful punch I wanted for this post, BA's entire post is a powerful series of asskicking.

My mistake was thinking that white liberals who blog and especially white feminists were ignorant about the way society and culture affect people of color, if you explained it, then they would be more supportive of our ideas and causes. It took me awhile to see that unity and solidarity were only for their ideas and causes and that for the most part it is all about them. This is what both Nezua and BA are talking about in their posts and how they are rejecting those who are users for only their own goals. I'm not so dense that I didn't figure out long ago that this is true for a few, but I didn't want to see the bigger picture and how true it is for many.

This takes many forms but one of the hardest for us to work against is our white POC brothers and sisters. Sounds like an oxymoron, and I am a bit leery about bringing this up, I remember the Michael Steele campaign and how blacks were accused of hurling oreos at him (they didn't) but it was used to take the spotlight off of Steele and his anti-black agenda. Many black bloggers understand this because they face a backlash when they raise the house negro vs the field negro dichotomy. We are accused of being racist ourselves when we don't accept everyone with brown skin, including those who are harmful to us collectively and are as self-serving as many white people. But there are POC who will tell white people what they want to hear in order to get ahead, and there are POC who have been socialized and acculturated to believe in the all-American racist stereotypes. I know some personally. Is it really that hard to believe that a Native American who was raised in a white middle class neighborhood might absorb racist stereotypes about his/her people as well as other POC? That person might believe that the reason they got ahead was because of hard work, and not see that better schools in their middle class neighborhood helped, or that money and their parents white connections helped, and that person thinks white and acts white and is seen as "safe". This is the unfortunate person we hear about when white people want to contradict our truths with their "NDN, black, asian, latino etc friend" who thinks that racism isn't a problem and that we're just making a mountain out of a molehill. That person has faced racism, especially if they are clearly "different" looking, but might attribute it to those lazy drunken welfare/casino injuns over there who make a bad example and ruin it for the rest of "us" and make white people think "they're all like that". It's also what we are talking about when white people tell us "Not you. You're one of the good ones." They mean we are assimilated and they notice we are white POC, or as Archie Bunker says, "You're a credit to your race." A white POC will think this is a compliment, instead of seeing it as an extention of racism. On my own reservation, I can point out the lazy drunken welfare/casino NDN, they really are there, BUT I can also point out the MANY families who work hard at their jobs or at school, who are trying to raise their children to be honorable and have good values, and give them the best life they are able, those who don't drink at all, those who drink occasionally to celebrate, those who are great cooks, those who are wonderful friends and you can count on in a pinch, etc etc etc. In other words, most of us are "one of the good ones"! It's only a compliment when you believe the racist stereotypes, and when you accept the compliment you reinforce the racist stereotypes. When you accept the compliment you're basically saying, yes I am better than those people over there without acknowledging or knowing they are exactly like you, they are good people too.

The thing that makes me angry is that the bad parts of my reservation I have seen mirrored in white communities. Some youth do abuse alcohol and drugs, then they grow up and get responsible and raise families. A few never do and become alcoholics or drug addicts, just like the white person's grandpa or aunt that no one talks about. Some will engage in criminal behavior, break into houses or businesses, shoplift, drink and drive, etc. This is a very few young people and they grow out of it too. White people hide or ignore these exact same problems in their communities. The 19 yr old NDN who gets drunk on the weekend is a degenerate, but their own teen rolling in at 3am with beer on his breath? Kids will be kids is the public view, the private one is fear if they are drinking and driving or abusing it to the point of other dangerous behaviors or blackouts...which is the same way Native American parents feel about their kids.

Back to white POC, I think it's easy to see the conservative POC this way, but there are also liberal POC like this. Many of the most linked to and accepted POC in the liberal blogosphere are like this, the same goes for those POC who blog on mostly white blogs. There are exceptions, Steve Gilliard comes to mind. I think he is popular because he has a variety of viewpoints about issues that white people are interested in. He hasn't changed his writing to agree with white people, but he also does not concentrate his posts on mostly racial issues. That alone does make him "safer". Also Wampum, I don't think it will hurt MBW or EBW's feelings to say that alot of their popularity comes from the Koufax Awards. They have both mentioned it already themselves, that their readers spike during the awards, but only the usual suspects are commenting on their meatier threads.

I won't name names, because I am not interested in starting a new flame war. But these white POC bloggers tend to not write about racial issues but say things like, I am glad I can talk about anything, and not race, because my readers are colorblind. Psst, the only reason your readers are colorblind is because you do not talk about race. Or their racial posts boil down to, "Oh my, racism is bad and a problem, what do you (white folks) think?" And then bails from the conversation, does not give any direction or insight, because the white POC has none. They actually sound the same as clueless white liberals who want to start a discussion about race to make themselves sound like they care, but they haven't done the research, read and/or commented on POC blogs, or have actual relationships with POC in the real world, to know anything because they don't really care. These white POC don't care either, they got theirs and that's all that matters. But they know that their white fans are expecting something and have to throw them a shallow, cursory, post about race that makes everyone feel good and enlightened.

A real life example, one of these white POC interviewed a WOC writer who does write about race, and did something that would be expected of a racist white interviewer; ignored the real life circumstances to fit the WOC blogger into a racist stereotype. She was portrayed as a poor single mother (she's not) and her academic credentials were downplayed while inventing or playing up the pitiful needs-to-be-saved aspects. It's the white POC bloggers way of putting distance between themselves and other POC and telling the white readers, "I'm more like you. I'm one of the good ones. She's a stereotype, you can feel sorry for her but don't have to take her too seriously." That's the biggest problem I have with these white POC, their overwhelming need to undercut "the competition", to hide their own ignorance and internalized racism. The WOC blogger is still angry and feels betrayed about this, she does not want knowledge of this interview and the misinformation in it spread. So I will not say anymore about it except to say, it happened. If she decides to come forward and say more, I'll be there to support her, but that's up to her.

A more recent and disturbing trend is that as these white POC's profile is raised they feel pressure to write more on race, but because they know nothing, they have been stealing content from POC blogs and rewriting it to make it appear that it is their own research and words. You could excuse it and think that maybe these writers just coincidentally happened to pick the same subject matter if it happened only once, maybe even twice, but this has happened several times. It's also happening with a handful of white writers who want to appear plugged into the POC community. I personally would out these frauds and plagarists immediately if it was purely up to me, but there are a few problems with that. The ones they are stealing from are absolutely against online drama and flamewars, it's a distraction to the work they want to do, the information they want to disseminate, and the other goals they have for their blogs. They know that the frauds will fight tooth and nail and send their minions out to harrass them, and come up with their semantic battles and excuses, and that nothing real and important will get done while everyone is choosing sides. I hope at the very least this post will be taken as a warning that the thieves are on notice, we see what they are doing and they had better start giving credit where it is due. How hard is it to link to someone who inspires you or to quote them directly and ask your readers to go over and read and comment on those blogs? It's what I do with these same POC bloggers. I don't need to steal from them because I'm not here to impress racist white people with pretend knowledge. I write what I know and send people over to read other blogs when I don't.

I don't have a stat counter, so I am only guessing, but I would estimate that probably half my readers are POC and half are white. Not all white people don't give a damn, but considering how large the blogosphere is, it's a handful who are interested enough to read and comment on POC blogs which discuss racial issues. I've had discussions with other POC bloggers about how to raise our profile and the only answer we have come up with is to forget our own concerns and issues and talk about the things white people are interested in. Most of us can't and won't do that. All of us do have other things that we are interested in and concerned about and we do write about those larger issues, but race is too important to exclude, and it's too important to lie about or make palatable for white people to the point of being meaningless and comfortable.

I'd like to revisit this in other contexts and tie it all up, especially regarding the posts by Nezua and BlackAmazon. I'll see if I can't do it in the next day or two and not draw it out book length next time. LOL

Thursday, May 03, 2007

I'm Back!

Sort of. I've been back for the last few days reading a few blogs here and there and occasionally posting a comment. I can't seem to get my head on straight long enough to get a good post going here though. A couple days ago I got all these links together for the May 1, Day Without Latinos March, here in Milwaukee but was having a hard time putting together a post, and now the time has passed. This is one of the reasons why I took the break in the first place, I was doing that on other subjects, getting the research done but when it comes to sitting down and cranking out a post I can't organize my thoughts or the actual post. I've got too much going on here at home, and I'm taking too much Lortab again too, and the husband is here on vacation too, so I am very distracted. It's frustrating for me because it is a priority to me to be a contributing member of the online POC community. There aren't enough of our voices out there and I don't want to be another one who slips away or is run off.

The good news is...I think we sold the house! We got an offer last week which we accepted, and today is the home inspection. This house is solid, so I am not expecting a problem there, but you never know, and this is where the deal could still fall apart, so *fingers crossed*.

That's the update for now on this front. But I do still have one last thing...

Elle has finished her dissertation! She's DOCTOR ELLE now! Go congratulate her!