“Where there is a woman there is magic. If there is a moon falling from her mouth, she is a woman who knows her magic, who can share or not share her powers. A woman with a moon falling from her mouth, roses between her legs and tiaras of Spanish moss, this woman is a consort of the spirits.”—Ntozake Shange (via jonubian)
All you have to do is put a label on somebody. And then you don’t have to deal with the physical fact. You don’t have to wonder if they are waiting for the Easter bunny or love Christmas, or, you know, love their parents and hate small kids and are fearful of dogs. If you say, oh, that’s a junkie, that’s a nigger, that’s a kike, that’s a Jew, that’s a honkie, that’s a — you just — that’s the end of it.
“Our notions about happiness entrap us. We forget that they are just ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from actually being happy. We fail to see the opportunity for joy that is right in front of us when we are caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form.”—Thich Nhat Hanh (via karrinainoregon)
“Nonviolence is an inherently privileged position in the modern context. Besides the fact that the typical pacifist is quite clearly white and middle class, pacifism as an ideology comes from a privileged context. It ignores that violence is already here; that violence is an unavoidable, structurally integral part of the current social hierarchy; and that it is people of color who are most affected by that violence. Pacifism assumes that white people who grew up in the suburbs with all their basic needs met can counsel oppressed people, many of whom are people of color, to suffer patiently under an inconceivably greater violence, until such time as the Great White Father is swayed by the movement’s demands or pacifists achieve that legendary “critical mass.””—Peter Gelderlos, Why Nonviolence Protects the State- Nonviolence is Racist (via fuckyeahradicalquotes)
“Men and women are misogynistic for different reasons: men to marginalize women, and women to ingratiate themselves with the men trying to marginalize them. Neither one is justifiable, but one is oppressive and the other is a (bad) strategy to deal with that oppression. One thus sees that if the men who are misogynists weren’t, the women who are misogynists wouldn’t have any reason to be. Ergo, exhorting women to stop being misogynists so that men will stop gets it precisely backwards.”—http://www.shakesville.com/2010/01/feminism-101.html (via pomegranateblood)
I am often asked how sexual violence prevention “became my issue”, and how I became so passionate about it. I never really know what to say, because to me sexual violence response is not just another “issue” – it’s a fundamental and a deep-seeded problem that threatens the safety and health of everyone across the world. All too often I hear, “Well you’re a woman so of course you’re interested in this stuff”, or “something must have happened to you if you’re so passionate about ending sexual violence.” These are perfect examples of how sexual violence prevention and response work gets pigeonholed as just a “women’s” or a “survivor’s” issue, and these labels contribute to a widespread underestimation of the impact that sexual violence has on all of us.
“It’s not uncommon for people to come out as gay after being in heterosexual relationships. But when the gay/straight binary is so enforced, these storylines become a media trope that disregards bisexuality. Because Drew is now partnered with a man, he must be gay–no one mentions the idea that Drew could be bisexual. When closeted people only have the option of coming out as gay, as opposed to bi or queer, we perpetuate two harmful tropes: that there are only two sexual orientations, and that the gender of your partner determines your sexual identity.”—Eradicating biphobia within gay communities and gay media (via cbrachyrhynchos)
I always feel a special connection with movies about little brown boys—especially when they’re Mexican—because I see so much of myself in them. I see myself in them not so much because they are brown or little boys, but because they are part of a culture and an experience which I shared, and the physical embodiment of a little brown boy carries with it the essence of what it means to be me, and the way in which I viewed the world when I was so young, and the way I view the world now. I went downtown last week to watch the movie Bless me, Última, based on the novel by Rudolfo Anaya. It’s a movie about an old woman, and the importance of healing, acceptance, and goodness. It’s also a story about what Gloria Anzaldúa calls la Frontera—the border, a part of the United States which is originally and historically and today remains culturally a part of Mexico—and about a little Mexican boy. So, in effect, it’s a story about Mexico, like my childhood. However, unlike my childhood, it’s told in English, not in Spanish.
This is something which left me feeling kind of uneasy. How can a movie about Mexico be in English? When so much of Mexican culture is tied in with Mexican languages—whether that is Huastec or Mazahua or Otomi or Spanish—how can we write a book like Anaya’s and create a movie like Bless me, Última, without it being told in that tongue? This is not the first time this question of language has been raised. A lot of discussions about literature after the colonial era, and about writers from the ‘Global South’ writing in the colonizer’s language—Albert Memmi writing in French, Ayi Kwei Armah in English, for example—focus on whether the writer can dismantle colonialism while writing in the colonizer’s language. I’m not interested here in questions about what audience they can reach, or taking down the master’s house with the master’s tools. Rather, perhaps Armah and Memmi and many other wrote in these colonizing languages because the language in which we speak is not as important in understanding who we are, and in conveying our thoughts.
Language is undoubtedly very important in shaping how we think and interact with each other. Certain things can be expressed in a language, certain emotions felt in a language, that can’t be felt in others. But when I watched Bless me, Última, so much of the person that I am was in that little brown boy, a little brown boy who spoke Enlish, not Spanish. And when I stop and think about it, I realize that I don’t remember the things people said or the language in which they said it in when I think about my childhood in Mexico. I remember the ideas of what these people said, I feel the love that they gave me in whatever language it was given to me, the education which I engaged in and not the language in which it engaged me. Now, after being outside of Mexico for as long as I was inside the country, I remember some of the things people used to say to me in my childhood in English, although they were said to me in Spanish.
This last summer, I went back to my home in Mexico after eight years. The things that I remembered were not the language people were speaking—although it did comfort me to hear the particular crispness of Mexican Spanish. Instead, when I walked into the house, I remembered the sound the light switches made, the way the grass smelled outside, the snails stuck to the wall of the garden, the hardness of a pillow, the scratchiness of a blanket, the squeak of a bed, the feel of a chair. At my grandparents house, I remembered the smell of my grandfather, my grandmother’s touch, the sound of the chairs as they scraped across the clay floor. I remembered the taste of my grandmother’s cooking, and the sound of my aunt’s voice. I did not remember the language in which they talked to me. I actually needed a bit of time to become accustomed to Spanish, and to Mexican Spanish, once again.
So, when I watched Bless me, Última, the things people said were familiar. The features on Ultima’s face—Ultima is the old woman who is the healer—and her actions and her tenderness were familiar to me, despite that she spoke in a different language. Inevitably, over time, language will fade, and we’ll forget the sound of words in our mouth. Spanish, at first, felt clumsy and creaky, yet nevertheless emotive. But where I stored my ideas of what it means to be me was not in the language, but in the houses and the objects that are discarded by others. A broken old chair is imbued with a million memories that no language can carry. A certain smell can have the emotions and thoughts that a word or a phrase cannot. For me, it is where I store these memories, in these meaningless objects, these small cracks that are discarded and forgotten by others, and not how these memories were conveyed, that moves me to understand the the little brown boy, as well as the older version of that little brown boy that writes this today.
The “romantic-sexual/platonic” love dichotomy leaves no room for the real emotional nuances people experience in their attachments, and I think that it often causes us to live with simplified relationships not because we want to or because we have simple desires and feelings but because we have no experience, cultural context, or language to accommodate a complex social life or set of relationships. This is why language is so important. This is why words and labels matter. How can you have the kind of relationships you want with anyone, if you don’t even have the words to accurately express how you feel? Hell, half the time, people don’t even understand their own feelings and relationship desires because what they feel is not simple at all, but the only relationship framework they know makes everything seem simple and clear cut: romance and sex go together, friendship is separate from both of those things, couplehood/primary partnership is exclusive to romance and sex, etc.
But if we are to accept the possibilities and realities of asexual romance, primary nonsexual/nonromantic love, nonromantic sex and sexual friendship, romantic (nonsexual) friendship, queerplatonic nonsexual relationships and sexual relationships, etc…. we have to drop this way of thinking and speaking about relationships and love in a romantic-sexual/platonic dichotomous way. None of those “complex” relationships fit into that model
So let’s get real for a moment. Asian America is made up of over 45 distinct ethnic groups speaking over 100 language dialects. Among these groups, some, such as Hmong Americans, are among the poorest in the U.S. by ethnicity.
Moreover, statistics concerning our success exaggerate. The reality is that larger Asian American family incomes result in part from a larger number of earners per household. Asian Americans actually trail whites in per capita income. And the most successful Asian American ethnic groups—the Taiwanese, Indian, Malaysian, and Sri Lankan American minorities—include a large share of members who were drawn to the U.S. as business investors or highly skilled workers. That means that Asian Americans are by no means representative of Asians globally. U.S. immigration policy plays a role in constructing the Asian American “race.”
But regardless of the disadvantages some of us face, many Asians do enjoy privileges beyond the reach of other people of color. That might explain why some Asian Americans are bought into model minority stereotyping. Their attitudes mirror many on the right whose response to Asian American protest against Asian stereotyping goes something like can’t you people take a compliment?
But this Asian complicity with the stereotype is dangerous. Why? Consider this.
As I’ve pointed out before, the model minority stereotype originated as a tool to leverage white resentment toward the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. In the midst of widespread black protest, the Asian model minority debuted in the media as evidence that racism will fall to quiet hard work, self-sacrifice, and compliance with authority. The model minority was contrasted with “problem minorities” in order to undercut support for reform. Between the lines, the suggestion was that black culture, not white racism, was the reason for black poverty, and black protest, for that reason, was neither legitimate nor helpful to black people who would do better to fix themselves than to try to fix the country.
Yet Asian Americans have prospered, and more, some would argue, than other people of color, as a result of desegregation, voting rights reforms, and programs like affirmative action. When we play into “problem minority” racism we threaten these gains.
Now, I get that the relatively small share of the U.S. population that is Asian American makes us less a threat to white racial domination than, say, Latinos or African Americans. And, for that reason, when Newt Gingrich refers to “entitlement junkies” and Mitt Romney disparages the 47%, they don’t have us in mind. But, we ought not kid ourselves. Dodging these attacks doesn’t make us safe.
Asian Americans may be only 6% of the U.S., but Asians are a very large percentage of the global population. And Asian countries such as China, Pakistan, Iran, and North Korea are considered threats to American posterity. Playing to racism by exaggerating that “threat” is becoming a popular strategy of elected leaders trying to win political points with an increasingly resentful public.
The combination of xenophobic Asia-bashing and model minority stereotyping makes Asian Americans targets of resentment. And certain realities are causing that resentment to rise.
Privilege without power makes us vulnerable. To build power in a country whose racial demography is tilting against whites, we would do best to build bonds of cross-racial solidarity with other people of color. To do that, we must look beyond our common suffering and accept accountability for the privileges that divide us.
I had to sit through a day of news reporting on how two young men who had “such potential” now have their lives ruined. They have been described as talented, kind, intellegent, good hearted boys and it is such a shame what they got “caught up in.”
What happened to those boys you might ask?
They raped a 16 year old girl, took photos and videos of her naked, and defiled body, unremorsefully spread those photos via social media and text messaging, and then bragged about it, in THOUSANDS (yes, thousands) of text messages to their friends. Had the AUDACITY to ask her not to press charges. They were found guilty of a crime they perpetrated, and the news outlets want to spend hours telling me that their lives are now ruined.
How about the young woman who had to endure all of this? What about her life?
Those boys will go to jail until they are 18, MAYBE, 21. Then they can spend the rest of their lives putting this behind them. That young woman, she will always be a victim, a SURVIVOR of sexual assault. She will carry that with her for the rest of her life. She was - on top of all the terrible things, accused of bringing this upon herself by the defending attorneys, and people in that town that tried to push this story to the wayside. But no one wants to talk about the damaging effect rape culture has on our women. They just want to talk about how sad it is that those poor boys are getting what they brought upon themselves when they decided to violate a young woman.
Days like today really make me want to rage out at how unfairly women are treated by the media, by the justice system, by our peers, and adult figures in our own communities. If the news cycle didn’t make you angry today. I don’t know what will.
For readers interested in learning more about how not to be labeled as registered sex offenders, a good first step is not to rape unconscious women, no matter how good your grades are. Regardless of the strength of your GPA (weighted or unweighted), if you commit rape, there is a possibility you may someday be convicted of a sex crime. This is because of your decision to commit a sex crime instead of going for a walk, or reading a book by Cormac McCarthy. Your ability to perform calculus or play football is generally not taken into consideration in a court of law. Should you prefer to be known as ‘Good student and excellent football player Trent Mays’ rather than ‘Convicted sex offender Trent Mays,’ try stressing the studying and tackling and giving the sex crimes a miss altogether…
Trent Mays and Ma’lik Richardson are not the “stars” of the Steubenville rape trial. They aren’t the only characters in a drama playing out in eastern Ohio. And yet a CNN viewer learning about the Steubenville rape verdict is presented with dynamic, sympathetic, complicated male figures, and a nonentity of an anonymous victim, the ‘lasting effects’ of whose graphic, public sexual assault are ignored. Small wonder, then, that anyone would find themselves on the side of these men—these poor young men, who were very good at taking tests and playing sports when they were not raping their classmates.
Mallory Ortberg of Gawker, critiquing CNN’s disgusting response to the Stuebenville rape trial verdicts.
“Las nepantleras, modern-day chamanas, use visioning and the imaginal on behalf of the self and the community. Nepantleras deal with the collective shadows of their respective groups. They engage in spiritial activism. We need the work of las nepantleras to bridge the abyss between Native people and Chicana/os. Nepantleras are the supreme border crossers. They act as intermediaries between cultures and their various versions of reality. Las nepantleras, like the ancient chamanas, circumvent polarizing binaries. They try not to get locked into one perspective or perception of things. They can see through our cultural conditioning and through our respective cultures’ toxic ways of life. They try to overturn the destructive perceptions of the world that we’ve been taught by our various cultures. They change the stories about who we are and about our behavior. They point to the stick we beat ourselves with so we realize what we’re doing and may choose to throw away the stick. They possess the gift of vision. Nepantleras think in terms of the planet, not just their own racial group, the U.S., or Norte América. They serve as agents of awakening, inspire and challenge others to deeper awareness, greater conocimiento; they serve as reminders of each other’s search for wholeness of being.”—
Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: “Somebody is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy metals such as cadmium and mercury – you name it.” Much of it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to “dispose” of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments were doing about it, he said with a sigh: “Nothing. There has been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention.”
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia’s seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: “If nothing is done, there soon won’t be much fish left in our coastal waters.”
This is the context in which the “pirates” have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a “tax” on them. They call themselves the Volunteer Coastguard of Somalia – and ordinary Somalis agree. The independent Somalian news site WardheerNews found 70 per cent “strongly supported the piracy as a form of national defence”.
No, this doesn’t make hostage-taking justifiable, and yes, some are clearly just gangsters – especially those who have held up World Food Programme supplies. But in a telephone interview, one of the pirate leaders, Sugule Ali: “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits. We consider sea bandits [to be] those who illegally fish and dump in our seas.” William Scott would understand.
Did we expect starving Somalis to stand passively on their beaches, paddling in our toxic waste, and watch us snatch their fish to eat in restaurants in London and Paris and Rome? We won’t act on those crimes – the only sane solution to this problem – but when some of the fishermen responded by disrupting the transit-corridor for 20 per cent of the world’s oil supply, we swiftly send in the gunboats.
The story of the 2009 war on piracy was best summarised by another pirate, who lived and died in the fourth century BC. He was captured and brought to Alexander the Great, who demanded to know “what he meant by keeping possession of the sea.” The pirate smiled, and responded: “What you mean by seizing the whole earth; but because I do it with a petty ship, I am called a robber, while you, who do it with a great fleet, are called emperor.” Once again, our great imperial fleets sail – but who is the robber?
this is from 2009, i think, but the issues brought up are still relevant even though it’s 2013. instead of attacking imperialism & neocolonialism it is easier to attack somali ~pirates~. no one talks about resistance vis-a-vis piracy, or millitancy as survival. let’s talk about the exploitation and plundering of our resources in pursuit of and in defense of empire.
The NYPD has declared a portion of Flatbush a “Frozen Zone”, meaning media are not allowed in and people can be subjected to arrest for not following police orders. It basically means the area is under temporary martial law. The last times the NYPD declared a Frozen Zone was on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and during the beginning of OWS.
Farhana sat on a giant leather couch in the parlor and filled out paperwork. Her heart was jumping in her chest – she’d never really wanted a nose piercing until this year, and even then it was just a passing thought. Now, at Amma’s insistence, she was sitting in a swanky downtown tattoo parlor, racking her brain for the last couple digits of her Social Security number. Her mother, meanwhile, made chitchat with friendly patrons and was genuinely enjoying herself. She commented on hair and accessories like they were at a Bangladeshi wedding reception.
Farhana handed her driver’s license and the paperwork over to the tattooed man behind the counter just as her mother got done petting a chubby Boston terrier that had come in the arms of its trendy owner, a woman with four earrings in each of her ears and a septum piercing.
“Amma, they’re ready for me.”
“Sure, sure. Let me just say goodbye to this little darling.” Farhana held back an eye roll as her mother patted the dog one final time and it snuffled in response.
“So what made you want to get a nose piercing?” the tattooed man asked, trying to make small talk as he swabbed her nose with disinfectant.
“Images of bisexual women as confused, indecisive, transitional, or closeted lesbians effectively invalidate bisexual identity. Even among lesbians who believe that there are some true bisexuals, these beliefs have the effect of casting doubt on the identities of all women who claim to be bisexual. As long as a lesbian believes that bisexual women are likely to have these characteristics – or at least more likely than lesbians – she will tend to react suspiciously whenever another woman claims to be bisexual. Bisexual identity cannot be accepted at face value, because the woman who claims to be bisexual might not be a true bisexual. Therefore, these images, even if they are not generalized to all bisexual women, function to invalidate bisexual identity generally and, therefore, to invalidate bisexuality.”—Bisexuality and the Challenge to Lesbian Politics by Paula C. Rust, p. 83 (via ethiopienne)
“So if you – the oppressed – hurt someone’s feelings, you’re just like the oppressor, right? Wrong. Oppression is not about hurt feelings. It is about the rights and opportunities that are not afforded to you because you belong to a certain group of people. When you use a racist slur you imply that non-whiteness is a bad thing, and thus publicly reinforce a system that denies POC the rights and opportunities of white people. Calling a white person a racist fuckhead doesn’t do any of that. Yes, it’s not very nice. And how effective it is as a tactic is definitely up for debate (that’s a whole other blog post). But it’s not oppression.”—
“(I)nformation and data processing instrumentation are not independent or autonomous elements in society. How, and for what purposes, they are employed constitute essential and defining features of the social order. In the case of information, two dramatically different ways of using it can be imagined. One is to regard information as a social good and a central element in the development and creation of a democratic society. Under this premise, information serves to facilitate democratic decision making, assists citizen participation in government, and contributes to the search for roughly egalitarian measures in the economy at large. Comprehensive and well-organized public information enables decision makers to make rational resource allocation decisions; to prioritize social claims; to maximize social welfare. It allows them to overcome baleful practices that harm the general welfare, like pollution, smoking, and armaments production. Such information resources allow leaders to promote the development of science and invention that are socially beneficial and to organize historical experience for meaningful contemporary reflection and use. In brief, comprehensive, well-organized public information enables decision makers to bring past knowledge and experience to bear on current issues and problems.”—Herbert Schiller’s Information Inequality, p. 35. (via mehreenkasana)