Monday, September 29, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Paul Newman passed away from our world this morning. He was 83 years old. He was a truly admirable human being. I remember the first time I saw those ice-blue eyes of his on my television. I was absolutely smitten! This man was a masterful actor. Are there any movies he's in where his role was not memorable? I doubt it.
The only thing that was more admirable than his skill at acting was his devotion to philanthropy. Many people might be aware of the fact that he donated all of the after-tax profits generated by a line of food products that bore his name. However, what you might not know is just how much he was able to accomplish with that one act. The profits from his food franchise has generated over $200,000,000 in donations to charity. That's two hundred million dollars that he could have spent in any number of ways. Yet, he chose to use that money to fund world-wide organizations like The Hole in the Wall Gang camps for children with serious medical conditions.
This morning, Newman died at home from the lung cancer that he had been battling for over a year. After a lifetime of extraordinary humanism, hopefully Mr. Newman is somewhere out there in the universe resting easy as his legacy lives on here.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Picture description: A cartoon girl is depicted with a smiling face and large rounded eyes. Her hair is in two braids, one on each side of her face. In her hair she wears a band that goes around her head and has a feather attached to it in the back.
When someone outside of a culture asserts that some of these labels are unacceptable and others are correct it really isn't an improvement over those situations when someone uses the supposedly-incorrect terms. It isn't the word itself that makes using a particular label problematic. The problem is with the re-labeling itself.
If I pointed out to the white person in my example that some people of African descent prefer terms other than "black" or "African-American", it wouldn't be because I wanted her to change to using some other word for us. More than anything else, it would be so that she might see that the important thing is to allow people to be self-identifying.
The picture in the post is problematic for MANY reasons. For one thing it erases the identity of those it's supposedly portraying. It's just a generic Indian. In reality, Indians are no more the same than all Africans are the same. Some may wear clothes just like you and your family but others wear clothing that may be quite a bit different from it. Sweeping statements about what we want to be called are not really any better than the generalizations made regarding what sort of clothing we wear.
I'm trying to explain myself in as few words as possible, so I'm sorry if this seems kind of choppy and I hope you can really see what I'm saying as being written with a spirit of love and admiration for those who make such determined efforts to engage in radical, anti-racist parenting. I'm right there with you, trying to hash out these issues for myself and my own child.
The main point I'm trying to make is that those who one might encounter who say that they want to be referred to as "either Native Canadian, or Aboriginal" are only speaking for themselves. They can't tell you what terms are correct to use for all of us because that's not something they can decide. There are no agreed upon terms because we are not one group. We are people belonging to and/or descended from different nations.
She put this sort of mesh around it like they use on burns and then wrapped the whole thing up in a thick layer of gauze. She said that I shouldn't do ANYTHING with my finger, not even type. That means blogging is going to be pretty tough because any letters on the left side of my keyboard are going to have to be tapped out one at a time because the bandage is too big for me to work around with my hands in the proper typing position.
Anyway, she said that this is probably going to take weeks, if not months, to heal. She said a bit more but I think I've reached my typing quota for this sitting. I'll write more soon.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Riight! We should all follow Beck's opinion about what sort of comments a Jewish person should be able to make about the historical/religious figures in their ethnic background. Either what Cohen said was true or it wasn't. Jesus WAS a community organizer. Pontius Pilate WAS a governor. Are we supposed to re-write the Bible so that Jesus is the bad guy and Pilate was the hero? Either you believe in the Bible or you don't. If you do, then what Cohen stated is the truth.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Send your message to the world's leaders in celebration of the UN International Day of Peace and it will be delivered to them on September 23, 2008 when they gather for the 63rd annual General Assembly.
Friday, September 19, 2008
What about just calling people what they prefer to be called? If Rasmussen doesn't like "you guys" used in reference to her, then she is perfectly entitled to insist that people not use it with her. However, her feelings aren't universal, so why should everyone else change? So that she can feel better? That seems like a really weak reason, to me.
I really really really can't stress strongly enough how much it shocks my heart to hear how often the expression "you guys" is used in everyday language, especially in social movement/radical community spaces.
I don't mean to be unsympathetic or humorless or heartless. Yes I understand how difficult it is to replace that phrase with something else. But I promise it can be done. And talking about love and revolution and radical politics and building a movement feels so much better once "you guys" is gone.
This country consists of many different cultures spread out across a continent. Words just don't mean the same thing everywhere and I think it's a bit hegemonic to try and create some universal standards about what is and isn't better for all of us. I've lived on the West Coast, in the South, and the Midwest and I love the diversity of speech that exists in this country. Language is a significant part of culture. Each culture that uses a word adds their own meaning to it. It would be a shame if that diversity disappears any more than it already has.
I mean, what are we looking for? Is this what social movements are trying to move towards? A world where we all think and sound alike? If so, where does it stop? Personally, I'm not very fond of the word "b*tch". However, do I think that everyone else should stop using it? Nope. Is there any guarantee that if everyone stopped using it, "social movements/radical community spaces" would feel better for us all? If using the term "you guys" is problematic to Rasmussen, then how in the world does she square that belief with the fact that this is written in a magazine called "B*tch"?
In many places, these controversial words are colloquial terms of endearment. "Darling", "cher", "you guys", "girls", "folks"--it all depends on how they are being used. If my momma calls me up and asks "How are you guys doing over there?" it sounds a helluvalot better to me than if she asked me "How are you and the man and the female child doing over there?" It certainly wouldn't make me feel any better to hear the latter rather than the former. In that situation "you guys" would be perfectly fine with me.
Of course, since we're down here in the deep, deep south, we usually use "y'all" to refer to groups (of single or mixed genders). Still, is that really better than "you guys"? Better to and for who? I don't think any of my former English teachers would see it as much of an improvement.
Also, it's dancing dangerously close to cultural appropriation for some of these folks to start trying to switch from using the words from their own culture and purposely adopting the dialect of other cultures. If I'm in the heart of Wisconsin and some Mid-westerner starts using the word "y'all" to address a group that includes me, that would sound a lot more problematic, and perhaps offensive, than if they had just said "you guys".
Does that sound familiar? This is really Hurricane Katrina redux. I suppose I'll delve into that a bit more as this situation unfolds. I just wanted to point out some reasons why I'm not impressed with this lone house situation.
The problem is, if the entire area is condemned and the state decides that these homes were built in a bad area that's just going to be hit again, then these folks still won't be able to keep their house. It's also fairly unlikely the electric company is going to spend thousands of dollars to restore power to that area when there's only one house out there, so they would be without this basic service if they did try to move back. These people basically have a really nice house in an uninhabitable area. This is the stuff that people could have learned after the fiasco in Louisiana. This house was built post-Katrina.
Of course, many of us down here remember how Texas and Texans criticized us mercilessly when Louisianians had to evacuate from Hurricane Katrina. Hopefully, that means Texas intends to do a better job with its affected population. Color me cynical but, from the looks of things so far, that's not happening.
Yeah, I'm hella bitter at how the government deals with us coastal Americans.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
It's kind of sad that this doesn't get any attention here, especially in light of the fact that the American government was neck-deep in the entire affair. It's not really surprising though. You know, unless it happens to Americans, then it's not really PEOPLE who've died because it's only significant inasmuch as it affects us 'Merkins. *sigh*
My birthday is on the anniversary of the Massacre at Wounded Knee. To me, that is no coincidence, so I can never just "enjoy" my birthday without constantly thinking about how these ancestors were treated and how so many women and children never got to even live as long as I have. These soldiers murdered infants and received medals for their deeds.
In the end, tragedies like the Chilean coup and the Wounded Knee Massacre are just incidents to be glossed over by its perpetrators.
My VanGoghGirl is at the age where she's already starting to dream about what it's going to be like once she goes off to university. I'd love it if when we are talking about it with her, we could help her envision it in ways that it will be and can be for her specifically as a person with disabilities. My adorable Ginger Boy is the same age as her and he is also a person with disabilities, though some of his differ from her's. My own disabilities are different from both of the kids and I'm not certain that I know how to address what their specific needs will be in order for them to have a successful college experience.
I was hoping that some of my sisters and brothers with disabilities who happen to come through here from time to time might be able to offer some tips for those in our community who may be about to start college or are in the stage where they are considering what sort of college is right for them. I'd love it if I could get the perspectives of any/all those who have some sort of disability; it doesn't matter what kind it may be.
Hello Beloved TF Colleague!
You probably are aware that the Task Force's survey on discrimination
against transgender/gender non-conforming people launched last Thursday.
We have had a HUGE response to the survey to date, with over 3,000 people
taking it, which – unbelievably – makes it the largest data set on
trans/gender non-conforming experience in US history.
All of us involved with the survey are thrilled by the response, but we hope
you can help us make this data collection effort break new ground in our
understanding of the depth and breadth of the challenges facing our
trans/gender non-conforming brothers and sisters!
How can you do this?
(1) Take the survey!!
If you identify as gender non-conforming in any way, please take the time to
record your experiences and be a part of this historic effort. We want the
survey to capture the full spectrum of gender expressions in our communities
and record how prejudice and discrimination gets activated across that very
(2) Forward this link: https://online.survey.psu.edu/endtransdiscrim
We hope to have a data set of 10,000 or more! We also want to make a
special effort to reach very low income trans and gender non-conforming
people, and folks living in communities of color. If you have networks that
extend into these communities, please go the extra mile so that our data
reflects the broad spectrum of trans/gnc experiences.
(3) Please note that the survey is long. We apologize for its length
upfront, but there is so little research in these communities that our
research agenda is broad. How does economic discrimination affect housing?
How does homelessness interact with health care? How are documentation
challenges figuring into access to education and work? Please encourage
people to complete the survey despite its length. Have a survey party!
Encourage your friends. Thank them for the gift of their story.
Thank YOU, for all of your fabulous work. After collecting the data, the PI
will analyze the numbers and create a report that will be critical in local,
state and federal battles for pro-active legislation that covers gender
identity and expression.
Help us pass better laws! Ask your friends and colleagues to take the
Director of the Policy Institute
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
1325 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
When my daughter was a baby, I loved to dress her in basketball jerseys, denim, and those shell-toed tennis shoes with the thick laces. I was a hip hop head and I liked the way those clothes looked on her. My older brother was very critical about the fact that I just wasn't concerned about making her look like some sort of baby doll. He would go out and buy expensive (and highly gendered) Carter's outfits just to try and get me to change how I dressed her. I was a poor single mom then and so I did dress her in what he bought because it saved me from having to spend as much of my quite-limited funds on clothes.
Still, when I did dress her up in the stuff that I bought, I can't tell you how many times people told me things like "Now you know she's too pretty to be dressed like that!" and "She's so bald at the top, when you dress her like that, people are going to think she's a boy." I wasn't a feminist then but it did aggravate me that people couldn't see her clothes as acceptable or appropriate simply because they were the "wrong" style. Somewhere around the apartment, I have a picture of her all dressed up in one of her jerseys. I'll have to find it and post it.
Monday, September 15, 2008
This is something that everyone should be concerned about. In less than a minute, you could go from being non-disabled to joining the ranks of those who are currently being locked up against their will and isolated from their family, friends and community despite having committed no crime. That is the reality of many of my PWD sisters and brothers.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Every woman has the right to know she's not alone, that she's not crazy, that her 'problem' is really what makes her the necessary and desirable human being that she is.
Yes, this! It isn't a problem. It's who we are. Like the smell of my partner's freshly-bathed skin when he climbs into bed with me at night. Like the face he makes when he's passionate about something. It's all those things that make him who he is. His disabilities are no different from any of those things: The way he always sits kinda crooked because his back hurts more on the left side. How he never notices my perfumes because he hasn't smelled anything in years--literally, anything. He's always making people nervous when he stands around while everyone else is sitting down (because the chairs might be too low for him and it would hurt to have to get back up from them). I don't know what our relationship would be like without our disabilities. He wouldn't be him.
White women are not oppressed.
White women are, and always have been suppressed.
There is a world of difference in how white women in America, and the world over have lived their lives being suppressed by the white men of their race.
But, there is not a white woman alive who can truly say that she is oppressed.
ONLY WOC can truly claim that word.
Oppression involves being crushed, burdened, physically AND mentally torn apart by the abusive power of those who can wield that unjust, cruel, abusive, vicious RACIST AND SEXIST power over you.
In BOTH body and mind.
Suppression involves the putting down of a person by authority, to stop, to prohibit, to keep from them that which they would act upon if their were no taboos or prohibitions in place, which includes prohibitions of the prevailing societies norms of that time, in this case, chattel slavery:
-white women could not have sex with black men (but, white men could rape all the black women and girls they wanted like gluttonous savages)
-white women were taken out of the fields (early part of the colonial America), and put into the home [whether she was a poor white or upper-class slave holding wife]; black women were worked like beasts in the field with the black men slaves, worked as if they were BOTH a field animal and as if they were men—-black women were not accorded person hood, nor WOMANHOOD.
White women were suppressed. They do not have a history of being oppressed.
If any two groups of women in America can tell you about oppression, it is Native American women and Black American women: facing daily mass gang rapes by white males (Native American/Black American women); watching your children being butchered during so-called “Indian Wars” (NA women); watching your children that you carried for nine months close to your heart, sold away from you (Black American women); seeing your land that once stretched as far as the eye could see before the coming of the white man—seeing your whole country taken from you—piece, by piece, by piece—by theft, trickery or outright genocide.
Seeing your culture torn to shreds, your traditions scattered to the winds, your body used as a receptacle for the most basest and degrading form of male hatred ever done against two groups of women.
NA women and Black American women know of what oppression is.
White women never have.
White women share gender with Black and NA women.
And there the similarities end.
White women never have lived through the hells that Black, Native American, Asian, Latina women have suffered at the hands of racist, sexist, genocidal, imperialist white males.
White women know nothing of oppression.
Not being able to work and acquire wealth alongside the white man is nothing compared to the hells that WOC have endured in this country and this world, ever since Europeans left Europe.
And white women are the last to advocate agency, responsibility, and autonomy when the fit hits the shan.
In the 1800s they ran when WOC needed the solidarity of white women.
In the last century they ran when WOC needed for white women to stand shoulder to shoulder in true solidarity, but, white women as always thought of themselves first, and foremost.
Not white women.
Native American women
Those women truly know the real, hard, vicious hellish meaning of the word oppression.
I can definitely relate. After several major chest surgeries for my cancer, I know in my heart that I will NEVER have cosmetic surgery. Today I wrote this poem about my body. As always, any criticism is welcome.
Look at me and know
that I have overcome.
I have SURVIVED.
This body chronicles my battle,
A struggle that should not be erased.
This body is resilient.
This body is unique
And it is all my own.
No Renoir could compare.
These serpentine scars form a map
Tracing my personal hegira.
Thick hills and grooved recesses
Seam altered organs
And cracked bones.
I owe this body loyalty
for it has served me as best it could.
It is no vessel for my soul.
It is my soul.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
In the process of reviewing what I'd originally written, I happened to notice that there was a link to another one of my posts that I hadn't noticed before. Ironically, it happens to be the one where I was discussing an incident where some self-described "radfems" were trying to set themselves up as the authority about what black people look like. So, it seems the universe is trying to tell me that I need to be writing about this stuff for a minute. I decided to respond to this link on my own blog because it got kind of long and I didn't want to just take up that much space on her spot. This blog post is in reference to the linked post on "La Libertine's Salon" called "Gonna have to be a racist bitch on this one"
Well, I would never consider you a "racist bitch" for what you've expressed here even if/though I disagree with some of it. That's just not how I see people. Now, let's get on with it. Shall we?
Instead of guessing what I mean by black, why not just ask me? What "black" means to me depends on the context of its use. However, in this context, I was referring to folks in America. Here in America, YOU may see black as referring to someone of "black African heritage" but that certainly isn't how the everyone else uses it nor is there any reason why the rest of us should. It is just as accurate to use this word in reference to someone from Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, or Somalia as it is to use it in reference to someone who is believed to have a predominantly Sub-Saharan heritage.
Being black is so-oo-oo much more than simply being the descendant of slaves. Just because you don't think any of the Maghrebi populations (and those next to them) as having contributed to YOUR heritage, it doesn't mean that they haven't contributed to the heritages of other black people in America. As a matter of fact, they have.
And what of those who live here and are from other African populations that did not make up the heritage of most who came over during the slave trade? Are they also not black in your eyes? Americans with Tanzanian, Zambian, or Kenyan heritage--are they less black than those with Senegalese or Ghanaian heritage?
I'm very curious about where you came up with the idea that the average African-American "is going to have hair that is tightly curled, coarse, and kinky". Can you back this up with anything empirical? When you say "tightly curled coarse and kinky" can you come up with any objective means of deciding what's tightly curled? How much curl needs to exist in order for you to feel that one's hair is "tightly curled"? Are we going to resort to the pencil test?
Furthermore, when you say the "average African-American", by definition that includes those Americans whose predominant heritage is from non-Saharan African areas. Does your claim (about what the average African-Americans hair is like) hold true when they are included in the equation?
Also, you completely failed to comprehend why the people mentioned in that post were being called racist. When a white person proceeds to tell black people that they can't be who they say they are and that they can't look like how they do and that we should all defer to their labels for others, what do YOU call it?
Also, you say,
"That is why there are certain products and procedures that will work on African-American hair that will not work on or even seriously damage hair that is different from that and vice versa".
"African-American hair" includes every type of hair there is because, again, by definition it includes any American who has African ancestry, regardless of whether you'd consider that person black or not. There are no products that work on all African-American hair. My daughter and I both have afros but we certainly can't use the same kind of products.
I can easily make my hair look like the one you described as the "coolest hair style in the world" without using a single product. My daughter's hair simply isn't going to look like that unless I did some major braiding, then used stiff hair gel, then made her get under the hair dryer and untwisted it. I can use aloe vera gel to help smooth down her ponytails but it's completely pointless for me to use it because my hair has a different texture the gel isn't nearly heavy enough to weigh down my hair as it will her's.
These differences between "black hair" and "white hair" that you believe in also exist within the black population. If a person is black and they have straight hair, then guess what that means? Straight hair is "black hair" too. If a person is black and they have wavy hair, then guess what that means? Wavy hair is "black hair" too. Neither hair type is more or less black than the other if black people have both.
By the way, both me and my daughter are "mixed". Yet, our hair if very different. My nieces are also mixed but their hair isn't just different from mine and my daughter's--despite having the same parents, their hair is different from each other's. My mother and her siblings have the same parents but their skin tones range from chocolate-brown to milky-pale. The darkest of them has the straightest hair. The lightest one has the kinkiest hair. Is her hair more African-American than the hair on her darkest sister's head? How could that be true? They are both just as African-American as the other, sharing the exact same heritage.
With regards to your hairdresser issues, it isn't the one drop rule that caused your problems. It was your own bad judgment with regards to who you let mess with your mane. I don't know how y'all roll in whatever part of the country you're in but, down in New Orleans, I was taught that you never let a hairdresser get in your hair if she doesn't have the same kind of hair as you have. If you want to see how long your hair can get, then you don't go to a hairdresser with a pixie cut. If you have kinky hair and you want someone who can give you a gorgeous and hip kinky style, then your best bet would be to find a hairdresser who also has kinky hair. There's good reasons for this. The hairdresser has gone to school to learn about the basics, after that she takes her skills in a certain direction. If she has hair on her head, that's the hair that she's going to be most used to dealing with, the kind of hair that she'll have the most consistent experience working with.
And here's another problem with your arguments: This "mixed" concept. If you want to be technical about it, dern near all third, or fourth generation African Americans are mixed to some degree or another. So, even if your argument that "Straight, light-colored hair isn't found among people identifying as African-American (which anyone can do if they want to) unless the hair has been relaxed and dyed or unless they are mixed" was accurate--which, by the way, it is not--this still wouldn't prove that black people don't have straight or light-colored hair because plenty of people with mixed heritages identify as black too. In fact, I'm one of them.
I'm not any less black than anyone else because I have a mixed heritage. My hair is kinkier than plenty of people who do not identify as "mixed" at all. My gorgeous skin is darker than that of some people who were born and raised in the heart of Africa. Like your maman, I am Native American, African-American and French, but I'm also more than a little bit proud to be Irish as well. Yet, I'm still black. I don't have to choose one or the other label. I can be "mixed" and be black. I can be "multi-ethnic" and be black. I can have straight hair and be black. I can have kinky hair and be black.
Your words aren't offensive to me. They are simply a bit silly. Silly, erroneous and unscientific. The fact that you even thought that AncestryByDNA site is a reputable source shows you seriously don't know what the heck you're talking about. I've discussed this company and others like it in another thread which, ironically, was about who is a real Native American.
The reason why so many scientists are wary of these companies is because they so often mask what they are really offering and then we get people making the same unscientific claims like yours that they truly believe are backed up by these corporate products. If you want to truly understand what that chart means, I'm more than happy to explain it to you. Instead of it merely being a hobby, I've actually worked in genetics labs.
You wrote that Madame C. J. Walker was "one of the few self-made African-American women in this country". Well, frankly, that's very debatable. She was the first female millionaire in the USA but there were plenty of African-American women before her who achieved success through their own efforts. Furthermore, there were plenty of hair products geared towards African-Americans on the market before her's. What made her more successful is undoubtedly her distinct acumen in business.
Lastly, you really might want to re-read what the post was about. No one claimed that "brown skin, even dark brown skin" equals black/African-American. The issue was that the comic plays into stereotypes about people of color and the evidence of that lies in the way that the white people in question went on to equate the term "person of color" with being "black" and tried to invalidate the views of people of color by asserting that they know better than we do who is and isn't qualified to consider themselves black.
I understand that these issues can be difficult to navigate, especially for those of us with very diverse heritages. However, my view is that we are the ultimate arbiters of what labels apply to us. We all have the right to be self-identifying. That means you don't get to decide that certain African-Americans aren't black. That means you don't get to decide what someone else's heritage needs to be in order for them to look the way they do. None of that is up to you. It's not a decision you or any self-described "rad fem" gets to make no matter how bad you might want to.
The world we live in is different from the one that existed a long time ago. People of color are not just going to accept other people's assessments of who they are, nor should they. The people on that picture are just as black as anyone else who calls her/himself that. Instead of trying to play "race police" with other people, why not stick to defining yourself?
"I wonder if she realizes that he was talking about the country of Georgia and not the state."
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I went to sleep with a ear-to-ear smile on my face.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
In two days my entire finger became so swollen that I couldn't bend it. The pain was so bad that it radiated to my surrounding fingers. At that point I decided to go see the doctor. When she examined it, she said the swelling was because my finger was filled with so much pus that it was stretching my skin. There was so much fluid in there that it shot out several feet to where The German was sitting when she punctured it with the needle containing a numbing agent. After that she lanced it open and drained it, then she wrapped it up and sent me home with a prescription for an antibiotic called Augmentin.
I started taking the antibiotic that day and I never missed a dose. I cleaned it with hydrogen peroxide once a day, slathered bacitracin (antibiotic ointment) on it, and wrapped it in fresh gauze. For a while it seemed to be getting better, but then it started to swell up again and even the lortab that I take for my back wasn't stopping it from hurting. I could feel the blood pulsing through my finger and it throbbed in time to the rhythm. My entire finger started to darken and the skin on it felt really weird and dry.
I went back to the doctor and they had to cut my finger open again and cut off a layer of necrotic skin off the top to stop the wound from closing up over the infected tissue. The doctor is concerned that I might have an antibiotic-resistant infection.
So, that's where things stand right now. It's the reason I haven't been posting much lately. Thanks to lupus, my immuno-compromised body is having trouble getting rid of this infection. Of course it's on my left hand, the hand that I write with, the hand that is already weaker than the other because it's also the side of my body where the tumor was. Some things are totally typical for my body. *sigh*
Here's some pictures of how this thing has been progressing. I'm not sure why I decided to take pictures of it but...