Monday, December 28, 2009

VanGoghGirl Gets New Art Tools

We just bought VanGoghGirl a Wacom Intuos 3 graphics tablet for Christmas. For years, she's been saying that she'd like to be an animator or a marine biologist when she grows up. Since she's in high school now, we figured she was old enough to start getting used to using professional digital tools. She has done about as much as one can using a mouse and basic programs like Microsoft Paint.

Of course, she was surprised and eager to experiment with it as soon as we gave it to her. She hooked it up to my computer and installed the necessary programs. Using Corel Painter Essentials (a program that came bundled with the Wacom), she created her first sketch. Here it is. I'm no artist, but I think this is pretty dern good for her first time using a graphics pen.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Sound of English

I've always been curious about how English sounds to people who don't speak it. My daughter and I have had lots of conversations about what sort of sounds tend to stand out to us in certain languages. This morning, La Diosa tweeted a link to a video created by an Italian singer. Next to the video, there was an explanation of it that read,

"An Italian singer wrote this song with gibberish to sound like English. If you've ever wondered what other people think Americans sound like, this is it."

If English isn't your first language, if you didn't learn it until some later point in life, I'd love for you to listen to it and tell me if it sounds like English to you.


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bilerico Wishes You a Merry, Merry Christmas!

Well, it's official. Jayna Ponder wins the internetz--both of them. Jayna is a talented artist and committed LGBT activist. She also has an awesome site that you should check out if you haven't already. It's called "Trans-Ponder: Transgender Life in the Trenches". Today, she created this awesome "season's greetings" from Bilerico that sums up everything that was wrong with the recent trans-misogynist post written by Ronald Gold last week. I wrote about it here. You can check out her podcast on the subject by clicking on the link below.

Happy Holidays from Bilerico on Twitpic
Trans-Ponder Episode 148- Halfway to Somewhere

My daughter doesn't know it yet, but I bought her a graphics tablet for Christmas. For the past few years, she's been saying that she wants to be an animator when she grows up. I hope that she will go on to use whatever skills she acquires to make politically significant contributions to the world in the way that Jayna does and not resort to the kind of oppressive opportunism that Ronald Gold engaged in.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fool's Gold

Dear sweet baby Jesu, why do I do these things to myself? I have an informal list of websites that I just don't visit. There are many different kinds of fuckery that one can choose from on the internet. There are your Stormfront/Aryan Nation kinds of hate-sites, Michelle Malkin/AtlasShrugged type political demagoguery, and even Jill Stanek/Operation Rescue style religious fanaticism. I can deal with those websites. Hell, on some days, I actually enjoy reading through them just for the lulz. I mean, when I consider what these people openly state about their belief systems, it's no surprise how hateful their words are.

However, there are other kinds of hate-sites on the Internet that I can't even look at without getting extremely angry. It's the ones that are created by people who claim to be more enlightened than the right-wing bigots that they complain about all of the time. This week's epic fail comes to us courtesy of The Bilerico Project. Their new blogger, Ronald Gold, has written what he obviously believes is a profound post all about how the world should "Say 'No' to the Notion of Transgender".

I thought about commenting on the actual thread, but felt a bit conflicted about it. I mean, can it be any more apparent that Gold is being an attention-hog? This is his first post on the website and, of all the things he could have posted about, he chose this? Well, I can't say I'm surprised. I mean, it's not as if white, cisgender, males aren't known for getting ahead in life by standing on the necks of marginalized people. The fact that Gold happens to be gay evidently isn't a mitigating factor, either.

I'm no genius, but I am smart enough to to recognize that being cisgender puts me in a privileged position relative to those who are transgender. That means I don't have any right to claim to be an expert on gender issues involving trans folks. At best, I can listen to what trans transgender people have to say and support them in the ways that they say they'd like to be supported and pay attention when I'm told that something I've said is contributing to their marginalization or oppression. And you know what? That's not really all that difficult even though some people haven't figured that out yet. It basically boils down to just not being a giant asshole.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

White "Racism vs. Sexism" Comparisons Still Fail

You know, I am pretty sick of this idea that people find racism less acceptable than sexism. I don't know a single woman of color in the USA who didn't get sick of hearing white women make this claim during the last Presidential race. If you weren't keeping up with what goes on in the country, feel free to take a glance at any PUMA forum and you'll see what I'm talking about. Fortunately, I'm not the only one who noticed.

When sites like Huffington Post give racists like Amy Suskind space to spew their bile and the New York Times allows bigots like Gloria Steinem to deny the womanhood of women of color, it's quite easy for people of color to see why the idea (that racism is less acceptable than sexism) is so bogus. When sources like CNN are acknowledging the prevalence of racism in the media, it's kind of hard to deny that this is occurring.

So why are there still white women making statements like this?

Obviously, racism still exists, and there’s still work to do in that area. But, people are now much more afraid to publicly express their racism then ever before, which has in effect, led to less racism. Because expression of racism is so frowned upon, acting racist now carries consequences, it’s not socially acceptable amongst most people, and people risk losing their jobs and relationships for expressing racist views. Due to the consequences, it’s less frequent, and people are not only changing their behavior, they are changing their minds about the equality of black people.
Uh, no. People are still just as free to express their racism as ever before. Furthermore, I would love to hear how this particular white woman came to believe that she knows whether racism has decreased or not. As a matter of fact, the idea that whites can be an authority on the experiences of black people is itself racist. As a woman of color, I experience both racism and sexism every day of my life. Over the years, neither of these kinds of oppression have decreased. Of course, if a white woman actually asked those who are recipients of racism about this before making assumptions, then she probably wouldn't make such erroneous claims.

I commented on the thread where the blogger made these remarks, but for some reason it didn't go through, so I sent her a message on Twitter (where she originally advertised her post). I said, "Only white people believe that displays of racism are viewed as less acceptable than sexism–only white people." She responded with the following:

I wanted to address this response that I recieved to the above Post via Twitter. The reason I write this blog is because I want to open up dialogue about and bring attention to important issues, so that we can learn from one another. Avoidance of controversy will not achieve that affect. The only relationships I am making about racism and sexism are those that I have expressly addressed in my blog. I am referring only to the words and behavior of mainstream media and what is considered socially acceptable behavior amongst otherwise resepectable people, and ONLY the obvious, outward displays of racism and sexism only.

I am a white person and I fully acknowledge that despite my desire to be empathetic, compassionate, and sensitive regarding racial issues, I cannot experience the world the exact same way a black person does. Because I’m a white women, I also fully acknowledge that I am more completely in tune with issues of sexism then racism. As a result, I am open to the possiblity that I am incorrect. Regardless, I would like to engage in intelligent conversation about this subject matter, and would like those who disagree to take this as an opportunity to share their views with others, allowing us to learn from you. Again, the only statements I am making about racism are those I have expressly stated in my Post, and ask you not to imply more. All inequality is damaging and I am not comparing the damage caused by different types of discrimination. I’m only comparing what I’ve experiences as the general public reaction to the specific froms of sexism and racism I’ve given specific examples of.

The primary point of my post is that overt acts/words of racism, even with the best of intentions, gets people fired up, and this reaction supports that statement. Regardless of whether certain types of inequality are more or less damaging, inequality is damaging. For those who find my Post offensive, it would be helpfule if you refer to the two specific examples I gave regarding the sexist treatment of Sarah Palin, and point out any flaws in my assessments of them. Also give examples of overt words or portrayals of racism against blacks in the mainstream media, in the past few years, that you consider equivalent, in their nature and the public reaction they recieved. Thank you.
Because she told me that she never saw the first comment that I left on her post, I am putting my response here on my blog, so that I don't have to rewrite it if it happens again.
_____________________________________________________

I am willing to believe that you may be interested in the idea of dialogue. However, your post isn't really conducive to bringing that about. When you start by claiming to know what people of color are experiencing despite not being one yourself, you aren't opening up lines of communication. You're actually closing them.

See, what if I was a man and I told you that women are actually experiencing less sexism than they used to? Would you believe that I was the real arbiter on the frequency of that particular form of oppression? Do you think a man can ever know exactly how much sexism a woman faces? I'm doubting that you'd think a man making claims like that was really trying to open up lines of communication.

If a man was really interested in knowing whether sexism was increasing or decreasing, his only real option would be to find out what women have to say on the matter, not make assumptions and then wait to see if anyone contested them. Can you see what I'm trying to say? You started out with an assumption about racism and because that assumption wasn't based on facts, it made your entire argument invalid. If you want to "engage in intelligent conversation about this subject matter", you'll have to refrain from doing this, because it will never lead you to a logical, valid conclusion.

Next, you're moving the goalposts. In your original post, you made claims about racism that go far beyond what happens on your blog. Your comments were about racism in the media, not just racism on your site. Now you're making a different claim. Perhaps you don't truly believe that racism in the media is decreasing, but that doesn't change what your post actually said.

The idea that you are only referring to "otherwise respectable people" is a common technique that people use to exclude any evidence that would disprove their claim. For example, what if a man said to you, "Well, sexism has decreased over years. Oh, and by the way, the only examples of sexism that count are those that come from people that I think are reasonable folks."? Wouldn't that be mighty convenient? If you tried to present the man with any examples of the prevalence of sexism, he could simply say that those examples don't count because nobody takes those folks seriously any way. Well, the same is true with racism. Coming back and saying you were only talking about "otherwise respectable people" provides a perfect means of avoiding the existing evidence that you were and are quite wrong about the way the world treats racism. Perhaps you aren't doing this purposely, but that's still the results of trying to re-frame your arguments that way.

The fact that I responded to your statement calmly and still get accused of being "fired up" is also evidence of why you are not a good judge of how racism works nor what it looks like. Are you really that unfamiliar with the Sapphire trope? It certainly seems so. Are you really unfamiliar with the history behind white women scolding women of color about our "tone"? It appears that way. Have you never encountered an explanation for why expecting people of color to prove that racism is occurring is actually racist?

I've never spoken to you about this stuff, so I'm going to go ahead and give you the benefit of the doubt because I really do like to believe the best about people. Because of that, I'm going to suggest that you take the time to read about the intersectionality of oppressions before you consider making this classic, white-privileged assertion again. Hopefully, if you begin to see how this argument makes you a part of the problem that you claim to want to fight, you'll stop contributing to the oppression of women of color in the way that your post did.

Is it sexualized racism or racialized sexism? The "Head O State" dildo shows why creating "sexism versus racism" comparisons are bound to fail. People of color don't always experience one or the other. Instead, we often have to deal with both.

More evidence that Mel's assertion (that racism is less tolerated than sexism) just isn't based on the facts.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Is Your Mother On Face Book, Too?

I am so-oo-oo feeling this video. First, my partner's mother joined Face Book. That was okay. She only uses it to post pictures from her trips around the world for her friends. I knew I never had to worry about her actually going to my page and/or reading my status updates. Besides, it was my partner's mom, so I didn't really have to worry about her saying anything embarrassing about me on it.

Then, two three months ago, my mother joined Face Book, too. She sent my partner and I friend requests and I promptly ignored it. My partner thought it was hilarious and immediately confirmed her request. Soon after, my daughter also joined Face Book and I instantly became some one whose "mom is on Face Book". When I thought about that fact, I decided to confirm my own mother's friend request. Now, every time I go to write something on there, I can't help but consider what my mother might think if she sees it. I at the point where most of my status updates are all about the weather. Anyway, check out this funny video that (perfectly) explains the plight of many folks my age with internet-savvy parents.

The Science behind the Sexiness of Vanilla

Science World in Vancouver has an awesome advertisement running on television right now. You've got to check this out. I wish I lived near there so that I could visit the place for myself.

Racial Tension Relief

Any person of color who has ever been employed at a predominantly white work place will be able to relate to this video. I am loving Queen Latifah so hard after watching this!

Kitty Surprise

World AIDS Day 2009

Today is World AIDS Day. When was the last time you were tested? Click here to find a testing center near you!

"The number of people living with HIV has risen from around 8 million in 1990 to 33 million today, and is still growing."-AVERT

"During 2008 more than two and a half million adults and children became infected with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), the virus that causes AIDS."-AVERT

You know, I wanted to do more than just quote statistics. I don't know about others, but statistics never mean much to me until I can connect them with the stories of real people who are affected by them. I try to link to as many disability related blogs as I come across on the internet, but I am ashamed to say that I have never put forth any effort to find any blogs written by people with HIV/AIDS. That's going to change today. Here are a few that I found today:

Still Arriving
This blog will be about living my life as a young HIV positive male. My blog will reference medications I take, side effects I have, and general feelings during this life path. It is meant to help keep my friends and family informed about my health and general information to people just starting out.

My HIV Story
This website is accredited by The Health On the Net Foundation, as a reliable source for HIV/AIDS news. Locate a testing center near you!

Living in the Bonus Round
It was 1996. The internet was young. I was stuck in a hospital bed. I was supposed to die. So I started an internet diary. One of the first. A death watch. But then it happened. I didn't die. I'm not an international spy. But I do look good when I wear my eye patch. Since 1996, I've also written a cult hit off-Broadway hit. I've also spoken at Harvard University...And I'm still not dead. Anything is possible in the bonus round.

The POZ Blogs
A Collection of 15 blogs by people living with HIV

Welcome to Surviving HIV
I travel weekly around the US giving lectures and working as an HIV activist. This blog gives me an opportunity to post interesting articles and interviews that I deem important and not widely discussed. Please feel free to send me feed back at nelsonvergel@aol.com and visit our non profit web sites POWERUSA.org, salvagetherapies.org, medibolics.com, facialwasting.org, and nelsonvergel.com

For those with a Second Life, there will be services today at Karuna Island. You can get to it from here: http://slurl.com/secondlife/karuna/218/87/21






Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Reclaim the Night (for white, cis, middle-class TAB people)

Caroline over at Dirty Silver Rings has written a post about how Reclaim the Night is not really what it purports to be: a night dedicated to the cause of ending violence against women. Recently, there was a despicable incident that occurred at one of the events.

A group of anti-capitalist feminists joined the Reclaim the Night march as a show of solidarity with the sex workers who were participating in order to bring attention to the need for efforts to end the exploitation that can occur within their industry. To the average person, this might seem like the perfect place for such advocacy. Unfortunately, many of the organizers of the march felt differently.
Unfortunately, we faced physical harassment and verbal abuse from some people on the march, and were told on a number of occasions that we were not welcome on it. Worse than this, however, was the fact that we were immediately approached and interrogated by the police on arrival – reportedly at the request of one of the stewards. We understand our support for the rights of sex workers to self-organise is at odds with the views of some other groupings in the women’s movement. Yet we were extremely surprised to find that one of the basic principles of feminism (and all social justice movements) was forgotten in this instance – namely, that we never resort to using police aggression to silence and intimidate members of our own movement, no matter how much we may disagree with them.
Now, anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the history of police interactions with sex workers can understand the potentially fatal consequences of unleashing them on a group of already vulnerable women. In fact, all those who call themselves feminists have a responsibility to understand the danger inherent in calling on the police to deal with women who are sex workers. You can't claim to love women and want to end violence against them, if you don't even know who's guilty of perpetrating it against them.

In her post, Caroline says, "This is what feminism is now - it's a nice, white, middle class movement for nice, white, middle class women. No freaks allowed, yes? Is that right? I think fucking so."

Actually it's not that this is what feminism is now. This is what feminism has always been. White, middle class, TAB, cis women didn't promote feminism as the answer because they have in mind the interests of all women. Feminism is just another tool they can use to try to validate their self-appointed role as the rightful spokespersons for the rest of the world. Feminism is nothing more than a fight between white, cis, TAB women and white, cis, TAB men for control over the lives of all those who are deemed less valuable by virtue of the fact that we are not like them.

Reclaim the night is exactly what it claims to be. The problem is, so many of us fail to see that feminism doesn't actually include us in the class of people who are truly women. They are reclaiming the night for them. The idea that sex workers, trans women, people with disabilities, et cetera deserve to be able to live without the threat of violence hanging on their head is bound to run into resistance at Reclaim the Night events. Given the fact that those organizing these events are the very same people who perpetrate or enable the violence against so many of us, should we expect any different?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tina, Tina, Tina

DopeGirlFresh has a post about Tina Knowles (the mother of Beyonce and Solange Knowles) and her forays into the world of fashion. It must be seen to be believed. Go on! You know you want to.

presenting: the absurdity of tina knowles.

I've hated this prat ever since the first time I heard her going on and on about her Creole background. Does she really not understand that outside of the south, that shit means absolutely nothing? Nobody cares about her bougie-assed background. Since she loves talking about the French part of her heritage, I'm pretty sure she should be able to figure out what I mean when I say she is the epitome of nouveau riche and still gets no respect among the old monied families. Now how's that for snobbery!

By the way, there's no such thing as Creole fashion, no matter what "Miss Tina" tells you.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Happy Veteran's Day/Remembrance Day

I'd like to thank all of the military veterans around the world who have served--for a decade, a year, a month or even a day--to help make the world a better place for everyone. Your efforts are appreciated.

Monday, November 09, 2009

The Savoie Abduction Case

Okay, so this American (Christopher Savoie) moved to Japan. While he was there, he married a Japanese woman (Noriko ____). During the time that he lived in the country, Christopher became a citizen of Japan and he and Noriko had two children together. After twelve years of marriage, Christopher and Noriko split up. Noriko tried to get Christopher to agree to a divorce, but he refused. In 2008, a year after they broke up, Christopher (now a Japanese citizen) moved back to the United States. In other words, he abandoned his wife and children in their country of origin, where they have always resided.

In 2009, Noriko came to the United States with the two children. This article fails to point out that she and Christopher were still married at the time. It also leaves off what other articles have claimed: that Christopher lured Noriko over to the United States by saying that he wanted to try and get back together. It turned out that he had been involved with his high school sweetheart (who was also married at the time), since before she arrived. Soon after she arrived, he served her with divorce papers. A month after the divorce was final, he married the woman that he had been having the affair with.

Even though the courts awarded her full custody, Noriko was ordered to remain in the USA so that Christopher could have periodic visits with the children. Noriko isn't from the USA. She didn't have any support system here. When Christopher decided to divorce her, he was abandoning her for the second time. After trying to make things work for several months, only to be constantly subjected to harassment from Christopher and his next wife, Noriko moved back to Japan with her children.

Christopher decided that Noriko shouldn't be allowed to raise her children back in their homeland. Since he couldn't force Noriko to come back, this asshole decided to go to Japan and attempt to kidnap the children and take them back to the USA. It almost worked. He found Noriko walking with the two kids and physically grabbed them from their mother, shoved them into a car and made a mad dash for the US Embassy. Fortunately, before he could get inside, the Japanese authorities caught and arrested him and the children were returned to their mother.

Now, can someone explain to me why it is this man thinks that he should be able to abandon his wife, twice, and be able to force her to stay in the USA? He became a Japanese citizen. He got married in Japan. Noriko and the children are from Japan. He abandoned her and the children in Japan and then left to go live in another country.

According to the way that American media are reporting this story, we're supposed to believe that Noriko abducted the children. Uh, no she didn't. She and the children went back home, to Japan. That is where they had all lived for the majority of their lives. That is their home and it's also where the people who supported them after Christopher abandoned the family still reside. She went back to the place where those children could be surrounded by people who never abandoned them. If Christopher was so interested in being able to see his kids, he could have chosen to stay in Japan or he could have moved back to Japan. If Christopher wanted Noriko to live close to him, then he shouldn't have abandoned her and the children in the first place.

Friday, November 06, 2009

For White Outsiders Who Are "OMG Offended" About That Justice of the Peace in Louisiana

My younger brother married a woman from a Cajun community in an unincorporated region of Louisiana called Des Allemands (the irony of a place with that name consisting almost entirely of Cajuns still amuses me). It's a very sparsely-populated area. Wikipedia says that, according to the 2000 Census, there are about 2,500 people who live in Des Allemands. It also says that 10.44% of the population (~261 people) identified themselves as African-American. That is not a lot of black people, folks!

It shouldn't be much of a surprise to hear that it's not known for being especially welcoming towards people of color. It's a real sundown town and my advice is that, if you are a person of color who plans to travel through that area, it would be wise to take that characterization seriously. It's a place where the word "nigger" is the default term used to refer to black people and I'm not exaggerating one bit here.

My sister-in-law has never lied or tried to hide the way her family felt about the idea of her marrying a person of color. They were dead-set against the marriage. However, from the minute when we first met her family, they were wonderful towards us. My dad and her dad sat and talked about fishing for hours while our mothers looked through family albums, cooing at all of my sister-in-law's pictures from back when she was a pageant baby. They still keep in touch with each other via telephone calls even though they live in different states now.

After Hurricane Katrina, my brother and his wife moved in with her parents. I remember my brother telling me about how proud her grandfather was to tell people that his granddaughter had found a good husband. He still used the word "nigger" from time to time, but he defended my brother any time someone tried to hassle or criticize him. They get along great now. He's helped them out lots of times when, as a very young couple, they sorely needed it.

Every year, they invite us out to the Crawfish Festival, which is the biggest event that the area hosts. Whenever we go, we never see more than a handful of obviously black people other than the ones in our family. The white people out there always ask us if we are enjoying ourselves and where we are from. They are all extremely friendly. My momma and daddy love to zydeco on the outdoor dance floor with all of the other white people in their age group. The older Cajuns that can only speak French have treated me like I'm family when I spoke back to them in my broken Louisiana French.

We have a damned good time, but always make sure we leave before sun-down. It's really easy to figure out what sort of things are likely to lead to troublesome situations with the folks out there. The unstated rules are fairly clear. I never feel like that when I'm around whites outside of the south. Most of them would never use the term "nigger", but they'd just as soon watch you die than to offer what most white people here would consider basic courtesy.

That Justice of the Peace who said he even allows black people to use his bathroom was being more progressive than I think most of these ignorant "OMG offended" white outsiders ever bother to become. It's been a minute since I read it, but in "Black Like Me" I seem to recall John Griffin writing in depth about how whether whites allowed him to use even the nastiest, ricketiest, outhouses on their property revealed a lot about what sort of people they were. People who were perfectly friendly and had no problem selling (the black) him their wares, would become stone-faced if he asked to use their bathroom, even though they had no problem allowing him to use it when he looked like a white man.

The context wasn't worth understanding for most of the white people who were so indignant about the actions of the Justice of the Peace. The writer of the article I linked to didn't even bother to find out that none of this occurred anywhere near New Orleans. Hammond isn't even in the same parish as New Orleans. Hell, it's not even in a neighboring parish!

Distance between Hammond, La. and New Orleans, La.= 43 miles (69 km)

This was just another opportunity for white society to reinforce its own hierarchy of whiteness. I think it's the same with the experiences of mixed people of color who are part white. What we go through doesn't mean shit to the average well-meaning white liberal unless it can be used to prove some point about the issues that concern them.

Our experiences are constantly de-centered and I think it's because de-centering is one of the hallmarks of white society. Any entity that chomps its way through other societies will inevitably chomp through parts of itself. I think that the outcome of the elections regarding gay marriage in California and Maine is an excellent example of how this works.

Never Mixed (Up) Enough

Today, we found out that my brother and his girlfriend are having a baby. To make a long story short(er), my mom is quite upset about the fact that my brother is having a baby with a white woman. My family is a deep mix of several cultures on both sides. My mother thinks it was perfectly okay for them to date. She's had the two of them over for extended stays and invited the girlfriend back for more visits. However, she is really quite upset about this pregnancy. She doesn't like the fact that, of all her children, only one of us chose to co-parent with someone she'd consider non-white AND on top of that, they wound up breaking up. So, all of my mother's sons and daughters-in-law are white.

At first, I thought it was a bit funny because my mom is mixed, but she still doesn't want any more of her children having kids with white partners. Earlier this evening, I was laughingly discussing this with a few acquaintances because it seemed like such a odd idea. There were a few other multi-ethnic/mixed folks in the conversation and I appreciated hearing about their experiences and the experiences of their ancestors who are/were also multi-ethnic. It wasn't long before I realized that they were the ONLY ones willing to talk about this. All of the white people just went along their merry little way, nignoring (feel free to familiarize yourself with the meaning of the term) the conversation going on around them. It didn't matter that most of them were white people who were well-acquainted with several of the people of color in the conversation nor did it matter to them that what we were talking about was a problem that mostly existed due to the actions of folks in THEIR communities.

At that point, the situation that my mom is worried about stopped being funny to me and I realized that there are no groups of white people, or groups with many white people, where they behave differently. Multi-ethnic people from various parts of the globe were discussing how whiteness had fucked over them and their families and, at best, the white people simply remained silent when this happened. Now, in a conversation on the internet, where the majority of folks in the "vicinity" are white, we were watching the same thing occur there, too. In fact, it wasn't until one of the women of color started talking about something else that anyone white spoke up again. Is it any surprise that this conversation did not end well?

My mom is proud of her heritage and has done her best to instill that pride in us. We were taught to never be ashamed or embarrassed about who we are. She taught me to reject it when people of color tried to say that I was too brown to really be mixed. She taught me how to answer white people who questioned why my relatives looked like they did. My mother says she's concerned about whether my brother's partner is really aware of what it means to parent a child who is a person of color. After listening to some of the experiences of several multi-ethnic people who were talking about mixed identities, I am a lot more sympathetic to my mom's views.

When that Justice of the Peace from my state got a lot of attention a few weeks ago because he wouldn't marry inter-racial couples, it was bothersome to see so many white people failing to consider the fact that a significant number of inter-racial marriages in that area (Hammond) really DON'T last. It's a really small place and it's known for being one of the most racist parts of the state. My mom lived there for a while but she was forced to move when my oldest brother was a baby. It seems like white people may not want to deal with that reality. I feel like none of the outsiders who were "OMG offended" about what he did really gave a shit about the situation that inter-racial couples or multi-ethnic people face from those who have no qualms about announcing that they think "race traitors" and "mutts" shouldn't be allowed to exist.

My mother's views about inter-racial couples having children are based on the realities that she's seen and experienced folks like us face. I suspect this may also be true with the justice of the peace. White societies aren't prepared to do a damned thing about how whiteness forces so many multi-ethnic people to live lives where other people of color have legitimate reasons to worry about whether any vestiges of white privilege will lead us to fuck over them in the same way that white people almost always will at some point. At the same time, we have to deal with how white people are never done with reminding us that whiteness is a club that multi-ethnic people of color will never be "mixed enough" to join. At best, we are expected to be less threatening versions of people of color--just mixed enough to make white people think their world isn't lily white, but not so mixed that we start exhibiting those "pesky" tendencies often associated with the non-white world. Like my mother, I hope that my daughter and my nieces and nephews will never be mixed up enough to be willing to settle for playing that role in the lives of white people they will encounter throughout their lives.


"No Santy Claus? Well, I'd expect a heathen niglet like Riley to say something like that, but Jazmin I'm surprised at you! Being a mulatto and all, you s'posed to have more sense."
(A Huey Freeman Christmas)


The above quote is taken from a conversation that starts at 8:23 on this video)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Small Revelation

Today, I picked up my new eyeglasses. I really like the pair that I picked out. I think I look like a super sexy nerd. The German agrees. I can't find my camera, so I'll have to take a picture of them on tomorrow.

Earlier this evening, I witnessed and participated in a conversation (on Twitter) involving a trans woman talking about the cis community's systemic hatred for trans women. It was going really well for a while. The woman, Nueva Voz, was talking about how lesbian organizations show their disdain for trans women. She pointed out how there are no lesbian organizations that are headed by trans women, but these groups have no problem with putting trans men in prominent positions. A trans man was also a part of the conversation and reiterated what Nueva Voz said by explaining how lesbian organizations fetishize trans men as ultra-butch women, which automatically de-legitimizes the identity of trans women.

It was a powerful conversation. I was really into it, because it was one of those moments where some trans folks were talking candidly with cis people about how our society and the organizations within it marginalize them. The pain in their statements was really raw and cut me to the core. I've heard Nueva Voz talk about how organizations that claim to be LGBT groups really hate trans women and aid in their oppression, but I didn't really understand it until tonight. I mean, I knew she was speaking from experience, but I didn't really get how it was true. Then, all of a sudden someone else tweeted about how John Sinclaire was the first LGBT politician to win in today's elections in Georgia.

I didn't see anything problematic about that at first. However, Nueva Voz pointed out that Sinclaire might be the first LGB politician to win tonight, but he certainly wasn't a trans person. That comment kind of made it clear to me how the needs of trans people are assumed to be the same as those of cis lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. Saying that Sinclaire was a LGBT politician only masks the fact that there were no trans people who were elected and there is no guarantee that Sinclaire has any intentions of addressing the marginalization of trans folks at the hands of cis people (both heterosexual and LGB). A victory for cis LGB folks is not necessarily a victory for trans women.

Monday, November 02, 2009

We're Moving!

This blog hasn't been getting much use lately. To be honest, I just haven't had the energy to write entire posts. Right now, I have over a dozen half-written posts sitting in limbo because I forgot what I wanted to say or lost interest in the subject before I got around to completing them. At this point, all I can do is just pick up from where I am. Let's start with the big news.

My partner and I are buying our first house! For years, we've dreamed about doing it and now we finally have the opportunity to make it a reality. The German had been researching the housing market in our city for over a year and, now that our finances were stable enough for us to buy a house, we were able to take advantage of a wonderful deal on a beautiful home located in the part of the city where we used to live.

Because Louisiana never saw the sales of property reach the outrageously over-priced levels that some states experienced, there haven't been as many foreclosures as some cities have. Louisianians tend to be disinclined to follow trends, but in the past few years there were some shady developers who tried to come in and get rich through numerous schemes. The house we're moving into was owned by one of these crooked guys. We found out the story behind the sale of this property by talking to the president of the subdivision's homeowner's association. I'll probably write about that later on today or tomorrow.

Right now, I just want to talk about the house. It's located at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, so it has a bit more space in the front yard than most of the other houses on the block. The entire subdivision is pretty new; our house was built six years ago and some of the other houses on the block are only four years old. That means that most of them are in the hands of the original owners.

It's a two-story brick and stucco house with three bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, and a two-car garage. Above the garage, there's a bonus room that could be used as a fourth bedroom, but since it's just the three of us we're going to use it as a workout room and office. It also has a lovely covered patio in the back yard with roll-down shades that will make it possible for me to actually spend time outside without being exposed to direct sunlight.

The master bathroom has a jacuzzi tub and a separate shower stall. Both of the up-stairs bathrooms have double vanities, which is really nice because I'm tired of having The German reaching over me trying to brush his teeth while I'm already using the sink. VanGoghGirl will have her own bathroom, which should make it easier for us all because she can take her notoriously long baths every night without the rest of us waiting for her to get out so that we can use the toilet. If we have guests spending the night at our house, they can either use her bathroom, which is accessed through the hallway upstairs, or the downstairs half bathroom.

We plan to refinish the front door. The German is considering having two panes of glass installed so that the foyer can let a bit more light into the living room.


This is the view from the front of the house. You can see the workout room/office above the garage. The window above the door is in the third bedroom. Since it's the smallest of the three, we plan to use it as a guest room.


We're going to replace this light as soon as we move in. It's really, really dated. Now we just have to decide what we're going to replace it with.


The living room has beautiful, glossy wood floors. The color on the walls is a bit hard to describe. "Olive green" is probably the closest I could come up with.


The kitchen has granite tile counter tops. The tiles are mostly black, white, and orange colored minerals. It matches nicely with the peachy tile on the floor and back-splash.


The German and I can't understand why the builders would use such a cheap faucet in a house of this caliber? That thing has to be replaced. It works fine, but it makes the entire kitchen look a bit cheap.


From the doorway of the guest bedroom, you can see my daughter's bathroom (the doorway on the left) and the master bedroom (the doorway on the right).


Each of the bedrooms have really nice six-blade fans that we plan to leave in. I think we're going to change the sconces, though.


There are two sets of sconces above the mirror. Each one has four lights, so the space is perfect for putting on make-up or fixing your hair. The tile matches the ones on the floor in the kitchen downstairs.


The third bedroom is the smallest, which is why we decided to make it the guest room.


Upstairs, all of the rooms (except the bathrooms) have beige carpet and beige walls. We plan to use this as our office and workout room.


I can't wait until I find a nice seat to put in that window so that I can sit there and read. We're still trying to figure out what sort of window treatment will work for that space.


I think this is my daughter's bedroom.


There are no shelves in the master bathroom, so we're going to put an étagère over the toilet instead.


It also has a huge jacuzzi tub that's big enough for The German to sit down and relax in.


I'm not crazy about it, but I guess I can live with the white counter tops.


That's my reflection in the glass on the door of the shower in the master bathroom.


The walk-in closet is REALLY big.


I love built-in shelving.


The granite surrounding the living room fireplace matches the granite in the kitchen.


This is the living room from another angle.


The garage is in great shape. The walls are painted and there are plenty of electrical outlets.


This is the half bathroom located on the first floor.


The laundry room has built-in cabinets. After our automated kitty litter system arrives in the mail, we plan to install a cat door so that our kitties can come and go as they please without me having to worry about people seeing them taking a poop.


The kitchen appliances are all black. We would prefer a gas stove, but this electric one runs just fine so we're keeping it for now.


The kitchen has lots of counter space and plenty of cabinets.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

It's NaBloPoMo Again!


Okay, so today is the first day of NaBloPoMo and I'm already late posting this. I'm determined to do this, as long as God say the same and the tide don't rise. So, let's get this party started folks!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

There's a Rep for that

"Why" doesn't always matter

Today someone asked me if I've ever been so frustrated that I asked God, "Why?". I struggled with this when I was diagnosed with cancer. I thought about all of the people who go around doing evil to others and live for decades, while I--trying to be a Christian--was suddenly stricken with this horrible problem. What I've learned is that trying to figure out the "why" doesn't really help you to cope. I've also learned that happiness is ALWAYS a choice. No matter what we are experiencing, happiness is still a possibility. Even if the world seems to be falling down around you, the peace of God which surpasses all understanding can make the situation bearable.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Picturing the Feminine Divine

Emily over at Questioning Transphobia has a post about a controversial calendar featuring depictions of Mary (the mother of Jesus, according to several Abrahamic religious traditions) as a transgender woman. I find this issue quite interesting. Lately, I've been more interested in Mary than ever before, especially Notre Dame D'Afrique. Even though I'm not Catholic, it's devotion to Mary is one of its features that draws me to it the most. The idea of an African woman producing a vessel of salvation for mankind is an intensely powerful idea. I love speaking to Notre Dame D'Afrique.

Sometimes, I deal with the feeling that I'm not really worthy of love. Is it any wonder given the sort of messages that society feeds to women every second of the day? It can be difficult for me to feel important enough for the Creator to really be interested in my problems. I think about that line from an old movie where the narrator says, "There's eight million stories in the naked city."

Sometimes, I think about the Bible's account of Jesus and his life on earth as a man. I wonder how his life would have differed if he had spent this time as a woman instead. It can be hard for me to relate to Jesus' experiences as a man, but Mary is different. Mary was a mother. Mary was a wife. Mary was a girl-child who lived her life in a male-dominated world. Mary lived the experience of being oppressed on the basis of gender. Mary experienced being unmarried and pregnant and dependent on others in order to stay alive. Mary experienced having a secret that could have killed her if others found out. Mary is my sister. She is my mother. She is my girl-child.
I know that Christianity teaches that the Creator can understand our feelings and worries and thoughts and I believe that's true. However, sometimes it can be hard to feel like it's the truth. The Creator is so often portrayed as some sort of male person, that it can be hard for me to see beyond that on some days. Mary helps me cross that barrier. Her presence is reassuring. I know there is a divine personage who has experienced what it's like to be me.

When I think of it that way, I can understand why Mary has been portrayed in so many different ways. If Mary is my sister, my mother, and my daughter, then how could she not be a woman of color? If I am to relate to her, how could I see her as someone completely foreign from how I see myself? My Mary is black. My Mary is a single mother-to-be. My Mary knows what it means to suffer physically. This is the Mary that looks after me with the care and compassion of a mother, a sister, an aunt.

The depiction of Mary as a transgender woman seems very natural to me. I really don't understand how it is any different than the myriad ways that Mary has already been depicted. I know that some people arrogantly think that they can own the divine. They don't want others to know that Mary belongs to everyone. She is the face that we see when we think about the feminine divinity. If Mary looks like us and the Creator deemed her worthy of recognition and respect and admiration, how could we worthless? In my opinion, depicting Mary as a transgender woman only magnifies her image and I think this is something that could be quite empowering for all women.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why HIV/AIDS in America is a Black Disease

CarlosQC from the Two Spirits One blog just posted an interview he had with Phill Wilson, founder and Executive Director of the Black AIDS Institute. As Wilson points out in the interview, "The Black AIDS Institute is the only National HIV/AIDS think tank...that focuses exclusively on black people". In the interview, Wilson talks about the HIV/AIDS statistics among black community.
Black people represent roughly 12% of the population and yet we represent nearly 50% of the estimated 1.2 million Americans with AIDS. We represent nearly 50% of the annual HIV/AIDS deaths. We represent nearly 50% of the new HIV/AIDS cases in this country. We're 30% of the cases among gay men. Black people are 40% of the cases among men, over 2/3 of the cases among women. We're 63% of the new cases among infants in pediatrics and we're 70% of the new cases among adolescents.
I wish there was a transcript of the interview, which is ten minutes long, because it is about a disability issue and it would be nice if people who are deaf/hard of hearing could have access to it, too. Still, if you can listen to it, it's definitely worth watching.

Republican Candidate Chris Christie Advocates Health Care Rationing



I wish I could have been there to hear this stupid man talk.

"The exception is for people to have cancer in their twenties. That is an exception"

Uh, what? Excuse me? Where the hell has this man been hiding? This man is proof that knowing someone with cancer doesn't make you an expert on health care issues. Chris Christie is arguing that insurance companies shouldn't be forced to pay for mammograms for women. According to Christie, since people in their twenties don't have cancer, they don't need their insurance company to pay for mammograms. Does that make sense to you? If it does, then I suppose I should break this down for you.

If a woman is in her early twenties, she may still be covered by her parent's health insurance. Some health insurance companies allow people to remain dependents on their parent's plan if they are under 25 and in college. Perhaps she was smart enough and wealthy enough to purchase insurance on her own (while she was still healthy) after she no longer qualified as a dependent. Perhaps she has a full-time job and receives health insurance through her employer. There are all sorts of ways where a woman in her twenties could end up in the situation where she needs to have a mammogram covered by the insurance that someone is paying for.

Now, what do you think happens if her insurance company won't pay for the care she needs? She'll be forced into a situation where she may have to pay for those tests or treatments and continue paying for the insurance that was supposed to provide her with coverage. If she can't afford to do both, what do you suppose happens next? Why would she continue to pay for something and get nothing in return? If she drops that insurance company and still requires care, who do you think will have to pay for it? Here's a hint: You!

The idea that people having cancer in their twenties is an exception is absolutely laughable. I and many, many others I know experienced just that. In fact, there are thousands of people in the USA who are diagnosed with cancer even younger than that. If insurance companies are allowed to deny treatment based on the age of the patient, then that is rationing and it's hypocritical for politicians to rant and rave about the possibility of government rationing when they are openly advocating for insurance companies to be allowed to continue doing just it.

You know what, though? I'm glad to hear him making these ignorant comments. I think that people with disabilities deserve to know what these candidates think before we go to the polls. If they can get elected without proving that they have a educated position about disability and health care issues, then what impetus is there for paying attention to us once they are in office? We need to be like the woman in this video and speak up when our voices are most powerful.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Our Lady of Africa

Do you ever wake up with a particular phrase on your mind and then have it stick with you the whole day? This morning, I woke up thinking about Notre Dame D'Afrique, Our Lady of Africa. I have a special fondness for her. I've been thinking about the words that can be found on the wall inside of the church in Algeria that bears her name.

"Notre Dame D'Afrique, priez pour nous et pour les Musulmans."

It means, "Our Lady of Africa, pray for us and for the Muslims." I can't quite figure out why this has been in my head all day--I'm not even Catholic--but I must have repeated it dozens of times already. I wonder if it's something that's in my head for a reason or is it just some thought randomly pulled from the recesses of my mind. I'd rather believe it's the former, but I still haven't figured out why it's there and why I can't stop thinking about it today.


"Notre Dame D'Afrique, priez pour nous et pour les Musulmans."


Life in Four Bottles

Photo Description:There are three bottles on top of cloth-covered table. From left to right, the first one is a baby's bottle. The second one is an old-fashioned Coca-Cola bottle. The last one is a beer bottle. Directly to the right of the three bottles, there is an IV-stand with a bag of fluid hanging from it.


Someone sent this picture to me today, via e-mail. It was titled, "Life in Four Bottles". Underneath the picture, they typed "Damn! I'm already on the third one!" It made me giggle a little bit as I thought about how I've "cheated death". Well, no one really cheats death, because it always comes along eventually. Still, I do know that I've lived a lot longer than many people thought I would or could. Hell, even I didn't know I'd still be here enjoying my life in 2009.

That picture made me feel triumphant. I've been through all of the life stages that those bottles are supposed to represent. I've experienced all of it and I'm still around. I'm past those four bottles. I've faced most of the challenges that are associated with each of these phases and they don't scare me like they once did. I'm at the point where I'm eager to see what lies ahead.

Today I feel like the future is wide open. I float freely between all of these phases almost simultaneously. No bottle can contain my spirit. I am free to enjoy them all without worrying what comes next.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What's so Hard About Inclusion?

via Asperger Square 8 along with a hat tip to CripChick

Okay, this is the best video about disability that I've seen in months. It's a little less than three minutes long, so if you only have a little time to spend visiting this blog, skip the other posts and watch this video. It captures so much of what people with disabilities go through on a daily basis. It's called "Top Shelf". Watch this. It may change your life and, if you let it, it could make life a whole lot easier for me and my people. Let me know what you think after you watch it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hoist the Colours! It's National Talk Like a Pirate Day!

VanGoghGirl's Pirate Figurines

Tia Dalma
Captain Hook
Captain Hector Barbossa
Jack Sparrow & Davy Jones


Arghh ye scurvy rats listening? It's that time o' year again. Here's a few scenes from one of the best movies of all times (Pirates of the Caribbean) and it's totally arghhwesome "Hoist the Colours" song.






The king and his men,
Stole the Queen from her bed,
And bound her in her Bones,
The seas be ours,
And by the powers,
Where we will, we'll roam.

Yo Ho, haul together,
Hoist the colours high,
Heave Ho, Thieves and Beggars,
Never Shall We Die!

Some men have died,
And some are alive,
And others sail on the sea,
With the keys to the cage...
And the Devil to pay,
We lay to Fiddler's Green!

The Bell has been raised,
From it's watery grave...
Do you hear it's sepulchral tone?
We are a call to all,
Pay heed the squall,
And turn your sail toward home!

Yo Ho haul, together,
Hoist the colours high
Heave Ho, Thieves and Beggars,
Never Shall We Die!

Arrr you ready for more pirate anthems?