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!