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