Friday, September 14, 2012

Appropriation of Disability Culture

I like to use seed beads to make little barrettes or decorations for my headbands. I often check out Etsy to get inspiration (and aspirations) for my projects. Today, a jewelry-maker caught my eye, because she was selling rings and pendants with braille messages on them.

I was impressed, until I saw that she was also selling "Ohm" earrings and silver & turquoise Indigenous American styled items. It's obviously cultural appropriation. After thinking about it, I think it's fair to say the same thing about the braille jewelry. This is a non-disabled person using one of our languages as a gimmick to make money. In her jewelry description it said,
"Because most seeing people don't know the braille alphabet, it's words are like codes to us...hidden in plain sight."
That's just ignorant. No one is hiding braille. Most seeing people just don't take the time to learn it, but that doesn't mean that its words are like codes. Unfortunately, it got even worse. As I scrolled down the page, I saw this message:
"IF this pendant is meant to be a gift for a sight impared person- please know that they will most likely NOT be able to read this pendant with their finger tips-as I chose to DRILL HOLES where the dots would be raised (in order to read with finger tips); ironically, it LOOKED better this way."
This jewelry-maker chose to exploit the language of visually impaired people and purposely made it unreadable for the very people it was designed for. She decided that it "looked better" that way. I don't even know what to say about foolishness like this. This is what privilege makes possible. You can completely overlook the needs of marginalized people and exploit their culture without a care in the world.

Monday, September 03, 2012

My Thoughts About Queerness and My New Experiences with the Eastern Orthodox Church


My child and I are both queer. My child also identifies as bigender. She considered joining the Roman Catholic church but then learned of the Eastern Orthodox and instantly felt hopelessly attracted to it. I few months ago I allowed her to start attending a local Russian Orthodox church. I went with her, because I didn't want her to choose some faith tradition that condemned or rejected her. It feels as if this was just what she and I needed.

Recently, we both became catechumens. All of this has occurred without a single question being asked about her/our sexual orientation. I know that no congregation of people should be assumed to be perfect. However, I have had a wonderful experience so far. The congregation is small (not even 50 regular attendees). It has many of those kinds of "little old ladies" who are often prejudged to be intolerant and suspicious. Even they welcomed us--two African Americans with afros and no clue about what goes on in an Orthodox church--with open arms. They treat my child like a cherished grandchild and, during coffee hour, they constantly seek to fatten up her barely 100 lb frame.

It has all had the effect of making me simply enthralled with the church. The love of God that I have felt since my introduction to the Orthodox church makes me sure that the holy Trinity does not see my queerness as grounds for rejection. I have the hope to experience even greater communion with God, now that I know--KNOW--that the only thing that can separate me from the love of God is if I refuse to accept it.

I had no idea what I'd find when I googled "Queer and Eastern Orthodox", but this was the first link that appeared. I'm so very glad that someone wrote this and I truly appreciate all of the references that I can now check out when I'm ready to delve into this subject more diligently. Glory to God!

The Morality of Using Undocumented Workers in American Agriculture


Do you honestly think they care whether you think they are entitled to do it? There's a need for the labor and someone willing to fill those positions. In a capitalist system, there's almost nothing you can do to prevent the two from getting together, regardless of what people think about it. I think that if you were in need of labor necessary for the continuance of human life and there were folks who were willing to do that work, then it would be completely moral to allow it. I don't care about their supposed "legal status".

Some Americans don't want to face it but, the reality is that the government CAN'T stop it. Oh, I know we like to believe that a country with a military as big as our can do anything it wants, but that's just wishful thinking. Humans and their ancestors have been migrating for hundreds of thousands of years. What sort of hubris does it take to think that you can suddenly stop them from doing that? Look at all of the inhospitable places where humans have chosen to settle. Monsoons, hurricanes, earthquakes, year 'round snow, baked and parched deserts...People have gone to these places and decided that they looked like a great place to make a living for themselves. Do you honestly think that a wall or a few rules or some folks patrolling with guns can stop humans from going some place? If humans were that easy to thwart, we wouldn't still exist on this planet.