Sunday, November 24, 2013

Justin Rosario: Proud to be Ableist Scum

So, I just got a nasty message from the parent of a child with autism. Justin Rosario is the creator of and, apparently got pissed because after making ableist insults about folks with autism, several of us with autistic kids in our lives disagreed with him. I said "Autism definitely does NOT suck. What sucks is people who can't appreciate the awesomeness of having it."

He sent me the following message and then blocked me to prevent a response:

"Awesomeness. Yes, I'll pass that on to my son who can't speak. He's loving every second of autism and I'm sure the many people with autism that cannot communicate or even go without diapers are all enamored of its awesomeness as well. How nice for you."

Fortunately, I was able to visit his personal blog and respond there. LOL Perhaps if Justin had autism, he'd realize that there are many ways of communicating with people and not being able to use one method doesn't mean you're incapable of using another.

I doubt that this ableist asshole will post my comment, so I'll just paste it here:

Justin, thank you so much for the nasty message in my inbox. Many of us have been parenting children with autism much longer than you have. Yet we see no reason for the kind of disgusting ableism that you engage in. It’s a bit sad that you can’t believe that your child is awesome simply because he doesn’t meet your expectations. Perhaps if you become active in disability communities you’ll find out that many people on this planet wear diapers and many of them are people that you don’t know how to communicate with. That doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoying their lives. In fact, many people with autism ALREADY HAVE spoken and written quite a lot about their lives. Curiously, they don’t share your disdain for their lives. You would do well to listen to them, instead of making life harder for people like your son. This video will help you, if you ever decide to stop feeling sorry for yourself and start appreciating the life you’ve been privileged to care for:

Thursday, October 03, 2013

End of Life Arrangements

Today, I was in a discussion with some Orthodox women and we were talking about parenting and two income households and women working outside of the home and caring for aging parents. It was interesting to see just how many different opinions there were and the ways that people justify their particular decision.

In my culture, it is a big taboo to put your elders in a facility. My paternal grandparents are still alive. My maternal grandfather died at home. My maternal grandmother insisted on going to a nursing home when she got really sick.

I can understand why she may have wanted that, but it was hard on my mom, because prior to that my grandmother had lived with us. My mom felt like it was an admission of defeat to have her mother in a nursing home. There are so many difficult decisions to make. My mom was a working single parent taking care of four kids. Maybe my grandmother felt like it would be too much for my mom. My mom felt like one of her more affluent siblings (who were all married stay at home mothers) should have made my grandmother move in with them. I feel like I wish I'd have had more time with her and I'd been old enough to realize how great it was to have a grandmother in the house with us, before she move to the nursing home. Maybe my grandmother wanted a little peace and quiet after living in a house with her daughter and grandkids for years.

I didn't want to die at home because I've always felt like home is a place you should always want to come back to. Dying there might have made my family associate being home with feeling anguish or distress. My family was adamant, though. I don't know what would have happened if I had gotten worse. Maybe I'd have convinced them to let me find hospice care outside of the home. Maybe I'd have changed my mind. Maybe they would have been unable to care for me at the end and decided that hospice was the best choice.

I try not to ever judge people about the decisions they make regarding the care of family members. We all make the best decisions we can.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Mary, My Matron

I initially resisted my saint.

Our church was all white people before we came along. However, I have never been made to feel weird or awkward or had someone make "accidentally racist" careless comments to us. However, in some small chit chat during our initial visits, one of the members mentioned that his patron is St. Moses the Black. It was certainly surprising that this oldish, run-of-the-mill, white guy had a Black patron saint. He took that opportunity to tell me that there were lots of African saints in Orthodoxy. I hadn't asked, but looking back on it, I see that he was making sure that my child and I knew that this wasn't just some church that was for white people. We live in the American South and what Dr. Martin Luther King said is still true: "We must face the sad fact that at the eleven o’ clock hour on Sunday morning when we stand to sing, we stand in the most segregated hour in America."

Anyway, the man at church walked me around the church, showing all of the African saints on the walls. The first woman he showed me was St. Mary of Egypt. Later, I read more about her. To be quite honest, I wasn't "impressed". She didn't stick out to me. I think that I still had a very superficial view with regards to the saints. When the priest told my child and I we should be thinking about who we wanted to choose, my VanGoghKid went home and looked up the saints celebrated on hir birthday and found hir matron(s) within 5 minutes. They were absolutely perfect for hir. I was pretty astounded. It was like God just dropped them into hir lap and they were ready-made role models with the same career as hir and many similar coincidences in their lives (including curious gender issues).

I did NOT have the same experience. None of the saints from my birthday stood out to me. I looked at lists of saints online. I checked out books from the library. So many people in my church were telling them that they felt as if their saint really chose them. I did not experience that. I was trying so hard and praying about it. As our baptism neared, folks started suggesting saints and again someone mentioned St. Mary of Egypt. But I wanted a saint with a snazzy story, something cool. I cringe now thinking about it, but it's just the truth.

Then, 2 weeks before baptism, I was getting ready for Liturgy. I stepped out of the shower and then she came to mind. It really was like people said. I was almost sure and I was excited to tell my priest that I might have someone in mind. I went to church that morning and who were we commemorating that day? St. Mary of Egypt. I didn't even know anything about some saints having floating days nor did I know that we'd be commemorating her that day. Welp, I don't think she could have made it any clearer that we were going to do this Orthodoxy journey together.

Picture Description: St. Mary is wrapped in a brown cloak she borrowed from St. Zosima. One arm and shoulder remain exposed. Her hair is brown and white and brushes her shoulders. Her skin is golden brown. Her left hand hold the cloak against her body. In her right hand she holds up a wooden cross. A thin halo surrounds her head.

After we chose each other, I began to understand why she was meant to be my saint. The reasons that I'd been uninterested in her were the very same factors why I needed her. In all of her icons, she is very emaciated. Truthfully, so am I. I have struggled to gain more weight, but I'm learning that even with this body I can serve God. In the icons, her hair is prematurely gray. So is mine, thanks to the toll that cancer has taken on my body. She had been an adventurous woman who wanted to see the world. That's totally me. She had never married, though she'd unashamedly enjoyed her sexuality. No judging, y'all, but that's also like me. Also, for over fifteen years, I'd studied Semitic languages and studied North African and Arab cultures. This was where she lived and died.

No other saint that I read about could better understand me and my experiences. Though relatively little is known about her, I realized that her story is far from thin or simple. So, there's my long winded story about how St. Mary of Egypt became my matron saint.


I'd just finished writing this post and it occurred to me that I might have already written this as part of my baptism post. I used the search feature and realized that I didn't actually write a post about my baptism nor have I mentioned anything about the saints. However, I did find this

Our Lady of Africa

and this

Picturing the Feminine Divine

I wrote both of these posts before I'd ever even heard of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Make of that what you will.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Chronic Pain

I've shown pictures of my morning dose of 5 different medicines that I have to take to get my day started. Three of them are pain medicines, one is for making sure that I can keep the pain meds down, and the last one is an anti-anxiety drug. That is what I must do EVERY SINGLE DAY, just to be have some semblance of a life, just to be able to eat and move and shower and go shopping. This is what it means to have chronic pain. It's not just achy joints or morning stiffness or sore elbows or whatever folks think we mean when we tell you about it. Pills for breakfast is what I have to look forward to for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Dear God, My Neck Hurts!!

Today, a white intersectional feminist--her name is Xenologer and she's a good example of "doin' it right" with regards to being an ally--passed on a link to an amazing declaration called, "I Don’t Want Tim Wise As An Ally. No Thanks." I decided to post my comment here, because it may make it more likely for other people to see and consider it and that would be a good thing.

This is wonderful and absolutely needed. I just wish that even one critique of Tim Wise would include at least a mention of his horrendous ableism. This man has been marginalizing people with disabilities during all of this and I haven't seen a single prominent blog draw attention to this and how it affects the lives of people of color with disabilities vastly more than the lives of white people. We're being killed by folks who think and talk like this man and even my people, my people of color, whom I love so dearly and support, don't seem to notice or speak up or join us when disability rights activists and advocates are talking about it.

I'm just a minor blogger. The only pay I receive for writing is when I'm editing and improving someone else's work. My name doesn't appear no matter how many sentences and paragraphs that I churn out whenever I can even get a writing job. The most I have to show for all of the writing that I've done for over a decade is a little Blogspot address with my personal experiences and views and some guest posts on mainstream white colonial feminist websites.

So, I don't expect any white people to pay attention when folks like me point out the myriad ways this kind of ableism damages, marginalizes and often kills us. I don't expect that most non-disabled folks would be willing to read an entire article or opinion piece by a person of color with disabilities who has to live on the margins, as sister Gloria Anzaldúa wrote about. However, I ask this with all sincerity and hope. Please, if you're someone with a voice that people listen to, please consider including a mention of this white man's ableism. Hell, if you can't or don't want to do it yourself, I'll write it for you and you can put your name on it for all I care.

We're dying over here and folks don't seem to notice it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

When Your Whiteness Is No Longer Enough

I felt a lot of sympathy for this guy when I first read about how New Zealand was treating him because of his weight. After all, the man was still active enough to work and he had lost weight since entering the country. Yet, New Zealand decided to reject his application to stay in the country. They've compromised a little by allowing him to stay in the country for a year, but making it illegal for him to participate in any publicly funded health care.

I decided to visit the man's blog. His wife explains what has happened to them and the distressful situation they are now facing. After all of that, she adds,

No country loses so many citizens as South Africa has done for no good reason.  After being totally settled we are now expected to sell off what we have to return to a country that has swopped one discriminatory policy for another while the world is congratulating itself on dismantling the former policy while turning a blind eye to what is happening to there. This is our story and most importantly we need help to not get deported on humanitarian grounds while we try and get this sorted.

After participating in the apartheid system in South Africa, where they inflicted themselves on the indigenous people of that country, they've gone to New Zealand. Mind you, this is a country that is already swamped with white settlers overwhelming the indigenous Māori population. They would have people feel sorry for them, because white people have rejected them and are willing to send them back to the mess that they made of the last country they inhabited. Comparing what is happening now to what was happening during Apartheid is just ridiculous. This isn't the first time I've seen white South Africans complaining that they are being discriminated against and it is all because they've lost some of the privileged status they once held.

This white couple is still advantaged over the indigenous people of New Zealand and South Africa. Sure, right now it's probably a lot better to be white in New Zealand than in South Africa, but whose fault is that? Who is to blame? How many countries will these same people be able to come, conquer, and ruin before moving on to other already inhabited places?

Really, until New Zealand does a better job of caring for the Māori, I think I'll find it hard to feel bad for people like this. They know nothing about what it means to need humanitarian asylum. After all, who are they running from? If South Africa is really their home, then they'd simply be returning to their own people. However, it's clear from this quote that they recognize that they didn't belong in South Africa to begin with.

Other white people may be turning a blind eye to what is happening in South Africa. That much is true. But people of color are watching it all unfold. What we see in South Africa is just what one would expect after decades of apartheid policies and laws and treatment. Did white people in South Africans think there would be no consequences for their murderous abuse of the Africans?

South Africa embarrassed the world. They were too aggressive in their enforcement of white privilege. It became a liability to be associated with them. In the end, they were left with the occupied state of Israel as the last of apartheid South Africa's supporters. That is significant all by itself. Anyway, now that the chickens have come home to roost, we have white South Africans behaving like rats off on a sinking ship. Nope. I'm just not feeling bad for this guy, not one bit.

What Happens When Violence Broods

It seems that a defense contractor who was allowed onto a Naval yard in Washington, D.C. decided to kill nearly a dozen people.

This nation was baptized in violence and can only be maintained through violence. This is what happens when you create a system that makes it acceptable to use violence to enact political change. Until the USA acknowledges its paternity, people will continue running around after incidents like this wondering where all of this violence is coming from. That's my opinion, at least.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Food Stamp Furors

Tonight I saw someone making claims about food stamp users. They were saying that they worked at a store and, well, read for yourself:
 I work in a store. you really don't want to know about the cigs and other junk they buy. And when they come in and they have just smoked a joint or they are drunk on a daily basis. They have money for all these things. Then they take cash out of the cash side of EBT and walk across to the wine and spirits shop to buy their next drunk. Spend some time in a store watching this, and you will change your mind
I couldn't believe someone would make such ridiculous assertions. The article was about people receiving food stamps and how a politician in Tennessee wants to limit the kinds of food that they can purchase. It wasn't about any other program. However, to get cash benefits, individuals have to be working a certain amount of hours at a job. So, if we're going to tell working people what they should be able to do with their money, everyone needs to mail their checkbook to me so that I can make a list of approved (and disapproved) future purchases.

I've worked at stores and I've seen just the opposite of what this woman reported. I've seen people come up with all kinds of ingenious ways to create meals cheaper than I'd have ever thought possible. I've seen parents buy regular food for their children but purchase nothing but ramen for themselves for a month so that they'll have enough stamps left over for their kids to have a decent birthday cake. I've seen folks using food stamps to buy expensive cases of Boost and Ensure just to stay alive because they have cancer and they're out of work and those high calorie, sweetened drinks are the only thing they can tolerate while they're in chemotherapy and radiation. I've seen people bringing in competitor's advertisements for price matching so that they can get the best deal possible at the one grocery store they were able to get to. I've seen neighbors pool their hard-earned money to buy a deep freezer they can both use to store food bought in bulk.

No one is more industrious and clever than a truly poor person. If they are able to come in every day (as the person claimed) and buy stuff, it means they must be managing their money pretty damn well. I'm not on food stamps and even I have had times where I couldn't just go to the store and buy enough groceries to get through the month.

Thank God I had a financially comfortable family that wasn't willing to let me and my child starve when I had to cut back my hours at the store because my chemotherapy was making me throw up every where. I didn't even stop working during chemo, because I was too poor for that to even seem like an option.

Imagine being too sick to afford to buy enough food for your family and then, when someone else is nice enough to use their hard-earned money to feed you, you throw it all up. The humiliation and embarrassment is more than many folks will probably ever understand. If my tax dollars can save someone from having to go hungry or if it makes it possible for them to just pig out on junk food while they live out the last couple months of their terminal diagnosis, then I consider it a pretty good damn investment in society.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

War, Rape, and Propaganda

A few weeks ago, I was lunching with an old friend who is a war veteran. He started talking about his service and how he feels about those experiences. He told me that he's always embarrassed when people on the street thank him for his service--that's something I've always done when I see a soldier, by the way. He feels like no one should thank him for the actions he carried out overseas. He feels like the military used him. He recalled an incident during training when they watched a PowerPoint presentation and one slide showed "our" military with a bunch of muscled US soldiers posing for the camera. The next slide showed "their" military and it was a picture of dead bodies strewn on the ground. He was so sickened that he had to leave out. Afterward, he told the presenter that he felt like it was an insult to their intelligence to use that kind of sick propaganda to promote the wars they were being sent to fight.

I didn't even know how to respond to what he said. The things that the military did to him were only slightly better than the things that they had him do to others. I've known this guy since I was in middle school. He served in both the army and the Air Force and was discharged honorably. I trust him and believe him. Though the things he said were terrible, I think that anyone who saw and heard what he said would believe him, too.

After thinking about that conversation over the past couple weeks, I saw this:

U.S. Army Private LaVena  Lynn Johnson, RIP
According to the U.S. Department of Defense, Private LaVena Lynn Johnson killed herself on July 19, 2005, eight days before her twentieth birthday. Exactly how did she end her life? She punched herself in the face hard enough to blacken her eyes, break her nose, and knock her front teeth loose. She douched with an acid solution after mutilating her genital area. She poured a combustible liquid on herself and set it afire. She then shot herself in the head. Despite this massive self-inflicted trauma, she somehow managed to drag her then fully clothed body into the tent of a KBR contractor, leaving a trail of blood along the way and set the tent ablaze in a failed attempt to cover up her crimes against herself.
What can anyone say that would excuse or justify what was done to this woman? All I can do is provide an explanation. The US military is a corrupt system. It is incapable of providing justice. There's a part of me that wants to amend that first sentence by saying that the US military is now a corrupt system. After all, like a good American, I was brought up with a certain amount of reverence for the military. The best I can say is that not all soldiers are corrupt. Not all soldiers rape and kill. However, it's necessary to recognize that these rapes are almost always acceptable in militaries where there's prolonged war. In the killing of POC around the world, they're already committing atrocities and having those atrocities excused. Right now, one in three women serving in the military are sexually assaulted by other service members. What happened to Private Johnson is simply another atrocity committed against a POC during wartime. We should expect nothing less, nothing different, in this situation.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Break Up I Didn't See Coming and the One That I Did

In H IS FOR HUBRIS, HUGO; S IS FOR SORDID, SCHWYZER,  Flavia Dzodan sums up the latest exposé of the acclaimed writer and professional male feminist Hugo Schwyzer (who recently blamed feminist critiques for his mental breakdown and decision to stop writing about feminist issues) and addresses who should be taking responsibility for the damage that Schwyzer was put into a position to be able to inflict on marginalized women.

"Herein lies another problem with this toxic media environment that supposedly represents feminism: if you protest too loudly or not using the right platitudes or if you go after the gate keepers, you can forget to be included. You can forget mainstream gigs, book deals, mentions, promotion. You become “a loose cannon” (something he apparently called me for writing about him)."

I remember the pain of experiencing this. It seems that suddenly, after a lifetime of seeing your issues ignored, the white women who are supposedly your "sisters" are finally interested in the way their behavior marginalizes us. It felt like a real honor for these mainstream white feminist sites to be interested in giving me the opportunity to  write about disability culture, my perspective as an Indigenous American woman, and being queer in these communities.

Then, one day, I questioned the behavior of one these privileged editors and suddenly the ableism appeared and I was too "unstable" and the racism reared its head and I was labeled too "hostile" and then came the silence. All of a sudden, the links stopped. There were no more casual mentions in their posts--the subtle way that prominent white feminist writers signal to their readers which smaller blogs are worth checking out.

It becomes apparent that this is all just an extension of high school for them. And every cheer leading squad has to have a few virile white studs to fawn over. Schwyzer represented that for them. They defended him, because he represented the identity that enforces the hierarchy that centers the experiences of white, western, non-disabled women above everything other than white, western, non-disabled men. It was only natural for them to remain loyal to him even as he shit on women of color, women with disabilities. He makes it possible for them to shit on us, too. As hip and cool as it seems to be a "friend of the the blacks" or someone who sympathizes with the poor cripples, it isn't worth sacrificing the perks of white privilege.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Mused Magazine and Drew-Shane Daniels Need to Go and Take a Seat

Yesterday, Mused Magazine decided to post Drew-Shane Daniels' very transphobic post ("Forget The Lawsuit, So B. Scott Is 'Transgender' Now?") about B. Scott's decision to sue Black Entertainment Television (BET) for an incident that occurred earlier this year. It pissed me off so much that I decided to pick it apart and address it. I've seen how comments like this can get removed rather quickly, so I'm posting it here, too.

By the way, I'm using male pronouns, because B. Scott's spokesperson said this is his preference.


"With all of that said: one thing he has not been known for until now was self identifying as transgender."

B. Scott never had a responsibility to tell you or anyone else how he chooses to identify.

"It is very irresponsible for B. Scott to claim being trans after all of these years of stanning for androgynous or gender non-conforming."

According to YOU. B. Scott has no responsibility to live up to any one's expectations other than his own.

"I can only hope his actions don’t spiral out of control with assumptions in our community."

You are already spiraling out of control with assumptions about how B. Scott should identify and live his life.

"To be transgender, in the simplest terms, is to have a fluid sexual appearance and/or gender that you self-identify not matching one’s assigned sex."

No. You're simply incorrect.

"Instead of suing for $2.5 million, perhaps B. Scott could have taken the time to educate the community about sexuality and gender identification."

What in the world do those 2 things have to do with each other? If you think the community needs education about sexuality and gender identification, you could start with educating yourself and then stop expecting B. Scott to do what you could do for "the community".

"We have to stop the (white, heterosexual) media from writing our narratives and be willing to tell our own stories at any risk."

Yet, now that B. Scott is telling his own story, folks like you reject it and demand that he tell us something different. You refuse to accept what he has to say about his life. Maybe you'd treat him differently if he was white and heterosexual.

"At the end of the day, I can respect B. Scott’s decision to identify as transgender; however, the timing couldn’t be any better or profitable."

"Better or profitable"? "Better" at a time when transgender people are still being murdered on the streets like they're less worthy of rights than the pets people keep in their yard? "Profitable"? When even prominent transgender folks still struggle to find work and the majority of transgender folks have to deal with housing issues, food insecurity, non-existent health care appropriate for their needs, and the cissexism that's present even in queer communities? Please! Don't get it twisted. B. Scott is taking a very big risk by identifying as transgender and I think that courage should be supported.

"If we want to complain about people policing and making money off our sexuality, we must demand respect from our own."

How about you lead the way by showing some respect for "our own" by quitting with all of the transphobic nonsense you wrote here? That would be a very good start.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

What Not to Say to Your Daughter and Why You Should Avoid Assumptions About People

Tonight, I found a particularly troubling blog post that someone wrote giving mothers advice about "How to talk to your daughter about her body". I tried to just dismiss it, but it kept bothering me so much that I felt it might be helpful to explain what's wrong with it and what mothers can do instead.

1. How to talk to your daughter about her body, step one: don’t talk to your daughter about her body, except to teach her how it works.

Please, don't listen to this. The world is going to tell your daughter that her body is bad, stinky, too dark, too fat, too short, too tall, et cetera. Please teach your daughter that her body is great.

2. Don’t say anything if she’s lost weight. Don’t say anything if she’s gained weight.

If you notice that your daughter has lost or gained some weight, there's nothing wrong with talking to her about how it is absolutely normal for our weight to vary at different times of the month or depending on how active we may be.

3. If you think your daughter’s body looks amazing, don’t say that. Here are some things you can say instead:

If you think your daughter's body looks amazing, tell her! Tell her how gorgeous her brown skin looks with that skirt or how adorable she looks wearing the new swimming suit she picked out. Why shouldn't someone tell her how marvelous she looks? There seems to be a problem in white colonialist societies where women are afraid to compliment each other. Don't buy into that!

4. “You look so healthy!” is a great one.

Don't say this to your daughter. In fact, don't say this to anyone, ever. Teach your daughter that "healthy" is a completely subjective notion. You can't tell anything about some one's health by looking at them. I went through 18 years of my life looking "healthy". The whole time I was suffering with a terrible progressive auto-immune disease. However, everyone thought that I was just imagining all of the symptoms I felt. After all, I looked "healthy". It was heartbreaking and frustrating to be told time and time again that I looked healthy when I kept telling people that I did not feel well. You aren't doing anyone any favors by telling them that you think they look healthy.

5. Or how about, “you’re looking so strong.”

Again, this is indeterminable. How does a strong person look? All of these women are Olympic champions. All of them have very different looking bodies. All of them are strong.Image Hosted by

6. “I can see how happy you are – you’re glowing.”

This isn't all that bad. However, I'd say it might be better to tell her that it seems like she's in a good mood. Also, it might not hurt to make it a point to regularly let her know how much you enjoy being around her regardless of her mood or happiness.

7. Don’t comment on other women’s bodies either. Nope. Not a single comment, not a nice one or a mean one.

I disagree wholeheartedly. Teach your daughter that there is absolutely nothing wrong with saying nice things to other women. If you think that a woman's new hair color is pretty snazzy, let her know. If you really admire a woman's tattoos, feel free to tell her how cool they look. If you see a woman with beautiful ebony colored skin, don't be afraid to say how stunning she is. Let your daughter see that you can admire all kinds of women and all kinds of bodies. It will teach her that she needn't feel obligated to fit into the narrow and negative Western beauty ideal that is damaging the psyches of so many girls today.

8. Encourage your daughter to run because it makes her feel less stressed. Encourage your daughter to climb mountains because there is nowhere better to explore your spirituality than the peak of the universe. Encourage your daughter to surf, or rock climb, or mountain bike because it scares her and that’s a good thing sometimes.

No. Encourage your daughter to figure out what makes her feel less stressed. Teach her that she should feel free to develop her spirituality wherever she feels led and let her know that you will support whatever decisions she decides to make, even if she decides that she doesn't need any kind of spirituality in order to be happy. Teach her that there are plenty of folks who follow the faith traditions of their families, but there are also plenty of folks who strike out on their own and that's okay, too.

9. Help your daughter love soccer or rowing or hockey because sports make her a better leader and a more confident woman. Explain that no matter how old you get, you’ll never stop needing good teamwork. Never make her play a sport she isn’t absolutely in love with.

There's really no need to do this. Not all girls enjoy team sports. She can grow up to be a good leader and a confident woman even if she decides that she'd prefer solo activities. She may not like sports at all. There are plenty of other ways to develop the skills needed to engage in teamwork.

10. Prove to your daughter that women don’t need men to move their furniture.

Please don't teach your daughter to associate abilities with being a part of a particular gender. Some women do need men to move their furniture and there's nothing wrong with that. There's never anything wrong with asking for help when she needs it. Tell her that.

11. Teach your daughter how to cook kale. Teach your daughter how to bake chocolate cake made with six sticks of butter.

Ask your daughter if she wants to learn how to cook. She may not even be interested in it. Not all women are. Teach her that it's perfectly okay if she doesn't know how to cook. Let her know that if she becomes interested in learning, then you'll show her or you'll learn together.

12. Pass on your own mom’s recipe for Christmas morning coffee cake. Pass on your love of being outside.

This assumes that we all have moms who collect recipes. Again, not all women like to cook. It's perfectly okay to buy a recipe book if she wants to learn how to make something. There's nothing to be ashamed of.

Oh yes, and some of us don't love being outside, so we can't pass on that love. Some of us hate being outside. Some of us can't spend time outside, because of our disabilities. It's okay to be an "indoors girl". You can get plenty of exercise without ever leaving the house. However, if you do decide to take her outdoors, make sure you teach her about why sunblock is important.

13. Maybe you and your daughter both have thick thighs or wide ribcages. It’s easy to hate these non-size zero body parts. Don’t. Tell your daughter that with her legs she can run a marathon if she wants to, and her ribcage is nothing but a carrying case for strong lungs. She can scream and she can sing and she can lift up the world, if she wants.

This is ableist. Don't tell your daughter what she can and can't do with her body. She may not be able to run a marathon, even if she wants to. She may not be able to scream or sing or lift up the world. She can still be awesome even without doing any of that. Tell her so.

14. Remind your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to use it to mobilize her beautiful soul.

Skip that advice. Tell your daughter that the best thing she can do with her body is to enjoy it. Enjoy it in any way that she pleases, because it's hers and only hers. Enjoy her body to the fullest and tell her that there is absolutely nothing shameful about her body or anything that her body does or anything that she does with her body. That is what you should teach her.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

White Racists Can't Deal With Criticism, Not Even From Other White People

It started with an excellent article about fans of the group Postal Service and their racist reaction when New Orleans sissy bounce rapper Big Freedia performed as their opening act.

White Music Fans Are Afraid of Difference

 One New Orleanian commented and that prompted someone else to respond and then I responded to that response. You can see it all here or on the Salon site.

Victor Pizarro
As a native New Orleanian, I think the author of the article is SPOT ON and completely on to something. The only telling points missed were the connections to bounce, call and response, and African roots inherent in the music (see "The World that Made New Orleans" by Ned Sublette). The comments and reactions to Freedia do have everything to do with cultural whiteness and ultimately, fear. The comment thread listed here is absolutely telling. Art and music are subjective tastes, but person after person has commented here about Freedia's lack of talent. I suppose New Orleanians must have awful, shitty musical tastes, seeing as we're never exposed to a variety of music. Freedia is a hard worker and puts everything into each show. These comments not only insult Freedia but New Orleans as a whole as well.
Shit like this makes all of us down here just want to secede from the nation. Don't worry, we'll take the jazz, bounce, seafood, Mardi Gras, and oil and gas with us. No worries.
@Victor Pizarro As a native New Orleanian I think your comment helps to demonstrate how self-absorbed and vapid New Orleans culture is becoming. With the the exception of Trombone Shorty and Lightwire theater, the only acts from New Orleans getting any national attention are both minstrel shows right out of Spike Lee's Bamboozled. The first is the "sissy bounce" drag queen minstrel shows of Big Freedia, and the other is a male dance minstrel show in the 610 Stompers. 

When we created Jazz and exported it to the world, it was about the best of New Orleans, now we are exporting the worst of New Orleans, and when others see it for what it is and express their displeasure with it we play haughty and talk about how others simply aren't sophisticated enough to "get it." And let's ascribe the worst traits in people who don't like our leading minstrel show in Big Freedia: they must be racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist all wrapped into one. 

New Orleans put its musical preservation into hyperdrive, and the result was that it locked the many young talented musicians into the 1920s. New Orleanians no longer innovate in music. We have the musical talent in New Orleans to innovate new musical styles as impressive as Jazz and beyond. But we can't do that, because we preserve the past at all expenses, and so pretend that a minstrel show is more musical innovation coming from New Orleans, and when everybody else dislikes it we talk about "cultural whiteness" and fear and blah blah blah. But the defenders of "sissy bounce" won't tell you is that it wasn't black music writers who pushed the music to the forefront -- it was southern white music writers who fell in love with the black-gay-drag-queen minstrel and promoted it as a cultural revolution. Now, white people have to act like it is something special and not a totally obnoxious repetitive uncreative misntrel that it is, or be colored as racists hicks because they don't "get" something about black culture. But if black culture got it so good why didn't black music writers hawk it to the general population? 
Jake Hamby
@Robert1969 Thanks for writing that. It explains so much about what seems to be going on here. I can't stand whiny indie bands like The Postal Service, so I'd be happy to believe that their fans were turned off by Big Freedia out of racism, since there was plenty on display in comments.
Like another commenter here, I wouldn't mind listening to bounce music for a few minutes, which I suppose means I like Big Freedia more than TPS, but that genre is far too repetitive and uptempo for my taste. The big question is why they would be picked as an opening act when the two style clearly don't mesh.
Your comment about white people reviving an old genre as a type of modern minstrel makes a lot of sense and is in line with the theme of the article about white musicians appropriating a black style without an understanding of the origins and historical context, as well as with my own personal prejudices about white indie hipsters appropriating black music by promoting it (like, for example, an opening act for a completely different genre) *in addition to* white hipsters reflexively responding with racism to a musical act that they wouldn't have liked anyway.
bint alshamsa
@Robert1969 Wow! You really are out of touch and uninformed. You think that Trombone Shorty and Lightwire are the only acts getting national attention right now? I can't think of anything funnier than that. There's Christian Scott, Big Sam's Funky Nation, Los Hombres Calientes, the Devin Phillips Quartet. I could go on and on.
When we created Jazz, we had to listen to the same kind of foolishness you're spouting here. Jazz wasn't considered the best of New Orleans. It wasn't even considered a legitimate music genre. It was considered "n-word" music that only white drug addicts liked to listen to. NOW white people like to pretend as if they were always able to appreciate Jazz. That certainly isn't anything even close to reality.
Back then cultural whiteness defined it as nothing more than just cacophony, lacking proper structure and format. It wasn't until Southern white musicians fell in love with it that it began to be recognized as a legitimate art form. So, is it any surprise that sissy bounce didn't start getting more recognition until it began to interest Southern white musicians? Not if you're someone with any knowledge of how American music has traditionally spread.
The truth is, black people in the general population have been familiar with sissy bounce. It's just white squares and L7s like you who didn't know about it. As usual, y'all don't pay any attention to what's going on in non-white cultures until we've been doing something for decades.

Friday, August 02, 2013

My Franglish

Kimberley McLeod wrote an article on XOJane called "I Do Have An Accent Just Not Around You" that piqued my interest this morning.

I didn't realize just how much my language is affected by my Francophone roots until I spent a few weeks by my momma and daddy. My way of phrasing things is, apparently, very different. Also, without even mentioning anything about where I'm from, someone on an internet thread asked me if I happened to be from New Orleans. It turns out that I'd been writing a few things in French without even noticing it. When I write without stopping to think about the words I'm using or when I'm really excited, I think my brain just goes into auto-drive and chooses whichever language fragment pops up first.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

It Won't Go Away Because You Refuse To Acknowledge It

Ignoring the effects of racism and sexism won't make them less harmful and it won't improve our relationships and interactions with other people. I think it's better to be serious about recognizing power imbalances inherent in a capitalist, colonialist society.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

My People

It still makes me shake my head when I see white people who get indignant when mixed race folks dare to say anything about our heritage. It makes me even more sad when people of color treat me that way. Even if I could ignore white people who conveniently "forget" that there are mixed race people in this country, it's just incomprehensible when people of color do this.

A few days ago, I was talking to some fellow WOC about how nice it is to be able stand up against baseless charges of racism when random white people decide that simply saying ANYTHING about race makes us racist. I always feel like it's my responsibility to use my (relatively) privileged background to point out that it isn't just Black people or Latin@s who hate white people that feel this way. These challenges that WOC face are also shared by those of us who, through choice or ancestry, share our private lives with white people. I actually feel glad about being able to stand up and support other POC.

Then, I have days like this, when my own people of color make me feel like I should just go ahead and give into the "Tragic Mulatta" role where a person feels like they can't even get other people of color to have their back when crazy random white people pop up in start in with the silly claims that we're being racist. Even after all of these years, it still hurts.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Androgyny Issues

Sometimes it's difficult to love my androgynous body. Other times in my life, I've loved it. When I was young, I engaged in a lot of genderbending. It wasn't really political beyond the extent to which the personal is political. It was mostly to show my friends that I could. It was great fun to draw on a mustache and use the boys bathrooms. I was already dressing pretty butch, so it never took much for me to step over from trying to be perceived as a girl to showing just how seamlessly I could blend in with bodies perceived as belonging to boys. It was a thrilling feeling, but I never thought about why I could do it more successfully than most of my girlfriends.

While I was in college, I did start to wear more dresses and I never stepped out without a full face of make-up, but the majority of my wardrobe still consisted of shorts and jeans and t-shirts. That was my preferred style and maybe the cosmetics "softened" my look enough that my identity as a woman was never challenged. I didn't even give much thought to the idea that my body wasn't exactly curvy. I don't think I even noticed yet.

In fact, I don't think I allowed myself to even consider my androgyny until a couple of years ago. It's still a sensitive subject for me. I am a woman. I've never had any doubts about that. However, if I'm honest with myself I have to admit that my body just doesn't look like what most people associate with being a woman. Besides having a vagina, there really isn't anything that does make my body look anything different from what you'd expect from what's usually perceived as "male".

This is especially true since I had my surgeries (for the cancer in my chest). In the process of de-bulking the tumor, they had to remove some of the breast tissue on the left side. I was left with most of the nerves severed and that affects how it appears at any given time in comparison with the other side of my chest. I wish I had the courage to show just what I'm talking about, but I'm just not the kind of person who feels comfortable sharing pictures of my body  with strangers. My breasts were always small enough to look best in a training bra. Any sort of built in cup was either uncomfortable on the left side or too tight for the right side.

Anyway, that's that. I'm at the point where I have to decide how to feel about my body, because these things are not likely to change. I'd never consider breast implants, because I don't believe in elective surgery for myself. I feel like it would be a disrespect to my body to put it in danger needlessly, especially after all of the trauma that it has had to endure.

I can do things to make myself look more femme. I hadn't really bothered with anything beyond my daily lipstick and eyeliner routine until I separated from my partner. I'm not sure whether it's good or bad, but he'd never cared about what I wore or even how I looked. However, when I became single again, I started giving serious thought to how people would perceive me. I do dress a bit more femme now. I'm not sure if it's because I want to attract people or a sign of how I'm trying to figure out just who I am now that I'm no longer a part of a couple.

I have to admit that the idea of anyone seeing my body in the future does make me feel a bit anxious. What will they think of my body when they see my chest? Will it be a non-issue, because it doesn't look as bad as I think it does or because the person just doesn't care about how bad it looks? What if I can't bring myself to show it to them? Is it okay for me to refrain from ever showing it to them?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The "Real Life" versus "Online" Dichotomy

Think about this: I have an autoimmune disease. I can't touch or feel folks during certain times of the year, because I can get very sick from germs that they are carrying. I'm home bound for months at a time from various health problems. For example, a year ago I spent 4 months inside due to a upper respiratory infection that just wouldn't go away. Are my relationships less real, just because I don't/can't feel or touch the folks I love? In fact, it's the opposite. Those who care about me stay away from where I can feel or touch them, because they don't want me to get sick(er) during those periods.

I was raised before the Internet was widely used. When it did become popular, skeptics and Luddites would criticize or downplay its significance by creating this on-line/real life dichotomy. Perhaps at one time it might have seemed like a legitimate construct to non-disabled folks. However, it's absolutely useless now.

People can be connected to others even MORE than in the past, because of the Internet. If the only time I was able to spend with someone was when we were able to meet in person, then it would take much longer to develop the relationship. When I can talk to them all day long (on my PC or laptop or cellphone), we can learn a lot more about each other in a shorter period of time.

I'm saying all of this to give folks a few ideas they can consider. What if you decided to stop boxing people into "real life" or "online" categories? What if you accepted that all of these relationships are equally legitimate? You might find out that the lack of certain kinds of folks around your physical body starts to matter a lot less.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Someone should have told Ellen Sturtz what happens when you show your ass in public.


This amused me to no end. I guess things didn't go as planned for that white privileged heckler who tried to silence her. This heifer had the nerve to later say that she was "taken aback" because after screaming and ranting at her, our First Lady actually approached her and spoke directly to her. I am astounded by the audacity of this woman to expect to be allowed to take over the event that people had paid to attend.

This was at a private event in a private home, where Sturtz was a guest. Now, I know that we take courtesy and the rules of hospitality to a level that Northerners might not understand. However, I have to believe that even in Kalorama, Washington behaving like that when you're a guest in some one's home is just unacceptable. I would have been mortified if someone that I allowed into my home began ranting and screaming at another invited guest. Sturtz is quite lucky that she was only escorted out of the event. I tell my child, "If you show the world your underpants, you shouldn't be surprised if you get kicked in your arse." In other words, if you blatantly disrespect people, there's a very good chance that things might not go well for you in the end.

To top it off, in a later interview, Sturtz said, "I was surprised by how negative the crowd seemed to be. It was actually a little unsettling and disturbing". Well, now doesn't that just take the cake?! She was disturbed and unsettled by negativity from the other guests. These people just watched Sturtz ranting and screaming at our First Lady Michelle Obama and they are the ones being disturbing and negative? I don't think I've seen that kind of projection since I went to a drive-in movie at the end of the last millennium!

Michelle isn't the President! She's not even a politician at all! And even if she was the President, she still couldn't fix what Sturtz wants. Sturtz could have gone to the white guys in Congress who are really withholding her rights. Instead she attacked a woman, because she's mad that the woman's husband won't do her bidding. Even if someone doesn't believe that white privilege played a role here, there's no denying that this was a seriously patriarchal and anti-feminist thing to do. Where was she when Laura Bush was the First Lady and lesbians had even fewer rights than they have now? Why is it she didn't get mad and make this demand until President Obama got into office and Michelle Obama became our First Lady?

Folks like Sturtz and the organization she stands for (GetEqual) make it quite evident why so many People of Color LGBTQIA folks want nothing to do with these white-dominated, white-privileged groups and their pet projects like the so-called "marriage equality". It makes it plain why so many Women of Color want nothing to do with these women like Sturtz who show that they do not have our best interests in mind nor do they even have the respect for us that they demand to be shown.