Tag Archives: politics

Blackface is Racist. Period. Mocking Domestic Abuse is Misogynistic. Period.

So this happened.

http://jezebel.com/5952124/idiot-students-in-blackface-reenact-chris-brown-beating-rihanna-at-worst-pep-rally-ever

Yeah an almost all white school had a performance where they did a skit in blackface portraying Chris Brown beating the shit out of Rihanna to win a popularity contest. This was a skit approved by school officials, watched by staff and community leaders. And now many of the students and faculty are defending it, saying it’s not racist at all. Sadly I’m not that surprised by this but it did make me feel some things I wanted to share.

First of all, as always I love it when white people, especially white people who obviously have no cultural knowledge of the history of blackface, and have close to no diversity in their community tell me what’s racist.

‘Cause they know right? They’ve been hassled by the police. They’ve been called the n-word by people that were supposed to be their advocates. They’ve been targets of harassment where people wouldn’t believe them because of their skin tone. They’ve been assumed to be a thief, thug, stupid, animalistic. They know how much it hurts some members of the black community to see blackface, how it’s tied to a time when we were considered less than human, how it was used to mock, belittle, terrorize, and propagandize to keep a group of people from having basic rights.

Blackface is racist. The end. Any comedy that requires you to darken your skin to be funny? Relies on the characters race for humor and considering you couldn’t get a black person to play the role I’m going think that the comedy wasn’t exactly flattering. There is no reason for blackface. Why is your art relying on an archaic and problematic premise?

Prejudice is the easy joke, it’s the simple laugh. Watch any frat dudebro comedy and you’ll see, they go for the old school stereotypes about women, foreigners, LGBTQI folks, disabled people, poor people, etc. for their humor. The women are always virgins or whores there to be mocked for either decision, the POC are always thugs (Af-Am), hackers (As-Am), mocked for their misunderstanding of America (everyone), etc. and the gay characters are there to be mocked with old stereotypes that compare queer women to men and queer men to women. We’re not even going to go into that problematic binary, that’s a completely different post. The point is it’s the easy laugh. HaHa look at the outsider, they’re not like me so their funny. If that’s the only humor you can reach for, aside from being privileged and oppressive you’re just a bad comedian. It’s old, it’s tired, it’s racist, it’s no longer okay.

And I assume if they’re defending this and past examples of blackface they’ve examined why they feel the need to use blackface. They’ve delved deep into their psyche and examined why an almost all white community that has little to no contact with People of Color finds blackface so entertaining it had to happen repeatedly.  They have a really good defense and reasoning for why they did this, why educators approved it, why everyone thought it was funny, aside from their critics being stupid or oversensitive, right? They were doing some good work deconstructing race and gender and the male gaze right? ‘Cause if they don’t have any that.

It’s. Just. Racist.

This is without even going into the fact that they were recreating the act of a black woman being abused! Go to the link above, look at that photo, look at the all-white audience laughing and smiling while they imagine a brown woman being thrown to the ground in violence. I don’t care what the skit was, I don’t care what they meant by it, I don’t care for anything the students, faculty or attendees have to say that is not a heartfelt apology, an explanation why they thought this was funny, and a commitment to examine their own amusement at mocking the physical assault of a black woman. Would it have been just as hilarious if it was recreating Pamela Anderson’s abuse incident? Sharon Osbourne’s? There’s misogyny here to be sure but the racial aspect turns it into something even worse.

What is it about seeing a brown woman beaten that these white boys think will win them a popularity contest, that their community will be entertained by the misogynistic, racist spectacle?

Also I’m sure the faculty and advisers know that 1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend in an abusive relationship, that 1 in 4 teen girls have been forced into sex by a intimate partner, that 80% of abused teen girls continue to date their abuser, that almost a third of teen girls killed every year are killed by a boyfriend or husband. Given these statistics they must also know that there are likely girls in that auditorium watching that performance that are currently involved in an abusive relationship. So what message did they get from the faculty approving of this? How likely are these girls now to feel safe reporting anything about abuse to this school, to anyone in their community? They’ve effectively told all who see this that the misogynistic atmosphere of the community is the arbiter of who gets to complain, who’s pain is real and whose is a joke.

But it was all a joke right?

No, it’s not a joke. Abuse is not a joke, racism is not a joke. I’ve been known to make the off-color joke myself among friends, true but first that is among friends and I always try to be aware of the privilege I have and how that factors into what I’m saying. I try not to be defensive if people decide to call me on what I say. It seems like this community wants none of that. They want to pretend that blackface is just make-up, that watching a woman getting an abusive beatdown is all good fun, that a community rallying to defend white boy’s right to recreate a brown woman’s fear, terror and pain as entertainment is okay. It’s not. This is not art that’s meant to inform, educate or examine abuse in certain communities which is one thing but entertainment that mocks her pain, belittles it, makes it fodder for the humor of an all-white community.

And that? Is. Not. Okay.

Manifesto! 5/5 – Not The Marrying Kind – Statements…The End

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I think there’s humor in the hypocrisy of a movement that fights for marriage equality while lauding a film like “Brokeback Mountain” as romantic when the core basis of the film is an extra-marital affair. But it seems being on the down’low is acceptable as long as those engaging in it are white and only betraying women. Although the theme of pretending to be something you’re not fits in quite well with the homogenizing view of the large GLBTQ organizations.

Manifesto! 4/5 – Not The Marrying Kind: Statements…(cont.2)

Previously – Not The Marrying Kind: Statements…(cont.)

I believe that the fierceness and power of the movement has been bled out by the constant focus on marriage equality as the only issue of importance perpetuated by large, wealthy, privileged groups such as GLAAD and the HRC who are looking out for themselves as opposed to the community as a whole.

Manifesto! 3/5 – Not The Marrying Kind: Statements…(cont.)

Previously – Not The Marrying Kind: Statements…

I don’t understand how fighting tooth and claw for inclusion in such a problematic power structure such as marriage is a fight for everyone’s equality. A marginalized group fighting for a bigger piece of the pie rather than the eradication of the system has never led to liberation.

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Manifesto! 2/5 – Not The Marrying Kind: Statements…

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I understand that marriage is a prison, has a historical basis in silencing women and trading them like pieces of chattel and that a mere fifty years of “change” or transgressive reinterpretations can in no way wipe out a history of oppression and inequality stretching back centuries.

Manifesto! 1/5 – Not The Marrying Kind: Introduction

So both my readings last week went exceptionally well. I got a bunch of compliments on my prose piece and am going to submit it somewhere this week and despite my fear the Manifesto reading went swimmingly. The audience got what I was saying and was whooping and hollering in agreement. In fact after the reading I had a few people come up to me and ask if they could find it online or if it was posted anywhere. I had been on the fence about putting it up online simply because it is pretty radical and the blogosphere is a very different environment than the very radical space I was in for the reading. I’m not up for some of the comments I’ll inevitably get but having folks ask me if they could find it online made me realize that if no one sees or hears a manifesto what is the freaking point?!

So my Manifesto, Not The Marrying Kind will be going up in five parts this week. I’m breaking it up, not to make more posts out of it (or at least not just because of that) but because it’s the way I wrote it – in a series of chunks - and I like the idea of it being experienced in that way. In fact at the reading since we had interruptions from the audience they got it broken into sections as well and I think it worked very well, allowing folks to take in the previous points before moving on. Keep in mind that this is an early iteration of the work and it may grow, shrink, shift during any future re-writes however the core of it will not alter.

Not The Marrying Kind: Intro

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Two Chances To See Me Read

So if you’re in the Bay Area there are two chances to see me read in the next few weeks. The first is at the Soulful Reading Series on my school’s campus. Here’s the flyer:soulful-revised

 

Not only do I know most of the readers and can guarantee their collective awesomeness and soulfulness but the piece I will be reading features cannibalism. CANNIBALISM! People you should be asking yourselves, how can you not come!

The second chance to hear me read will be on 5/1/2009 at the Center of Sex & Culture in San Francisco as part of SFinX’s Manifesto Night. I will be reading a non-fiction radically extreme political manifesto (or at least part of it) that I’m working on right now. I’ll put the poster and more info up here when I get it.

LOGISTICS CHANGES:
4/28/09 – reading moved to 5:30
5/01/09 – location moved to Modern Times Bookstore

“Prop. 8 It Passed ‘Cause of Black People!” …. Yeeeeeeah, no.

So the new screed for the No on Prop. 8 people is that it’s the fault of black people that the proposition passed. So let’s break the numbers down, black people make up 6.7% of California and 52% of people voted yes on Prop. 8! Even if every black person in CA voted Yes on Prop. 8 it does not equal even remotely the number of white people who voted for it, so how is it our fault again? Why is the focus all on us?

Is there queerism within communities of color? Yes abso-fucking-lutely, but that’s present within all communities and we all need to do that work. I don’t mean to diminish that queerism at all but I also do not want it elevated because it’s occurring within a community of color which is the M.O. of a lot of the focus around the intersections of POC communities and queerism. Rarely if ever when queerism within POC communities is discussed do queer POC get a chance to speak on their experiences at the intersection of those two or more identities.

The whole campaign for ‘No on 8′ was fucked from the jump.

As my friend Jackie said – “The Yes on 8 people were smart, they campaigned heavily in People of Color communities from the beginning and their commercials included People of Color (POC)”.

The No on 8 people came into communities of color late and they came soft, the whole push for No. on 8 was soft. In so many ways the current push for gay rights is predicated on assimilating into the mainstream and yet somehow trying to keep enough status to call on People of Color communities and say, “We’re just like you! We’re allies!” But here’s the thing we’re only allies when you need something. When initiatives for/about POC have come up the gay community has mostly been completely silent. For more on this read LadyJax’s post Something told me this was going to happen. Where she talks about gentrification, coalition building and reciprocity. Like she says the No on 8 folks needed to come hard and say ‘Bottom line our rights are being taken away. We are a minority who is having our rights stripped and if it happens to us it can happen to you.’

Do two wrongs make a right? No absolutely not (and that’s not what LadyJax is saying either).

What is being said is that you can’t act just like any other cog in the oppressive system one second and then try to play on some invisible connection to POC the next when you’ve done nothing to nurture any kind of bond or relationship there. In so many ways the big GLBT organizations – HRC, GLAAD seem to ignore POC as much as possible you just have to look at the amount of praise that shows like The L Word & Queer As Folk receive as opposed the silence that shows that feature queer POC like Noah’s Arc are greeted with. They would like to ignore the fact that there are in fact queer POC. Communities of Color, our issues and problems are completely ignored and a lot of that has to do with the fact that rich gay white men, the focus and funding of GLAAD and HRC profit off of not remembering that – especially in regards to gentrification and the way that POC get treated in our own neighborhoods when gentrification begins. Because they would prefer to ignore us the outreach that happens is minimal if there at all. Is it any wonder that when we’re approached a couple of weeks before the election with comparisons to segregation and civil rights that we’re more likely to scoff than join hands and sing a round of kumbaya?

In so many ways liberals just expect the support of minorities just for being liberal but guess what it doesn’t work that way. We’re just like every other group of people, there are going to be some who are queer, some who aren’t, some who support Prop. 8 and some who don’t and you need to do the work, to do the outreach and to build communities not just come to us when you need something.

The bottom line is if the support of communities of color is sought then coalitions need to be built, we need to be acknowledged as a constituency that have power and pull and treated like any other. I mean the NAACP of California came out against Prop. 8 but was that mentioned anywhere that you saw? I only learned it this morning and that’s something that should have been explicitly brought up in their ads and literature.

I went a bit off point there but the fact is that not only is the assertion that it’s black people’s fault that Prop. 8 passed racist as all get out for spotlighting the their support for Prop. 8 as the deciding factor as opposed to the majority of white people that voted for it but it’s also exactly the kind of attitude that DOES NOT lead to coalition and relationship building. You want to win next time, you want POC support next time? Then you go into the community, you speak to people, you communicate, you build relationships. You don’t wag a blaming finger in the face of black folks and say “Oh it’s all your fault how could you?!” because that? Won’t get you any kind of positive reaction next time around.

For more posts from POC check out rydra_wong’s awesome linkspam.

I Voted Today! Did You? Will You?

So I have done my civic duty this grey morn and tonight my teacher has decided to have CNN’s live update projected onto the class wall so we can see what’s up.

If you don’t plan to vote today (and are in AMerica of course) then I give you the finger waggle of shame.

Yes it will busy (longest I’ve had to wait to vote ever) and crowded and some of the folks in line with you may leer or smell of tequila at 7A.M. but this is your democratic process and your country. You have to live here, and have to abide with the people in charge. The only reason I can think to not vote is that you’re planning a coup of the government to install either a more strict military regime or a socialist, flower in every orifice, hips pumping into empty air era. In those cases I could understand why you might not vote if you’re sure your revolt will come to pass but if you’re not absolutely sure that by this time next year you’ll be ruling with an iron fist or a soft, fleshy heart full of love then you should really vote. And hell even if you’re 100% sure you should still vote ’cause you have to live with whoever’s chosen too, at least until your strategically placed, hypnotized, living-zombies in the current regime come online.

So in summary – VOTE! or take over the world with zombies whichever seems easier.

White Privilege & The Republican Ticket

Yes I’ve been gone for a couple weeks school and work have combined into a maelstrom of kicking my ass. I’m gonna try and get back on the horse of posting even if it’s just links and not original posts – although I want to try and do at least one  original post a week. Now these are two links about the way that white privilege is affecting the election and especially the republican ticket.

The first one is the much linked “This Is Your Nation On White Privilege” by Tim Wise. I’ve always had an political crush on Tim Wise and this just solidified it.

White privilege is when you can get pregnant at seventeen like Bristol Palin and everyone is quick to insist that your life and that of your family is a personal matter, and that no one has a right to judge you or your parents, because “every family has challenges,” even as black and Latino families with similar “challenges” are regularly typified as irresponsible, pathological and arbiters of social decay.

White privilege is when you can call yourself a “fuckin’ redneck,” like Bristol Palin’s boyfriend does, and talk about how if anyone messes with you, you’ll “kick their fuckin’ ass,” and talk about how you like to “shoot shit” for fun, and still be viewed as a responsible, all-American boy (and a great son-in-law to be) rather than a thug.

White privilege is when you can attend four different colleges in six years like Sarah Palin did (one of which you basically failed out of, then returned to after making up some coursework at a community college), and no one questions your intelligence or commitment to achievement, whereas a person of color who did this would be viewed as unfit for college, and probably someone who only got in in the first place because of affirmative action.

Read the rest of the essay at Tim Wise’s blog!

Really fantastic – go read it now.

And be sure to check out his follow-up “Explaining White Privilege to the Deniers and the Haters”

The second link is to a blog called Raving Black Lunatic and the post “Just A Reminder” where he name checks the Wise article above and discusses the linguistic racism at work with Sarah Palin.

Every time she said “doggone it,” or “darn it” or “aw shucks” I got a little more angry and frustrated. And it wasn’t just because her voice reminds me of a Minnesotan on crack.

Listening to her spew colloquialisms, I wondered if a “plain-speaking” black person would be considered a legitimate presidential candidate. You know, a black person who said stuff like “fo’ sho,” or “girl, please” or “that ain’t right.”

Really good stuff, check out the whole article.

That’s all for today but hopefully I’ll have an original post for y’all pretty soon.