then again, maybe not
Closed for business

April 07, 2006

Friday Random 10 and Not Random 5

Ok, here goes. First, the random 10.

  1. Pretty Girls Make Graves - Something Bigger, Something Brighter
  2. Mos Def - Sex, Love and Money
  3. Ani DiFranco - Ain't That the Way
  4. Poe - Dolphin
  5. The Cure - Lovesong
  6. Will Smith - You Saw My Blinker Bitch
  7. Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine
  8. South Park - What Would Brian Boitano Do
  9. Jill Scott - He Loves Me
  10. PJ Harvey - Send His Love to Me

That's a pretty random mix there. Good work, iPod. Good work.

And now… a not at all random 5. Here are the last 5 blogs I've started reading regularly. Some have been on my radar for a long time, but I hadn't been a regular reader until now.

Pascasia's Phoenix: "a blog about this 23 year old, mixed ethiopian and rwandan, african-born/canadian-raised, 2nd generation genocide survivor, queer, gender ambiguous, light(er) skinned terror struggling to make sense of it all."

Reappropriate: "a political, current events, and personal blog written from the perspective of a loud and proud Asian American woman."

Susie Bright's Journal: "I write about sex and politics every day of the week."

Cooking For Engineers: "Have an analytical mind? Like to cook? This is the site to read!"

The News Blog: "Steve and Jen bring you this daily review of the news"

Privilege, power, ego

My (almost completely white) office is trying to "increase diversity" lately. Yesterday there was conversation about what we want to accomplish with a "diversity training." Aside from getting me to run out the room screaming, of course. Our HR person says "well, I think we're all pretty aware of diverse issues, so education definitely isn't the goal." Then, later in the meeting, in response to a question about getting our (entirely white) high level staff to be more diverse, she said "well, we do most of our promoting from within [not true], so we should try and get those people in at the entry level." BAAAAHHHH!!!!! STOP IT. YOU'RE KILLING ME!!!!!

Anyway. Here's the thing. We're all sitting here in our liberal town in our liberal office tower, congratulating ourselves on how fantastically liberal and open-minded we are. And any challenge to that is a slap in the face. By acknowledging that our office and our message is lily white, we're admitting that we're not perfect, that we're just as human as everyone else, and have thoughts we'd never share at the farmer's market. But here's the thing. Get the hell over yourselves. If you're really a freedom fighter, and if you really believe in the rights of all people, let go of your ego for a minute and listen. That goes for me too. We all get so caught up in our own idea of who we are that we never think critically about what we do.

April 04, 2006

Choosing your identity

This post, What should white people do? over at Bitch Lab is running through my brain right now. In comments, Barb says:

Right, of course, but the question is who is your community? I *do* feel very connected but I feel more connected with humanity as a whole rather than with
one particular grouping of humanity.
Bitch responds:

Then, there’s the problem of people who don’t feel they can simply give up their identity. After all, to foreswear a racial or national identity and say, “I
identify as an activist” is not something people of color can do. They can’t
say, “I’m not latina and I don’t identify. Instead, I belong to this political
community of historical activism.

They can say it, but it is WAY harder for them to do and it may just feel really _bad_ to them to do it. The ease with which one can shuck of US identity and whiteness — that comes from the privilege of primarily experiencing that identity and having the privilege to have the time and energy to explore how you are privileged by whiteness.
This reminded me of something that happened when I was 10 or 11. I went to a small private school in Philadelphia, St. Peter's (regardless of the name it's not a Caltholic school - long story). I started there when I was three, so all of the rich white kids were like family to me. And when I was in school I never felt like the "other." Remind me sometime to tell you how reluctant I was to be friends with the other black kids though, that's an interesting story.

Anyway, there I was, doing my smart-ass 10-year-old thing. One of my friends was a girl I'll call Nina. We would hang out at her place all the time, because she lived near the school, and I lived on the other side of the fucking universe (thanks mom). I knew Nina's dad, his girlfriend and her son, and spent a lot of time with them. Nina's family was Salvadoran, if I remember correctly, and her grandmother was teaching me spanish. So la, la, la, I'm so happy-go-lucky with this family that I think has really embraced me. But then all of the sudden I'm not hanging out at her grandmother's house anymore. Everyone is still super-sweet to me, but something is going on. So, I ask Nina what the deal is. She reluctantly tells me that after my last visit to her grandmother's house, a ring or a bracelet or something went missing. Nina suggested that her grandmother had just misplaced it, but apparently she thought I'd stolen it. Now, being the naïve little privileged snot I was, I was so upset, and couldn't imagine why she'd think that. I mean, I loved them. Why would I ever steal anything from people I cared about? I went home that night extremely upset and confused. My mom called Nina's dad to talk about what happened. And then she told me that Nina's grandmother admitted that she thought I stole from her because I'm black. I was floored by this. "But they know me. I've gone on vacation with them. How could anyone think I would steal just because I'm black? That doesn't make any sense." I can't imagine how hard it must have been for my mother to answer those questions. She had done so much to let me choose where I belonged, and who I identified with. And it took less that 10 minutes for all of that to disappear. And as painful as that experience was, it was an important lesson. It's a fantastic privilege to choose your identity, and your community. But it can, and will be ripped away from you at any time.

So, I can say I belong to a community of feminists, of drinkers, of activists, of liberals, of whatever, and that these communities are what identify me. All of those are true and important. But it feels like running away from an identity I didn't choose, because it's hard, and one that is important as well. Denying my blackness (and all of the many things that means) feels like spitting in the eye of my family, and everyone who's come before me, fought for me, because being black isn't awlays so great. But even if I was comfortable doing that, the world won't let me.

April 03, 2006

And another thing...

If god loves abortion I can too!
I was thinking about writing something about this, and saw this post over at Feministe on god and abortion. Here's the thing. It doesn't and shouldn't matter one fucking bit what god, goddess, or trees think about abortion. We do not base laws on religion. Well, we do. But we shouldn't. There's no point arguing about what the bible says about abortion, homosexuality, drinking, or anything. People should certainly feel free to base their personal decisions on whatever the hell they want. The bible, rune stones, numerology, coin-flipping. Don't care. But we're not doing anyone a favor by arguing the point on faith-based grounds. Obviously it helps to have anyone carrying the banner, but contrary to what Will Saletan might think, playing the god game is not the way to go. I dunno. It might be a winning strategy, but I think it will fail in the long-run.

Don't watch it. Read it.
Go check out Reappropriate's fantastic recaps of Black. White. Trust me, this is much better than watching the damn show.

Episode 1: And, as if it wasn’t explicit enough, the show then insists upon some “Passing Lessons” once the families move in together. This consists almost
entirely of bad stereotyping, painful commentary, and ignorant prejudices voiced
by the Wurgel family. From Carmen suggesting that she act Black by high-fiving
people, to the discussion of Bruno’s alterations to his walking, it was nothing
but bad articulations of meaningless stereotypes. All thrown together in a
display suggesting that one can indeed adopt fake mannerisms and expect to
racially pass. Even the Sparks family tried to paint themselves as some gurus of
Blackness by suggesting (painfully) that Bruno "act black" by learning dap and
slouching a lot. As if racial experience can be summed up entirely by adopted
behaviour and some Revlon.

Episode 2: The scene with Rose hanging with her poetry group was basically an
illustration of another stereotype of Blacks: Blacks as the trendsetters,
genetically "cool". At the same time, White girls shouldn't try to rhyme -- if
it's not what you do, it's not what you do. What Rose fails to communicate to
the audience is that just because she has fallen into a group of African
Americans who rhyme, it isn't coded in the DNA of Black people to be good at
rhyming. Again we have an instance of the White characters attempting to emulate
stereotypes in order to pass.

Episode 3: Following the commercial-break-spanning cuss-out of Nick, "Black" Carmen and "Black" Bruno go to a cowboy bar where a Confederate flag is prominently displayed. Of course, we knew this wasn't going to go well, or perhaps it would, because "Black" Carmen noticed the subtle kind of racism that people of colour face daily (because the entirety of America is basically like this cowboy bar).
"Black" Carmen was denied a coffee until the bartender saw her credit card, but
"Black" Bruno felt right at home, seeing no racism because no one tried to lynch

Episode 4: Meanwhile, after Rene explains why she participated in the Black. White.
project, "White" Nick goes to etiquette school. While we all watch the
ridiculousness unfold, I just want to take this minute to ask: since when is
etiquette class a White activity akin to how slam poetry is a Black activity? I
mean, I know a few White folk and I've never even heard of etiquette school
being a common activity. Really, Rose puts it quite well: etiquette school is a
rich person's activity. And, the problem with this particular episode of Black.
White. is that the classism is getting mixed in the racism, but is not getting
addressed. To suggest that White = rich and Black = poor is it's own level of
perpetuating discrimination based not only on race but tying class and potential
for wealth to skin colour, and yet nowhere are the ideas of institutional racism
even mentioned.

Oh, and also via the Radical Women of Color Carnival, Angry Black Bitch on the Duke rape case.

The individuals who where at that house on the night of the alleged gang rape
are adults. They are not kids. They are not boys trying to grow into their
social responsibility…they are adults. If a bitch had a dollar for every
motherfucking ‘white boy’ and ‘black man’ reference that pops up in the press my
ass would own Duke. Gang rape is not a youthful indiscretion or a casual
accusation and shame on anyone who stumbles into that pile of bullshit.

Oh yeah, and I realized I meant to add Fetch me my axe to my links a long time ago, but never did it (until today). I suck. I'm sorry. I love you!

And it wouldn't be a post without something about my favorite Bitch's NOT a feminist week.

Wow, that was quick

It's amazing how being away for just a few days can help me feel refreshed and renewed. And how 3 hours back at work can tear me down all over again. More soon.