Many of us have preconceived notions about people’s accents. We find Western European accents—French, British, Castilian Spanish, Italian—relatively appealing, while Asian and Mexican accents are experienced as unintelligible or offensive… if an employee speaks French well and English only moderately well, we aren’t bothered. however, if Filipinos, for example, speak Tagalog to one another at work, the assumptions are that they are purposefully excluding English-speakers, that they are not trying to learn English, and that they don’t care. A mean-spirited quality is attributed to the behavior.
Frances E. Kendall, Understanding White Privilege
White supremacy doesn’t regard non-white languages as real languages, it regards them as deviant forms of communication reduced to broad ethnic strokes (“Indian”, “Asian”, “African”) that is unacceptable because it is seen as an affront to white/euro hegemony.
BAYARD RUSTIN (1912-1987)
Bayard Rustin was an openly gay civil rights organizer and non-violent activist. He’s most well known for his work organizing the 1963 March on Washington. In 2013, Rustin was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. We honor him for his activism and commitment to nonviolence, despite being the target of violence and discrimination because of his race and his sexuality.
But let’s get something straight: a community pushing back against a murderous police force that is terrorizing them is not a “riot”. It’s an uprising. It’s a rebellion. It’s a community saying We can’t take this anymore. We won’t take it. It’s people who have been dehumanized to the point of rightful rage. And it happens all over the world. Uprisings and rebellions are necessary and inevitable, locally and globally. This is not to say that actual riots don’t happen. White folks riot at sporting events, for example. Riots happen. But people rising up in righteous anger and rage in the face of oppression should not be dismissed as simply a “riot”.
Don’t be distracted by terms like “rioting”. Whether you’re for or against uprising and rebellion (side-eye if you’re against it, though), it’s a tool, not the issue itself. The issue is yet another Black teenager murdered by police. His name was Mike Brown.
ferguson rly teaches a lesson in the lengths police will go to protect each other and white supremacy. they’d rather do all this than arrest one man.
because he is a cop, and he’s white.
they ‘have each other’s backs’ so doggedly and determinedly that they would sacrifice a town of black people for one white cop
Racism is not in your intent. Your intent is immaterial in how racist your actions are. This isn’t about you BEING a racist. It’s about you DOING A THING that is racist. Your intent doesn’t change it. Your ignorance of its meaning doesn’t change it. It’s got nothing to do with you as a person and everything to do with the meaning of your action in the context of sociocultural history.
The term “administrative violence” draws attention to the ways in which systems that organize our lives in seemingly ordinary ways – determining what ID we carry, what government records exist about us, how roads or schools or garbage pick-up are organized – produce and distribute life chances based on violent forms of categorization. The entire framework of US administrative law is that we have agencies – whether it’s the Department of Homeland Security or the Food and Drug Administration or the Environmental Protection Agency or the Bureau of Indian Affairs – run by experts. These experts invent and deploy categories that manage and sort people, substances, buildings, curricula, human capacities, diseases, financial instruments, streets, soils, vehicles, and more. These administrators need not be elected; the basis of their authority, and thus the authority of the administrative system, is neutral expertise. Critical movements have questioned the neutrality of those ways of knowing and the categories they produce, identifying white supremacist, ableist, colonial, and patriarchal norms.
The courts often defer to medical evidence with regard to transgender people in a wide variety of contexts but then often disregard or implausibly explain away the overwhelming weight of medical evidence when considering the necessity of transgender health care. The state often requires transgender people to have been evaluated and treated by transgender health experts or to have received specific forms of transition-related health care before giving them access to gender-matched ID, appropriate sex-segregated systems, or remedies for discrimination. At the same time, the state often denies access to transition-related health care to Medicaid recipients and people in state custody. This double bind assaults the dignity of transgender people and has a profound impact on trans communities, with disproportionate effects on those who face other forms of marginalization, such as racism and poverty. State systems that deny coverage for transition-related health care while requiring this care in other contexts thereby create a hierarchy of race and class in which rich, predominately White trans people—because they do not need to rely on the state for health care—are the only transgender individuals able to gain access to a wide variety of basic services and opportunities on anything approaching an equal basis with non-transgender people.
Feminist imagination and daring to dream: bell hooks and Melissa Harris Perry
On Saturday morning I watched the conversation between bell hooks and Melissa Harris-Perry. I sat there and, half way through, I realized I was seeing the feminist event of the year. This is not hyperbole, these two Black women, exceptional thinkers each in their respective fields, sat down and dissected in a bit over an hour and half, many of the issues that currently affect our politics. After I was done watching I searched for commentary across feminist media or at the very least, political analysis from woman centered media. There was hardly any. There were plenty of links to the video but hardly any acknowledgment of the substance of their conversation. I was mostly interested in a follow up; namely, where do we go from here? Or better said, where do we stand, in relation to what bell hooks, one of the greatest public intellectuals of our time, exposed in regards to the white supremacist, imperialist, capitalist patriarchy? The truth is, as far as feminist media goes, it seems we go nowhere.
On Friday I quickly scribbled a post expressing my distaste for both Jezebel’s coverage and head patting of and the words of Joss Whedon in regards to defining feminism. As it often happens, I wrote that post in haste and mostly because what I wanted to say was too long for a Tweet. I was equally disgusted by his erasure of our collective feminist history, attempting to rename something that does not need renaming, especially from a cis, white man and by Jezebel’s uncritical praise of his attempt. My quickly written post has been shared hundreds of times both on Twitter and Facebook and someone in the comments linked me to a discussion of the post taking place on the Facebook page of Guerrilla Feminism. I read the comments of the post and laughed heartily. Mostly I laughed in disbelief because I cannot comprehend how many self identified feminist women are willing to defend a white, cis man in detriment of radical, liberating, empowering feminist analysis. Guerrilla obviously means nothing when pop culture is digested in patriarchy approved palatable sound bites. In one swoop Whedon erased the collective history of the feminist movement, tried to appropriate it for his own marketing purposes by renaming it, made a spectacle of himself by claiming we are “over” racism, negating the very existence of intersectional analysis and even gave us a dose of Orientalism through his cunning use of the word “Taliban”. And here, in a page named Guerrilla Feminism, dozens of women are willing to not merely give him a pass but vindicate him because what? He gave them Buffy? The political co-optation of pop culture consumerism in exchange of an emancipatory analysis of what Whedon represents, who he is in terms of a symbolic presence for us as women and, for those of us of color, as the embodiment of the colonizer. But… he gave us Buffy.
There is a direct correlation between the lack of coverage of bell hooks and Melissa Harris-Perry’s conversation and the amplification (and staunch defense) of Joss Whedon. Both exist within the same historical wrongs of white feminism. Both are part of the same neoliberal ethos that has taken over mainstream feminism. Two Black women intellectuals challenging a racist, capitalist patriarchy are not to be looked upon as role models. The key to understand this is their Blackness. This neoliberal feminism seeks empowerment by encouraging women to be more like white men. For this media, Whedon is a feminist icon; bell hooks and Melissa Harris Perry barely register in the radar.
In the conversation bell hooks spoke about her dislike of media (mainly films) that do not have imagination. She spoke of her desire to see a media that offers us a newly empowering vision of who we are. She was specifically talking of her dislike of certain slavery centered films that focus on suffering. In turn, I started to think of how neoliberal feminism has actually eschewed all imagination and dreams to negotiate a better social standing within the existing power structures. We no longer have dreams or imagination. We are told we should better negotiate within what already exists rather than attempt to wish for something different. This is the kind of feminism that would rather appease than challenge. These are the kinds of politics that would rather praise a white, cis man than listen to radically new ideas from Women of Color. This is patriarchy approved feminism. There is nothing empowering or liberating in the long term; there is no rethinking of existing power structures and resource distribution. This is a feminism of bootstrapping, where the best we can do is individually aspire to be in a boardroom. Women are encouraged to not just participate but uphold the very same system that is the source of our problem. Praise Whedon; ignore bell hooks.
The reason I resent this feminism is because it fails us on multiple fronts. To begin with, it offers no strategies for survival. In order to survive we need to better negotiate spaces within what currently exists. This feminism offers none of that. It only offers middle class aspirational career advancement that is outside the reach of millions. On the other hand, it builds no long term strategy. In this neoliberal feminism there is only the individual in the present time. There is only now and no second thought as to how the aspiration to be a CEO directly conflicts with resource distribution not just in the present but also for future generations. The feminist legacy of this neoliberal ideology is actually more depletion, more deprivation for the have nots. On the racist front, this feminism erases the multiplicity of experiences of both People of Color living in Western countries and those who live in the Global South. In both cases, regardless of geographic location, this feminism seeks advancement within a system that has created the institutional and political framework where People of Color can never be truly free. This feminism is a continuation of colonial strategies that have cost billions of lives. A feminism for the few. A dreamless, barren future for the rest.
I have no intention of negotiating my dreams so that they are patriarchy approved. The last thing I want is for my politics to be in line with those who are directly part of my problems. I negotiate my survival like everyone else but I also realize one of the reasons I live in the margins and will continue to do so is because I still dare to dream. I also realize that the kind of dreams I have will not be realized within my lifetime. That doesn’t mean I will stop aspiring to them. Radical imagination requires a leap of faith. I know that when I am no longer here, someone else will pick up and keep on dreaming. With each new dreamer will come a new imagination and with it, a step towards the kind of change I yearn. This kind of radical imagination I hope for cannot be co-opted by neoliberal feminism because it never is patriarchy approved. It is, above all, about dismantling what currently is. And no matter how much I need to negotiate for survival on a day to day basis, my imagination is the one thing that I will not.
ETA: Also, read this excellent post by Sara Salem about the conversation between bell hooks and Melissa Harris-Perry.
We can’t keep raising generations of kids of color on the notion that there’s only room for them to be bad guys or doomed sidekicks or another generation of white kids thinking they’re closer to God because of how they look. We can’t keep promoting hetero/cis-normative sexist and racist ideas in our literature. That is the default setting. If you aren’t consciously working against it, you are working for it. Neutrality is not an option, and the luxury of thinking it is has to go.
African-American children with autism are being diagnosed almost two years later than children of any other ethnic group [in the United States], holding up their treatment, and in turn, their quality of life, according to research.
When white children were misdiagnosed with autism they were usually told they had ADHD, but Mandell discovered that Black autistic children were told they had things like psychoses, mental retardation or selective mutism. This, along with the fear that Black parents have of reporting their child’s behavioral issues due to the fact that their children are removed from the home as a result more often, makes it hard for Black children with autism to get the treatment that they need.
my first diagnosis was a psychotic disorder btw
It took many years of vomiting up all the filth I’d been taught about myself, and half-believed, before I was able to walk on this earth as though I had a right to be here.
Let ‘em know! These are some of Crommunist’s tweets in reference to an article on Reason stating that America was founded by the “opposite” of victims, to which he asserts, wouldn’t that be victimizers? And if in that case, correct.
This “personal responsibility” and “bootstraps” and “American exceptionalism” narrative pushed is so offensive since those who state it want zero responsibility for imperialist White supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy and the related oppression while ignoring privilege. Yeah okay, whatever. It’s built on victim blaming and exploitation and genocide with a system of capitalism that could not exist as is today without slavery.
See the collection of James Baldwin’s writing in The Cross of the Redemption for exquisite writing on the lies used to maintain White supremacy through everything from semantic warfare to re-writing history. It…explains a lot.They are unable to conceive that their version of reality, which they want me to accept, is an insult to my history and a parody of theirs and an intolerable violation of myself.