Long Form Links – 2008-05-02 – Feminism, the IMF, Sean Bell

Excepted by Latoya Peterson

Afrobella – Out in the Streets, They Call it Murder

[Note: Ms. Bella is the only beauty blogger I read on a regular basis for her political opinions. Love, love, love!]

They say that Detective Michael Oliver wept at the defense table. I wonder if those were guilty tears — after all, he did fire his weapon 31 times at the unarmed husband-to-be — or if they were simply tears of relief that he wasn’t going to be sent to jail for his actions.

The Angry Black Woman – On Feminism, part 2

And these recent blow-ups not only make me angry because of what these white feminist bloggers are doing to women of color, but because it makes me angry at feminism itself. As Aminah put it way back when, feminism just isn’t made for us women of color. And as someone else (I can’t remember who, but someone please tell me in comments if you know) said recently, it seems like what white feminists want is to become white men. They want what white men have going on, up to and including privilege and the ability to ignore voices of color unless it suits them.

Some of you may feel this is an unfair generalization. And others of you are sitting at your computers right now shaking your head and saying, “Nuh uh, not me!” Maybe so not you, and maybe so I am being harsh. But you take a look around the blogs right now and tell me that the view from where I’m standing doesn’t bear that out. And take a good look at yourselves. Think about if you can honestly say that you’ve considered your own privilege when dealing with the issues of feminism and race lately. Some of you have, of course, but some of you absolutely have not.

Seeking Avalon – Open Letter

Dear Tamora Pierce, (and others),

I’ve been black since the doctor smacked my butt and I took my first breath.

I’ve been black while teachers tried to figure out how to keep me behind but send kids far less bright than I into specialized advance placement tracks.

I’ve been black while teachers told me to sit down and shut up about slavery being wrong because black people in Africa had slaves too. […]

So I’m so sorry if my identifying with being black, an immigrant and gay, before identifying with a cause that promotes itself as by/for American middle class white women, whose lives are already filled with CHOICE, reads to you as stupid.

And I’m sorry if you don’t get it.

Ragnell – A Tale of Two Communities

Yes, these two incidents turned into discussions about individuals and not the larger issues. The thing is, the individuals behavior can only be taken into account with taking the larger issues into account. Calling out these individuals proves that the community at large is willing to try and stop things from getting worse at the very least, by setting boundaries and examples to newer community members. By making people who think along the same lines as those individuals rethink their positions, or at least their willingness to act on those positions. How we treat individuals when they fuck up is what defines what is socially acceptable.

There’s a long history of sexism and racism in the geek and nerd community. We are all aware of this, and we work on this. And if something happens that threatens to cause a mass exodus of women from the nerd community, apparently the men in the community are willing to stand up and show that the idiot does not speak for them. They went on the attack. They pushed the individual and those who agreed with him out into the cold for the sake of maintaining a diverse community. This week, the geek community–a community dedicated to leisure and entertainment–proved that it was willing to police itself.

When a white feminist was called on her bullshit, the mainstream members of the community rallied around her and pushed several demographics out into the cold. When tensions had reached the point that it threatened a mass exodus of people from the feminist community, they let it happen. They made it worse. That community sacrificed a whole group of women in order to preserve one (white) individual’s ego. Business as usual. This month, the mainstream feminist community–a community supposedly dedicated to bettering society–proved that it was not willing to police itself.

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Disney star Brenda Song sues over escort service ad

by guest contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Brenda Song, who stars in the hit Disney Channel show The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, has filed a lawsuit with a company called Vibe Media, which illegally used her image in an escort service print ad that appeard in L.A. Weekly: Disney Actress Sues Over Escort Service Ad. More here: Song Sings: See My Face in Court! Add some text and a phone number, and you’ve got an instant Asian prostitute.

As you can see, the ad has renamed her “Layla,” who is allegedly a “Hawaiin beauty.” Her attorney is looking for $100,000 in compensation, which actually sounds kind of low to me, considering that she’s built an image and reputation as a clean-cut Disney star and the ad most certainly jeopardizes that. Maybe they thought they were using some random “exotic” image. It’s time for Brenda to get legal on their ass. They’ve messed with the wrong Disney Channel star.

Quoted: Joan Morgan on Feminism, Hip-Hop and Everything Else

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson

(All bold emphasis mine.)

Joan Morgan on…

…finding the truth

Trying to capture the the voice of all that is young black female was impossible. My goal, instead, was to tell my truth as best I could from my vantage point on the spectrum. And then get you to talk about it. This book by its lonesome won’t give you the truth. Truth is what happens when your cumulative voices fill in the breaks, provide the remixes, and rework the chorus.

— When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, intro.dress up, p. 26

…on coming out as a feminist

Feminism claimed me long before I claimed it, The foundation was laid by women who had little use for the word. […] I did not know that feminism is what you called it when black warrior women moved mountains and walked on water. Growing up in their company, I considered these things ordinary.

—When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, the f-word, p. 35

…on white feminists

The spirits of these women were no where to be found in the feminism I discovered in college. Feminists on our New England campus came in two flavas – both variations of vanilla. The most visible were the braless, butch-cut, anti-babes, who seemed to think the solution to sexism was reviling all things male (except, oddly enough, their clothing and mannerisms) and sleeping with each other. They used made up words like “womyn,” “femynists,” and threw mad shade if you asked them directions to the “Ladies’ Room.” The others – straight and more femme – were all for the liberation of women as long as it did not infringe on their sense of entitlement. They felt that men should share the power to oppress. They were the spiritual descendants of the early suffragettes and absolutely not to be trusted.

—When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, the f-word, p. 35

…on racism and racial solidarity

White girls don’t call their men “brothers” and that made their struggle enviably simpler than mine. Racism and the will to survive it creates a sense of intra-racial loyalty that makes it impossible for black women to turn our backs on black men – even in their ugliest and most sexist of moments. I needed a feminism that would allow us to continue loving ourselves and the brothers who hurt us without letting race loyalty buy us early tombstones.

— When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, the f-word, p. 36

…on embracing the term

And there it was, the f-word all up in my face daring me to blanket myself in the yarns I’d spun to justify my rejection. Go on, girl. Deny me and tell this fool about cha lover and the butch-cut white girls and see if he gives a fuck. Searching for a viable, less volatile alternative I did a quick mental check of the popular epithets. Strong Black Woman. Womanist. Warrior Woman. Nubian Queen. Bitch. Gangsta Bitch. Bitches With Problems. Hoes With Attitude. None of them offered even the hint of protection.

Finally, I realized that in the face of sexism it didn’t matter what I called myself. Semantics would not save me from the jerks I was bound to run into if I continued to do this for a living nor would it save women from the violence of teenage boys who suffered from their own misconceptions of power and manhood. If I truly believed that the empowerment of the black community had to include its women, or that sexism stood stubbornly in the way of black men and women loving each other or sistas loving themselves, if acknowledged this both in print and in person then in any sexist’s eyes I was a feminist. Once I recognized these manifestations of black-on-black love as the dual heartbeats of black feminism, I was purged of doubt. I accepted his challenge with confidence.

— When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, the f-word, pp. 43-44

…on rap music

Any feminism that fails to acknowledge that black folks in ninties America are living and trying to love in a war zone is useless to our struggle against sexism. Though it’s often portrayed as part of the problem, rap music is essential to that struggle because it takes us straight to the battlefield. […]

As a black woman and a feminist I listen to the music with a willingness to see past the machismo in order to be clear about what I’m really dealing with. What I hear frightens me. On booming track after booming track, I hear brothers talking about spending each day high as hell on malt liquor and Chronic. Don’t sleep. What passes for “40 and a blunt” good times in most of hip-hop is really alcoholism, substance abuse, and chemical dependency. When brothers can talk so cavalierly about killing each other and then reveal that they have no expectation to see their twenty-first birthday, that is straight up depression masquerading as machismo. […]

This is crystal clear to me when I’m listening to hip-hop. Yeah, sistas are hurt when we hear brothers calling us bitches and hos. But the real crime isn’t the name-calling, it’s their failure to love us – to be our brothers in the way that we commit ourselves to being their sistas. But recognize: Any man who doesn’t truly love himself is incapable of loving us in the healthy way we need to be loved. It’s extremely telling that men who can only refer to us as “bitches” and “hos” refer to themselves only as “niggas.”
—When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, from fly girls to bitches and hos, pp. 72-75

Miss Rap Supreme and gender in hip hop

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I started watching the new VH1 show Miss Rap Supreme after catching a few clips on either Talk Soup or Best Week Ever.

It’s the ego trip crew’s follow-up to The White Rapper Show, with the same tongue-in-cheek tone and painfully corny humor. (Case in point: MC Serch wears a postal worker outfit for a challenge in which the contestants have to dress up as famous male rappers. Mail. Male. Get it?) It purports to explore “the intriguing plight of yet another disenfranchised group in the rap game-the female MC.”

This week’s episode contained some run-of-the-mill reality show racism, with a white contestant telling a black contestant she’s the devil (because of a dream she had), and the black contestant retorting “Who’s the one with white skin?”

But what caught my interest more than the race stuff was the gender stuff.

One of the challenges on this episode was a he said/she said scenario, where the contestants were asked to respond to a sixteen by Too Short. His verse comes around -01:00:


Here’s what they came up with:


It was a pretty clear illustration to me of how hard it is to counter a sexist attack. There are no words equivalent to “bitch” or “ho” or “pussy” to denigrate a man for his masculinity. The worst thing you can call a man is a woman (using misogynistic terms). Or a gay man (using homophobic terms).

As with The White Rapper Show, I’m left wondering what ego trip’s point is. By singling out white rappers and female rappers, it seems like they’re trying to make some comment on race and gender in hip hop. Anyone care to venture a guess as to what that comment is supposed to be?

Interchasianable: New Asian on Gossip Girl

by Guest Contributor Jen, originally published on Disgrasian

A new Asian chick has joined the cast of Gossip Girl. And she walks and talks! And her character has a name!

We’re movin’ on up, to the East Side, to a deluxe apartment in the sky-y-y!

Only problem is, “Nelly Yuki” (as played by Yin Chang) is a NERD. If Diana were talking about her, she would say, “A total NNERRRRRRRRRRD.” So, yeah, I don’t mean that in a cool way. Take, for example, the “A” story of last night’s episode, which has Serena’s frenemy Georgina returning to the Upper Beast Side, chugging Cosmos, reconnecting with her coke dealer, hitting on older men, and drugging Serena’s diet Coke. Compare that to the Nelly “B” story, which has Blair’s academic frenemy (wait, what, they actually go to school??) and main competition for Yale pushing her chunky glasses up her nose a lot, lugging her violin case everywhere, studying for the SAT furiously, whining about her boyfriend dumping her, professing she is lactose intolerant, looking cross-eyed, and getting the batteries stolen out of her calculator by Blair before her college boards. RIVETING stuff, right?

It looks like Nelly “Let’s Get Retarded in Here” Yuki will stick around for a few episodes, but don’t expect a whole lotta sizzle from that steak. Examine the stills below, the first of which was taken when the other Asian chick “Kati Farkas” was on the show, and the second from next week’s episode:

Not exactly what I’d call progress.


Note from Carmen: My favorite part of this episode was when Jenny’s father offered to walk her to school. You know, from their apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (though the visual markers clearly identify it as DUMBO), to her school on the Upper East Side. A leisurely 2+ hour stroll.

links for 2008-05-01