Links – 2008-11-14

Miriam Makeba has passed on.

My girl Veronica has a great piece for the Women’s Media Center called Larry Summers is Not the Change I was Expecting:

After his departure from the Harvard presidency he faded from the limelight. This week his name, along with New York Federal Reserve Chairman Timothy Geithner, has been bandied about as secretary of the treasury in the incoming Obama administration (can I just say how amazing it is to say that? The Obama administration!). Could the man who sold America on change seriously be considering appointing a man who suggested that Malia, Sasha and all of our daughters have a genetic disposition from not being able to math? Sadly yes.

As the head of the U.S. Treasury, Larry Summers would be in charge of advising on economic and tax policy in this country and abroad. This is a man who believes that women’s inability to do math has MORE impact on the lack of women in science and engineering than discrimination. The lack of women in science and engineering is important to our economy in at least two ways. First, our country is sorely in need of scientists and engineers. The fact that women represent just 12 percent of the science and engineering workforce (cited from Obama’s website) means that we are underutilizing women’s skills in this area—a fact that Summers just might take issue with because you know, we can’t do math.

Over on Good Girls Don’t, a thoughtful post titled “Thinking Critically About Activism.” It’s specifically geared toward sex work, but can be applied to any kind of movement:

In talking with a professional community organizer, I learned that having an attainable goal isn’t enough. You also need small steps toward achieving that goal. Small goals along the road to the bigger goal. Protests and letters to the editor are not enough. You need to map the paths of influence in politics and start attacking those in power.

I don’t think I realized how important these clear, strategic actions are. I come from an activist background of mayhem, essentially, creating chaos to shake people up. All this does is piss people off. I knew this, but I wanted to piss people off. Now I want to actually effect change.

This process is going to involve unpleasant interactions. It is going to involve talking to anti-prostitution activists, to academics and scholars, to members of the legal system, to politicians. These people have resources and legitimacy. Talking to them is not going to be pleasant. They will have all kinds of uninformed and derogatory stereotypes about sex work. But these stereotypes won’t change until activists sit across from them at the table.

Duanna Johnson was murdered. Cara writes:

Less than five months ago, I wrote about Duanna Johnson — a transgender woman who was beaten by Memphis police while handcuffed and in custody. She was sprayed with mace, hit with a closed fist by an officer who wore handcuffs around his knuckles, ignored by medical staff, and called abhorrent transphobic names. Her attack was caught on tape, and Duanna dared to speak out against the violence and injustice that was committed against her. And two officers were rightfully fired, but wrongfully apparently not prosecuted.

Now, Duanna is dead. She was shot, and her body was found lying in the street. Just left there.

And I don’t even know what to say.

Lauren at Feministe provides a news on the use of Safe Haven laws, originally intended to provide a sanctuary for unwanted infants which have now become a place where families in crisis are leaving children under 18 to be cared for by the state:

Nebraska in particular has come into the public eye after nearly thirty children have been left by parents under the safe haven law in recent months, ranging from infancy to 18 year-olds. Now children from out of state are being left as well. The legislative issue is that a linguistic loophole has allowed some to interpret the law “to mean that children as old as 18 could be abandoned. Others have taken the common-law definition of “child,” which includes those under age 14.”

Sylvie over at the Hyphen Blog reports back on an interesting film called “The Glow of White Women:”

A film more clearer in vision is “The Glow of White Women,” in which Yunus Vally discusses how his upbringing as a Muslim Indian in South Africa shaped his proclivity for gals of the Caucasian persuasion. The set up is mainly Vally and other interviewees speaking directly to the camera, mixed with substantial archival footage from news reels, commercials, films, and news clippings from Apartheid-era South Africa. Vally illuminates everything from South Africa’s geographical segregation of Whites, Blacks, Indians, and Coloreds (people of mixed race) to the Immorality Acts which banned interracial sex.

Most of the media pieces are examples of the glorification of white beauty and the paranoia built around men of color having sex with white women. But Vally goes beyond simply providing historical background and cuts deeper into the issue through his interviews. One of the most interesting parts of the film I found was the discussion of the interracial sexual relationships between young, anti-Apartheid activists (one white former activist admits she had a fetish for Black and Indian men) which Vally says was strictly carnal to him and not because he thought having interracial sex could save the world.

Reader Crash sends in this interview from Clutch Magazine featuring Jasika Nicole. The interview is well worth a read as it delves into Nicole’s life and name, but also because it spends a good amount of time parsing Nicole’s thoughts on being a lesbian of color:

C: Do you feel White women who come out have it easier?

JN: In my head, I feel that white queer women have it easier. But, this all depends on where you are… I mean any girl on the streets of Birmingham would probably be scoffed at and yelled at for holding another girl’s hand, but not necessarily in NYC.

Yet most every episode of being queer bashed that I can remember has been from someone in the Black community, which is incredibly unsettling. You’re a part of a community that is a minority so you feel a certain kinship when you see other people that are a racial minority. But then, when you become a minority inside a minority, it’s like you’re at the very bottom rung of this huge ladder that exists in our society – it feels very lonely and very confusing.

I’m still trying to get adjusted to it. I don’t want to see someone on the street that is Black and let go of my girlfriend’s hand because I’m afraid they are going to say something rude to me. That’s equivalent to, I don’t know, a White woman walking down the street and grabbing her purse because a Black man is walking past her. It’s so hurtful when it happens and I guess I’m not in a place yet where I am strong enough to have someone berate me and say those things and look at me the way they do. I’m just not. I am really hoping that I do become strong enough and that it happens soon because it’s not fair to me or to my girlfriend or to the people I’m assuming these things about. It’s not right. But that’s my defense right now, I let her hand go. It’s how I get through the day if I see anyone who looks like they might queer bash me.

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