Month: March 2010

March 31, 2010 / / Uncategorized
March 31, 2010 / / LGBTQ

by Guest Contributor Lorenzo Herrera y Lozano, originally published at Hairspray & Fideo and Blabbeando

There’s been a lot of commotion regarding Ricky Martin’s recent coming out statement on his official website. As with most things in life these days, I learned about the news on Facebook. So, I immediately posted about the news as well and quickly joined in the jubilee of queerness and pranced about the office like a middle school-aged boy who accidentally touched hands with his classroom crush. I even committed the blasphemy of comparing the news to that of Health Care Reform and the release of Apple’s iPad (insert sound of angel choir here).

And then, of course, there was the storm of cattiness that followed the news. As a queer Xicano, I admit that sarcasm is built into my genetic code. The survivor of four Christian-themed religions and 500+ years of white supremacist occupation, I find humor, irony and disbelief in most things. Still, yesterday I just wanted to celebrate.

I agree that the fact that Ricky is gay is not all that shocking. Queer men and not long speculated or asserted that he shook his bon bon far too well to be straight. Plus, for us jotos/maricones/patos, there was the added benefit of dreaming him up queer, which somehow put us that much closer to his arms.

Still, as the catty remarks continue, as people boast about how they knew and think he should have done this 10 years ago, or sassy queens dismiss the news as inconsequential, I say, look beyond our borders (geographic, cultural, and age-based) and take a minute to honor the fact that for many, Ricky’s coming out is groundbreaking, perhaps even life-saving.

So Ricky was doing more than living la vida loca; he was, in fact, a loca. To the trained eye, this is just confirmation that our gaydar runs on more than hormones and dreams.

Hormones, dreams and cattiness aside, I challenge the ungleeful remarks about Ricky’s coming out. Read the Post Why Ricky Matters (to me.. and maybe a few other boys)

March 31, 2010 / / celebrities

by Guest Contributor Andrés Duque, originally published at Blabbeando

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD) has released a statement on Ricky Martin‘s coming out.  It’s a statement from Jarret T. Barrios, the agency’s Executive Director:

When someone like Ricky Martin comes out, hundreds of millions of people now have a cultural connection with an artist, a celebrity and, perhaps most importantly, a father who happens to be gay; His decision to model this kind of openness and honesty can lead to greater acceptance for countless gay people in U.S., in Latin America and worldwide.

Yay!

In the meantime, I did take a gentle swipe at GLAAD’s language usage policies when it came to Ricky Martin describing himself as “homosexual” in my previous post.  That’s because I have long held that the usage of the word “homosexual” is common-place in Latin America: When people use it, they don’t intend it to have a negative connotation.

The word “homosexual” is certainly there in the Spanish-language version of his coming out statement and was probably left intact when someone translated it for the English-language statement to Spanish. They probably didn’t know that it wasn’t kosher to leave it there (I must confess I sometimes translate ‘homosexual’ to ‘gay’ when I do translations from Spanish language articles just as I translate ‘travesti’ to ‘transgender’).

But, as the news broke on Twitterlandia – and elsewhere – I was struck by a certainly understandable divide. Read the Post The Coming Out of Ricky Martin: Reactions

March 31, 2010 / / activism

by Latoya Peterson

census worker

A few weeks ago, Boyfriend and I traveled to Harlem to check out Van Hunt in concert. After a night of too-strong cocktails and screaming out the lyrics to the songs, we walked out of the show – only to be handed a mug and a packet, encouraging participation in the United States 2010 Census. The girl in front of us grabbed a mug, but on the way down the stairs said “Thanks for the free cup, but you won’t be hearing from me, Mr. Government Man!” We cracked up.

Over the past few weeks, special interest organizations have been pushing the full court press about standing up to be counted for the Census – and for good reason. Ensuring the actual headcount (normally determined through census workers and paper ballots) is as complete as it can be is vital to government:

Considering the herculean task of counting, within a few months, every person living in the United States, a 1 percent error rate seems reasonable. But the actual count, not the estimate, is what the government goes by when it distributes money and determines election districts for the next 10 years.

And when the federal government, these days, counts money by the trillions, 1 percent is a lot.

In all, the federal government doled out $447 billion in 2008 that was tied in some measure to the census, according to a study released this month by the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Medicaid counts for 58 percent of money distributed based on population, with transportation, such as roadwork, making up 10 percent more, according to the Brookings study.

The think-tank and research institute estimates the 2010 Census will be the basis for the distribution of nearly $5 trillion in federal money to state and local governments over the next decade.

“The basic, overall count is the foundation for so many funding formulas,” Childers said. “It’s just amazing how often that number appears.”

Read the Post How Are We Feeling About the Census?

March 31, 2010 / / action alert
March 30, 2010 / / Uncategorized
March 30, 2010 / / dating

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

Neo-soul singer and actress Jill Scott is taking some undeserved heat (IMHO) for her opinion piece on interracial marriage that appears in the current issue of Essence. Now, let me state for the record. I have NO PROBLEM with interracial relationships. We would all do better to evaluate people based on our shared values and interests rather than skin color. Back in my single days, I was an equal opportunity dater. Despite arguments to the contrary, I’m not so sure Jill Scott is opposed to interracial dating either.

In this month’s Essence, Scott writes an opinion piece attempting to explain the outrage expressed by some Essence readers when Reggie Bush appeared on the magazine’s cover. At the time, some black women were offended that Bush, who is dating a white woman (Kim Kardashian), would be lauded on the cover of a magazine for black women. While I don’t agree with this sentiment, I understand where it is coming from. And so does Scott. She writes about “wincing” when a new friend–an accomplished black man–revealed that he is married to a white woman:
Was I jealous? Did the reality of his relationship somehow diminish his soul’s credibility? The answer is not simple. One could easily dispel the wince as racist or separatist, but that’s not how I was brought up. I was reared in a Jehovah’s Witness household. I was taught that every man should be judged by his deeds and not his color, and I firmly stand where my grandmother left me. African people worldwide are known to be welcoming and open-minded. We share our culture sometimes to our own peril and most of us love the very notion of love. My position is that for women of color, this very common “wince” has solely to do with the African story in America.
When our people were enslaved, “Massa” placed his Caucasian woman on a pedestal. She was spoiled, revered and angelic, while the Black slave woman was overworked, beaten, raped and farmed out like cattle to be mated. She was nothing and neither was our Black man. As slavery died for the greater good of America, and the movement for equality sputtered to life, the White woman was on the cover of every American magazine. She was the dazzling jewel on every movie screen, the glory of every commercial and television show. She was unequivocally the standard of beauty for this country, firmly unattainable to anyone not of her race. We daughters of the dust were seen as ugly, nappy mammies, good for day work and unwanted children, while our men were thought to be thieving, sex-hungry animals with limited brain capacity. Read more…

Yes, the days of slavery are long past, but this view of black women as less desirable, less beautiful, less feminine and less valuable than white women persists. It is illustrated by the women who are featured on mainstream magazine covers…and those who are not (Vanity Fair anyone?). It is confirmed by the missing and exploited women that are covered 24/7 on cable news…and those who are not. It is underscored by statistics that reveal who is likely to marry…and who is not.

Black men are not immune to the message that black women are “less than.” Black women know this. We know this because we live it.

By Guest Contributor Aaminah Al-Naksibendi, originally posted at Anishinaabekwe

Note from Cecilia, owner of Anishnaabekwe: This is a guest post by Aaminah Al-Naksibendi. She is a Michigander, mother, daughter, sister, artist, writer, activist, truth teller, rebel and NDN. I asked her to write a guest post because of my utter exhaustion around what happened to me this week. So I thank her with all my heart for helping me to speak and share this story when my voice is drenched in sorrow, depression and dealing with the effects of racism in the 21st century.

I grew up in Michigan, adopted by a white family. As a young girl I attended NDN pow wows, African American cultural festivals and the Hispanic festival in our West Michigan city. My parents attempted to raise us with multi-cultural friends, in multi-cultural public schools, and attending multi-cultural churches. As a woman, I had a long relationship with a fellow NDN who had gone to school with and remained friends with my brother. We had a son together before we separated.

When my son was about 7 months old, I started dating a Zhaganaash man whose family lived in Benzie County, up just north of Traverse City. For many reasons, I was not really liked by his overbearing mother, but we attempted to build bridges and visited up there several times before we married in December and his family refused to attend and cut communication with him.

Needless to say, those visits up north were very uncomfortable in many ways. But one thing that was especially difficult for me was the complete lack of color. My fiancée talked about wanting to move up north. We loved the wooded areas, the idea of living just outside a small town, and the literally Crystal-like water of the lake – cleanest water I have ever seen. But the idea of being surrounded by only white people made me really uncomfortable. I wasn’t Muslim at the time, and I am pale (and as a baby my son was blond and pale too) so I was able to “pass” as white and no one recognized us as NDN. I didn’t experience personal racial attacks while visiting (except by my fiancée’s mother of course) and out in the community, though there was one time when a shop keeper asked my fiancée “what” I was and he answered that I was Irish like him. I do also recall overhearing jokes about Blacks, “wetbacks”, and NDNs. Even so, my discomfort stemmed more from the complete lack of color, and not being able to imagine raising my son not only completely outside his own culture, but also without the benefit of a multi-cultural environment and amongst people who were clearly hostile to people of color.

There was one time, only one, where I saw any other color in that town. It was when a Black girl accompanied a white foster family who was visiting the town on vacation. We ran into them when we went to have lunch in a little burger shack near the lake. The little blonde children of the family were in bathing suits, and the Black girl was in sloppy cut off shorts and an oversized none-too-clean t-shirt. When the family’s number was called to pick up their food she got up to serve everyone. I didn’t hear the mother or father say that wasn’t necessary or even thank her, and they certainly weren’t jumping up to help. I lost my appetite and that was the day I declared there was no way I could live there. My fiancée insisted that since they were only visiting their cabin in the summer, that family didn’t represent the year-round residents, but I will never forget what it represented to me. Between that and his family, I never again was able to bring myself to visit.

When my NDN sister Cecelia told me about moving up north, my first thought was discomfort but of course I didn’t want to spoil her plans with my misgivings so instead I congratulated her. I wanted to believe that things have really changed in the last dozen years and there would be more color in the north. Read the Post NDN in the North