Open Letter to the PocaHotties and Indian Warriors this Halloween

by Guest Contributor Adrienne Keene, originally published at Native Appropriations

Dear Person that decided to dress up as an Indian for Halloween,

I was going to write you an eloquent and well-reasoned post today about all the reasons why it’s not ok to dress up as a Native person for Halloween–talk about the history of“playing Indian” in our country, point to the dangers of stereotyping and placing of Native peoples as mythical, historical creatures, give you some articles to read, hope that I could change your mind by dazzling you with my wit and reason–but I can’t. I can’t, because I know you won’t listen, and I’m getting so tired of trying to get through to you.

I just read the comments on this post at Bitch Magazine, a conversation replicated all over the internet when people of color are trying to make a plea to not dress up as racist characters on Halloween. I felt my chest tighten and tears well up in my eyes, because even with Kjerstin’s well researched and well cited post, people like you are so caught up in their own privilege, they can’t see how much this affects and hurts their classmates, neighbors and friends.

I already know how our conversation would go. I’ll ask you to please not dress up as a bastardized version of my culture for Halloween, and you’ll reply that it’s “just for fun” and I should “get over it.” You’ll tell me that you “weren’t doing it to be offensive” and that “everyone knows real Native Americans don’t dress like this.” You’ll say that you have a “right” to dress up as “whatever you damn well please.” You’ll remind me about how you’re “Irish” and the “Irish we’re oppressed too.” Or you’ll say you’re “German”, and you “don’t get offended by people in Lederhosen.” Continue reading

Miss(ed) Representations, Part One: ‘I’m a Culture, Not a Costume’ Campaign

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Longtime Racialicious readers know this time on the calendar has prompted the R to read someone (or several folks) about their racist costumes or some other Halloween-related foolishness. Well, this year, Ohio University’s Students Teaching about Racism in Society (STARS) put on posters what we’ve been putting into words for quite a while.

I think that, for the most part, the campaign deserves the accolades, coverage, and support it’s been getting around the web, from Angry Asian Man to the 17,575 (and counting!) responses on the STARS president’s Tumblr to The Root to Bitch to the former Racialicious owner Carmen Sognonvi .

Of course, we can argue, among other things, that phenotypes don’t equal culture and cultures aren’t static or even talk about the historical-religious appropriation of Halloween itself.

My only quibble with the campaign is that I may have chosen photos where the models conveyed different body language. Not that the models didn’t pose how they wanted, being a student-driven campaign. What I do think is quite a few photographers rarely get The Shot in one shot; in fact, several photographers submit several photos for clients/collaborative partners to choose from.

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Multiracial Families: Counted But Still Misunderstood

By Guest Contributor Jen Chau, cross-posted from The Time Is Always Right …

In the past couple of years, I have noticed a certain complacency that I never noticed before, in my eleven years of leading Swirl. The same passion and the same excitement around building multiracial communities had faded a bit. In the one year leading up to the Presidential election, we launched five new chapters (the norm had been a chapter every year or every other year). People were excited by the energy created by Obama’s campaign, and they were motivated and eager to be a part of creating supportive and inclusive multiracial communities.

And then once Obama was firmly placed in the White House, something happened. It got quiet.

My theory was that it was all related to the claims that we were now in some sort of post-racial wonderland. I think it very much had to do with the fact that Obama is of multiracial heritage. This fact resulted in a sort of sitting back. A sentiment that sounded like, “we’re good now.” The idea that Obama understood so many of us, and that he cared about diversity was something that gave people a reason to relax. Take a breath. Stop pushing so hard. I understood this and even felt a bit of it myself. The other reality is that in an individual’s development, one may feel a strong desire to connect to community at one point and not at another. Swirl has always understood and been supportive of this.

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What do black women really think about love and marriage? [Call for Participants]

By Guest Contributor Tami Winfrey Harris, cross-posted from What Tami Said

The way our society talks about black women and marriage–from the daily paper to the pulpit to movies and self-help books–is flawed, sexist and damaging. When black women tell their own stories, a more thoughtful truth emerges.

I am working on a project juxtaposing the authentic experiences of African American women with the tragic common narrative about black women and marriage — a narrative that narrows lives, turns black female successes into failures and unfairly burdens us alone with responsibility for the success of black male/female relationships, black families and the black community. My goal is that my efforts will result in a published book.

I am currently working to identify black women to have frank discussions about how they navigate relationships, sexuality, singleness, marriage and divorce. If you, or someone you know, is willing to be a part of this effort, please contact me at Tamara@BackTalkBook.com.
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Because Amber Cole is Just a Kid and Boys Learn to Be Boys

It ain’t no fun/if the homies can’t have none. – Snoop Dogg

You know, there are a lot of people weighing in on this Amber Cole thing. But most of the conversation is about her, as is par for the course in our culture. The boys involved are still anonymous in the eyes of the world. For me, I always wonder why there aren’t open letters to these kids? There are tons to Amber Cole – people saying they could be her father, people saying STFU with all that victim-blaming and feminist-scapegoating madness – but no one seems interested in writing letters to the boys involved.

But hey, maybe it’s just me. I guess when one of your friends – along with a person who sexually assaulted you – ends up in jail for gang rape, you start thinking about things a bit differently.

After I wrote the Not Rape Epidemic, right after I submitted the essay, but before it was actually published, I ran into an old friend at my local library. I hadn’t seen this friend in a decade – indeed, I didn’t remember her name until I left the library. Yet somehow, we both happened to be in the same library, at the same time, on the same day, after not seeing each other for ten years. We say hey, make small talk.

And then she asks me: “Did you know T got out?”

We both were silent for a second. We hadn’t talked since before the incident. She didn’t know that I had been to that trial. She didn’t know I had seen the girl. And I had forgotten she was far closer to him than I was. When T and the other kids were sentenced, we calculated they would get out when we were in our 30s or 40s. We didn’t realize how the system works, and how a lot of people end up released early. T had been incarcerated from age 14 to about age 24.

“His sister called me,” my friend continued. “She asked me if I wanted to come to his his welcome home party.” She looked at me, stared hard so I could feel the weight of her pain.

“How am I supposed to look at him after he did something like that?” Continue reading

Announcement: Northwestern’s Drinking Gourd Chapbook Prize Series for Poets of Color

By Arturo R. García

Thanks to Northwestern University’s Poetry and Poetics Colloquium for the heads-up regarding a new annual competition geared toward unpublished poets of color.

The PPC is teaming up with Northwestern University Press for the inaugural Drinking Gourd chapbook poetry prize. A panel of POC poets will select the winning entry, and the first prize chapbook will be introduced by poet

Northwestern University’s Poetry and Poetics Colloquium (PPC) proudly announces a partnership with Northwestern University Press for the inaugural Drinking Gourd chapbook poetry prize, a first-book award for poets of color. Poet Ed Roberson will introduce the winner, and will also publish an accompanying chapbook of new work to launch the series.

The submission deadline is January 15th, 2012, and the winner will be notified by March 15th. The two chapbooks will be published in Fall 2012 by Northwestern University Press. Submission guidelines are under the cut.
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Using your Voice Makes You a Target

By Guest Contributor M.Dot, cross-posted from New Model Minority

Returning a book back to the library Monday, I decided to look at the magazine section. I came across the most recent issue of The Nation and decided to pick it up. I know that Professor Harris Perry had discourse with Cornel West and Chris Hedges in May around President Obama’s positions and policies around race, racial alliances, identity and class. So I decided to read this article because it seemed to be a follow up to the conversation. It also helped that the title was “Breaking News: Not All Black Intellectuals Think Alike.” #Heheheh.

A particular part of the article spoke to me, the section where she connects voice to citizenship. She writes:

Citizenship in a democratic system rests on the ability to freely and openly choose, criticize and depose one’s leaders. This must obtain whether those leaders are elected or self-appointed. It cannot be contingent on whether the critiques are accurate or false, empirical or ideological, well or poorly made. Citizenship is voice. West exercised his voice, and I mine. But the history and persistence of racial inequality and white privilege in America means that the exercise of voice for black citizens is fraught with the dangers of surveillance. It’s yet another challenge of being black and exercising citizenship in the United States. Even as we articulate our grievances, black citizens are haunted by that “peculiar sensation” that W.E.B. Du Bois described as “always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.”

I thought of voice and the fact that two White men have been impersonating queer women of color on the internet.

I thought of how my colleagues, other Black women who are teachers and graduate students from across the country who write anonymously on the internet for fear of retribution from their departments and future potential employers. Whereas on the other hand, here are these two heterosexual White men assuming the identity of women of color, to further their own career ends.

I thought of how I routinely have to tell Negro men to sit down when they try and debate me about gender theory, racial theory or political economy on the internet. It’s not that I don’t mind being challenged, that is a part of the game. The issue is their willingness to challenge me while being woefully under read. When I am dialoging with people who know more than me in an academic setting or on the street, I shut the hell up and listen and learn. These men, and some women on the internet learn real quickly that they can learn from me  or ask me questions, but unless they know my arguments, and the arguments of the people I have read, I will sit them down with the quickness. My work will be respected. This ain’t JV, this is elite. I have the bills and bifocals to prove it.

As a Black woman that writes about race, gender, pop culture and sexuality on the internet, I was excited when I saw Harris Perry write,

I vigorously object to the oft-repeated sentiment that African-Americans should avoid public disagreements and settle matters internally to present a united front. It’s clear from the history of black organizing that this strategy is particularly disempowering for black women, black youth, black gay men and lesbians, and others who have fewer internal community resources to ensure that their concerns are represented in a broader racial agenda. Failing to air the dirty laundry has historically meant that these groups are left washing it with their own hands.

To say it another way, failing to air our dirty laundry leaves the deviants, the single mothers, the queers, the lesbians, the gays, the felons, the hustlers, the sex workers-basically anyone who is lewd and lascivious shit out of luck.

Using your voice makes you a target, but as Audre Lorde has famously said, your silence won’t protect you.

You use your voice lately?

How did that turn out?

You choose NOT to speak up lately?

How did that turn out?

We Are The 99%: Chinese American Youth Edition

By Guest Contributor Jen Wang, cross-posted from Disgrasian

The Chinese Progressive Association organizes low income and working class Chinese immigrants in San Francisco. Some of their youth members have come together to tell their stories in solidarity with the Occupy movement, and I keep seeing their photos shared on Facebook. Their stories are heartbreaking, enraging, depressing, and, at the same time, inspiring. These kids should be wallowing in despair but instead they’re still fighting for a better future for themselves and their families.

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