Month: October 2011

October 6, 2011 / / activism
October 6, 2011 / / feminism

Lennon Ono

Woman is not the nigger of the world.

John Lennon is not the final authority on whether it’s ok to use the term nigger.

Quoting black men from the 60s is not a valid defense against critiques from black women, black feminists, and our allies today.

The term nigger is not “in the past.”

The term nigger has not, and has never been, a term that can be equally applied to everyone.

Arguing that black people don’t have a monopoly on the term nigger is just fucking disgusting. You want it that bad? Really?

Over on Facebook, the woman posing with the infamous Slutwalk NYC photo (and the woman who created the sign) defended themselves. The tl; dr version of their statements: “It was wrong to use the word nigger, but the song is true!” Here’s the convo:

Christina Jaus How does this photo speak to inclusion?
Yesterday at 11:23am · Unlike · 9 people

Betty Chantel Jesus Christ, this is just shameful! SlutWalk &SlutWalk NYC what do you have to say about this??
Yesterday at 11:29am · Like · 5 people

Nicole Kubon This sign was not made by an organizer and, when it was noticed, an organizer respectfully requested the sign be put away and took some time to talk with the sign holder about why this message was not in line with our cause. Unfortunately we cannot police all attendants to our event, or any event, but it is a sign that was frustrating to all of us and has sparked discussion amongst organizers. We do not agree with the message being displayed here and addressed it as soon as we saw it.
Yesterday at 11:50am · Like · 2 people

Clare Mackay i don’t get the sign. is a word(s) on the poster out of view?
Yesterday at 2:02pm · Like

Amina Ali This is the title of a song written and performed by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in the 1970s. You have to listen to the whole song to understand it. It is not offensive to anyone other than sexists in its entirety and was a very powerful message, then and now. I can understand how the sign out of this context would be disturbing. But I urge everyone to check out the full lyrics and listen to the song and judge for themselves.
Yesterday at 2:59pm · Like · 6 people

Tyrra Kiri Adrien Ramos Whether the Lennon song is meant to be offensive, that word should just not be said by any white person.
Yesterday at 5:16pm · Like · 6 people

Amina Ali I think it is more productive to look into the deeper meaning of things than to exercise censorship.
Yesterday at 5:20pm · Like · 5 people

Christina Jaus ‎@ Amina, did you talk to any Black people (women or men) in the 60’s and did they themselves tell you at that time that they felt empowered by that John Lennon song?
Yesterday at 5:41pm · Like · 6 people

Christina Jaus And, the sign “out” of context or not is still offensive. When is the N word ever in context outside of dehumanizing?
Yesterday at 5:43pm · Like · 4 people

Read the Post Slutwalk, Slurs, and Why Feminism Still Has Race Issues

October 5, 2011 / / LGBTQ

by Guest Contributor justin adkins, originally published at justin adkins

My name is justin adkins.

I am a transgender man who was arrested at the Occupy Wall Street Protest October 1st on theBrooklyn Bridge. This was my first arrest. This was the second weekend I participated in the Occupy Wall Street protest. I have been coming down on the weekends because I work 2 full-time jobs to make ends meet. One of those jobs is as Assistant Director of the Multicultural Center at Williams College in Massachusetts. The other is as a website developer.

I was toward the front of the march and after being trapped by the police on the bridge; I was able to watch as they arrested people one-by-one. I went peacefully when it was clear that it was my turn. My arresting officer, Officer Creer, found out I was born female when I yelled that information to the legal observer on the bridge. My arresting officer asked what I meant when I told the legal observer that I was “transgender” so I told him that I was born female. He asked what “I had down there”. Since it is a rude and embarrassing question to ask someone about his/her genitals no matter what the situation, I simply told him again “I was born female”. He asked, appropriately, if I wanted a male or female officer to pat me down. I told him it was fine if he patted me down. He then turned and asked a female officer, I believe her name is Officer Verga, to pat me down explaining to her that I am transgender. She patted me down and then preceded to refer to me as “she” even though I kept correcting her that my preferred pronoun is “he”. Luckily she disappeared after about 40 minutes, as I sat cuffed at the apex of the Brooklyn Bridge with hundreds of others.

Once we arrived at Precinct 90 in Brooklyn, the male officer taking everyone’s belongings asked if it was ok to search me. I said. “yes” and he proceeded to respectfully empty my pockets. I was arrested with a group of 5 other guys, and once they got us to the precinct, they initially put me in a cell with those same men. They asked if that was ok with me and I said yes. About 5 minutes after they took the cuffs off and shut the cell door an officer came back to the cell to move me. When he opened the door and looked my way, I was aware of what was happening. I knew that my transgender status would potentially be an issue once at the jail, which is why I told the legal observer that I was transgender. The officer glanced at me motioning to come out of the cell and then told me to put my hands behind my back as my fellow protestors looked on in bewilderment.

As we walked out past the other protestors waiting to have their pockets emptied, one woman looked at me with a puzzled look, we had connected on the long drive around Brooklyn as they tried to figure out where to take us. I told her that it looked like transgender people got “special treatment”. Within the first 15 minutes of being at precinct 90 I was being segregated and treated differently from the rest of the protestors arrested.
Read the Post Police mistreatment of transgender man during #OccupyWallStreet arrests

October 5, 2011 / / activism

by Anonymous Guest Contributors

Occupy Wall Street

We—two white men—write this letter conscious of the fact that the color of our skin means we will likely be taken more seriously. We write this knowing that because people of color are thought to be too biased to speak objectively on issues of race, our perspective in this context will be privileged. We write this aware of the history of colonization, genocide, and slavery upon which this country stands, which has created this oppressive reality.

We write this letter to the organizers and participants (ourselves included) of #OccupyWallStreet out of great love for humanity and for the collective struggles being waged to save it. We write this letter because of our support for this nascent movement, in the hopes that with some self-reflection and adjustment, it may come to truly represent “the 99%” and realize its full potential.

#OccupyWallStreet has shown itself to be a potent force. The movement—which we consider ourselves part of—has already won great victories. New occupations spring up across the continent every day, and the movement for true democracy and radical social change is gathering steam worldwide.

According to the main websites associated with #OccupyWallStreet, it is “one people, united,” a “leaderless resistance movement with people of many colors, genders and political persuasions,” and an “open, participatory and horizontally organized process.” In other words, it professes to be the universal protest against the greed and corruption rampant in our society, open for anyone to join and shape.

But a quick survey of the movement so far shows that that the good intentions outlined do not reflect the reality of the situation. Read the Post An Open Letter From Two White Men to #OCCUPYWALLSTREET

October 5, 2011 / / Culturelicious

Trouble in Mind

I’ve been to a great many plays on race. Some, like August Wilson’s Jitney, manage to survive through the ages and provide a stunningly timeless view on the problems of the colorline.

Others, like David Mamet’s Race or Neil Labute’s This Is How It Goes, make me realize how much of an abstract concept racism’s pervasiveness can be for white people. Unfortunately, much of the mainstream art world is controlled by white people, and therefore what is considered worthy of production is shaped by white perceptions.

Trouble in Mind has been resurrected, but there are always complications. Over at the Arena Stage website, Irene Lewis speaks to the cause of the persistent racial gap in evaluation of material:

For years, the play Trouble in Mind, by African-American playwright Alice Childress, was recommended to me as a show that, as artistic director of CENTERSTAGE, I should produce. I had read the play several times over the years and found it to be “old-fashioned/old hat,” especially concerning the depiction of the character of the white director. Finally, I decided to ask the opinion of an African-American actress whose judgment I have always valued. She read the play and told me that she liked it. When I asked if she found the role of the white director dated and unbelievable, she said, “No.” So I came around to the opinion that this was another case of – what should I call it – whites (me) being “out of touch” with the experiences of African-Americans. I decided to produce and direct the play at CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore. It subsequently transferred to Yale Repertory Theater. I am delighted that Molly is bringing this groundbreaking piece to Arena Stage.

“Out of touch” is the last term I would use to describe Childress’ noted work, considering it was originally performed in 1955. Considering the play was created more than five decades ago, it should not be so fresh and contemporary. And yet, we live in an era in which a white woman’s tale about a white woman and the black maids she liberated swept the bestseller’s list and the box office – clearly, things haven’t changed that much. So why the disconnect between black and white theater aficionados? As Childress herself has stated:

“There aren’t any black critics who can close a white play. But in black theater, black experience has been fought against by white critics. The white critic feels no obligation to prepare himself to judge a black play.”

And so, here we are. Read the Post On Racism, Theater, and Trouble In Mind [Culturelicious]

October 5, 2011 / / activism

Over at Parlour Magazine, I spotted this photo yesterday:

Slutwalk NYC Woman Is the Nigger of the World Sign

Lord. The original reference is from a song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and performed mostly by John Lennon. At the time, Lennon and Ono justified their decision openly, using both the “my black friends said it was cool” defense as well as a more substantive critique based on ideas of “niggerization” – that nigger can be redefined to include anyone who is oppressed.

But can you appropriate a term like nigger if your body is not defined/terrorized/policed/brutalized/diminished by the word? Can we use it in a context that is supposed to belie gender solidarity, without explicitly being in racial solidarity?

I think not. And I am not alone. Read the Post Which Women Are What Now? Slutwalk NYC and Failures in Solidarity

October 5, 2011 / / academia

by Guest Contributor Adrienne Keene, originally published at Native Appropriations

AA Bakesale

[Last week,] UC Berkeley’s College Republicans Chapter decided to have an “Affirmative Action Bakesale” to protest a new bill that has been introduced into the CA legistlature that would reverse parts of Prop 209, which in 1996 banned the use of race as a factor in admissions decisions in the UC system.

The premise of the bake sale is not new, and has definitely been used on other college campuses. The basic idea is that there is different pricing for different racial groups, as follows:

    White: $2.00
    Asian: $1.50
    Latino: $1.00
    Black: $.75
    Native American: $.25
    $.25 discount for women

Screenshot from TV news

The pricing implies that standards are lower for non-whites and women, and that the (poor, innocent!) White males are just royally screwed by the whole system. But you know what I see from that pricing? I GET FREE SNACKS. (I joke, I joke) Read the Post Cal’s “Affirmative Action Bake Sale”: I want my free cookies.

October 4, 2011 / / activism