Mic Check: A Day In Zuccotti Park With #OccupyBigFood

By Erika Nicole Kendall, cross-posted from A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss

“Whose food?”

Our food.

Signs of “Turn the beet around!” (an obvious nod to the fact that most beets in the US, the source of a large percentage of our granulated sugar, are genetically modified), “Zucchini Park,” and “Take back our food!” filled Wall Street as the members and supporters of the #OccupyBigFood movement made their way into Zucotti Park, with myself and the toddler in tow, bringing up the rear.

I’d made the decision to go a long time ago, when one of the supporters left a link in my comments regarding the original affair. That scheduled Saturday was also the date of the first “Big Snow” of the pending 2011-2012 disgustingly-wet-and-blisteringly-cold season, so it was ill-attended (which meant that I wound up out there among the #OWS Tent City.)

The human mic system at Zuccotti Park blasted valuable message after valuable message, meaningful morsel of info after meaningful morsel:

“Corporate entities are ensuring big subsidies for themselves while convincing Congress to cut money from programs like SNAP…”

“The Union that makes up the people that SERVE that food stand in solidarity with the people who are treated inhumanely and are made to harvest that food for pennies,”

“We want a sustainable system that ensures and guarantees access for everyone,”

All things that we stand for here, though it may not be coming from the same angles as those at the #OccupyBigFood rally.

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Why I Don’t Feel Welcome at Kotaku

By Guest Contributor Mattie Brice, cross-posted from Kotaku

Tamagotchi. Remember those?

They became popular when I was in 4th grade. Sometimes my mother took me to a nearby Target to pick a toy- she told me it was for good grades, but I knew it was because I got bullied often at school. One of these times, I raced to find a Tamagotchi, as all of my friends were getting them. I liked the idea of something with me at all times, to take care of it and make me feel like something needed me.

And there it was, a whole wall of glittering purple eggs. I remember that exact, uncreative display panel to this day, and my mother stopping me. She told me to wait, that my aunt wanted to get that for my birthday when she visited. I protested, but the answer was the same: be patient, you’ll get it soon enough. We went a week later and all of them were gone, sold out from every toy store in our area. For some reason that memory is lodged in my brain. I brought it up to my mother recently, but she’s forgotten.

The stray times I visit Kotaku, it’s like I’m seeing an empty panel that the reward for my sitting, smiling, and internalizing should be. I was supposed to find somewhere to escape to, maybe even a place that needed me a little. You told me to wait, and I did. Where’s my Tamagotchi?

There is only a wrong way to go about this. So let’s just get to why I’m here:

Me too.

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Why I Love Outdated: Why Dating Is Ruining Your Love Life [Culturelicious]

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

MTV ruined my mom’s hope for the Good Black Life for me, she said: Black husband, Black children, Black neighborhood. All because of the pretty white boys dancing and singing before my eyes as my hormones coursed through my adolescent body.

She was right…sort of.

I’ve had lovers of various hues in my life, but my long-term partners were white—including my ex-husband. I just knew that my love life would not be monoracial. Duran Duran and Adam Ant simply sealed that fate.

When I tried to find advice to help guide me on that path—my mom certainly didn’t and couldn’t help, since she dated and married only Black men—I read Essence. No help there:  while I was dating the rainbow, Essence touted various admonitions on how to achieve the Good Black Life, including the Kente cloth-themed wedding. The advice and articles about interracial dating treated those relationships as, at best, aberrations.

Cosmo? Glamour? Beyond some “general” advice on “how to catch a man,” it was some variation of planning romantic evenings and Kegel exercises.

The first publications about interracial relationships—this was the Multiculti Late 80s and 90s–treated them as cure-alls for personal and institutional racism. I knew better than that, so that literature didn’t quite interest me. And I walked the other way — more like ran across the street and screamed down the alley — when Shahrazad Ali’s pro-intimate partner violence tome Blackman’s Guide to Understanding the Blackwoman became the dating manual and coffeeklatch topic du jour for Black women in the US. Nope, definitely not for me.

When I finally discovered Racialicious a few years ago, I finally found someplace that talked about dating and race, especially interracial dating, that wasn’t full of foolishness. About a couple of years the R ran a post about the racial implications–and racist assumptions–of dating-advice books. And we did a breakdown of how race and racism worked in the online-dating world. And, of course, we ran a series on interracial dating as a response to Essence trying to position them as the Next Cure-All for the Black Woman’s Marriage Crisis.

My biggest takeaway from all of this is—surprise, surprise—the media and some people in our communities deeply participate in the Dating Economics of Not OK. Part of that economy is advertising that having color is not OK, unless you’re planning to date and mate intraracially. (The logic: you’re all the same race, so you two should relate, right?) The realities are infinitely more intricate, but intricate doesn’t sell too well.

So, I’m hoping that Samhita Mukhopadhyay’s book, Outdated: Why Dating Is Ruining Your Love Life becomes a best-seller. Because she not only takes inventory of all those dating-advice books cluttering bookshelves and e-reader lists, she also takes that rarest of inventory: an anti-racist feminist inventory of the whole dating industrial complex.

Mukhopadhyay reminds the reader throughout her book that these books consistently erase those who are not cisgender and heterosexual  and able-bodied and middle-class. She also says that the dating industrial complex is also rather unkind to cisgender men–all of this because they’re trafficking in narrow stereotypes based on gender binaries. And if we believe in some sort of feminism? Well, Mukhopadhyay analyzes, these books try to make that belief the reason why we’re not getting laid, let alone married. We, to paraphrase DuBois, are the 21st century problem to be solved because, so says this literature, we dare to exist–sometimes caring about being in relationships and sometimes not.

Her take, for example, on how these books—along with communities and porn—and their net effects on dating and race:

The mainstream media is ripe with oversexualized images of women of color, and policy often stigmatized and shames this same group of people. Women of color and poor women are blamed for their inability to keep their legs closed and for having too many children. For marginalized groups of women, sex is not linked to pleasure and freedom; it is demonized and used as an example of all the ways in which these women lack self-control. As a result, a lot of conversation around sexual freedom discount the experience of people of color, failing to take into account how much sexual freedom is assumed to hinge on a woman’s privilege—be it because of her race, economic status, or social standing.

Of course, not all women of color are sexualized in the same way. For example, while black women are considered lascivious, always consenting and out of control, Latina[s] are considered exotic or overly sensual and Asian women are considered childish and prude. These particular stereotypes are reinforced through popular culture and pornography (just Google respectively “Asian women,” “black women,” or “Latina women” and then “women” and see what comes up). The common thread here is that nonwhite women’s sexuality is seen as outside the norm of white heterosexuality. It’s therefore something to uniquely desired, manipulated, exploited or controlled. Within this rather toxic climate, being a woman of color who’s in touch with her sexuality is an act of resistance. Pushing past the negative media depictions and still finding a healthy, healing, erotic, and functional sexuality is no small feat.

I have often felt trapped between discourses of sexuality. If I’m overtly sexual, I’m a threat to what it means to be a good, pious South Asian lady and to the white norms of sexuality. As a result, when I am sexual, I am confronting my ethnic community and the norms of white sexuality. Finding a more authentic sexuality that’s just me means pushing past what is considered the appropriate way for me to be sexual based on my race, ethnicity, and gender. This has meant a lot of experimentation, sometimes playing up how “bad” I am or being tremendously secretive about my sexual transgressions (well, clearly not after this book). And it meant sifting through partners and figuring out which ones are a little too obsessed with my being Indian.”

Then Mukhopadhyay breaks out a list on spotting an exoticizer.

Yes. She. Does.

But that’s what she does throughout her book…and that’s what I thoroughly love about Outdated. It’s a great, intricate mix of feminist thought, media literacy, and a couple of tips for dating while feminist (of color) from your you-ain’t-never-lied friend who’s that romantic realist. Mukhopadhyay lets you know that whomever you date—if you even want to do that—is perfectly OK.

Image credit: Feministing

Tyrese Mansplains To ‘Too Independent’ Women

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

For the past few weeks, as part of my project exploring black women, relationships and marriage, I’ve been immersing myself in books, films, blog posts and other media on the subject. Last week I read Act Like A Lady, Think Like A Man and am still trying to wash off the film and stink of patriarchy. I told my husband over the weekend that I am unbelievably proud of black women. As a group we are able to hold our heads high in the face of the relentless narrative that there is something wrong with us that needs to be fixed; that, for us, admirable qualities like independence, only make us more unlovable–a narrative not only championed by the mainstream, but, too often, by members of our own communities.

So, singer, actor and (God help us) author Tyrese decided to drop a little wisdom on the black lady folk during a recent interview with NecoleBitchie.com. (above) He warns us about being “too independent.”
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An Interview with Dr. Mythili Rajiva, Co-Editor of Reena Virk: Critical Perspectives On A Canadian Murder

By Guest Contributor Jorge Antonio Vallejos, cross-posted from Black Coffee Poet

Mythili Rajiva is associate professor of Sociology at Saint Mary’s University (Halifax, Nova Scotia). Her research focuses on girlhood, the Canadian South Asian diaspora, and racialized identities. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Canadian Review of Sociology, Girlhood Studies and Feminist Media Studies. She is the co-editor of Reena Virk: Critical Perspectives on a Canadian Murder.

BCP: Why a book on Reena Virk?

MR: The idea of working on the case had been in my head from about 2004 onwards, maybe because of a shift in my own identity from being a graduate student just starting a ph.d. in 1997 to where I was in 2004, finishing my thesis. I think it was Salman Rushdie who once said that the journey creates us; writing a thesis on South Asian Canadian girls’ experiences of racism in adolescence made me realize how much I cared about social justice issues.

The case had always haunted me, but up to this point, it had been at a visceral level. When I started analyzing it through the scholarship on racism and identity that I’d read for my thesis, I realized the case mattered to me deeply, both at a personal as well as a political level. But when I started doing research, I found very little academic work.

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Turkey Day Mini-Links Roundup

Thanks to the mighty Jessica Yee for pointing us toward that vid. While it’s always good to have a chance to catch up with the people in our lives, it’s important to remember that “Thanks-taking,” as Jessica once called it, is problematic for many reasons. But however you’re spending the weekend – celebrating or not – be safe, and we’ll have new content this coming Monday.

Oh, and while we’re here, thanks to our contributors, our co-conspirators and our readers, for sticking with us. In the meantime, a few links for you.

Documentary Shows Language Saved From Extinction

MARTIN: But, you know, isn’t this part of everyone’s history now, though? This is part of the foundational story of this country. I guess what I’m really curious about is, Troy Currence, I read that the Wampanoag classes are only open to Wampanoag. Is that still true? And why is that? I mean, one does not have to be Jewish to study Hebrew.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

CURRENCE: Right now, it is. It’s based on household, so you could be Wampanoag and you could have someone who’s not Wampanoag living in your household and it is open to the household. The idea behind that is we’re trying to get as many native speakers who are Wampanoag or are in a Wampanoag household speaking that language because some people don’t want to feel embarrassed, like, well, hey, this person knows my language and I don’t.

So I think, once we get a better grasp of that as Wampanoag people, then who knows what the future holds?

MARTIN: Well, I mean, really, I’m pressing the question because now – couldn’t one argue that that’s kind of racist?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

5 Ways to Face Race at the Thanksgiving Table—and Not Choke