Month: January 2013

January 31, 2013 / / links
January 31, 2013 / / LGBTQ

By Andrea Plaid

RuPaul Andre Charles. Via peacockandpaisley.com
RuPaul Andre Charles. Via peacockandpaisley.com

Racialicious fave Monica Roberts of TransGriot wrote a scathing critique about RuPaul and his transmisogyny–and how they influenced her to be the renowned activist she is today. The excerpt is the most liked and reblogged one this past week:

RuPaul is a Black gay man, not a transperson, and the trans community is beyond sick and tired of being sick and tired of him being elevated by cis and gay people to some nebulous ‘trans expert’ level..

As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I became a trans activist in 1998 was because of a Transgender Tapestry magazine article in the 90’s that ignorantly considered RuPaul and Dennis Rodman as Black transwomen juxtaposed against other accomplished white trans people despite both Ru and Dennis Rodman emphatically saying they weren’t trans and didn’t want to transition.

It was the epiphany that made me realize just how invisible Black transwomen were in the trans human rights movement and gave me the impetus to get involved and change that dynamic.

Read the Post Meanwhile, On TumblR: Kimye and RuPaul’s Transmisogyny

January 30, 2013 / / activism

By Guest Contributor Terry K. Park, cross-posted from Hyphen Magazine

David Phan at age seven, at Arches National Park. Courtesy of the Phan family.

After their son took his own life on November 29th, David Phan’s family received two boxes. One box, sent by Bennion Junior High, was filled with generic pamphlets on how to deal with suicide-related grief. The other box, given by current and former classmates, contained over 600 letters expressing their support and sorrow for the loss of their child. These letters, according to family advocate Steven Ha, paint a portrait of a 14-year-old who, despite being a victim of bullying himself, protected other victims of bullying. At a December 20th briefing for local Asian American activists at the offices of the Refugee and Immigrant Center – Asian Association of Utah, Ha read out loud one such letter from a former classmate:

“Dear Phan family. Your son David is a life saver. I’m going to miss him…This kid is amazing, has a great personality…I’ve never met someone who could make me smile when I’m deeply sad. He saved my sister’s life. She was going to kill herself, but you [David] talked her out of it. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have a sister because of him, your son…I will not forget you [David]. I am letting balloons go in the air to honor you. I’m so lucky to have met him. He always made everyone smile…If someone was sad, he’d ask if they need a hug. He was the hero of the school. If only I was still there, I would’ve made sure this wouldn’t have happened.”

Tragically, it did. And now a Vietnamese American family grieves for the loss of their son and seeks answers. The answers given by Granite School District spokesperson Ben Horsely in the immediate wake of David’s suicide were not only insufficient but struck the Phan family and supporters as defensive, insensitive, and even illegal. “David,” said Horsely, faced “significant personal challenges on multiple fronts” for which he supposedly received support for from a guidance counselor. And despite a report of bullying several years ago, “[David] never reported any further bullying concerns and, on the contrary, reported that things were going well.”

Read the Post David Phan’s Suicide Sparks Grief, Anger, And A Call For Justice

January 30, 2013 / / community
Image by x1klima, via Flickr Creative Commons.

By Lisa Wade, PhD, cross-posted from Sociological Images

In 1984 the U.S. began its ongoing experiment with private prisons. Between 1990 and 2009, the inmate population of private prisons grew by 1,664%  (source). Today approximately 130,000 people are incarcerated by for-profit companies.  In 2010, annual revenues for two largest companies — Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group — were nearly $3 billion.

Companies that house prisoners for profit have a perverse incentive to increase the prison population by passing more laws, policing more heavily, sentencing more harshly, and denying parole.  Likewise, there’s no motivation to rehabilitate prisoners; doing so is expensive, cuts into their profits, and decreases the likelihood that any individual will be back in the prison system.  Accordingly, state prisons are much more likely than private prisons to offer programs that help prisoners: psychological interventions, drug and alcohol counseling, coursework towards high school or college diplomas, job training, etc.

Read the Post Race, Rehabilitation, And The Private Prison Industry

January 29, 2013 / / Television

By Guest Contributor Tamura A. Lomax; originally published at Feminist Wire

SisterhoodThere’s been much talk about TLC’s new show The Sisterhood, a reality show about the lives and struggles of Ivy Couch, Domonique Scott, Christina Murray, DeLana Rutherford, and Tara Lewis, five pastor’s wives in the Atlanta area.  While some critics are threatening to boycott the show, and others are framing it as evidence of black [male] preachers losing their way (which I guess is synonymous with the Black Church losing its way, but that’s another issue), millions of others, myself included–a former “first lady” and black feminist scholar of religion, race and media–are flocking faithfully to the television screen on Tuesday nights with popcorn and bottled water in hand.

And let me be clear: like many, I’m “sick and tired of being sick and tired” of the operative mediation of the global racist and sexist imagination through black women’s corporeal realities.  I’m tired of mass-mediated notions of “black womanhood” being both the adjective and the noun that modifies and constricts space, time, and meanings. I’m tired of black women consistently serving as—through both overdetermination and consent—televisual artifacts for establishing white, black, and other “normalcy.”  And yes, I’m sick and tired of black women functioning as cultural mediums for soothing primal fears, representational tropes for suckling the collective fascination with black female sexuality, and work-horses for demonstrating a mastery of unscrupulousness and otherness.  I’m tired.

And yet, I’m also admittedly drawn in to this show and others like it, week after week.  Like so many others before them, Ivy, Domonique, Christina, DeLana, Tara, and many other reality TV women, inspire all kinds of repulsions, attractions, and anxieties.  However, they also satiate [some of] our ratchet taste buds.  Can we have a moment of honesty?  The Sisterhood is a hit show.  And this isn’t because no one’s watching it.

So what’s the draw?  The Sisterhood creates a conflict between public politics, private realities, and personal taste.  However, this war between the emperor’s coat of high culture and the everydayness of his nakedness is nothing new.  This ongoing juxtaposition highlights the ever-increasing tensions between the “cultured” and the “ratchet”: the former drawing attention to so-called taste, tact, refinement, civilization, and genius, and the latter calling attention to the so-called vulgar.  While the former is purported to arise out of the Geist–the intellectual inclinations–of our times, the latter is purported to spring forth from the worst of black culture.  However, what better communicates the spirit of the time than the ratchet?  And no, I don’t mean the ways that ratchet gets deployed to project a collage of derogatory meanings onto black women’s bodies.  I’m referring to the ways that ratchetness often undergirds the ricocheting of raw emotions and missiles of unfiltered truths.

Read the Post A Black Feminist Comment On The Sisterhood, The Black Church, Ratchetness, And Geist

January 29, 2013 / / black

By Guest Contributor Shannelle Matthews; originally published at Crunk Feminist Collective

“Are you in college?” The doctor could tell from my face I wasn’t at all interested in having a conversation. “You speak well. I mean, you’re articulate.” The wrinkles in my forehead 558387_523164701057337_2002892972_ndeepened. I wrung my fingers tightly around the scratchy, blue exam gown and briefly thought about the woman who wore it before me; what was she like? I looked at him, desperately wanting to not have to actually speak, wishing he could just read my mind. “Yes. I’m in college,” I responded shortly. I was really thinking, “That’s none of your business and really, is this the time to make small talk? When your elbow is deep in my vagina?” But, I was grateful for him, so I frowned and looked away.

The room didn’t feel particularly uncomfortable. I mostly gazed at the ceiling tiles, counting square by square. Occasionally I peeked down. Over the long sheet that draped my knees I could see my feet, not really manicured, resting awkwardly in the titanium stirrups, straddling the doctor’s full head of curly hair. “We’re just about done.” I sighed out a breath of relief. My abortion was almost over.

My abortion experience isn’t the kind that might be featured in a Lifetime movie. By that I mean I was 18, technically an adult. I consented to having sex, although I had never learned how to really protect myself. I lived in California, which is a state that provides emergency Medicaid for women who need financial assistance to help cover the costs of abortion care. The circumstances in which I found myself were not particularly difficult but only because at the time I didn’t know any better.

I was 6 months out of high school, a full-time student-athlete living away from home. I was privileged enough to be going to college and receiving some scholarship money to do so. One day, during practice, I found myself violently ill. Workouts were hard and often induced vomiting–but not like this. I counted the days since my last period and realized I may be pregnant.

I was dating my teammate who was several years older than me. He was sexually experienced and, while I wasn’t a virgin, I had dated mostly women and not been very sexually involved with men. He said he used protection. I believed him.

Read the Post The Story That’s Taken Ten Years To Tell: On Abortion, Race, And The Power Of Story

January 29, 2013 / / asian
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Cast from a Mumbai performance of “The Vagina Monologues.” Image Credit: Times of India.

**TRIGGER WARNING**

By Guest Contributor Hannah Green

In India these days, it’s hard to go for very long without thinking about gang rape. Since the horrific and well-publicized rape and death of a young woman in Delhi last month, more rapes have been appearing in the headlines every day. More politicians’ and public figures’ opinions about why violence against women occurs are getting thrown around as well, each more ludicrous than the next.  (But the press isn’t tolerating the nonsense this time, nor are the women of Delhi.) It’s a confusing time to be female and living in India. The constant discussion of rape makes it difficult to forget bad experiences. And it’s hard to know whether to be dominated by anger or fear. It’s easy to forget that India’s–and the world’s–reactions to this will shape what the next stage in the women’s rights movement will look like.

It was a Monday afternoon at the theater in Lucknow, a small city not far from Delhi, somewhat old-fashioned by reputation. We–the women in the audience–were wearing the loose, concealing clothing that women usually wear in Lucknow. The three women on stage were dressed similarly, but in striking combinations of black and pink. The audience was excited, maybe a little tense. During the introductory remarks, the Delhi rape case had been brought up again. About ten minutes into the play, the atmosphere changed when she walked on stage. Black hair, black top, short black skirt, long brown legs. She looked good, but she wasn’t trying to titillate anyone. She spoke with a kind of serene authority “Meri short skirt ka aap se koi lena dena nahin hai.” My short skirt has nothing to do with you.

Read the Post The Vagina Monologues In Hindi