By Andrea Plaid
Because sometimes it’s time to respect a foremother of a movement, so I’m gonna talk about one of my favorite feminist crushes, Ana Castillo.
By Tami Winfrey Harris and Andrea Plaid
As usual, Mad Men delivered a wreck of a season ender. Don Draper had to say goodbye to what and whom he knows–”had to” being the operative phrase. And quite a few other characters had to do the same, voluntarily and involuntarily.
Tami and I grab our summer drinks and chat about what the fuck just happened.
Andrea: I’m still recovering from that last episode, Tami! Though the song may have been anachronistic, I thought a perfect song for it would have been “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” or some other leaving ditty because there were a lot of leavings, some voluntary and some forced.
One leavetaking song I can think of is “She’s Come Undone” as it applies to Sally getting kicked out of boarding school, Megan leaving Don, and Peggy getting dumped (again) and wearing pants for the first time. In their own small ways, they’re foreshadowing feminism’s Second Wave as it trickled into white women’s lives. And, what I appreciate is that Weiner and Company doesn’t make their every action a feminist one, unlike Downton Abbey and the Crawley sisters.
Rachel Jeantel is a teenager, a 19-year-old girl who told the world what she heard that fateful February night on the phone with her longtime friend Trayvon. From the news reports produced by the mainstream media, you got the impression that Jeantel was genuine and believable. Of course reporters from outlets like the New York Times, Miami Herald and the AP are not going to feel the need to describe Rachel’s attitude or overuse of black English vernacular, but they will feel compelled to describe the effectiveness of her testimony. And I saw them use words like “transfixed” to describe the all-female, nearly all-white jury’s reaction to what Jeantel was saying. Perhaps if the prosecutors had done too much coaching of their star witness, her genuineness would not have shone through.
I also saw incredibly mean things said about her looks on social media, even seeing her described as “Precious”—referring to the movie character brought to life by Gabby Sidibe, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal of the troubled overweight teen. Disturbingly, this has become the go-to moniker for overweight, dark-skinned girls—aided by rapper Kanye West, who leveled that scarily ignorant line in his song “Mercy.”
“Plus my b*tch / make your b*tch look like Precious”
Jeantel had to live through a close friend being murdered, watching his killer walk free for far too long, then sitting in front of the world and recounting the painful night with an intimidating older white man directing questions at her while she’s clearly scared out of her mind.
Now, on top of all that, she has to endure some assholes critiquing her looks?
Really, people? Grow the hell up.
–Nick Chiles, “In Attacking Trayvon Martin’s Friend Rachel Jeantel, Black Folks Are Taking It Too Far,” My Brown Baby 6/27/13
By Andrea Plaid
As you know, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) did the One Step Forward/Three Steps Back Dance when it came to rights for marginalized people. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-gender marriage and made rather questionable rulings regarding affirmative action and the Voting Rights Act (VRA), the justices’ ruling negatively impacted Native American nations’ right to their children and, ultimately, tribal self-determination. Colorlines’ Aura Bogado explains in the most popular post of this past week:
In a 5 to 4 decision today, the Supreme Court ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) does not block termination of a Native father’s parental rights. The court appears to have ruled as if it was deciding the issue based on race—when a better lens to understand the case, called Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl, is through tribal sovereignty.
First, some quick background on the case and on ICWA itself [sic]. Christy Maldonado gave birth to a baby in 2009 whose father, Dusten Brown, is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Because of self-determination, the Cherokee Nation decides who its citizens are—and because Dusten Brown is Cherokee, his baby, named Veronica, is Cherokee as well. Maldonado and Brown lost touch by the time the baby was born, and Brown was never informed of the baby’s birth. Maldonado decided to put the baby up for adoption, and a white couple named Melanie and Matt Capobianco took Veronica into pre-adoptive care.
So what does ICWA do? The act was created because of incredibly high rates of white parents adopting Native children; in states like Minnesota, that have large Native populations, non-Natives raised 90 percent of Native babies and children put up for adoption. Those adoptions sever ties to Native tribes and communities, endangering the very existence of these tribes and nations. In short, if enough Native babies are adopted out, there will literally not be enough citizens to compose a nation. ICWA sought to stem that practice by creating a policy that keeps Native adoptees with their extended families, or within their tribes and nations. The policy speaks to the core point of tribal sovereignty: Native tribes and nations use it to determine their future, especially the right to keep their tribes and nations together.
But leave it to the Supreme Court to miss the point altogether this morning. The prevailing justices failed to honor tribal sovereignty in today’s ruling.
Yesterday I appeared on Al Jazeera’s The Stream to discuss Affirmative Action policies in college admissions and hiring. Also on the panel were Ari Berman from The Nation, Jerome Hudson from the National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives, Michigan Daily‘s Yash Bhutada and libertarian blogger Kristin Tate. With only 40 minutes to discuss what is a highly contentious and layered topic in light of the Fischer vs. UT SCOTUS ruling, here’s a wrap up and slight elaboration on some of the points made on yesterday’s show.
By Guest Contributor Joy Ellison
Over the last few weeks, fans have called for a person of color and/or a woman to star in Doctor Who. If you care about race and gender presentation in Doctor Who, then pay attention to who serves as the show’s next executive producer.
When it comes to who should replace Matt Smith as the next star of the TV show Doctor Who, many fans are hoping for one thing: anyone but another white guy.
For nearly 50 years, the Doctor, the time-traveling main character of Doctor Who, has been portrayed by white men. Fans concerned with social justice are right to clamor for a different sort of Doctor. While the Doctor may be an alien, over the course of the show the character has come to represent the best of humanity. That’s why it is especially important that the Doctor be portrayed by a person of color or a woman – or, dare we dream, a woman of color, a person with a disability, a queer person, or transgender person, or a combination of all the above.
But while we wait to meet the new incarnation of this beloved sci-fi character, fans should turn their attention to racial and gender representation in an area of Doctor Who that isn’t immediately visible on screen: the executive producer.
The rights of gay and lesbian couples to sponsor non-citizen partners for immigration visas became a central area of debate in the ongoing immigration reform deliberations. For several years, Democrats in Congress have introduced stand-alone legislation that would allow U.S. citizens to petition for a green card for their same-sex partners, married or not. That legislation, which gained small Republican support, never made it far, but many hoped that immigration reform would include LGBT rights provisions.
To prepare for the show, Maniatty says she logged more than 100 hours of research on the Beastie Boys, memorizing their lyrics and watching past shows. Her prep work also includes researching dialectal signs to ensure accuracy and authenticity. An Atlanta rapper will use different slang than a Queens one, and ASL speakers from different regions also use different signs, so knowing how a word like guns and brother are signed in a given region is crucial for authenticity.
Signing a rap show requires more than just literal translation. Maniatty has to describe events, interpret context, and tell a story. Often, she is speaking two languages simultaneously, one with her hands and one with her mouth, as she’ll sometimes rap along with the artists as well. When a rapper recently described a run-in with Tupac, Maniatty rapped along while making the sign for hologram, so deaf fans would know the reference was to Tupac’s holographic cameo at Coachella, not some figment of the rapper’s imagination.
So the question is what the heck do those who care about equality and democracy do now? Waiting to fill an appointment until certain justices kick the bucket or decide to retire doesn’t seem like a good strategy. And it’s hard to imagine the current Congress leaping to fix Section 4 of the law, as Chief Justice John Roberts suggested. Fortunately, there are quicker and more promising remedial paths to follow.
Here is everything from Civil War hokum to black friend apologia to blatant racism. And people at a New York Times event are laughing along with it.
This morning, I showed this video to my wife. My wife is dark-skinned. My wife is from Chicago by way of Covington, Tennessee. The remark sent her right back to childhood. I suspect that the laughter in the crowd was a mix of discomfort, shock and ignorance. The ignorance is willful. We know what we want to know, and forget what discomfits us.
You got your first edit letter from Brandon Farley in July of 2012. In addition to telling you that the tone of the piece was far too dark and that you needed an obvious redemptive ending, Brandon wrote, “There’s way too much racial politics in this piece, bro. You’re writing to a multicultural society, but you’re not writing multiculturally.”
You wondered out loud what writing “multiculturally” actually meant and what kind of black man would write the word “bro” in an email.
“Bro, we need this book to come down from 284 pages to 150,” he said. “We’re going to have to push the pub date back again, too. I’m thinking June 2012. Remember,” he wrote, “It’s business. I think you should start from scratch but keep the spirit. Does the narrator really need to be a black boy? Does the story really need to take place in Mississippi? The Percy Jackson demographic,” he wrote. “That’s a big part of the audience for your novel. Read it over the weekend. Real black writers adjust to the market, bro, at least for their first novels.”
By the time you found out Percy Jackson wasn’t the name of a conflicted black boy from Birmingham, but a fake-ass Harry Potter who saved the gods of Mount Olympus, you were already broken. Someone you claimed to love told you that you were letting your publishing failure turn you into a monster. She said that you were becoming the kind of human being you always despised. You defended yourself against the truth and really against responsibility, as American monsters and American murderers tend to do, and you tried to make this person feel as absolutely worthless, confused, and malignant as you were. Later that night, you couldn’t sleep, and instead of diving back into the fiction, for the first time in my life, you wrote the sentence, “I’ve been slowly killing myself and others close to me just like my uncle.”
—Kiese Laymon, “You Are The Second Person”
Originally Published in Guernica Magazine, whose current issue is “Race in America”.