Category Archives: intersectionality/multiple marginalization

Keeping Tabs On The Social Justice Blogosphere In The Age Of Google Reader

By Guest Contributor David Zhou

Forgive me for anthropomorphizing a website.

The announcement that Google Reader would be shutting down hit me like the loss of an old friend with whom I had lately fallen out of touch–softly at first, then more powerfully. It’s easy to think as tech consumers that things die because of our neglect or disinterest. The biggest cliché that I acknowledge here is that Google Reader was more than a website, and whatever we neglected was more than a RSS aggregator. Still, Google Reader supported a blogging culture in which I have participated more infrequently over the years. Perhaps it’s worthwhile to take a wistful moment to reflect on how things have changed and what we do now.

I think I started using Reader in 2006 or 2007. I started by following some TV fan blogs that I wanted to keep up with. (I was really into Lost at the time.) When I got a handle of finding RSS feeds, I began to add everything. Blogs for cooking, news, tech, music, of college administrators and advisors, and even calendars and events. I must have cleared hundreds of items a day, reading post titles in fractions of a second. (The Trends feature in Google Reader tells me opaquely I have read 300,000+ items since 2009; apparently, it can’t fully count how many items I have read.)

In the summer of 2007, I started a blog with a close friend for our campus Asian American student organization. In the process of gathering things to write about in the world at large, I started a folder in Reader called “asian americana”, and then set out to find all the Asian American blogs there existed. There weren’t that many. Into “asian americana” went Angry Asian Man, of course. Hyphen magazine had a blog, too. Reappropriate was refreshing. Sepia Mutiny was still alive. Disgrasian was just a new upstart. If I missed any, my sincerest apologies; I read you all.

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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Scot Nakagawa

By Andrea Plaid

Scot Nakagawa

I caught anti-racism activist Scot Nakagawa’s online action at Tumblr when an excerpt of his post, “Why I, An Asian Man, Fight Anti-black Racism,” cross-posted at Dominion of New York from his own blog, Racefiles, was getting reblogged and liked all throughout that scene. (N.B. The title also changed. Same essay, though.)

I’m often asked why I’ve focused so much more on anti-black racism than on Asians over the years. Some suggest I suffer from internalized racism.

That might well be true since who doesn’t suffer from internalized racism?  I mean, even white people internalize racism. The difference is that white people’s internalized racism is against people of color, and it’s backed up by those who control societal institutions and capital.

But some folk have more on their minds.  They say that focusing on black and white reinforces a false racial binary that marginalizes the experiences of non-black people of color. No argument here. But I also think that trying to mix things up by putting non-black people of color in the middle is a problem because there’s no “middle.”

So there’s most of my answer. I’m sure I do suffer from internalized racism, but I don’t think that racism is defined only in terms of black and white. I also don’t think white supremacy is a simple vertical hierarchy with whites on top, black people on the bottom, and the rest of us in the middle.

So why do I expend so much effort on lifting up the oppression of black people? Because anti-black racism is the fulcrum of white supremacy.

With thoughts like that–and, let me be real, a face and headgear like that–I had to know who this man is. So, being me, I interviewed him. In it, he talks about the reaction to his essay, along with other ideas and things that make him totally crushable in my estimation.

Scot, let me be real with you: I think you’re totally hot. Now that I’ve gotten that out the way, tell me…how did you become involved with anti-racism?

I love the compliment. At 50, “totally hot” is not something I hear often, if ever.

I’ve been involved in some sort of anti-racism work since my late teens. Starting around 18 I tutored people in literacy classes and managed youth and family programs and an emergency shelter in my community in Hawaii. My education was gained in the field, working with low-income people of color. I saw the way racism served to exclude us from economic opportunities and political power. The solutions to our problems as a community seemed obvious to me, but winning support for those solutions from the political system was a lot tougher. That got me involved in community organizing.

The first time my work addressed racism specifically and not as part of delivering services to people of color was in the 80s. I worked with a group in Portland, Oregon called the Coalition for Human Dignity. That group formed in response to the murder of an Ethiopian student named Mulugeta Seraw who was beaten to death by neo-Nazi skinheads. The Coalition monitored vigilante white supremacist groups and organized the community to respond to violent bigotry at a time when violence and membership in white supremacist groups was on the rise. The Coalition eventually become a regional organization. Ever since then, keeping an eye on the racist right has been an obsession of mine.

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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Oppressed Brown Girls Doing Things

By Andrea Plaid

Madame Owner/Editrix has nicknamed my new position of Associate Editor as “Tumblr-In-Chief” because I mostly curate–with generous help from said Owner/Editrix–that part of the R’s universe. There I’ve seen some slaying animated gifs on how white privilege works in everyday conversations about race (deliciouskaek, I’m looking at you) to some incredibly brilliant convos on Racism 101 and feminism (too numerous and ongoing to mention).

And then, to paraphrase comedian Katt Williams, something wonderful happens in the Tumblr World: Oppressed Brown Girls Doing Things.

Courtesy: Flickr

The funky-fun and ROTFLMAO offspring of the “Sh-t X Says To Y” meme, M.I.A., and Muslimah Media Watch, this Tumblr lacerates the whole Western Feminist Savior Complex  about women of color, as defined by the curator: “The title was made because of the posts about Middle Eastern women being oppressed specifically, but it could be related to all WoC.” (And to make crystal who she includes in the term of “women of color“: “Queer, non-binary, trans* WoC can submit as well!”) The curator chooses to center the Tumblr on Muslim and South Asian women because of the “insane amount of posts that talk about how awful Muslim/South Asian women are being oppressed” when the women themselves may have totally different ideas of what liberation and oppression means for their daily lives.

How OBGDT lays waste to Western feminists thinking that Brown women and girls are waiting to be rescued by them is the photo/faux-National Geographic Narrator caption combo, like this:

 

When I’m not being oppressed, I’m hanging with the Jawas. Courtesy: carriedinakangaroospouch

 

and this:

When I’m not too busy being oppressed, I like to read. Silly Western feminists, thinking I don’t know who Dumbledore is! Courtesy: insanepoet9

 

this:

This despicably oppressed, brown teenage girl likes to stuff her mouth with burgers, while she is out with guys. Courtesy: allonsyidjits

and this:

This is me being doubly oppressed as a black woman in India. I was so glad when I finally held the American bills of freedom and wore tank tops at home, which is obviously related to being more liberated. Courtesy: kaminapan

I love this satiric take(down) of showing that Muslim/South Asian women may not need us Westerners, especially us Western feminists, the way we think we should be needed. As the women are doing things–like, you know, living their lives–the rest of us may need to rethink how we do things…like, you know, say we’re standing up for “women everywhere.”

 

Work It’s Amaury Nolasco Becomes The Face Of His Show’s Problems

By Arturo R. García

It’s not hard to imagine that, on some level, actor Amaury Nolasco knew his new show, Work It, would catch flack after his character, Angel, told his friend and fellow job-seeker Lee , “But I’m Puerto Rican. I’ll be great at selling drugs.”

If that was the case – and in the wake of the show’s disastrous premiere, Nolasco isn’t saying – then those instincts were right, and then some. Nolasco’s “drug dealers” joke is only the latest problem series creators Ted Cohen and Andrew Reich have brought upon themselves, and now their actors.
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Announcements: Melissa Harris-Perry Has Her Own Show!

By Andrea (AJ) Plaid

The yet-to-be-titled show will start on Saturday, February 4, and will air Saturdays and Sundays 10AM to noon.

Well, Twitterville wasted no time in helping Dr. Harris-Perry christen her new program. Hashtagging as #NameMHarrisPerrysNewShow, some people chimed in with monikers tying into Rick Santorum’s ridiculous backtrack on saying people misheard him saying “blah people” instead of “black people” in discussing Black people and public assistance.

@cnmoffat Blah Like Me.

@paulhlin How about “Blah with Melissa”?

and even the R’s Managing Editor Arturo chimed in with:

Good Morning Blahmerica.

Other were inspired by her well-known love for New Orleans (and the city’s football team). Several chimed in with “Who Dat?” or some variation with the word “bayou.”

Some others came up with some play on popular vernacular:

@AngryBlackLady Is MHP Gonna Have to Choke a Bitch?

@AngryBlackLady Keepin’ It Real w/ MHP

@thesadredearth “S’up with Melissa Harris-Perry

@Besnaz Quit Playin’

@problemwiththat Hard in the Paint

or one that Dr. Harris-Perry said she likes: “Represent with Melissa Harris-Perry.”

Quite a few of us thought of phrases that reflects her role as an academic/writer/public intellectual:

@MagicLoveHose Surveying the Wreckage with Melissa Harris-Perry

@RandomExcess Front and Left

@RufferinAK Civil Discourse

@RLM1911 Politics 101

@Shoq Politics Matters, with Melissa Harris-Perry

@Besnaz Think Twice

A couple of people (including friend of the R Rob Fields) suggested using the name of her latest book, Sister Citizen. I came up with “The Intersection.” (I even have the opening sequence: panorama shot of Dr. Harris-Perry coming across a couple of literal intersection. It goes to aerial shot that follows her cross the streets and the words “race,” “class,” “gender,” “politics”,” and so on going by like cars that stop as she passes. It goes back to Dr. Harris-Perry enters the MSNBC studio and readies for her appearing on the air. The final shot is a close-up of the front of her desk with the show’s logo, “The Intersection.” Cut to live shot of Dr. Harris-Perry. And she starts the show.)

Any way we look at it, we think the show will be great.

Here’s what the good professor said about her new gig:

“This is an extraordinary opportunity…[a]ll I’ve ever wanted to be is a teacher. Phil Griffin and MSNBC are giving me the chance to have a much bigger classroom. I’m particularly excited to join the growing weekend lineup where we have a chance to take a longer and broader view of the week’s political news.”

We’re looking forward to seeing this work!

Photo credit: madamenoire.com

 

Open Thread: Is It Time For A Geeks Of Color Convention?

By Arturo R. García

This is just an idea that’s been kicking around my head for a few days, but I’d like to get everyone’s early take on it. Let me begin by listing reasons a POC-centric geek gathering should happen:

  • Because we’ve already seen Geek Girl Con and and Bent-Con step up for communities typically marginalized or exploited by genre-related industries.
  • Because Christina Xu’s GGC wrap-up raises questions that still need to be addressed:

in an age when superstar rapper Nicki Minaj name-checks Street Fighter characters and streetwear brands team up with comic-book companies like Marvel and DC, who exactly is the geek referred to in GeekGirlCon? To be a geek, do you have to prefer filk over bounce? Is it a self-identification?

I ask these questions because I’m legitimately curious; if fandom is the uniting factor, then the increasingly diverse audiences for all of our favorite geek media (video games, sci-fi, comics, etc.) should be offered a place at conventions like GGC. If, in fact, geekdom here is actually defined by a set of social norms and practices (or the lack thereof) that just happens to coincide with fandom, then geek communities need to have some serious internal conversations and own up to that.

  • Because, while San Diego Comic-Con and other conventions featured race-positive programming this year, that still doesn’t make them safe spaces.
  • Because you can still say the same about any number of fandoms.
  • Because in spite of this fact, there’s still members of fandom – consumers, creators and executives alike – who still won’t own up to the fact that there’s geeks out there who react with hostility whenever somebody points out a problematic portrayal of race.
  • Because there’s got to be creators and aspiring creators of color out there who need a place in which to meet and network outside of the “general population.”
  • Because, while it was great to read about DC Comics getting called out on the carpet at SDCC with regards to gender issues, I shouldn’t have to doubt that raising the same questions about race would get half as much discussion outside of sites like this one or Racebending.
  • Because the Akira adaptation is still happening, proving Hollywood didn’t get the message about The Last Airbender.
  • Because this might be the best way left to get those same industry forces to listen to our concerns, in a place where we can set the terms of discussion.

Again, this is just a kernel of a concept right now, but … what do you think, Racializens? Would you be up for a full-scale gathering?

They’re Going to Laugh at You: White Women, Betrayal, and the N-Word

By Sofia Quintero, cross-posted from Black Artemis

Who spiked the Evian? Lately, there’s been a rash of White women using the n-word – including self-professed liberals and progressives. As if that were not bad enough, they act shocked, defensive and even downright nasty when told by women of all races that they should cut that shit out.

First example: a few White women made and carried signs that stated Woman Is the N***** of the World for Slut Walk in New York City on October 1st. (We found out it was two women carrying the same sign.–Ed.)

While some White women including those among Slut Walk NYC’s organizers and participants have stepped up to condemn these actions, there are too many who have come to their defense, ranging from the naively privileged to the unapologetically hostile. I’m talking Facebook posts such as, “It is NOT racist, and anybody who thinks so is a fucking idiot” to a White woman telling an African American woman to go fuck herself. (I’d post links, but in no surprise to me, the posts have conveniently disappeared.)
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It’s Not Just About The Word

355 Woman is the Nigger of the World

The Slutwalk controversy keeps rolling. As a moderator, it’s always a bit disheartening when you get the same level of denials and racist comments due to high activity from feminists that you do when you are linked to from a racist hate site. It’s not quite as bad as when we linked to the picture of Giselle being carried around by black men, but it’s close.

In my first piece on the controversy, I made this statement:

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?

In my second piece, I made this statement:

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

Which one do you think more people responded to? Apparently, it’s easier to be mad that some people aren’t entitled to some words, than to engage with a heavy discussion of the requirements of solidarity.

So, for people who are still confused, let’s do a breakdown.

Reclaiming Words (Slurs) That Aren’t Yours

As a commenter pointed out, the tension between words used is a hallmark of Slutwalk itself – the reclamation of a formerly damaging term by the women who hear it. People marched for other reasons, not just word politics, but a key part of the framework was proud pronouncements of self.

The trouble is, all women have not been denigrated using the term slut, as Black Women’s Blueprint and the Crunk Feminist Collective have pointed out. Depending on your experience as a woman, you may have heard slut in regards to your sexuality – or you may have heard other things. This probably cuts to my ambivalence about Slutwalk from the beginning. It was never a word placed on my person. And, upon further reflection, slut did seem like the domain of white women – if it wasn’t Kathleen Hanna walking around with slut on her stomach in the Riot Grrl days or countless white women writing about the need to shed their virginity (read: innocence) by claiming a slutty identity, it was used as a pejorative specifically used to describe white girls people knew. This doesn’t mean that no woman of color has ever been called a slut, or had that term used to police their identity, or that a woman of color wouldn’t identity with the term – it just means that the aims of the march didn’t resonate with me on a “hey, I have to be a part of this” level.

But more to the point, the sign in question was about claiming identities. Slut isn’t an identity I would claim – I have no personal experience with it. But the application of the idea that woman is the nigger of the world to people who nigger has never applied is puzzling, to say the least. First, it would assume that all women are in the same boat. And as the statistics show when you start breaking down issues of wealth, representation, health, maternal wellness, and just about any other measure, that would be a lie. It’s also trying to pull the experiences and pain of a term on to one’s body without ever shouldering the burden that goes with that term. To me, that’s as asinine as me trying to adopt an anti-Asian slur or an anti-gay slur. Those kind of words would never be leveled at me. I never have to labor underneath their weight. I am not a part of intra-community discussions around those terms. No one has ever tried to make me fear them with those words. I don’t face that set of issues. I don’t carry those burdens. Therefore, it makes no sense to keep ham-fistedly applying terms that don’t fit. Continue reading