Category Archives: The Things We Do to Each Other

Very Smart Brothas’ Fauxpology, Too $hort’s “Advice,” And Muffling About Intraracial Sexual Violence

By Andrea (AJ) Plaid

Honestly, reading some of the analyses about the fauxpology from Very Smart Brothas about their “rape prevention advice” and rapper Too $hort’s “fatherly advice” to boys and young men condoning sexually assaulting girls and young women is making me fidgety. Not because they’re not on point—most make points I agree with, if not co-sign with, and some are wonderfully written.

However, a fact remains that seems to hang on the edges of these commentaries, implied, like a family secret. And, like a family secret, that fact keeps those quiet in order to, if nothing else, “keep up appearances” in front of friends, neighbors, co-workers, and “society.” (In this case, the “white gaze” that judges Black people’s behavior monolithically, culturally pathological.) And, while it seems like everything may be OK, that fact—like a family secret—destroys…and deeply.

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Some Notes On Rape Culture

I happened to catch a tweet from Karnythia yesterday that turned my blood cold.

#rapeculture hurts everyone. The same rhetoric VSB spouted is used in court to make sure less than 20% of all rapists do time.

Say what?

Turns out, Damon (a.k.a. The Champ) decided to create a really flip response to Zerlina Maxwell’s Ebony.com piece “Stop Telling Women How to Not Get Raped.” Despite Maxwell writing lines like these:

Our community, much like society-at-large, needs a paradigm shift as it relates to our sexual assault prevention efforts. For so long all of our energy has been directed at women, teaching them to be more “ladylike” and to not be “promiscuous” to not drink too much or to not wear a skirt. Newsflash: men don’t decide to become rapists because they spot a woman dressed like a video vixen or because a girl has been sexually assertive.

How about we teach young men when a woman says stop, they stop? How about we teach young men that when a woman has too much to drink that they should not have sex with her, if for no other reason but to protect themselves from being accused of a crime? How about we teach young men that when they see their friends doing something inappropriate to intervene or to stop being friends? The culture that allows men to violate women will continue to flourish so long as there is no great social consequence for men who do so.

Damon still decided to write his piece, essentially asking this question:

But, why can’t both genders be educated on how to act responsibility around each other? What’s stopping us from steadfastly instilling “No always means no!” in the minds of all men and boys and educating women how not to put themselves in certain situations? Of course men shouldn’t attempt to have sex with a woman who’s too drunk to say no, but what’s wrong with reminding women that if you’re 5’1 and 110 pounds, it’s probably not the best idea to take eight shots of Patron while on the first, second, or thirteenth date? Yes, sober women definitely get raped too, but being sober and aware does decrease the likelihood that harm may come your way, and that’s true for each gender.

It seems as if the considerable push back again victim-blaming has pushed all the way past prudence and levelheadedness, making anyone who suggests that “women can actually be taught how to behave too” insensitive or a “rape enabler.” And, while the sentiment in Maxwell’s article suggests that victim-blaming is dangerous, I think it’s even more dangerous to neglect to remind young women that, while it’s never their fault if they happen to get sexually assaulted, they shouldn’t thumb their noses to common sense either.

Damon’s already (somewhat) apologized and been raked over the coals by folks on his site, Twitter, and Tumblr.

So my goal in writing this piece isn’t to hold him accountable–that’s already gone on. My goal in writing this is to answer his question. And since I recently gave a talk at Swarthmore on rape culture, I just so happen to have a bunch of examples and facts right at my fingertips.

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Exploring the Problematic and Subversive Shit People Say [Meme-ology]

So all this started with “Shit Girls Say,” which now has over 11 million views:

Created by Graydon Sheppard and Kyle Humphrey (and boosted by the star power of Juliette Lewis), “Shit Girls Say” went viral by taking a male perspective on common things “women” do and presenting it as humor. Internet forums filled with comments like “Omigod, all my friends do that” or “that is so me.” The sketch proved to be so popular, there are now three episodes, probably with more in the pipeline.

However, everyone wasn’t laughing at “Shit Girls Say.” Quite a few people noticed that the “girls” referred to in the top video were a certain type of woman, an experience that was not shared by all. Others noted that the humor that made the video funny was actually rooted in sexist stereotypes. Over at Feministing, Samhita explains:

While, I usually applaud men in drag, I can’t help but be critical of these characterizations of women. Are some of these stereotypes uncannily true? I’m sure they can be. But that’s the problem with stereotypes, it’s not about whether they are true or not, it’s that they are used to disempower people or deny them certain privileges. And I get that it is comedy, but it’s like the most boring and lazy comedy possible. You know, let’s make fun of girls cuz we already know everyone thinks they are dumb and annoying tee hee. These videos might as well be beer ads.

And Lynn Crosbie, writing for the Globe and Mail, notes:

Girls, or young women, who already speak largely in the interrogative and treat the world of men as another, completely inscrutable species, have enough on their minds already. They are already sexualized to the maximum. Must their every word be a potential joke?

Girls speak casually about inane things. Girls speak, too, about sexual violence and quantum physics. They talk about fear and art, children, murder and opera; philosophy, blood, sex and mathematics.

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing is also some stuff a girl said.

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It’s Really Not That Difficult

By Guest Contributor Paula, cross-posted from Heart, Mind and Seoul

The students that I work with – kids and young adults ranging from 5 years to 18 years of age – very clearly understand that there are certain behaviors and language that I will not tolerate or accept in my presence.  Of course the vast majority know that they’re not going to get away with any profanity, but other words including “gay” or “retard”, racial slurs and derogatory actions (such as making an “L” on their forehead to call someone a loser, mocking another student’s speech, calling attention to a part of another student’s body, and yes even pulling ones eyes back to “look” Asian) are not necessarily universally known as utterly unacceptable until I call attention to it and we have a discussion as to why I will not accept it in our collective learning environment.

After the incident, we’ll stop what we’re doing and I’ll do my best to facilitate a discussion around the action or language and explain why it is hurtful to all of us.  Sometimes we’ll do an experiential activity (age appropriate of course) that hopefully drives home the point of impact v. intent and why we need to be aware and responsible of the impact that we’re having on one another.

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Voices: RIP Joe Frazier

By Arturo R. García

Joe Frazier was mourned Monday night, following his death at age 67. And I can’t help but feel that, this time a little more than many, there was the sense that it came too late. Because at any other time, the story of “Smokin’ Joe” – the world heavyweight boxing champion in a time when being so still marked one as The Baddest Man On The Planet – could have marked him as a hero in a decade that sorely needed them. Instead, his defining moments in the era saw him cast as the villain, a role he would sometimes embrace all too well in later years.

For it was Frazier’s luck to run into Muhammad Ali at the height of Ali’s oratory powers. Suddenly Frazier’s American Dream was painted as a staid product of the Establishment, and no one in sports made a career out of defying that like Ali, and the three fights between them, for better and worse, followed Frazier for the rest of his life.

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The Wormiest of Cans: who gets to be “mixed race”?

A few days ago on Facebook I watched two community activists have a throwdown over the phrase “mixed race.”

It began when Activist X posted a link to this article about the Mixed Roots Film and Literary Festival and noted with some irritation that despite the festival’s claims to inclusivity, there were no Latin@s mentioned in the article. X asked: if Latin@ people are the largest group of multiracial people in the Americas and the festival is supposed to be open to everybody, why weren’t Latin@ people included? A few people agreed with X, and some people who had been at the festival said that they thought Heidi Durrow and the festival were great, but that they could see X’s point.

Enter Activist Y: after expressing some trepidation, Y said that the festival was using the term “mixed race” or “multiracial” to refer to people who had parents of two or more different racial categorisations. Activist Y said that if your whole family shared the same ethnic identity, then you were not mixed in the way the festival intended.

Dear Racializens, I am sure you can imagine what happened next: a veritable Facebook wall brawl — albeit one that was highly intellectual and restrained. Most people sided with X (it was X’s wall to begin with) and Y, after making several long attempts to explain themselves, eventually left in a digital huff.

This exchange brought back some of the most difficult writing that I have ever done on Racialicious: where readers challenged my right to call myself, as a mixed race person with parents of two different races, mixed in a separate way from those who are mixed race but share the same identity as their whole family, for e.g. folks who are mestizo, Creole, African American, Metis, Peranakan…

(From here on in I will refer to people who come from mixed lineage as MRs, and people who have parents of two different and separate racial categorisations as MR2s.)

So here is one of the most important things I have learned from all my years of toiling in the anti-racist trenches here at Racialicious: when you are talking about race with anti-racist people of colour, you are speaking from a place of pain, to a place of pain. (Ok obviously we are about more than pain, but pain is always on the table.) Many of us come to anti-racism through struggle. We are used to having things taken away from us, and we turn to anti-racism to try and arm ourselves against the corrosion of racism. We are sensitive, and we come by it honestly.

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Dark Girls: A Review of a Preview [Culturelicious]

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

**TRIGGER WARNING**

I recognize the women in this preview: these women were me when I was growing up. The kids at my mostly black Catholic school called me just about every black-related perjorative ever since 3rd grade, letting me know and telling others within my earshot that I was physically inferior solely because I was dark-skinned. I even remember a boy in my 7th grade class drew a picture of me being nothing more than a solid black square. Even though the same kids voted me 8th grade class president…I was still considered in their estimation an ugly (vis-a-vis my skin tone) girl. Even had the only boy who was my boyfriend (we were in 8th grade) dump me for a lighter-skinned and younger girl, to the mocking laughter of the lighter-skinned students.

My mom—a dark-skinned African American herself—told me something that didn’t make any sense through my woundedness: “You know those light-skinned girls people think are pretty in school? Wait ‘til you’re grown and see where you’re at and where they’re at.” Added to this was my mom’s constant admonition to “get an education.” Well, sure enough, what my mom said came to pass. I’ve had photographers approach me and ask to photograph me. I had lovers of various hues—even had a husband. (He was white.) And women of various hues, races, and ethnicities have given me love on the streets, at the job, and at workshops.

I’m not sure how—or even if—some of the women in the clip worked through the pain some black people have inflicted on them. But, instead of the usual devolving, derailing, and erasing conversations of “that’s happened to me, too, though I’m a lighter-skinned black person!” (that’s a thread for another post) or “it wasn’t me! I’m a down black person!” (will be met with an exasperated eyeroll)…it would be a really good thing to simply listen to these women’s truths, as uncomfortable–sometimes, as implicating–as they may be.

Transcript after the jump.

Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.

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No, Joan Walsh, racial criticism does not equal ‘identity politics’

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

Hmmm … I’m just digesting Joan Walsh’s analysis of the Cornel West v. President Obama controversy. Now, I think West’s attack on Obama was petty, personal and, perhaps worst of all, an example of destructive policing of blackness from within. So, I was with Walsh until she went here:

But there’s a way in which this whole controversy looks like progressives devouring their own tail. From the left, West attacks Obama for not being black enough; I’ve written about being attacked as a clueless, entitled white progressive for criticizing Obama; in a pro-West backlash, black Obama supporters are being dismissed as “elitist” fronts for white liberals and that half-white guy in the White House. It’s crazy. Read more…

Whoa … whoa … whoa there, Joan! In her article, Walsh goes from pointing out the silliness of “not black enough” charges to using West’s foolishness to imply that analysis of political opinion through the lens of race and other identities is without merit–particularly when leveled at, well, Joan Walsh.
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