Category Archives: women of color

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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Am I Troy Davis? A Slut?; or, What’s Troubling Me about the Absence of Reflexivity in Movements that Proclaim Solidarity

By Guest Contributor Stephanie Gilmore

Some background on Stephanie’s post: Shit continues to hit the fan regarding the racefail not only from SlutWalk NYC and the now-notorious sign, but also from another SlutWalk–that in Philly. Several anti-racist feminists, both women of color and white (me included), called out Jake Aryeh Marcus, the main organizer/legal counsel/”intersectional partner” of SlutWalk Philly about her defending some of the marches’ racism and using common derailing tactics to do so. Her response in her final post on the thread was to tell me to “go fuck yourself.” (After the call to archive the thread, said organizer removed her comments from it. However, Sydette Harry, the thread’s moderator and author of the original post called “Open Letter to SlutWalk,” assures us she’s got screencaps of her comments.) During this–except for a very few–those white feminists who profess to be anti-racist remained publicly silent even as us women of color kept asking, “Why aren’t the white anti-racist feminists saying something publicly about all of this??”

Jake posted her thoughts about the sign and the continued racialfail at SlutWalk USA, which is not affiliated to the pages of official SlutWalks. 

 “Using the “N” word in this context may or may not be appropriate. There will always be things that make some people uncomfortable. Yes, SW is working on making the inclusive nature of the marches better . . . but, when thousands of people arrive it is “tough” to vet what each person is going to say in advance. “Ultimately, SW will not be something that speaks to EVERYONE. That should be OK; there is enough room for many different approaches to ending rape….Let’s stay focused on the primary goal of SW; ending rape.”

Filmmaker/activist  Aishah Shahidah Simmons, who has spoken at and about SlutWalk, posted her objection to the Jake’s comment. According to people who’ve been on the page, some of the commenters made racist statements in response to Aishah. Crunk Feminist Collective made this clarion call: 

“Calling all anti-racist allies: It has unfortunately come to our attention that the creator of the SlutWalk USA FB page is making racist comments in the discussion that follows its link to Aishah Shahidah Simmons Cultural Worker’s piece about the unfortunate racism at last week’s SlutWalk NYC. While we would be perfectly happy to go get #CRUNK with this clearly misguided individual, this is the time for our anti-racist allies to step up and do some of the labor of teaching this person where and how their thinking is so ridiculously, offensively, and dangerously wrong. We also hope that organizers of various SlutWalks will officially condemn this page. If you have time and energy on your Sunday, your labor of anti-racist love in this matter would be greatly appreciated. Many thanks from the CFs.”

Several white anti-racist feminists responded on SlutWalk USA’s thread. Stephanie, who took part of SlutWalk Philly, went a step further and wrote this response, not only answering the question “where are the white anti-racist feminists?” but also answering Jake, who claimed to be speaking for/with her.

The essay, after the jump–AJP

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Which Women Are What Now? Slutwalk NYC and Failures in Solidarity

Over at Parlour Magazine, I spotted this photo yesterday:

Slutwalk NYC Woman Is the Nigger of the World Sign

Lord. The original reference is from a song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, and performed mostly by John Lennon. At the time, Lennon and Ono justified their decision openly, using both the “my black friends said it was cool” defense as well as a more substantive critique based on ideas of “niggerization” – that nigger can be redefined to include anyone who is oppressed.

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?

I think not. And I am not alone. Continue reading

A Slap on the Wrist for Satoshi Kanazawa

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid

For the maelstrom Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa caused by publishing on Psychology Today‘s blog a “study” he contended would “prove” that not only Black women are unattractive but we’re deluded for believing otherwise, his place of employment, the London School of Economics (LSE) placed him on publishing and teaching probation for a year.

From Times Higher Education:

The LSE has now published the findings of an internal investigation into the affair, ruling that Dr Kanazawa had “brought the school into disrepute” and barring him from publishing in non-peer-reviewed outlets for a year.

In addition to the 12-month ban, he will not teach any compulsory courses this academic year.

Kanazawa issued a very belated fauxpology for his “research.”

In a letter to Judith Rees, director of the LSE, Dr Kanazawa says he “deeply regrets” the “unintended consequences” of the blog and accepts it was an “error” to publish it.

“In retrospect, I should have been more careful in selecting the title and the language that I used to express my ideas,” he writes.

“In the aftermath of its publication, and from all the criticisms that I have received, I have learned that some of my arguments may have been flawed and not supported by the available evidence.”

He adds: “In my blog post, I did not give due consideration to my approach to the interpretation of the data and my use of language.”

Yes, Psychology Today fired Kanazawa after Color of Change and many other people online and offline pressured the company to do so. And students from LSE agitated for his firing. However, considering that he’s obfuscating–and failing to apologize for–the fact that he used his science skills on a piece that helps perpetuate engendered racism–and that he has pulled this fooliganery before–a year really isn’t enough.

Related posts:

Voices: The Satoshi Kanazawa Study

H/t to Taja for the update!

A Racial Profiling Victim on 9/11 Shares Her Story

By Arturo R. García

On Sunday, three passengers at Detroit’s Metropolitan Airport were detained after someone reported “suspicious activity on board.” Not long afterwards, one of those three passengers’ story has gained national attention after blogging about her treatment by Homeland Security officials.

According to The Associated Press, Shoshana Hebshi and two men were detained and questioned after the crew on their Frontier Airlines flight “reported suspicious activity on board.”

Hebshi, an Ohio resident who identifies as half-Jewish and half-Arab, wrote on her blog that she was sitting with two Indian men from Detroit when the flight was first diverted to a different part of the tarmac, then boarded by armed personnel. She and the two men were subsequently “pushed off the plane” and detained. Hebshi wrote that she asked, “What’s going on?” but did not get an answer.
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“Oops”: Vogue Italia‘s Slave Earrings

By Fashion Correspondent Joseph Lamour

“Slave Earrings” are in Vogue. Literally. According to the Italian fashion outlet, “Jewellery has always flirted with circular shapes, especially for use in making earrings. The most classic models are the slave and creole styles in gold hoops.”

Emphasis mine, ridiculousness… all theirs.

Two weeks ago, Vogue Italia found itself under a deluge of criticism for declaring “Slave Earrings” in fashion. Originally, they thought to qualify the name they gave them. “If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of colour who were brought to the southern United States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom. Colored stones, symbolic pendants and multiple spheres. And the evolution goes on.” Does it go on to declare “necklaces with detachable chains,” “hillbilly slingbacks,” and “Holocaust tattoos” in fashion? None of that is me, by the way, this is taken from the 21 pages of comments, nearly all chiding the wording choice in English and in Italian.

Allow me to fill you in on the latest: Vogue Italia gave an apology earlier last week that was more like an “Oops!” than anything. The style bible’s editor, Franca Sozzani released a statement Monday that said, “We apologise for the inconvenience. It is a matter of really bad translation from Italian into English.” Again, emphasis mine, but let’s be honest, the emphasis should have been theirs. They continued, “The Italian word, which defines those kind of earrings, should instead be translated into ‘ethnical style earrings.’ Again, we are sorry about this mistake which we have just amended in the website.”

From the myriad of complaints, tweets, and articles that has inspired this fashion nightmare, it was pointed out the word “ethnic” translates to “etnico” and slave is “schiavo” in Italian. Completely dissimilar words.  So obviously, Sozzani’s statement needs to be taken with a… grain of salt. My thought is, in the surprise this wording… mistake… caused, they had to say something. Like equate ethnicity to slavery. Oops! I think Iman said it best to Style Bistro: “Slave does not make it ethnic. Mind you, it’s not lost in translation–the word slave, we know what it is. They might as well have called them n***** earrings.” Snap. We should know by now that it’s best not to anger Iman. Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson would be none too pleased, either.

Really, these earrings do originate from the time of slavery, however… let me throw out an example. Right now, I’m wearing a Calvin Klein buckled leather bracelet. I am not wearing a Calvin Klein shackle cuff. See the difference, Franca? I know this all may be confusing, but maybe the word should have been edited out before released to the public, as editors are wont to do. And what if, (and this is completely hypothetical of course) the model on the site was black?

Now do you see why that term shouldn’t have ever, ever, ever have been used? I felt wrong even cutting and pasting another face into this. Imagine how we feel knowing that you wrote, edited, approved, coded, and posted the article without even so much as a “Uh… guys?”

As of last Wednesday evening, the post holds a message saying, nay, shouting:


Now, there’s a real apology. I think.

I so want to give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, this isn’t their first language. Ignore the fact that it appeared in Italian as well. But, this is the same team that came up with mainstream fashion’s first all black issue. And they also started Vogue Black, even though I side-eye the name a little bit. I was talking to Sexual Correspondent Andrea Plaid about this, and she bought up something rather interesting:

Vogue Italia is doing the post-racial mulitple-oppression sell: under the guise of thinking they’re being all ‘We did the Black Issue, so we’re cool in doing this’ using the myriad of oppressions of women of color to sell some damn gold-tone hoop earrings named after…WoCs’ oppression! And that oppression, in many cases, melded sexual oppression (Antebellum US, the Japanese and Korean “comfort women,” etc.) This, coming from the magazine whose brand is all about the sexy framed as stylishness.”

Though they may not deserve it, as a gesture of good faith, I took a peek around Vogue Italia’s trends section. Maybe this was just a one-off terrible mistake. And I found another post about… Jungle Bracelets. My first inclination was to shout “Why!?!” But, false alarm, as I read, there was nothing really- “…manchettes in python for a night marked by tribal rhythms,” huh? “Turn your evenings into “jungle nights” characterized by tribal music, wild dancing and a bit of aesthetic rebellion,” you say?

Less malevolent, sure. But I’m uncomfortable anyway, and while relatively tame, is this something to be angry about? Maybe. But, to be honest, should I be bracing myself for racism on their website now? Slave Ethnic Earrings should be completely gone from the site as that “gesture of good faith.” As of Wednesday afternoon, the Ethnic Earrings post is still up, complete with the slide show.

It shouldn’t be, so let’s all just face the fuc— I mean facts. Face the facts. I’m sorry, it was a really bad translation. But I caught myself.

Image credit: Vogue Italia and Joseph Lamour

This Isn’t That Documentary: Gloria: In Her Own Words

By Sexual Correspondent Andrea (AJ) Plaid


As I said on Twitter, Gloria: In Her Own Words, the new documentary about feminist activist Gloria Steinem running exclusively on HBO this month, is a “precise” work on her life and The Second Feminist Movement (and what I mean by this is the mainstream Second Wave Movement) in the last 60+ years.

Dana Goldstein took the doc to task in The Nation for not addressing race and racism in the movement Steinem helped shape:

Though there are interviews in Gloria about how upper-middle-class, straight feminists came to embrace lesbian rights and economic justice for poor women, there is no explicit discussion of an equally enduring and arguably more fraught issue: the relationship between feminism and struggles for racial equality. The film does feature archival footage showing 1970s white feminists arguing that men’s only bars are the equivalent of Jim Crow lunch counters. Doesn’t that contention cry out for debate, for analysis—for something? We see Steinem appear alongside her 1970s “speaking partners,” the black feminists Flo Kennedy (pictured above–Ed.) and Dorothy Pitman Hughes, but we don’t hear much about how these women (who were so often overshadowed by the more famous Steinem) navigated their dual identies as women of color within the feminist movement.

Steinem notes that her own brand of feminism was more radical than that of her elders, women like Betty Friedan, who were concerned mostly with the plight of white, college-educated housewives. Yet there are no interviews with either Steinem or other movement veterans that reflect explicitly on the relationship between feminism and civil rights. We hear about how Steinem’s sexy good looks helped propel her to prominence, but not about how her whiteness helped make feminism seem less threatening. We also learn nothing about the sophisticated set of critiques women-of-color, such as Angela Davis and bell hooks, have long made regarding mainstream feminism: that its focus on abortion detracted from their own struggle for maternal rights and that the assumption that women represent a united interest group often downplayed the struggles of non-white women in overcoming racism.

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All We Are Gonna Say About Basketball Wives

Now, if you happen to be like me, an avid viewer of VH1…

And you just so happen to find Basketball Wives playing around the time Single Ladies goes off, so you catch little bits of the high school drama that happens when you allow seven women to act on their pettiest personal impulses…

And you just so happened to catch this episode, where they let Tami fight whatsherface:

And you remember how, ahem, different Tami is since the first time she was in a sticky situation on reality TV:

And you just so happen to remember when Shaunie tried to say she isn’t a fan of drama

As you see on the show, I’m not a big supporter of the bickering, drink throwing and fighting, but when you put a group of strong, independent and vocal women who are going through or just came out of a bad relationship together, there’s bound to be a little drama.

Let’s face it, we all know women like the ones on “Basketball Wives” and countless other reality shows: Women who are vocal if you cross them.

The problem for me is when black women are portrayed as only being that way and labeled different than their non-black counterparts for the same type of behavior. That’s when it becomes negative and damaging to our image.

I’m not saying we have to create shows that only paint a pretty picture about who we are, but there should be a balance and most of all some integrity to the shows we create.

And you look at how the whole show is people letting minor squabbles escalate into drama and violence…

Then this thread is for you.

I’m trying to pretend that I am not actively following this show, but at this point, I’ve seen three eps in a row. I think it’s time to give up the ghost…