by Guest Contributor Anishinaabekwe, originally published at Anishinaabekwe I need to bring this up. Tired…
by Guest Contributor Ope Bukola, originally published at Zora & Alice
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post that discussed the problem I feel feminism poses for a lot of women, among them black women.
An argument that played out this past weekend in the “lady blogosphere” offered a good example of the problem. It started last week when, in The Guardian, Womanist Musings‘ Renee Martin wrote a piece titled “I’m not a feminist (and there is no but).” Renee was responding to an article by Chloe Angyal, a writer for Feministing, in which Chloe argued that young women should boldly proclaim themselves as feminist. Renee’s post rejected what she describes as a “white feminist movement”, represented by college “women’s studies” curricula and by blogs like Feministing, which do a poor job of representing women of color.
So far, so good – a friendly, if somewhat esoteric, disagreement between two women who both clearly care about the status of women. Things got really interesting when the mega-blog Jezebel picked up Renee’s article and criticized her for ignoring the women of color write for the publications she disparages. The comment threads quickly devolved into an “us vs. them” with readers mostly divided along black and white racial lines. One commenter wrote what I felt before I even clicked the link to the Jezebel post: “My urge to comment swelled when I first read the post, and then I thought to myself, “Self, take cover and just wait for the shitstorm.” Read the Post Femme-fights: ‘Feminists, Womanists’ Battle Across Racial Lines
by Latoya Peterson
Over at Feministing, there was a nice discussion about a click moment – the moment when you realize that you began to identify as a feminist.
It occurs to me that I have only discussed half of my own personal click moment. I mentioned that it was the Spice Girls that made me identify as a feminist, but it wasn’t their personalities or their music that pushed me toward feminism.
The catalyst for my click moment was actually a knock-off tee shirt. Riding the girl power wave of the late-nineties, a lot of the cheap teen clothing stores were filled with branded tee-shirts. I had one that read in big silver lettering “Girl Power.” I remember wearing the shirt out one day, and having a guy friend walk up to me and pause to read the shirt.
“Girl power?” he said with a smirk, “What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” He walked away laughing. After that day, I never wore that shirt again, but I stayed thinking about that moment for years afterward.
Why would the concept of girl power be so ridiculous that it was laughable?
That was the moment that started the shift in thinking. Why did so many men mock the idea of women having power, or get upset when women stood up for themselves? A few years later, I found feminism and thought I found my long lost community.
Little did I know that finding feminism was also the beginning of the anti-click moments, dozens of little conversations and actions that served as a constant reminder that I was different. Reading anthology after anthology on contemporary feminist work and only hearing one or two tokenized voices from women of color. Attending feminist gatherings and realizing that a lot of the situations and scenarios discussed were things I had never experienced. Trying to articulate my experiences, and being told that we need to focus on the “real” feminist issues. Things that impact “all” (read: white) women.
I possess both a gender identity and a racial identity and feminists weren’t having that, not one little bit.
At first, I thought if I could just find the right area, things would be different. Maybe it was just the feminist girls at my high school that were fucked up and racist – when I got to college, it would be different. I got to college and the triple-whammy of elitism, racism, and classism kept me out of organized feminism. Then, I decided to do my own thing and just read but a lot of the books on feminism where from one limited perspective. There was no me in this feminism.
However, there was a me in anti-racist work. So I worked on that, discussed gender outside the contexts of feminist theory, found more books on the experiences of women of color, fell in love with Joan Morgan’s When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost, challenged my male friends on their ideas about the place of women and did what I did best – live. Read the Post The “Or” versus the “And” – Women of Color and Mainstream Feminism
by guest contributor Jae Ran Kim, originally published at Harlow’s Monkey
I was dumbfounded to read Freakonomics author Steven D. Levitt’s response on his NYT blog to a reader’s question about the economic ramifications of international adoption (thanks to durgamom on resist racism for bringing this to my attention). I’ve commented on Levitt before in this post.
Q: What is your opinion on how international adoption affects the economy, race and class divisions, and the widening income gap within the U.S.? What do you think of the argument that children are “readily available for adoption” in the U.S., and, further, that adoption is marketed as a product with benefits?
A: I don’t think international adoption affects the economy in any meaningful way. We are talking about very small numbers of children being adopted from foreign countries into the U.S. each year – perhaps 20,000 children total, compared to the 3 million children born each year in the U.S. Adoption does, however, profoundly affect those families that adopt. My life has been completely changed because of the two daughters my wife and I adopted from China.
You’re right that some people in the U.S. really don’t like foreign adoption. Some have argued that it is a form of subtle racism, in that parents like me will go to China to adopt, but won’t adopt a black child here in the U.S. This is a complex issue – far too complex for me to discuss in all its richness here. But let me at least explain some of the thinking underlying my own decision to adopt from abroad. The first factor was that our son, Andrew, had just died. We were not emotionally prepared to navigate the U.S. adoption scene, which is full of uncertainty for adoptive parents for two reasons: 1) the relative scarcity of healthy but unwanted babies being put up for adoption since the legalization of abortion; and 2) the emphasis on birth parent rights.
We did give some serious thought to adopting either a black child domestically, or adopting from Africa. It turns out that African adoption is extremely complicated, as Madonna discovered the hard way. Ultimately, my own view was that the identity issues faced by a black child raised by white parents would be too difficult. Some of my academic research with Roland Fryer has made clear to me the stark choices that black teens, especially boys, have to make about “who they are.” As a parent, I was not willing to take the chance on loving and raising an adopted child, only to know that when he became a teenager he would have to face the choice of being “black” or “white,” and that either choice would be very costly for him (and also for me). That same sort of racial “all or nothing” choice is not at play for Asian youths in our society.
First of all, Levitt doesn’t really respond to the majority of the reader’s question. He only tackles the economy part in terms of how it affects the overall US economy. Using the average fees for the most well known and respected adoption agency in my state, if adoptive parents paid an average of, say, $20,000 – $25,000 a child then those 20,000+ children adopted from other countries last year add up to $400,000,000 – $500,000,000. We know that not all of this money stays in the United States economy. So, granted, Levitt is correct that this sum is pretty insignificant in terms of how it affects the overall US economy. If you calculate the 108,006 children adopted internationally from 2002 – 2006 at an average of $20,000 per child, that pumps in $1,080,060,000 that pays for adoption workers and adoption agencies. However, Levitt doesn’t mention that the overall “adoption industry” expands way beyond the singular item of agency fees. There are all the post-adoption services provided by agencies, books, those damn t-shirts, culture camps, therapy, trainings, etc. Considering that in 2000, the adoption industry generated 1.5 billion dollars* and prices have only risen exponentially, I argue that Levitt is minimizing the economic impact because, like many of us, it appears unseemly to talk about children in terms of a financial spreadsheet.
Levitt’s response to the next part of the reader’s question really begins to veer away into his own personal rationalizations. Read the Post Freaking out over Freakonomics
by Racialicious Special Correspondent Latoya Peterson
A few weeks ago, while browsing Jimi Izrael’s blog, I came across this piece on Tionna Smalls, former advice columnist for Gawker. Now, I am only passing familiar with Gawker as I am a non-New Yorker, I didn’t really get into the blogosphere until last year, and the content on the main site doesn’t interest me as much as the content on their other blogs (like Jezebel and Kotaku).
So, I read Jimi Izrael’s thoughts on Gawker with some interest:
So, Tionna Smalls was the advice columnist for Gawker.com, the blog ostensibly dedicated to East Coast media. In reality, it’s serviceable hipster prose on the half-shell: heavy reading for guys who light farts at keg parties and the girls—and gays—who love them. The readership are the kind of people who count the mailman as one of their “black friends.” I read it for “Kreepy Kats.” No point, otherwise, becasue it’s not written to pique my intersts. Black people don’t pixelate on the site unless they are shucking, jiving, vogue-ing, rapping or tripping headlong into a stereotype.
Jimi then goes on to explain his take on the situation:
Tionna Smalls of Brooklyn, NY is the kind of woman over-pouring drinks at every inner-city bar in America: all good, all ‘Hood. Like most of us, she’s the kind of black person white folks cross the street to avoid. I’m not sure who thought employing her to dispense advice to white hipsters on Gawker was a good fit, but to be sure, there were signs of trouble from her very first appearance. There was a palpable, disconcerting, colonial casting to it from the curb: the heavy-bottomed Negress as the keeper and comforter of the chilluns’ gathered ‘round marvelin’ at her wisdom…and bra size. With headlines like “You Didn’t Suspect He Had A Little Sugar In His Tank?” , it’s Mae West meets a wildly inappropriate Butterfly McQueen at a frat party, and it’s a fuckin’ freak show, straight out the gate. It didn’t take long for her to become a phenomenon, garnering an average of 10,000 page views and 100 comments per post. Her work was posted raw and unedited by Negrophile editors intent to celebrate its crude, primitive authenticity: slick-sly meta-coonery at its finest.
by Carmen Van Kerckhove A ton of you have been writing to me about a…
by Racialicious special correspondent Latoya Peterson
Obama is the only candidate in the race, either Democrat or Republican, who has a Cuba policy that makes any sense. He is the only candidate who is not afraid to state the obvious, which is this: The harsh U.S. economic embargo against Cuba, in place since Feb. 7, 1962, has not worked. We need a new path.
When you attack a candidate on the base of his gender, race, or religious faith, you’re no longer attacking the candidate. You’re attacking all people who share that background, or in Romney’s case, anyone who simply doesn’t share Huckabee’s faith period. People react harshly because they know that the invoking those stereotypes in the public eye as an argument against a political candidate has the potential to affect not just votes, but their personal lives.
John Edwards has run a principled campaign. He talks about poverty even though poor people can afford to give him little money and turn out to vote at low rates, especially in primaries. His “Back Home, Back Roads Barnstorm” campaign this week took him by bus from one small, rural area of South Carolina to the next, even though small cities like Lancaster, Seneca and Greenwood are not nearly as vote-rich as Greenville, Columbia or Charleston. Whatever else might be said of him, if Edwards suffers a crushing, third-place defeat on Saturday, nobody can say he abandoned his core campaign themes or target audiences. One could argue that his rhetoric, his stance on the issues, has slowed Clinton and Obama’s rush to the center, has increased their focus on economic issues.
Despite their valiant and transparent efforts, the 2008 G.O.P. candidates have been unable to recreate the alchemy that transformed Ronald Reagan from a 1940s B-movie actor into an icon of the Republican Party. It is not just that Messrs. Huckabee, McCain, Romney, Thompson and Giuliani lack Mr. Reagan’s charm. None has applied himself as long and as assiduously to marshaling ideas and developing a political base as Mr. Reagan did, honing an ideology that both fed on and nourished the growing conservative movement of his time.
by Racialicious special correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch
The original view of Middle Eastern/Muslim women was that of a lazily sensual harem woman reclining on a couch. Most recently, it has morphed into a cowed housewife bullied by her religion and the men in her life. From these icons arises a newer image of Muslim women: one that combines the two.
I’ll term this genre “veil fetish art,” because every featured woman has most or all of her face and hair covered. Although the woman herself is the main focus, the veil acts as a sexual catalyst: it brands the woman as forbidden, despite the fact that you may be able to see most of her naked body. So even though she’s exposed, the veil reminds you that she’s “forbidden fruit,” and pushes the viewer to want her even more.
So did I find these pictures while uploading porn? Nope. All I did was run a Google search for phrases like “Muslim women,” “burka,” and “veil,” and several not-safe-for-work results came up (FYI: moderate safe-search was on). The majority of these results came up within the first five pages. If you click on the pictures to find where they’re showcased, you’ll usually be taken to websites geared toward Islamophobic and xenophobic world views that fly under the flag of “anti-terrorism.” Or Islamophobic discussion threads. Or porn sites (sorry, no links for those).
Though it’s a possibility, these women are most likely not Middle Eastern or Muslim. It’s more likely that they’re white and/or western models with some spray-tans. The only thing that signifies their cultural or religious affiliation is a veil, which works in two ways: to brand the woman as a Middle Eastern/Muslim woman, and to arouse the viewer.
It’s something like an updated version of the French-Algerian colonialist postcards produced in the mid-nineteenth century. The primary difference is that the Orientalist postcards centered on domesticity, docility, and an exotic locale, aiming to showcase naïve young Algerian girls with their breasts exposed.
But the subjects of veil fetish art are neither girls nor innocent, and it doesn’t matter where they are: these women are hot under that niqab, and they want you to know it. They are positioned in pin-up posture: coy, curvy, and enticing. Or, they’re in a Maxim-style stance: they stare you down while your eyes roam over their partially-obscured form. Read the Post Oooh, Baby, Put it On: Ripping up Veil Fetish Art