Tag Archives: violence

Can the LGBT community spare some outrage for Duanna Johnson?

by Guest Contributor Jack, originally published at Angry Brown Butch

On February 12, 2008, Duanna Johnson was brutally beaten by a Memphis police officer after she refused to respond when the officer called her “he-she” and “faggot.” That night, Johnson became yet another of the countless trans women of color to be targeted and brutalized by police in this country. Two officers were fired after the attack; neither was prosecuted.

Just to be trans, just to be a woman, just to be a person of color in this country is enough to drastically increase one’s exposure to hatred and violence; when oppressions overlap, violence tends to multiply.

This past Sunday, Duanna Johnson was found murdered on the streets of Memphis. I didn’t hear about this until today, when I read a post on my friend Dean’s blog. When I read the awful news, I felt heartsick in a way that has become all too familiar and all too frequent.

After reading Dean’s post today, I was surprised to find out that Johnson was murdered nearly three days ago already and that I hadn’t heard about this until today. I know that I haven’t been very good at keeping up with the news or the blogosphere these past few days. But I can’t help but notice that despite this relative disconnection, I’ve read and heard no shortage of commentary, protest, and outrage about Proposition 8.

A Google News search for “Duanna Johnson” yields 50 results, many syndicated and therefore redundant. Much of the coverage is tainted by the transphobia and victim-blaming that tends to inflect media coverage of violence against trans women of color (like this Associated Press article). A search for “Proposition 8″? 18,085 results – 354.6 times more than for Duanna Johnson.

The skew in the blogosphere is less severe but still pronounced. A Google BlogSearch for Duanna Johnson: 2,300 results. For Prop 8? 240,839, or 100 times more. Continue reading

Conversations on Feminism: Domestic Violence Against Aboriginal Women in Australia

by Latoya Peterson

Megan over at Jezebel provided a provocative conversation topic in her post “Aussie Feminist Germaine Greer Argues That Domestic Violence Against Aboriginal Women Is Understandable.”

She writes:

Despite Kevin Rudd’s official apology to the Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders for their treatment at the hands of the Australian government, his government continues to support and fund the previous government’s Northern Territory Intervention, which puts troops on the streets of Aboriginal towns (among other seemingly repressive measures) to combat the well-documented widespread epidemic of domestic and child abuse. That said, feminist Germaine Greer’s response to it is nearly as shocking. She suggests that domestic violence is an understandable outlet of rage against oppression and thus argues that we shouldn’t ask them to stop. What?!

When I first saw this story, I thought she was joking, but she’s not. In trying to argue that rage, substance abuse and violence is a result of the oppression of the Aboriginal people, most people would be hard pressed to say that she’s wrong. Addiction begets addicts, violence begets violence, and crushing and hopeless poverty and societal isolation does nothing to help. But that does not mean that no one should try.

Continue reading

Why We Want Our Kids Back Too

by Guest Contributor Black Canseco

I grew up in the inner cities of Chicago—places where buses hate to stop, and cabs hate to come. My parents worked hard. Most of our neighbors worked hard. Some people tried. Some people just gave up. Others gave up while they tried and vice versa.

When there was violence, we cried and tried to stop it. When there was death we cried, wondered why and tried to deal with it. But we had to do these things alone.

There were no crush of grief counselors when our 11 year olds got shot by strays or on purpose. There were no pundits filling column space and air time when our girls got raped or became pregnant too soon. And when our children came up missing… when our children came up missing…

When our children came up missing there was silence. Silence and indifference. There still is.

I saw enough missing and dead black kids coming up that it taught me something about black folks, or at least the way black folks are perceived:

Black children are disposable expectations.

Black girls are expected to become mothers too soon. Black kids are expected to be dead too soon. Black boys are expected to become criminals. Black students are expected to dropout of school. Black youth are expected to grow into the lesser-thans that we fear and secretly prefer they become.

When people have those sorts of expectations of you, an attitude of disposability follows. It has to.

When my neighbor’s kid Brandon got hit by an unforeseen and still unidentified car she didn’t talk to anyone for 6 months. Not a word for anyone. One day she came over to mom’s house and said, “I’m still a mother, I’m just the mother of a dead child now.”

I’ve lost track of the number of black girls and boys under 21 that got abducted, vanished, or killed. I’ve lost track of the number of mothers, husbands, and children that have screamed for help from police and media and other communities only to be ignored. Outside of our blocks and neighborhoods no one cares. Continue reading

A Must See Film: Banished

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

(In the video above, “Banished” filmmaker Marco Williams talks about the documentary.)

A hundred years ago, in communities across the U.S., white residents forced thousands of black families to flee their homes. Even a century later, these towns remain almost entirely white. BANISHED tells the story of three of these communities and their black descendants, who return to learn their shocking histories.

In Forsyth County, Georgia, where a thousand black residents were expelled, the film explores the question of land fraudulently taken, and follows some descendants in their quest to uncover the real story of their family’s land. In Pierce City, Missouri, a man has designed his own creative form of reparation—he wishes to disinter the remains of his great-grandfather, who was buried there before the banishment. And in Harrison, Arkansas, home to the headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan, a white community struggles with their town’s legacy of hate.

By investigating this little-known chapter in American history, BANISHED also takes a contemporary look at the legacy of racial cleansing. Through conversations with current residents and the descendants of those who were driven out, the film contemplates questions of privilege, responsibility, denial, healing, reparations and identity.

What can be done to redress past injustices? What is the ongoing impact of the expulsions on families and communities today? In the stories of black families whose land and livelihood were stolen, the film illustrates the limits of the American legal system and the need for creative forms of repair. By introducing these families and the white communities who forced them out, BANISHED raises the question of responsibility for past wrongs and what is involved in righting them. (SOURCE: PBS Independent Lens Web Site)

Thank God for DVR. I missed “Banished” when it ran on PBS’ Independent Lens during Black History Month this year, but I recorded it and finally watched this weekend.

EVERYONE should see this documentary that investigates a little-known period of ethnic cleansing in the United States: Roughly 1860 to 1920, when several counties and cities across the United States, including Forsyth County, Georgia, Pierce City, Missouri, and Washington County, Indiana, purged their black residents through violence and intimidation (See a “banishment” map here.).

This is not just a film about racism. Continue reading

Must Read: Melissa Harris-Lacewell on Rape and Race

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson

Originally published at The Root, found via Bloggin In

I witnessed something truly astonishing on Monday night: a public discussion of black women’s experiences of sexual violence at the hands of black men. It was an intergenerational group of black men and women, gay and straight, survivors and perpetrators, all grappling with the legacy of rape and race.

The experience was unusual because black people rarely talk about sisters being raped. We talk about all kinds of things: trivial, critical, humorous, serious, political, painful and frivolous. But as we observe Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, I am reminded that there are things we don’t talk about.

We are silent about black women as victims and survivors of sexual assault by black men.

In African American communities rape narratives are not women’s stories. They are men’s stories. Rape is tied to the historical legacy of white terror. Strange fruit hanging from Southern trees has led to a legacy of disbelieving women who report sexual violence and intimidation.

Black women raped by black male perpetrators often remain silent because they are alone. They don’t want to confirm white racial stereotypes; their own families and communities tell them to shut up; they have little reason to think that authorities will take their cases seriously; they fear the devastating ramifications of a manhunt in black communities if they are believed; and in the history of lynching, white women have been adversaries, not allies, on the question of rape.

Recovering from rape is burden enough without having to shoulder this vicious legacy.

I do not want to diminish or deny the pain, agony, recovery and triumph of survivors who are not black women. I do not want to claim that all black women survivors have parallel experiences or that all black women experience the same traumas in the aftermath of rape. I only want to claim there is often a different dynamic that operates for black women who have been violated by black men. As a sexual assault survivor and advocate I know the debilitating effects of silence.


Read the rest…

War on Asians Leads to Diversity Training

by guest contributor Jenn Fang, originally published at Reappropriate

Last week, Colorado University — Boulder found itself at the center of a firestorm from the Asian American community after the campus newspaper, Campus Press published an opinion piece by an editor, Max Karson, entitled “If It’s War the Asians Want…”. In the piece, Karson engages in race-baiting and advocates kidnapping and torturing Asian/Asian American students on the CU campus.

Yesterday, student editors of Campus Press and the faculty advisor met with CU’s dean of journalism, Paul Voakes, to discuss the fall-out from the piece. In addition to covering the criticisms of the piece (something Campus Press seemed reluctant to do), the editors agreed to:

Invite student organizations to meet face-to-face with the editors.

Adopt an “opinions policy,” with standards and procedures for determining the acceptability of opinion columns or reader-generated content.

Schedule a series of diversity-awareness workshops for the entire staff with the CU Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement, with participation of professional journalists of color.

Host a series of workshops for opinion writing and editing, to be presented by experienced professional opinion editors.

The problem with all this is that Max Karson is still absent from all the discussions. Karson didn’t attend the meeting with Voakes, and has refused to comment in detail on his piece, saying only, “I wasn’t trying to create a firestorm per se; I was trying to create a dialogue”.

But, a Wikipedia article has been written on Max Karson outlining his history of racially-insensitive and offensive statements. In a couple of self-published newsletters, Karson spewed racism against African Americans and argued that women were biologically incapable of sexual pleasure. Last year, Karson was briefly suspended for defending Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho in a manner that left some classmates feeling threatened for their own safety.

Throughout Karson’s media-starved cries for attention, the academic institutions he’s been in have protected his hate-speech under Karson’s First Amendment rights. But Karson is not merely waxing philosophical on race in America; he is inciting his readers to violence, be it rape against women or a modern-day lynching against Asian Americans. At what point does the university step in and acknowledge that while speech should be free at an academic institution in Boulder, the university has a responsibility to protect female and minority students from threats of physical violence?

Throughout Karson’s questionable career as a writer, he has hidden behind the veil of “satire”, arguing that he’s actually an extremely progressive person who writes hateful speech in order to mock a culture of discrimination. I find this argument unconvincing: satire is a very traditional genre of writing that uses common literary ploys (and undeniable wit) to tear down an argument it is purported to defend. As such, the intent of the piece as satire is interpreted by the article’s heavy reliance on flawed or exaggerated logical arguments — basically logic gone awry. Satire is a dicey genre to write in; even history’s most famous satirists (Jonathan Swift and Mark Twain to name just two) fell victim to misunderstanding and political backlash.

And Max Karson is no Jonathan Swift. Karson’s pieces offer no twists on logic, no reference to the argument he is trying to satirize, and no literary wittiness. Karson’s writing is little more than racist fantasy, as high-brow as The Man Show.

While I applaud the move by Campus Press staff to undergo diversity training and to open up forums of discussion through their newspaper and online archives on this subject (and CU’s student legislators for condemning Karson and Campus Press), Karson needs to be fired from the paper’s staff and should undergo judicial review by the campus administration. He has a documented history of inflaming racial tensions for personal gain, advocating physical violence against those he perceives as different, and counteracting CU’s mission of fostering an open and welcoming academic environment.

Act Now!

Please write a letter to the Campus Press urging them to remove Max Karson from their staff. This post has a template you can use, along with links to the appropriate contact form.

War of the Roses: Amnesty International’s Newest Campaign against Female Genital Mutilation

by Racialicious special correspondent Fatemeh Fakhraie, originally published at Muslimah Media Watch

Amnesty International has run a new campaign to raise awareness about female genital mutilation. These images of flowers sewn up are visually striking because of the implied violence against a delicate object. The ads are effective because they give the viewer a graphic idea of what exactly is implied by female genital mutilation (though the campaign leaves out “lesser” forms of FGM, such as clitoridectomy). While the idea of using a flower as a metaphor for a woman’s genitals doesn’t sit well with me (it really just makes me think of comparing women to flowers and pearls, i.e., things that need protection), this is a really good way to get this message across.

I was especially thrilled to read the copy at the bottom of the page (click on the images to see them up close): “Every year, two million girls suffer the pain of genital mutilation – a clear violation of their human rights. No government should continue to ignore this crime. Help us to stop violence against women. Give your support at…”

No mention of Islam. No mention of Muslims. No mention of geographical locations associated with Muslims. No pictures of veiled women. Just a statement that condemns an action without entangling politics or religion. Often, FGM is used synonymously with Islamic practice, though this is incorrect. Muslims who practice FGM do it in certain parts of the world because of cultural traditions, not because of Islamic ones.

This campaign is a perfect example of how to condemn an act without extending the condemnation to everyone that happens to be in the same religious/ethnic category of those who happen to practice said act.