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On Ferguson And Race…Sort Of

August 15, 2014

Dear Ali,

I fear you’re in for serious disappointment if you keep looking for ways to “create a dialogue” with your Caucasian peers.

As you can see

Here

Here

Here

Here

And in many of the comments on your own post, it is pretty much impossible for People of Color to talk honestly about race the ways in which it impacts our lives without being subjected to at least some level of racist backlash.

Watching the derailment and devaluation of the experiences of PoC?

Yeah, I’m done with that forever. i mean it. I’m done. I cannot with this anymore.

So here is my idea. Rather than taking on the every bit responsibility for keeping the conversation civil and, you know existent, we should instead raise the bar. Maybe, instead of asking again and again and again for meaningful, rational dialogue and being met with hate and derision we should, instead require more of our Caucasian allies. It’s time that we require them to listen.

It’s time for some monologue.We talk. They listen. We share our experiences, you know, the constant fear and pain that comes from being at best, a second class citizen and they support us. that’s how it needs to start working from now on.

Seriously, racism is a thing; a systemic thing that negatively impacts everyone but has a greater negative impact on PoC while benefitting Caucasians. Sexism is also a thing that harms everyone but causes greater harm to women while benefitting men.

Are you not tired of having to explain this all the time? Of having to justify and qualify and convince?

But you know what? Some of the very same feminists who were all over #YesAllWomen as a rallying cry to share our pain about sexism cannot bring themselves to show the very little respect it takes to listen when PoC try to do the same about racism.

We have to be done accepting that. Forever.

We have to be done accepting tone policing and white women’s tears and the concern trolling over “black on black crime,” which ignores the facts of crime, and statistics and how words and rational thought work. Instead, we need to just call them out for what they are.

In case anyone reading is confused what they are, are tools used to protect the system of racism that provides privilege to Caucasians.

The people who use those tools are not our allies. They might call themselves allies. They might appear to be allies in certain situations but if they are unable to resist the urge to take up the tools of their privilege in order to listen to us then we can no longer pretend that they are our allies. Neither should we want them on our team because clearly, they do not really want to help make things better.

When men and anti-equality women do this kind of thing we make it clear that they are in the wrong and in many cases go so far as to mock them for their ignorance. I’m not making a value judgment about that reaction, I’m simply saying that is what happens.

But when it comes to race we are expected to keep trying, keep policing our tone, keep engaging with people who belittle and discount our pain and fear until they are comfortable.

I’m inviting and advising you, along with all PoC and our actual allies to stop that right now because it’s not actually helping. It’s just us, spinning our wheels.

Oh and actual allies? A lot of this is on you. You’ve got to be the ones to step up point out the tools used by false allies and the instances when they are used. Because in the wake of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Ezell Ford and so many others, it is clear that the lives of PoC have no real value to our nation and our voices mean less than nothing.

Shame USA

Yes Robin Williams’ Suicide WAS Selfish. That’s How Depression Works

August 13, 2014

We need to stop lying to ourselves about suicide. It is entirely selfish. It’s also giving in whether you like to think if it that way or not.

Selfishness in not a bad thing. We’ve been taught that it is, but let’s be honest, when all the wires are straight and the messages are getting through properly, selfishness is a thing that, at worst, make you kind of a jerk and at best keep you alive. We evolved the urge to take the extra food or the spot closer to the fire as a survival instinct. Yes, sometimes that instinct is now used to take the last cookie or cut off another driver but it is not, in and of itself, a negative emotion.

Look, I struggle with depression. I know the way it feels. As I’ve previously mentioned, I feel it as this crushing weight with teeth and claws and a map to the tender parts of my soul. My level of depression is not impacted by how much money I have, how many friends I can contact, or how cute my outfit is. It can have an impact on those things but it is not impacted by them. Because depression makes me want to not go anywhere, including work, nor talk to people, nor dress in anything but pajamas.

And I’ve had suicidal thoughts; not that I actually want to die so much as how awesome it would be if things suddenly just stopped. Which, I guess, is the lazy person’s version of suicidal thoughts.

And when those happen, the lies depression tells you really kick in. The lies tell you that death is the best answer. Things will stop hurting and since you don’t matter, the world will be so much better off without you.

You spend a not small portion of your time doing any and everything you can to drown out the relentless drum beat of stupid, ugly, worthless all day every day.

And that is hard.

It’s not a thing that I can control But it is a thing that I can fight. And the fight is what matters.

Because the when depression talks, it lies. Anyone who suffers from depression knows that. That’s why we don’t listen.

Except Robin Williams listened. He slipped, one time. He stopped fighting. He knew that depression was lying to him, as evidenced by the fact that he was seeking treatment, but he listened anyway. He gave in to that selfish urge to listen to the lies and end the pain.

It was a mistake, a selfish mistake. We all make those. The lies of depression don’t make the decisions less selfish. They make the sufferer look at the consequences through a fun house mirror where pain is joy and loss is benefit.  The thing about suicide is, you can’t fix it after the fact. You can’t decide to share the cookie or let the next guy merge before you because you’re gone. You’re gone and the people left behind are suffering.

Hey you know what, I’m not only someone who fights depression, I’m the adult child of a parent who listened to the lies.

I promise you one thing, no matter how much counseling they get, no matter how much they are assured that their father loved them, Robin Williams’ kids will be left with one crushing truth for the rest of their lives.

Their father did not love them enough to stay.

Maybe that’s selfish too, which is how grief works. Neither depression nor grief is logical.

Our job, as survivors is to push through the lies and keep fighting.

Call someone, even if it’s just to hear another human voice who cares.

1-800-273-8255

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t do well on the phone  reach out to IMALIVE. They do online chat and counseling.

Don’t let anything, even the hateful voice in your head, extinguish your light.

dead-poets-society-quotes-15

 

Dear Liberals of the World,

July 29, 2014

And people who want to claim that they are compassionate or just, you know, functioning under the basic rules of human decency.

IF YOU CAN’T EXPRESS YOUR OBJECTIONS TO ISRAEL’S ACTIONS IN REGARDS TO GAZA WITHOUT RESORTING TO ANTISEMITIC SLURS YOU DON’T GET TO CALL YOURSELF A LIBERAL OR REALLY A DECENT PERSON ANYMORE.

 

That is all.

No really, this isn’t one of those things that requires a lengthy explanation or examples or footnotes.  This is basic shit. Get it together.

Just fucking stop it.

Now.

WTF Banner

 

 

The Questions I Ask

July 28, 2014

Maybe it’s because I have a girlfriend and as such, don’t really think about these things. But then, i didn’t think this way when I was single.

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a Caucasian household and no one seemed to ask these questions.

Maybe it’s just me.

Let’s be honest, it’s probably just me.

But there is one aspect of conversations with other Women of Color that consistently baffles me.

No matter the subject; be it hair, feminism, food, anything, but especially discussions of beauty, someone will inevitably ask one question.

What do black men think of this?  And from there we are derailed and we end up focusing on men and their views and feelings.  Forever.

In the course of this derailing I always ask some variation of the same questions and no one has yet given me any kind of satisfactory answer.

 

Does-your-man-like-your-natural-hair

 

WHO GIVES A FUCK? Why is this even a thing?

 

Makeup-for-black-women-007

 

Does your man like you in makeup? Do black men like makeup?

Who cares? If make up makes you happy then wear it. Why does any man even get an opinion especially some hypothetical man you’re not even dating?

Why, in the middle of primarily female conversations about issues like grooming, do we pause to wonder what men, specifically Men of Color, think about it?

Because here’s what’s really interesting, in primarily Caucasian groups, this does not happen.

Don’t get me wrong, they’ve got problems of their own but they almost never pause in their discussion of hair and nails and makeup to wonder what their men think of those choices.

So really, I’m asking, because I’m honestly confused. Why? Why do we care? We do we keep defining ourselves by their opinion? Why do we allow ourselves to question our own choices and thereby our autonomy in this way?

I do not understand and I’d welcome some insight.

Not Your Momma’s Fairy Tale

July 26, 2014

First off I would like to welcome my new readers. HI NEW READERS! Please stay. Also, tell your friends.

Further, thank you to the person who linked the hell out of my post on correctly identifying Rosie the Riveter in several places. You drove the hell out of my site traffic. much love to you.

I promise to get back to tell the truth about people to their digital faces later but today I am going to tell you a story.

Ahem…

Once upon a time there were two lovely ladies who were in love.

They looked like this:

Is & A

You’re welcome for the eye candy. We are pretty bitches!

Sadly, like many other ladies who are in love they were not ready to admit it to themselves or other people. So, in the place of the pain of honesty they decided to try a poly relationship with someone they thought was a prince.

Poly can work and many people live happily ever after within it but not these ladies. And that’s mostly because the third leg of their triad was not so much a prince as a clinical narcissist who was incapable of being in a loving, healthy relationship.

So that was an issue.

For real. I’ve got stories but they all involve him so none of them are interesting. Also, this is not about him.

Instead this is about the two lovely ladies.

So the prince thing wasn’t working out.

Also, one of the ladies is gay. Which is also an issue.

But these ladies did love each other and they fought hard to be together. Even though there were times that they didn’t have anything to talk about or any real desire to interact, they kept loving and that brought them back to talking.

After much pain and trials and fights and tears, they got out.

After twelve years of emotional abuse against her and six against me, we, um, I mean the ladies, got out. In fact, three years ago yesterday, the lad…fuck it, we got out.

People often ask us how we knew it was time to go and the answer is, we started asking that question.

If you’ve started imagining how much better your life will be once you are no longer in your relationship, it’s probably time to no longer be in that relationship.

Don’t get it twisted, we had a lot of advantages. We had each other. So when he would gaslight us or rage or generally act like himself, we could each give the other a sanity check.

And yes, we were actually in a place where we sometimes had to look at each other and ask “Did that happen the way I remember or the way he said it happened?”

No really. Gaslighting is a fucking trip.

We also had family who helped us get to where we are now. We had friends who were smart enough to know that we weren’t ready to hear “You are being emotionally and mentally abused,” so they instead simply loved and supported us. We got extremely lucky.

So what is the point of this little anecdote? Why am I spending my very early morning typing about this and not ranting about some social injustice?

Because statistically someone reading this has never heard of gaslighting but is suffering from it right now.

Hey there hypothetical person. You are not crazy. This is an actual thing. This kind of abuse is hard to identify. People who do this do not change. They just get better at abusing you. This is not a situation that you can work through or overcome. They are made of poison and you don’t have to eat that anymore.

LEAVE!

Yes, it can be extremely difficult on a number of levels. I understand.

Leave anyway. Make a plan. Execute it and get the fuck out. No matter how hard it is or will be, just go.

Why?

Because you deserve better. If you take nothing else from this post take that.

You deserve better than that kind of life.

Trust.

You deserve better

 

 

What Happens When People Write About Race or Gender or the Intersextionality of Those Things?

July 23, 2014

If you thought, “It leads to a reasoned discussion of those subjects and everyone learns and grows,” can I please have some of whatever it is you are having? Pretty please? Because it is obviously some extremely good shit.

When #NotAllMen blew up and women replied with #YesAllWomen, one of the main issues the women talking about what pervasive misogyny does to us had to deal with was the vitriolic backlash by men. In order to get tot the factual issue, that being a female in the world is dangerous and that we must be constantly aware of that danger, we had to wade through a river of whining about how much pointing out those simple facts hurt men.

When a Woman of Color pointed out that watching white, gay, males use a stereotypically black voice to entertain themselves and their friends was hurtful and, you know, blatant cultural appropriation, she had to wade through another river of claims that her pointing out simple facts was somehow divisive. I wrote about it yesterday.

And today, a Person of Color wrote a pretty simple list of things PoC have to deal with as a result of being in the Western world. The first thing on the list?

1) #YesAllBlackPeople contend with whites dictating to us how we should talk about racism, instead of taking our lead in the conversation. (Yes, that includes Tim Wise.)

And what are the comments full of? Guess. Or if you’re really brave go read the comments. I dare you.

If you don’t read them, I don’t’ blame you.

If you didn’t read them and you guessed “white people dictating how a PoC should talk about racism and complaints about how the article made them feel bad and accusations that pointing out simple facts like code switching and the inherent danger of blackness, was somehow an act of racism, give yourself a gold star.

You know what?

I’m done with this shit. I’m done. I cannot with these people anymore.

So here is a message to them.

1. Racism? It’s a systemic thing that harms the minority while benefiting the majority. Members of the minority cannot, be definition, be racist. That’s how words work.

2. Pointing out that racism is a thing and that it negatively impacts People of Color? Is simply stating facts. You don’t have to like it, but saying true things isn’t racist. It’s just true. Also, see point one.

3.Members of the majority NEVER get to tell members of the harmed minority what is or is not harmful. Nope. Not ever. Never Ever. If a member of a minority says what you did or said was harmful, however unintentionally, then what you did was probably harmful. Why? Because part of majority privilege is the ability to ignore the harm you cause.

4. If you are commenting on an article wherein the author points out numerous times that one of the primary examples of racism is the vitriolic and irrational response that white people have when People of Color talk about racism and your comment is irrational and full of vitriol? You’re really just proving him right.

The bottom line is this, anyone who can’t listen to someone who is trying to express their pain then you should have your keyboard privileges revoked.

Forever.

It’s not about you. It’s not about how basic facts of life and other people’s hardships make you feel. If the most you can muster, when someone is talking about the life long systemic trauma to which they have been subjected, is concern about your own emotional reaction you are a horrible person.

Care about other people’s pain enough to shut up, listen and learn or you fail basic humanity forever.

End of file.

 

Racism-deal-with-it

 

On Race And The Gay Community Part I

July 21, 2014

So this is a thing that is happening. A Woman of Color wrote an article pointing out that a not small number of gay men put on a fake voice and imitate a very specific speech pattern in an effort to be funny.

Here’s a really good example of the behavior being talked about:

 

(Let me pause here to state that I’m not saying that Laganja Estranga is the most egregious example. She’s just the one most people are aware of and, you know, she’s a really good example.)

And, predictably, the series of tubes exploded and a number of other opinions were expressed. Some of them were more rational than others.

This isn’t the first time the issue has been talked about but generally the people doing the talking are white and male they are talking about the “bond they have with black women,” and not in any way acknowledging or apparently thinking about the fact that mimicry isn’t really all that fucking flattering. Also, cultural appropriation isn’t a bond. It’s just appropriation.

Here’s the thing, the points being made by Ms. are actually pretty accurate. The “queen” speech pattern/voice (and the articles I’ve read are often specifically referencing drag queens, although they do make the point that the “kiki” voice is growing more common beyond drag culture) really is an obvious imitation of black voice/speech patterns, specifically black female voice/speech patterns, specifically black, southern, speech patterns popularized by white people at black people’s expense.

Yes here’s another Laganja clip. Like I said, she’s a really fucking good example. What you’re seeing above is called code switching. Laganja does it as a part of her character. Black people do it as a survival technique.

And when it’s used as a character, an attempt to get attention or in L.E.’s case, as part of performance, it comes of as something like verbal blackface. “It’s OK to laugh at me! I’m doing my funny voice! Let’s all ignore the origin of that voice and just laugh. P.S. Give me money!”

It kind of makes sense given that the only exposure a lot of young drag queens have had to older queens comes from Paris is Burning, which features largely black and Hispanic queens. And you can easily track Laganja’s voice as coming directly from her drag mother Alyssa Edwards. I get that. I do. I also get that, in many cases, it’s meant to be inclusive. When one white person calls another “guuuurrrllll,” it’s meant to include them in both conversation and culture. I get that. But that still doesn’t make it OK. Because it’s not your fucking culture and it’s not something that we are all included in. Gay culture and black culture are not same thing. Yes, both cultures have been and are being oppressed but in different ways and for different reasons.

The basic facts are that gay people are in more danger in the world than straight people AND People of Color are in more danger than white people. And you know what, PoC who are also Gender and Sexual Minorities are in even more danger than that.

PoC? More likely to die of curable disease. More likely to be stopped by and met with violence by authority figures or, just dudes with guns who think they are authority figures.

WoC? Significantly more likely to be met with sexual violence.

So while yes, being gay is hard, being female is hard, and being a PoC is hard being all three of those things is really fucking hard. It’s harder than being one of those things.

If you’re a white, gay male, you’re dealing with different levels of systematic oppression than someone who is a WoC or a GSM who is a WoC. So when you use that voice you’re not making me feel included. you’re doing the opposite. You can throw off that voice. You can walk away from the culture you’re playing. You can take on only the fun, sassy, vibrant, loud parts of the culture and ignore all the shit. I can’t.

Stop it.

Here’s the other thing.

Why do all of the authors of the pieces I’ve linked seem to think that WoC and gay men are two cultures at odds?

Hi! Hey there, What’s up? How are you?

I’M A WoC AND A PART OF FUCKING GAY CULTURE. And you know what? I am not down with some white dude or white chick using their LaWanda voice.

So while you personally gay, white man, (or woman, honestly) might not have any interest in appropriating black culture, that doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening and it doesn’t mean that through drag culture, it isn’t spreading to the larger gay community, which I will remind you contains black women, (one of whom is me) AND that doesn’t mean it isn’t damaging and really divisive.

And that’s fine. If you want to keep using that voice, do it. But do it while acknowledging that it is causing people pain. Do it and accept the consequences, that you will piss people off, that you will hurt their feelings.

And acknowledge their pain as a thing that is happening. Do not tell people that your hurtful behavior isn’t hurtful. You don’t get to decide that. We do.

So to paraphrase RuPaul, if you can’t love yourself, do your best not to harm other people as a part of your learning process.

Can I get an amen up in here?

 

 

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