My Letter to the President of the United States of America

Amid all this emotion and chaos following November 8th, I’ve needed some sort of comfort. Whether it be crying under a knitted blanket at work or eating pizza and brownies multiple days in a row for dinner. It had to be something. Although those things helped short term, what I really needed was a leader. I have always found comfort in the leadership of President Obama. For the past eight years I’ve felt I could generally assume that he had the country’s wellbeing at heart and that even if I didn’t totally agree with something he did, well at least we were still sailing (relatively) smoothly toward a more prosperous nation. And now that that has been pulled out from under me, I look to him once again.

I have been meaning to write to the president for years. He reads ten letters a night, and as I lick the envelope to mail it, here’s hoping this is one of those ten.

President Obama,

It is bittersweet to finally be writing you. For years I have wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your hard work in the face of some of the greatest road blocks, tension and resistance a president has likely ever faced. I have wanted to tell you how you made me a patriot, which I had not been during the Bush years, by being an exceptional example of what America can accomplish and embody. I have wanted to apologize for the disrespect and hate my fellow Americans have misguidedly abused you with and I wanted to thank you for still being the best president we have ever had for every American, even to those who resist your sensible and vital policies. This is a trait we cannot be guaranteed in this new administration. And it only makes me appreciate these last two months more.

In spite of the recent election, I am still happy to be an American during this time, because I was an American under your presidency. I’ll just go ahead and say it: I already miss you. I will miss the confidence I had in you to lead our country forward and in a better direction. Right now things are unsure and the unknown is scary. I feel like our country is in mourning for what we believed it could be and what we will inevitably lose. We are devastated. But we have to survive and move forward.

The night of the election, you said something I keep repeating to myself: “No matter what happens, the sun will rise in the morning.” I believe you knew Hillary Clinton was going to lose, but maybe you didn’t. Either way, it has become my mantra. The sun did rise the next day.

This election has left me depressed, angry and exhausted. But I am hopeful. So many people are gathering and organizing and fighting the oppression we have already started to experience. We are taking measures to protect ourselves and the most vulnerable among us.

I remember when you were first elected in 2008. It was one of the most exciting things I’d ever experienced. I still have a scar on my forearm from where I accidentally rested it on my flat iron when the news announced your victory. I was so excited I didn’t even care. I was only a few months from turning 18 that first election, so I was unable to vote for you. But I voted early in 2012 and loved being a part of that history. In 50 years I will be telling the youngest generation about what it was like to vote for the first black president. And I know they will open their history books to read about one of the best presidents the United States has ever had the privilege of electing.

Thanks to Obamacare (a beautiful reappropriation of the nickname opponents hoped would taint the program), when I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, I was able to have affordable insurance as a freelance video editor. Even though my state refused to expand Medicaid, I was able to get subsidies that allowed me to take care of my heart condition. I could afford the doctor’s visits, procedures and medications. Thank you for that. I was lucky enough to finally be employed at a company that offers insurance recently, so just in time! I was also never denied based on that pre-existing condition. Again, thank you.

I have so many things I want to thank you for. I could write page after page about how your policies have helped me, my family and other Americans. I hope other people have expressed their gratitude to you. So much of my family looks up to you. My cousin at the University of Oklahoma just became president of the University’s government organization. I am so proud of him. I know seeing someone who looks like them as president of the United States, makes young people of color feel like they can achieve something as daunting as the highest office in the land.

My cousin reminds me a lot of you. A smart, dedicated black man who did so much while growing up with so little.

You can Google “JD Baker University of Oklahoma” if you’d like to see the things he has accomplished.

I hope this isn’t a goodbye letter, I hope you continue to fight and inspire. I know being the President of the United States is harder than I could imagine, but you have carried that title with a message of inclusion, progress, love and most importantly, hope. So I continue to hope.

If you haven’t chosen a job already, my city would love to have you. I would say state, but I live in Texas, so…

My city is Austin, we are a Sanctuary City, an inclusive city, a very LGBTQ+ friendly city, a loving city and a fighting city. Our Mayor, Steve Adler, has made it clear that we will not be absorbed into the rest of Texas. We are an oasis of blue in a sea of red and people are moving here in very large numbers. Prior to November 8th, we did not want more people moving here, but now we embrace them.

I know you’ve been here a few times, gotten some Torchy’s and maybe toured around a little. But there is a lot more to see and do!

That is my little spiel for your consideration. Anyway, to conclude, thank you for your service, thank you for being a president for everyone, thank you for greying for us and thank you for giving us hope.

Sincerely,

Supora Carr

Austin, Tx

The sun WILL rise again tomorrow, and we will wake up and continue fighting…

I Will No Longer Accept or Move On From These BS Arguments – the Orlando Night Club Shooting

CW (Content Warning): Orlando shooting, homophobia, strong language.

I have never and will never accept that we could not have prevented Sandy Hook, Aurora, CO, San Bernardino, the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs (a target on vulnerable women), Dylann Storm (who attacked a black church and killed black people specifically), Ft. Hood, TX, and now Orlando (I have left many out because there have been SO MANY in the past 5 years. 13 to be exact, but we haven’t heard about many of them because we just don’t care anymore). What did they all have in common? They got their military grade weapons legally. Some were able to buy and then walk out of the store with their guns immediately. Even the FBI could not have stopped the Orlando shooter from buying a gun legally.

If one more fucking person tries to tell me that restricting gun access is anything other than “THE ONLY CORRECT ANSWER”, then I promise I will lose it on you. You will never want to talk to me again because I will remind you that because your stupid fucking beliefs are putting people like me and my family in danger (I am part of the queer community, my family is black, I am a woman who uses Planned Parenthood). Don’t care about people close to you? Alright, it’s putting ALL Americans in danger.

Two nights ago the queer community was attacked. 50 queer people of color were murdered because some ass hole got so offended at seeing two men kissing, he sought out and was able to get guns to kill them basically the next fucking day.
If one more fucking person tells me the problem is Muslims. You can kindly go fuck your damn self. You Islamophobe.
If one more politician uses this to push a sickly warped ideology/position/agenda and I hear someone defending them. I will lose it on that person. Donal Trump used this opportunity to attack Hillary Clinton and President Obama. Pretty sleazy, Donny. That is your presidential nominee, Republicans. Enjoy.
My state’s Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick tweeted (in response to the Orlando nightclub massacre):
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“Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked, A man reaps what he sows. -Galatians 6:7”

 

This was followed by another tweet: “The Salvation of the righteous come from the Lord; He is their stronghold in time of trouble.”
Sick. But who is surprised since he and Attorney General Bill Paxton hate people in the queer community anyway. Do not try and tell me it was a coincidence. 
This is terror. It is domestic terror. Which is a bigger threat to us than ISIS itself coming in here and killing us. This was also anti-gay bigotry. This was hate. I understand hate exists and we can’t keep everyone from hating anything. But it is not something we should give a gun and a box of ammunition, which is what happened. Our more and more loose and lax laws allowed for these people (recent mass shooters) to get guns at a stunningly fast rate. And we have and will continue to do nothing about it. Nothing.
We are in danger not by ISIS or Al-Queda, but by angry (mostly white), American men. And we can prevent future shootings. But we won’t. At this point we are being told by the FBI to just be “more aware… more situationally aware. Especially if you live in American cities.” Great. That’s what you’d expect to hear in a country slowly being taken over by a terrorist organization. The NRA has put profit and the ideology of mine mine mine! before the safety of ALL Americans.
We beat our record the night before last, America. 50 dead. At least we’re leading the world in something.

So You’re A Republican and An Actual Fascist Has Come Along and Now You Don’t Know What to Do! (A Guide On How We Saw This Coming Millions of Miles Away)

In 2008 the United States experienced the beginning of the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. After so many people lost almost everything, Americans became angry and frustrated with how their leaders had failed them. Slimy bank practices along with the help of deregulations took advantage of people’s inability to pay for the things they had been sold with lies, and Americans were looking for change. The presidential candidate who promised that change came in the form of a charming and magnetic young senator by the “odd” or “foreign-sounding” name of Barack Obama. But not everyone believed in his message of hope and change. Not only was he Black, but it turned out he was TOTALLY HITLER.

There are literally millions of these images to browse through if you want to for some reason.

But really, I’ve never actually heard any intelligible explanations of how the two are similar. I have definitely seen examples but they normally read like this:

13 Similarities Between Obama And Hitler
A Factual (sic) Comparision

  • Both Hitler and Obama held rallies in outdoor stadiums to excite and inflame the people’s passions. Frequently women would faint or break into tears…
  • Both Hitler and Obama wrote ghost-written autobiographies prior to the start of (sic) theri run for political office. Hitler wrote Mein Kampf (My Struggle), and Obama wrote Dreams Of My Father. Both men then wrote a second book talking about their goals for German and America. Hitler wrote A New World Order, and Obama wrote The Audacity of Hope.
  • Both Hitler and Obama originally had last names that were changed later in life. Hitler used to be Schickelbruber, and Obama’s last name was Soetoro.
  • Both Hitler and Obama hid their real (sic) identies. Hiter had a Jewish ancestry, and Obama a Muslim one. But unlike Hitler, Obama flaunted his Muslim roots in his start as a politician in order to defuse the inevitable firestorm. His ploy of “hiding in plain sight” worked very well.
  • Both Hitler and Obama’s supporters followed them blindly, and without question
  • Both Hitler and Obama used political power and coercion to conceal and hide their birth certificates from coming to public view. Hitler made his disappear, and Obama is unwilling and unable to produce his long-form birth certificate.
  • Both Hitler and Obama advocate using young people as a driving force to create an “army” of youth dedicated to their Ideals. Hitler had his Hitler Youth, and Obama his Obama Youth Brigade.
  • Both Hitler and Obama were known for their tremendous oratorical skills
  • Both Hitler and Obama received Messianic comparisons, and both men had songs of adoration written about them and for them.
  • Like Hitler, Obama rules in direct disregard to the will and wishes of the people.
  • Like Hitler, Obama has an obvious distaste for the Jews, and sides with the Muslims every chance he gets.
  • Both Hitler and Obama were able to (sic) mezmerize the people even when it was obvious that what they were saying was not true.
  • Both Hitler and Obama used domestic terrorists to launch their careers. Hitler had his Brown Shirts from his beer hall days, and Obama had people like Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, and Rashid Khalidi.
  • Like Hitler, Obama advocates using murder as a means of population control.

Obviously, I don’t need to explain how every one of these “comparisons” are completely out-there, vague conspiracies, lies and maybe just outdated BS. But it’s been almost the entirety of President Obama’s two terms, and there was not a second Holocaust, Obama did release his birth certificate, he never created an “army” for himself, he is not “using murder as a means of population control”, Obama had never changed his name in the past and neither had Hitler, and lastly, my favorite conspiracy, Obama has never shown a “distaste for Jews”.

For almost a decade, millions of people compared Obama to Hitler and their political representatives agreed with them. The Republicans have spent most of the past 8 years working tirelessly to frame Obama as not only the worst president we’ve ever had, but one who doesn’t love America and isn’t really even American. They were like Dr. Frankenstein, piecing together bits of rhetoric and obstruction to create a monster even they cannot control. They did their job of painting Obama as the end-all-be-all biggest fascist we’ve seen since Hitler so well that when an actual fascist infiltrated their party and took over their base, there was nothing they could do to stop it.

So much of the Republican base has been fed the wrong definition of “fascism”, having it mean basically anything they disagree with, so when an actual fascist comes along, the base literally has no idea what they are getting themselves into. And just like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the irony is so predictably poetic: what they have created will take them down with it.

So how exactly did Adolf Hitler as we know him rise to power? And how does this parallel with Trump’s seemingly surprising yet inevitable rise to popularity?

It started in Germany with a similar climate to ours. The economy was bad because of poor political decisions and a lost war. People were looking for someone who would fix everything and put their country back to its previous powerful status in the world. People wanted jobs and his powerful rhetoric promised that. Once in power, Hitler’s regime would begin censoring any and all criticism of itself.

Recently, Trump proclaimed that as president he would extend libel laws to include giving himself the ability to sue anyone who criticized him. He is suggesting that he would take away the freedom of the press and the freedom of speech so he “can sue them and win money instead of having no chance of winning because they’re totally protected”. Spoken so eloquently. Donald Trump does not like that news organizations are protected from censorship by the government, specifically a Trump government. Journalists and news outlets would only be able to exist as pro-Trump or would report nothing at all. Under a Trump presidency, this simple blog post could land me in some serious hot water.

“You see, with me, they’re not protected, because I’m not like other people…”

Of course this is 100% unconstitutional, but there are millions of people who seem to be willing to follow this man directly into the flames. Comedian Louis C.K. recently wrote a long, ranting, yet still well thought out mass e-mail to his fans. I’m not sure how many of his fans are Trump supporters, but it is a really good way to get the message to them that voting Trump is like “a version of national Suicide. Or it’s like a big hit off of a crack pipe.” He goes on to call Trump “dangerous” and “Hitler”. Hey, that’s what I was saying over a year ago! Even before he said he would decimate the 1st Amendment, I was wondering why or even how a presidential contender could get away with having certain news outlets removed and banned from his rallies because they might write something negative about him. He even held a speech where no press was allowed in at all.

After witnessing that, I immediately began to draw similarities between him and other fascist rulers such as Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il, Mao Zedong and Vladimir Putin. These were current examples of what most Americans thought of as oppressive dictators. Surely they’ll start to see some parallels, I thought. Nope. He had become the proverbial crack pipe of these people’s prejudices, and they were hooked.

obama-and-hitler-comparisons

Returning to a previous image that nicely lays out a summary of these parallels, it is clear now nearing the end of Obama’s presidency that he was never Hitler. But you’ll still hear people talk about him as the worst president to go down in history. Still, let’s take a look at these examples:

Religious Intolerance

Trump’s threat to ban, remove and track all Muslims in the US brings up memories of black and white footage of the Jews being rounded up and herded into the trains that would take them to their new homes in the camps and to their deaths. Vitriol and violence toward Muslims has increased since Trump made these promises, and it’s not a far stretch to assume the same could be said about his threats toward illegal immigrants, specifically Mexicans.

“That’s right – a lot of people up there can’t get jobs. They can’t get jobs because there are no jobs because China has our jobs and Mexico has our jobs. They all have our jobs.” He said at the beginning of his campaign, already assigning blame for the country’s problems on a group of minorities.

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This was playing in my head through the entire quote.

 

Attacking Foreign Lands

Trump’s foreign policy is basically bomb everyone and everything until we get what we want. Or in his own words, “you have to take out their families”. According to his website…he has no foreign policy. It’s just nowhere on there except for his position on Israel. He is very pro Israel. That’s about as far as it gets on his own website. But he has an entire page labeled “Issues” that looks like they sat him down in a room for an hour, in the exact same position, and shot him speaking vaguely about certain issues. I actually thought the first four videos were the same video posted multiple times on the same page, but if you look closely, he’s doing those things with his mouth that he does… you know, these…

trumpmouth

They couldn’t have chosen better preview frames?

Enough about his hilariously cartoonish mannerisms, but there are more if you were wondering! His foreign policy has consistently been one of less ties to current allies and whispering “notice me senpai” to well-known dictators.

He is deeply unhappy with America’s military alliances and feels the United States is overcommitted around the world. He feels that America is disadvantaged by the global economy. And he is sympathetic to authoritarian strongmen. Trump seeks nothing less than ending the U.S.-led liberal order and freeing America from its international commitments.”

There is one thing he does like about China, their Great Wall. He would like one here and he would like it to cut off access from Mexico to the US. And who would build it you ask? Mexicans! Where would he keep immigrants as they are en route to deportation? To prison camps of course. They already exist here too, how convenient.

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Does this look familiar?

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A Nazi concentration camp during WWII

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A Japanese American internment camp during WWII

There are millions of reasons how Trump could become the next brutal dictator that causes the deaths of millions of people. It is not a stretch and it is entirely possible. The Holocaust happened right under German’s noses and they didn’t see it coming. Americans never believed we would send thousands of Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans to internment camps, but it happened anyway.

The level of prejudice and hateful rhetoric being used by Donald Trump is unacceptable and has had actual consequences. You have people willing to assault protestors at rallies, and it has only begun to escalate. So what does Trump say about the most recent assault of a black man at his rally?

“Maybe he [the protestor] should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”

Feminism. And Why You Need It. Pt. 2: The Heavy Stuff

Trigger Warning (TW): Rape, sexual assault, domestic violence. (TW is a term warning the reader of the following content, as it might cause mental distress due to its content. Just like a TVPG label on a show or an MPAA rating.)

Being a woman can be like living in a war zone. So many of us suffer from PTSD due to multiple sexual assaults, domestic violence, rape and the constant threat of those things happening if we aren’t “careful”. Even if being “careful” means your chances of being assaulted don’t decrease. This idea of women “protecting” themselves is a complete load of bullshit. Rape and sexual assault is not dictated by what you wear, because most assaults are committed by people the victim knows. And it is not “deserved” or “asked for” because a woman chose to enjoy life by drinking with her friends, having a sexual encounter that she wants to stop (too many men won’t listen to “no” while in the middle of a sexual encounter), or just existing as a female human. (In that instance, I was speaking from a cisgender point of view. I do not mean to exclude any trans women or anyone gender nonconforming, I just wanted to speak from my own experiences.)

What helps persist these feelings of anger toward women, or the need to take power over women is mostly a result of Rape Culture.

A list of examples of rape culture by Everyday Feminism outlines the seriousness of how ingrained rape culture is in our everyday lives.

Rape Culture Is…

1. A university in Canada that allows the following student orientation chant: “Y is for your sister. O is for oh-so-tight. U is for underage. N is for no consent. G is for grab that ass.”

2. Pop music that tells women “you know you want it” because of these “blurred lines” (of consent).

3. A judge who sentenced only 30 days in jail to a 50-year-old man who raped a 14-year-old girl (who later committed suicide), and defended that the girl was “older than her chronological age.”

4. Mothers who blame girls for posting sexy selfies and leading their sons into sin, instead of talking with their sons about their responsibility for their own sexual expression.

5. Photo memes like this:

Source: Stupid Bad Memes

6. Supporting athletes who are charged with rape and calling their victims career-destroyers.

7. Companies that create decals of a woman bound and gagged in order to “promote their business.”

8. People who believe that girls “allow themselves to be raped.”

9. Journalists who substitute the word “sex” for “rape” – as if they’re the same thing.

10. Politicians distinguishing “legitimate rape” and stating that rape is “something that God intended to happen,” among other horrendous claims.

11. Calling college students who have the courage to report their rapes liars.

12. The ubiquity of street harassment – and how victims are told that they’re “overreacting” when they call it out.

13. Victims not being taken seriously when they report rapes to their university campuses.

14. Rape jokes – and people who defend them.

15. Sexual assault prevention education programs that focus on women being told to take measures to prevent rape instead of men being told not to rape.

16. The victimization of hospital patients, especially people with mental health issues and the elderly,  by the very people who are there to protect them.

17. Reddit threads with titles like “You just have to make sure she’s dead” when linking to the story of a 13-year-old girl in Pakistan being raped and buried alive.

18. Reddit threads dedicated to men causing women pain during sex (I’m not going to give the thread credence by linking to it).

19. Twitter hashtags that support accused rapists and blame victims.

20. Publicly defending celebrities accused of rape just because they’re celebrities and ignoring or denouncing what the victim has to say.

21. Assuming that false reporting for sexual assault cases are the norm, when in reality, they’re only 2-8%, which is on par with grand theft auto.

22. Only 3% of rapists ever serve a day in jail.

23. Women feeling less safe walking the streets at night than men do.

24. 1-in-5 women and 1-in-71 men having reported experiencing rape.

25. The fact that we have to condition ourselves not to use violent language in our everyday conversations.

And the list could go on.

According to the University of California, Santa Barbara, the reasons for rape are really not about sex:

“The first [reason] is power.  Power rape is motivated by the desire to control and dominate the survivor.  Most often the intent in these kind of rapes are not to injure the survivor, but more to gain control by using just enough force to get the survivor to comply with the rapist’s wishes.  The perpetrator usually does not use enough force to actually hurt a survivor more than the pain of being raped.  What we mean to say is they do not also “beat up” the survivors on top of raping them.”

This is followed by anger and sadistic rapes:

“Sexual gratification is typically never sought by the rapist; instead the rapists are consumed by a resentment towards others, usually women, that makes them feel as though something should be done to punish them and achieve some type of revenge. Anger rape is more violent than power rape, and more often than not, it occurs between two total strangers.”

“Sadistic rapes are usually preplanned and have a history of being the most brutal rapes that use tactics such as torture, bondage, and sexual abuse involved.  This is the least common type of rape, which is fortunate because it is the most gruesome, with the rapist getting pleasure from hurting and degrading the survivor.”

And THAT is one of the thousands of reasons why you need feminism. Male, female, cis, trans or gender nonconforming, you need it.

Part 3 of this 3 part series on feminism and why you need it will conclude with some miscellaneous facts about female politicians, police brutality, abortion legislation, and more.

 

White People’s Choice Awards 2016

Chris Rock’s monologue at the Oscars Sunday night gave an appropriate explanation of 1. why he didn’t boycott hosting the Oscars, 2. why those who were boycotting the Oscars were mad, and 3. how the Oscars are a part of systematic racism that makes black people and other people of color invisible, underrepresented and without work in front of the camera- even when the roles call for people of color specifically. Well, maybe he didn’t go into as much detail as #3, but he did address #1 and #2.
Unfortunately he brushed off the idea that boycotting the Oscars was a legitimate form of protest:

“You know, in the ‘60s, one of those years Sidney [Poitier] didn’t put out a movie. I’m sure there were no black nominees those years. Say ‘62, ‘63. And black people did not protest. Why? Because we had real things to protest at the time. You know. We had real things to protest. We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won for best cinematographer. When [your] grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short.”

This year at the Oscars there was not a single black nominee. Same as the year before, actually. But what I believe was the worst tragedy of the night was Rock’s attempt to address race issues in a funny way… it was a tragic train wreck of stereotypes and racism. What was he thinking? “I haven’t brought up any other minorities, so I’ll just have three asian kids come out to be laughed at!” But it’s not like Chris Rock was the only hypocrite Sunday night. We can see Mark Ruffalo condemning America’s white privilege and Hollywood racism. Then we see him flexing his white privilege at the Oscars anyway. He didn’t do or say anything that actually backed up his condemnation that night. He was not held accountable to his words…

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Mark Ruffalo at the 2016 Oscars

No huge celebrity decided to pull a Marlon Brando and send a black person in their place as a sign of protest. Nope. All we got were some jokes about how Hollywood is run by white people and then a bunch of racist jokes against other minorities. This was weak at best for Chris Rock and typical for everyone else. I guess what else did I expect from the same man whose work frequently consists of tired, misogynistic jokes? But I do have to give him some credit for trying. He’s still a black man going after white privilege and that can be dangerous for a career. Plus he did come up with the title I gave this post: “Welcome to the White People’s Choice Awards.”

Even though they are not completely blameless, I do not believe the Oscar’s judges are purposefully excluding people of color from nominations, but Hollywood is. There is a long history of white actors playing every other race ever, instead of just hiring a person of color. Maybe they just didn’t want to offend any PoC right to their faces with the awful stereotypes they had written…

starring_mickey_rooney

Seriously, what the hell?

 

This may seem like an antiquated and long out-of-use system, but this year we’ve already seen a mostly white cast play Egyptians in Gods of Egypt. And just in case you weren’t aware, ancient (and modern) Egyptians were quite a few shades darker than the film’s protagonist, Australia’s Brenton Thwaites.

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vs

musicians_and_dancers_on_fresco_at_tomb_of_nebamun

This is not new, obviously, and it is still very prevalent. Why does Hollywood put white people on a pedestal as the protagonists in movies about the Middle East, when the role calls for someone we would label as “black” or “brown”?

And when they do cast black and brown people in these movies, why are they usually the “bad guys” or impoverished?

Hollywood loves to dress up in black face, brown face, yellow face and red face.

(I’m looking at you Johnny Depp).

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So when people say misguided things like “if we start an ‘affirmative action’ for the Oscars, we will no longer be judging people based on their talent, but by their skin color”… they’ve missed the point completely. All any non-white actors want is a chance, because the movies that might actually represent them or their culture are full of white people.

Why and how might this phenomenon continue to be perpetuated in the movie industry? Here is a quote by director Ridley Scott in an issue of Variety:

“I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such,” Scott says. “I’m just not going to get it financed. So the question doesn’t even come up.”

Take that as you will.

Feminism. And Why You Need It. Pt. 1: Intro

Starting off with a rant…

Why anyone would be so illusioned to think that the most powerful groups among us somehow need protecting is beyond me. What do they need protecting from? Losing their privilege? That is what scares them, anti-feminists specifically, the most, and their online presence proves that they do not like, or may even hate, women. Some of those men (and even some women) are afraid of feminism (read: women), and most of them don’t understand it. Those who do understand it, but still hate it, might actually just hate women. I know that is a very bold statement, but I am not going to beat around any bushes or try to coddle any anti-feminist’s feelings. Especially men’s feelings. Why are so many anti-feminist men so easily offended? On the flip side, they are consistently the people complaining that we, as a society, get offended too easily.

I try to not spend a single moment of my life with anyone who would call themselves an “MRA”, “meninist”, or ”masculinist”. Because like “white pride” movements, the “men’s rights movement” is a backlash to the liberation of the people they have held down since before recorded history. So when women start gaining freedoms and rights and finally getting close to catching up to them, they start to feel uncomfortable and threatened that we just might treat them the same way they treat us. And by catching up, I mean as close as you can get without stepping on others.

That right there is the key, you’d have to step on other people to get to the place of privilege men currently reside. Feminists don’t want or strive for that. Men organizing for gender (other than feminism) is their way of trying to protect themselves from falling off the backs of women. Holding each other up with only their arms, because their feet are placed firmly on our backs. And that’s just the surface.

When most mainstream publications write about feminism, it is more often than not White Feminism. White Feminism is feminism that ignores the intersectionality of women’s issues, and focuses mainly on white women’s issues, putting women of color on the backburner. This also includes trans women and trans men. People who exclude trans folks from feminist activism or dialogue are called TERFs (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists), and they are not actual feminists. Throughout the history of feminism, white women have excluded the trials and tribulations of women of color, indigenous women, disabled women, trans women, trans men, etc. But the more recent generations of feminists have worked to expand their focus to include everyone who is oppressed by our current state of Patriarchy. Which also includes men! You see, the system of Patriarchy hurts everyone, not on the same levels, but in its own way it pounds us down individually and as groups.

Don’t get me wrong, it benefits men IMMENSELY, but everyone would be benefited more if we were to totally eradicate it. For example, cis men are negatively affected by the Patriarchy when other men tell them to “man up”. And the hypermasculinity of our culture that promotes violence and condemns anything “feminized” is toxic. A man wearing make up? “Gay!” A man who cares about his appearance in the “wrong” way? “Gay!” or even the fun fad of the early ‘00s “Metrosexual”. How in the world is primping and preparing a little too long to be culturally acceptable a sexuality? The Patriarchy is every type of toxic, exclusive, detrimental and antiquated. It’s time we moved on and forward.

In my previous post “Queen Bey and New Orleans Royalty”, I talk about the invisibility of trans women of color. So much of the media dabbles in White, Cis Feminism. Many (White) Feminist TV shows that star women who do awesome stuff like get laid whenever they want, appreciate their friendships with other women and just enjoy life in general tend to completely erase the existence of trans women, Women of Color, and trans women of color. HBO’s Girls premiered 4 years ago and after binge-watching the entire show in one week, I noticed that there were almost no people of color…in New York. And if there were, when Donald Glover played a boyfriend in two episodes, they were used as a platform for race-based jokes and then completely dismissed when they were all used up. The joke about Donald Glover’s character was that he was a Black Republican. Because why not make a total stereotype out of basically the only person of color you have on your show?

Let’s take the same show, same setting, minus a couple “girls”, add one recurring black, male character and make it a comedy. You’ve got Broad City! I actually love this show, I watch it with my girlfriends all the time. The third season just premiered and I will be watching it weekly. (It’s okay to like problematic things. I’ve been planning a whole post about how to do it. It’ll be short and light-hearted and there might even be jokes! Here’s an Onion article about just that.) But this show suffers from White Feminism if I’ve ever seen it. So much of this oversight comes from the writers’ White Privilege.

Intersectional Feminists are very aware of this weak stab at feminist media. We aren’t fooled and we are armed with blogs.

In part 2 of this 3 part series I will delve into the heavier challenges for feminism.

 

White Privilege, the Privilege of Being Unaware

In 2015, pop singer Taylor Swift released a song called “Wildest Dreams”. It takes us to another time and place, 1940s Africa. The video has some beautiful imagery in it, the landscape and the animals are so wild and exotic. It’s shot well and the sets and costumes are pretty cool. Swift is as cute as usual, posing with lions (most likely superimposed in post), flying in an old 40s style plane with the man she just can’t seem to function without, and just having oh so much fun on this wild and exotic continent.

The song itself is a pretty generic pop ballad. But the video just reeks of white colonialism. Set in Africa, Swift plays an actress overwhelmed by her infatuation with the white, male lead. I guess I don’t really have to specify that he was white, because literally everyone in that video was white. In Africa.

Yeah, I get that they were on a movie set that was supposed to seem like it was the 40s (or something), but I’m pretty sure black Africans existed in the 1940s. What’s more is that if they were making a video about Africa, exotic animals and all, why would that movie exclude black Africans? Let’s remember that colonialism still existed in the 1940s (and does today), and the images presented in this video paint such a romanticized version of Africa by colonizers: beautiful Africa, beautifully wild animals and no black people.

I don’t have to tell you about the horrific actions and consequences colonialism has brought upon so many nations and the entire continent of Africa. It didn’t only affect the future of Africa, but it affected how people write about and portray Africa in movies (and music videos). This glamorized version of Africa is both offensive and disorienting.

Well I thought Africa was a poverty-ridden, starving countr- er, continent.” Well you’d be barely partially correct! Parts of Africa do suffer from poverty and starvation, but it is not a homogeneous, single country (a mistake too often made). Africa is a pretty damn diverse continent and if the beneficiaries of colonialism (read: white Americans, white Europeans, etc.) actually took the time to read literature written by people in African countries and listen to their voices, or even just recognize that Europeans did not invent the “civilized” world (Africa and the middle east beat them to it), they might not be constantly churning out these antiquated images of bone-thin, dying children and genocide. We have those things here too, it’s called Manifest Destiny and slavery.

Anyway, Taylor Swift failed to realize or consider these realities and that she was about to release a deeply-rooted racist, pro-colonization message onto western society. That is a direct consequence of her white privilege. She has it, and she has benefited from it her whole life. She’s never had to consider how her entire race was being portrayed in a video (even though her videos are more often than not as white bread as it gets). As a matter of fact she does not have to consider her race at all when pursuing her career.

I have not forgotten that she is also a woman (I go into intersectionality later in the post). I know she is criticized in ways a man would never even have to worry about and is constantly reminded that she is a woman. Whether it’s body-shaming her for being too skinny, or just the unwavering obsession with her looks (loving them or hating them, she’s damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t). She is white, but she is also a woman, unfortunately that does not let her off the hook for this travesty of a video. I always hope people in situations like hers will take the opportunity of being called out on incidents such as this and learn from their mistakes, but they rarely do.

Take another white pop star of the same gender (after some research, it turns out that although she uses the “she” and “her” pronouns, Miley identifies as gender fluid) of similarly unchecked white privilege. Miley Cyrus is controversial in essence, she thrives off of it even. Which is just fine, especially if its for things like challenging gender norms and daring to express herself as a sexual being by shedding her Virgin Mary-like, Hannah Montana “innocence” Although I don’t believe she always achieves these in the best ways, and her criticisms on their own are problematic. But when it comes to race, she cannot be bothered to actually question herself or acknowledge the impact her actions and words have on black artists and black culture. Nicki Minaj (incredibly problematic on her own, but still making a good point) even spelled it out for Cyrus after a twitter war between herself, Cyrus and Swift:

“The fact that you feel upset about me speaking on something that affects black women makes me feel like you have some big balls. You’re in videos with black men, and you’re bringing out black women on your stages, but you don’t want to know how black women feel about something that’s so important? Come on, you can’t want the good without the bad. If you want to enjoy our culture and our lifestyle, bond with us, dance with us, have fun with us, twerk with us, rap with us, then you should also want to know what affects us, what is bothering us, what we feel is unfair to us. You shouldn’t not want to know that.”

This was the result of an apparently ongoing argument about whether or not the media “neglect[s] the contributions of black women artists”. Which it does. But it was like tweeting with a brick wall. No one came out happy and none of our favorite white pop artists learned a damn thing.

CW: Nerdy, sociologist jargon ahead! I try my best to explain without going too off topic. But feel free to ask what something means! For example, CW means Content Warning.

If you are reading this and you are white, there is a “White Privilege Checklist” I’d like for you to try before you dismiss the fact that you have undeserved privileges based on your race, or if you’re about ready to have a rage attack all over the comment section at the mere mention of privilege.

(I have omitted some of the points on the checklist to keep it to the most important and relevant statements.)

1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.

2. I can avoid spending time with people whom I was trained to mistrust and who have learned to mistrust my kind or me.

3. If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.

5. I can go shopping alone most of the time, pretty well assured that I will not be followed or harassed.

6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.

7. When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.

8. I can be sure that my children will be given curricular materials that testify to the existence of their race.

10. I can be pretty sure of having my voice heard in a group in which I am the only member of my race.

11. I can be casual about whether or not to listen to another person’s voice in a group in which s/he is the only member of his/her race.

14. I can arrange to protect my children most of the time from people who might not like them.

15. I do not have to educate my children to be aware of systemic racism for their own daily physical protection.

16. I can be pretty sure that my children’s teachers and employers will tolerate them if they fit school and workplace norms; my chief worries about them do not concern others’ attitudes toward their race.

20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.

21. I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.

24. I can be pretty sure that if I ask to talk to the “person in charge”, I will be facing a person of my race.

26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children’s magazines featuring people of my race.

27. I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out-of-place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance or feared.

30. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn’t a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.

31. I can choose to ignore developments in minority writing and minority activist programs, or disparage them, or learn from them, but in any case, I can find ways to be more or less protected from negative consequences of any of these choices.

33. I am not made acutely aware that my shape, bearing or body odor will be taken as a reflection on my race.

34. I can worry about racism without being seen as self-interested or self-seeking.

35. I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my co-workers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.

36. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it had racial overtones.

41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.

43. If I have low credibility as a leader I can be sure that my race is not the problem.

45. I can expect figurative language and imagery in all of the arts to testify to experiences of my race.

46. I can chose blemish cover or bandages in “flesh” color and have them more or less match my skin.

47. I can travel alone or with my spouse without expecting embarrassment or hostility in those who deal with us.

49. My children are given texts and classes which implicitly support our kind of family unit and do not turn them against my choice of domestic partnership.

50. I will feel welcomed and “normal” in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.

This checklist is a well-known and widely used way to help white people recognize their own privilege, initially written by Peggy McIntosh in White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.

If many (or all) of these surprised you, that is privilege at work. Privilege relies on invisibility. It allows the group in power to live their daily lives without having to think about or even realize that they have these undeserved privileges. People will often react with disbelief or even anger when confronted with this idea. And I am here to tell you that pointing out white privilege is not an attack on white people, or you as an individual.

“But I grew up poor! I am not privileged!” This is often another response to the assertion of the existence of white privilege. And to that I say class does not trump race. This is demonstrated in Robin DiAngelo’s My Class Didn’t Trump My Race. It is a difficult article to get your hands on, so I’ve provided a PDF here. In her article, she describes her own experiences being white and poor.

“I grew up poor and White. Although my class oppression
has been relatively visible to me, my race
privilege has not. In my efforts to uncover how race has
shaped my life, I have gained deeper insight by placing
race in the center of my analysis and asking how each
of my other group locations have socialized me to collude
with racism. In so doing, I have been able to address in
greater depth my multiple locations and how they function
together to hold racism in place. Thus my exploration of
what it means to be White starts with what it means to be
poor, for my understanding of race is inextricably entwined
with my class background. I now make the distinction that
I grew up poor and White, for my experience of poverty
would have been different had I not been White.”

She goes on to explain the role of intersectionality, meaning that although someone can be privileged in one category, they may not be in others. Or that they may ultimately be oppressed in many ways while enjoying little to no privilege.

Privilege deals in power structures and hierarchies: Gendercisgender male, a man who identifies as the sex/gender they were assigned at birth. Race– white. Sexuality– heterosexual, heteronormative. Abilities/disabilitiesable-bodied. Wealth– affluent. Mental health statusneurotypical. And the list goes on.  A common term used for some of the most privileged among us is SAAWCSM (Straight, Able-bodied, Affluent, White, CiSgender, Male), the epitome of privilege in our society (and let’s face it, the world). SAAWCSMs may enjoy mountains of unearned privilege, but still have enough insight and listening skills to be aware of it. Some of the best intersectional feminist allies I’ve known have been SAAWCSMs. Some of that might be the result of having the opportunity to access a good education.

Whiteness is considered “raceless”, the “default”, “normal”, “trustworthy”, “smart”, “educated”, “safe”, without culture and the status all minorities are supposed to strive for. These are all attributes white people are believed to inherently have, and everyone else must live up to this ideal or they and their entire race are considered to be sub-standard. In other words, minorities must “perform whiteness”. Performing Whiteness is the ability to act “white” without having a white body. In societies run by white supremacist ideas, this performance is necessary to get a job, or to be perceived as smart or educated.

White supremacy is so ingrained in our society that the very mention of white privilege in the wrong setting (most everywhere) can make people turn on you. I have been the “bad guy” at more than my share of parties because I called out some edgy “comedian’s” racist and or sexist jokes. All of a sudden I am the one who ruined the vibe, not the person comparing black people to monkeys (this really happened to me). It is important to always check the privileges you have. Deconstruct them and then use those tools to recognize the messages that are sent to us through the media. Whether it be that no matter what, there has to be at least one white dude in every TV show or movie, or else! Or wonder why on a show about a “Modern Family” starring a married gay couple with an adopted Vietnamese daughter frames the couple as basically asexual. As if the mere mention that they are sexually active together is too much for America. But at the same time, straight couples can be as openly sexual on TV without worry.

This video does a good job explaining in great detail privilege and why it causes such a disturbance:

Always keep your privileges in mind, and remember to always be deconstructing.

Queen Bey and New Orleans Royalty

There are almost innumerous issues, concerns, praises and interpretations of Beyoncé’s controversial Formation video and super bowl halftime show performance. The week before the super bowl, I didn’t even know she was performing or that had just released her first song/video in over a year.

Sunday, February 7 I began playing the game Last Man or Last Man in America to Know Who Won the Super Bowl. A friendly game of “outrunning the knowledge” of learning who won the super bowl. There are no prizes and everyone plays with the conjecture that the other players will be truthful when they “die”… or just lose the game. It’s for those who don’t really care about football, but still want to have some fun. So when I logged onto facebook the next day, I was pretty sure I was safe since most of my friends are not big football fans. But I follow a lot of news sources and activist pages, and they weren’t talking about who won the super bowl. Every article and post was about Beyoncé’s amazing (or offensive, depending on who you asked) halftime show, which inevitably led to discussions about her Formation video. I had to be careful, walking on eggshells to make sure I didn’t accidentally learn who won the super bowl, but I had to know what all the commotion was about. I read a quick summary of the performance and music video, then moved on to watching them.

Initially I was mesmerized by the obvious symbolism of police brutality, racial injustice and celebration of Black beauty. But I started to notice a few things only a quarter of the way in. I heard Big Freedia’s voice, it’s an unmistakeable presence when you hear it, and I waited, watching each frame to see where she was hiding. Big Freedia, who is known as New Orleans Royalty, was not featured in a single shot of a music video that is supposed to be about New Orleans and Blackness. This brings me to the first issue I noticed on my own:

Trans women of color are almost completely invisible and exploited immensely in pop culture. They shape so much of what we see and hear when we watch pop and hip hop artists perform, but are ignored by wider society even though they suffer from extreme violence due to their gender and color.

This exploitation is not news. You may have even participated in it in the 80s along with artists like Madonna. Vogueing is fun, but what isn’t fun is the misappropriation of the performance by white performers at the expense of culture invented as a means of expressing queer Blackness. There is a wonderful documentary (currently still on Netflix) about the Ballrooms of New York called Paris Is Burning.

 

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I highly recommend this documentary and it has been one of my favorites for a while.

Big Freedia’s absence from the video is almost poetic. If I didn’t know better, I would have thought it was a satirical observation concerning the invisibility of trans WoC (Women of Color) in mainstream society and media. But it was not. It was just another example for the history books.

The second blindingly problematic thing I noticed in the video was the contrast of light skinned black women and young girls to darker black women and young girls. One image that keeps coming to mind is the scene with Bey sitting on an old, tattered red couch wearing a historically southern, New Orleans-style white lace dress. She is surrounded by other black women in similar clothing. Only the darker women with more “negro” features (such as hairstyle and facial features) seem to be dawning more servant-like dresses, covering more skin and presented as less elegant than Bey.

The shot directly following that scene is of her daughter Blue, who is light-skinned like her mother. She poses with confidence, hands on her hips and a grin on her face. She is pretty darn adorable, of course. On each side of Blue is two other young black girls, and there seems to be a running theme here. They are both noticeably darker than her, and wearing undoubtedly servant-like dresses, while Blue dawns a dress so dissimilar and more upper-crust that the only similarity to the other dresses is that it is white.

This was so striking to me on the first watch that, again, I thought it was satirical observation on colorism in the media. And again, it was not.

A few seconds later, following an 80s or 90s style themed dance scene, is an almost random shot of a young black boy in full American Indian headdress and regalia. At first this was confusing to me, but then I remembered that some Louisiana Creole people can be a mix of American Indian, African American, French, European or Spanish heritage. So let’s chalk it up to that. But keep in mind that just a week or two earlier, Bey was caught misappropriating Indian clothing, culture and dance in Coldplay’s Hymn for the Weekend video. So she seems to either have little to no insight about stealing from another culture (misappropriation) or just has no problem with being alarmingly offensive to Indians. I don’t know, and that specific video’s issue is not the point of this post. (To learn more about appropriation and misappropriation right now here is an article dealing with Native American regalia appropriation).

The point of this post is to demonstrate that even though I noticed two very striking issues with the video almost immediately, I still had not completely deconstructed this seemingly laudatory event. It took more digging, reading and listening to really understand how murky these sorts of songs and videos can be.

The blog Rad Fag whose author, a self-described “multiethnic, mixed-class, queer man who is dedicated to combining arts and radical education to inspire community-committed action”, summed up a great deal of what people were missing in 22 well-made points. Some of which I had already noticed, most of which I had not. I specifically liked his almost-too-obvious-to-forget reminder that “Hurricane Katrina is not a sexy backdrop”. He’s completely right. There are many images of New Orleans still under water, frozen in time, that have been sexualized. On her own, Bey is a very sexy person, but she has been specifically dressed and posed as sexily as possible for these images. It makes you wonder if they, the producers of this video, even considered how these images might make an entire country feel, since so many of Katrina’s victims have been permanently displaced all over the US (the images from the provided link bring me to another topic: Poverty Porn- which I will write about, and link to in the future). And Big Freedia experienced her own Katrina horror story.

The commodification of Black culture continues with the corporatization of the Black Lives Matter movement. According to Rad Fag, “celebration and distraction are not the same thing. Taking time to step back from our difficult realities to rejoice, heal and love together is crucial. Investing in corporate fantasies and confusing them with our movements is detrimental”. Meaning, Bey’s “brand” has exploited current Black struggles under the guise of celebration with no regard to how it will affect the climate of race politics.

This is what uninformed white people will cite when they criticize BLM. That and the one time they were inconvenienced into a frenzy while protests in Austin flooded onto the already congested highway i35. People complained for days about how “detrimental” to the cause this demonstration was, and proclaimed the movement to be “racist” and “stupid”. Although those “criticisms” are dim at best, they are repeated and believed because they are part of the only narrative many white folks have seen or experienced.

I think this quote by Martin Luther King is especially appropriate during a time when groups of so-called “progressives” or “allies” label Black Lives Matter’s civil disobedience as “racist” or “unproductive”. Those same people will justify their unappreciated and unwarranted opinions by attempting to cite MLK as someone who would agree with them:

“First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action;” who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of goodwill is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”

While there are so many criticisms and ways to deconstruct this story. There are also a few things to remember before you completely dismiss it as another stunt by another pop star: Beyoncé is still a black woman, she has been her entire life. She might be part of a “brand”, but there is a person behind all those choreographed performances and pre-written songs, and that person has their own thoughts and feelings. I doubt she is a brainless puppet completely controlled by white-owned music labels and media. Despite the complications and headaches her performance and video have caused, I truly believe she is trying to celebrate her Blackness and empower other black women. Most people (including celebrities) do not obsess over problematic things, picking them apart until the raw message is revealed. That is their privilege. Beyoncé has the money, fame and support that gives her the ability to not be affected by this commotion in the same way poorer women of color will be.

I don’t believe it was her intent to perpetuate that New Orleans “Negro” and “Creole” are of different statuses based on colorism. Even though they are. And I do believe that her backup dancers likely meant to show solidarity with the BLM movement and Mario Woods in the halftime show even though it was at the last moment protesters were able to hand them this sign.

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I also believe it is important to allow black performers to talk about Blackness as beautiful without being constantly criticized as racist or having an agenda. If you google image search “beautiful woman”, how many pages do you have to scroll through before you reach a WoC? What about a dark WoC? Treating every attempt by WoC to proclaim that they are also beautiful as an attack on everything that is whiteness, is not only wrong, but has harsh consequences. It leaves young women and girls of color believing that they are ugly, have undesirable traits (skin color, hair texture, facial features, thigh thickness, etc.) and cause extreme self-esteem issues. I struggled with this until I was 20 years old. I kept my hair chemically relaxed, paying $200 every 6 months to have dangerous chemicals burn my scalp in order to literally and figuratively hide my roots. But that is for another post. For now, I am still mulling the whole narrative in my head, trying to both enjoy the video and continue to deconstruct both its intentions and its consequences.

What are the ABDs and why are they important?

Always Be Deconstructing – The words that drive my life, my personality and the way others see me. The media and our reaction to its content is incredibly telling to the state of race and gender politics, equality of voices, acceptability of human practices and our culture and its relationship to the rest of the world. Of course it is much more complicated than a list of 4 phenomena. But these are the major themes that have struck me as most provocative in our society.

This blog exists as both a feminist deconstruction of highly provocative politics and an outlet for me to reflect upon current events and what they mean. For example, categorization of the self is important to constructing one’s identity, and identity is really all we have. I can categorize myself as a mixed race, atheistic, pansexual woman, but still have an identity crisis at almost 25. One that has been stewing since my first realization that I was different than my peers. A difference I wouldn’t be able to reconcile with until I was in college.

When some people turn on their TV, choose something to watch on Netflix, or browse their library of downloaded content, they are being exposed to the media, which is a helluva drug. The media is both shaped by us and shapes us. We reinforce already existing ideas and beliefs using platforms that- although we claim we don’t believe represent real life- structures our real-life experiences.

Deconstruction is about understanding why a show called Modern Family is one of the most whitewashed shows on TV, while proclaiming to be, well, a representation of a “modern family”. Deconstruction is looking between the lines, then looking even further between the lines of the fine print. You could theoretically never stop deconstructing a piece of media, as a lot of it is up to interpretation, although most of it is not.

Signs and Signifiers. A sign is skin color, sex or gender characteristics, a tattoo, a nice suit. A signifier is what those things mean in context. Admit it or not, but a certain set of ideas pop into your head when you see someone of a certain color or ethnicity. It does not make you a racist and it isn’t necessarily your fault. It is the effect that media has on our ability to understand people we do not come into contact with every day (or even people we do come into contact with every day). When the same signs and signifiers are repeated over and over to millions of viewers, readers and listeners, they become a “believed truth”. That’s where the ABDs come into play. Deconstructing widely held beliefs about certain ethnicity groups, people of a certain sexuality or gender, people in any minority group specifically, is not an easy task. Without a formal education or direct experience as a person in one of those groups, it can be hard to remember that your experiences are not the same as theirs and you might quickly dismiss their complaints as “trivial”, “unimportant”, “inappropriate” or even the dreaded “reverse-racist”. All of these things (and much, much more) will be addressed in future posts when I feel particularly hyper about a certain topic that day. It happens a lot.

Like I mentioned earlier, this blog is a way for me to express and reflect. This means I also want to learn from people who belong to the groups I will be talking about. I do not know better than a trans woman of color about their own thoughts, feelings and experiences. So there will be no cisplaining over here. Nor will there be any whitesplaining (I don’t have a good word for light-skinned-mixed-person-splaining, please suggest one if you know of a good term). This is also a safe space, so if I am called out for any cisexism or any sort of privileged BS, I will take it seriously and try to understand as best I can. This is also a learning experience for me.

Having said that, here are a few rules for discussion:

  • MRAs will be banned/deleted.
  • Mansplaining will be deleted.
  • Whitesplaining will be deleted.
  • Cisplaining will be deleted.
  • Straightsplaining will be deleted.

I will go into further detail about what these terms mean in my next post, but for right now a quick explanation will have to do.

No MRAs. Pretty self-explanatory.

Mansplaining- hijacking a discussion to explain something “as a man”, or to discredit or trivialize a (trans or cis) woman’s experience.

Whitesplaining- very similar to mansplaining, but “as a white person”.

Cisplaining- also similar to man/whitesplaining, but attempting to override a trans or gender non-binary person’s feelings or experiences with cis experiences.

Straightsplaining- you get the pattern… don’t tell anyone of the LGBTQPIA community how to be/feel/experience.