Friday, June 28, 2019

Stonewall Rebellion: 50 Years Ago at Midnight

Aug. 2018 Stormé
Stormé DeLarverie is from here
Stormé was always clear: “It was a rebellion, it was an uprising, it was civil disobedience. It was no damn riot.”
Stories are missing from several accounts of what occurred that fateful night. For example, some say the grief over the death of Judy Garland, whose funeral service had ended not long before the midnight uprising, put many of her followers in a less obedient place: the deep grief may have fueled the rebellious anger and rage.

I grew up hearing that. I also grew up with the impression that this was primarily a white gay male story, of men fed up with police harassment and brutality, finally ready to fight back, for dignity and for freedom. Later I learned about Sylvia Rivera, a powerful figure in that story and in the story of NYC's political struggles at that time. There is a question over whether Sylvia was there that first night: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sylvia_Rivera

I then learned that homeless queer kids, queens, and trans people of color were part of this story.

Among the voices most often left out of the account is that of Stormé DeLarverie, the mixed-race Black lesbian butch who called out for others to do something when the cops invaded the Inn. Here is more about her: https://socialistaction.org/2018/07/31/storme-delarverie-the-lesbian-spark-in-the-stonewall-uprising/

Here, from a documentary, are other parts of the story of that night:
https://www.democracynow.org/2019/6/28/remembering_stonewall_on_50th_anniversary_leaders?utm_source=Democracy+Now%21&utm_campaign=4b622124a2-Daily_Digest_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fa2346a853-4b622124a2-191478001

May the rebellion continue, for all who participated back then, their memories, and for all of us who came along and came out after that night.

 


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Kavanaugh, Trump, and the White Male Supremacist Supporters: Unleashing Unbridled Misogyny Again

https://hips.hearstapps.com/hmg-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/images/christine-blasey-ford-swears-in-anita-hill-1538070804.jpg?resize=980:*
image is from Elle, here
I won't put the faces of virulent misogynists in this blog post. We all know what they look like.

What Brett Kavanaugh, Lindsay Graham, Trump and Comp are doing is showing us how blatant misogyny can be, acted out not timidly or shamefully. Unsurprisingly and predictably, this is not how the story is being told. Instead we are seeing it on cable and internet news with cynicism and sarcasm in public, or brought through testimony from private spaces, in bedrooms literally over women's bodies. The reign of white male supremacy has never gone away. From decade to decade it lives on, monstrous in its mutilated humanity.

This is what the man-infestation of its callousness feels like.

This is more than just a reaction to #MeToo, #SayHerName, and #TimesUp. This is on-going action, proactive, planned, well-executed. Any threat to white or men's power is too much. Any challenge, obscene. Any serious opponent to such aggrandizing and aggressive privilege and entitlement is mocked and ridiculed, if not also imprisoned or murdered.

When the oppressed get 'uppity' and organized there will be the white man-beast at the ready to tear them all apart.

More power to Anita Hill, Christine Blasey Ford, and all woman of all colors who are survivors of men's status quo atrocities.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Brett Kavanaugh, Clarence Thomas, and Donald Trump: misogyny and predation in US positions of power

Image result for anita hill testifying
image is from here
Two of the highest ranking outed perps, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and POTUS Donald Trump, may be welcoming another predatory man into their rank ranks, reinforcing and shaping the US's laws and policies. Structurally, privately, and professionally, they all support woman-hating predation.

The potential disaster and disgrace of confirming Kavanaugh and the horror of the predicted re-election of Trump means half the US Senate and half of the US population are reinforcing patriarchal norms in the face of recent challenges to rape and porn culture.

https://www.aljazeera.com/mritems/imagecache/mbdxxlarge/mritems/Images/2018/7/10/5d3dbc631a2440b2a0e1d74a5295fc33_18.jpg
image is from here
In other words, straight male supremacist business as usual. A seismic shift occurred over the last half century and in a more media-approved way bravely over the past year starting with Tarana Burke's #MeToo effort, #SayHerName, and #TimesUp. Before these latest efforts an incredibly brave Anita Hill spoke truth to power and was rebuked.

From Vox:
It feels like 1991 all over again.
That year, Clarence Thomas was nominated by President George H.W. Bush to the Supreme Court, and Anita Hill testified that he had sexually harassed her when they worked together several years prior. Sen. Joe Biden, then the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, failed to call additional witnesses whose testimony could have supported Hill’s account. Thomas has now served on the Supreme Court for nearly 30 years.
Today, the details are different but the basic outline is eerily similar. In July, a woman reported to Democrats in Congress that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh tried to sexually assault her when they were both in high school. He has denied the allegation.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, knew about the allegation but declined to share it with the other Democrats on the committee, according to Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer at the New Yorker. So it didn’t come up during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings.
Hill addressed the allegations against Kavanaugh on Friday, saying through a spokesperson that “the reluctance of someone to come forward demonstrates that even in the #MeToo era, it remains incredibly difficult to report harassment, abuse or assault by people in power.” She added that “the Senate Judiciary Committee should put in place a process that enables anyone with a complaint of this nature to be heard.”

Persistent activism is needed to radically alter the structures that make Kavanaugh's confirmation possible. Misogyny is always part of a giant system, perpetually a category 5 storm.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/0b/Maria_2017-09-19_2015Z.png/260px-Maria_2017-09-19_2015Z.png
image of 2017's Hurricane Maria is from here


Friday, August 17, 2018

Aretha Franklin (1942 - 2018) - Respect [1967] (Original Version)


http://thehill.com/sites/default/files/styles/thumb_small_article/public/franklinaretha_08162018getty.jpg?itok=Hr2J1jcz
Link is from here:
It is with sadness that I am remembering Aretha Franklin's great gifts without her in this world.

A few brief thoughts:
She maintained authority over her music and what she chose to share about her life. She did what few women and fewer Black women are allowed to do in the white and male-dominated music industry: require respect, and get it.

As she was the first woman, the first Black woman to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, I heard someone state that while she was honored by them they were far more honored to have her in their club.

Her truth and spirit shines through and casts into shadow and background the narrative others wish to impose on her.

For more, please see this portions of the latest episode of Democracy Now! One is a tribute and one is Angela Davis's reflections on Ms. Franklin.

https://www.democracynow.org/2018/8/17/respect_a_tribute_to_aretha_franklin
and
https://www.democracynow.org/2018/8/17/angela_davis_icon_aretha_franklin_will

All Hail, the Queen has died. But it seems certain her spirit will live on and on.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

#AskMoreOfHim is #NotEnough

As The Independent and other media have reported, David Schwimmer and David Arquette, among other male celebs, have put forth a new campaign in response to #MeToo* and #TimesUp. It is called #AskMoreOfHim.

I find the moniker and actions the hashtag calls forth to be seriously problematic for several reasons:
  • It doesn't identify whose responsibility it is to ask more of men.
  • "Asking more" of men is not what is needed. Women have asked more of men and demanded better for centuries. That's about as watered down and spineless a call to action as I can imagine. 
  • There's no accountability or acknowledgement of the problem being men not holding one another accountable or that men, alone, are responsible for male supremacist violence.
  • I cannot imagine how it makes women safer anywhere for men to do what the hashtag requests. Ask more than what?
Phrasing is important, perhaps especially with social media-initiated efforts. The actual content of their call to action has some teeth in it:
"We believe that men must speak out against sexism, even as we engage in our own process of critical self-reflection, personal growth and accountability."

"So consider this our pledge to support survivors, condemn sexism wherever we see it and hold ourselves and others accountable. As advocates, actors, writers, producers, and directors, we hope that our actions will inspire other men to join us. Until now, only a small number of [men] have been actively engaged in this effort. This must change. It’s time we #AskMoreOfHim."
To Hollywood men and other wealthy prominent men:

Put forth an overtly activist and "money where your mouth is" campaign and reflect that in your name. It may be called, #MenCallOutMen, or #MenNameHim, or #MenDemandMenStop or #MenPayUp, donating money to grassroots organisations that seek to end men's violence against women and girls across class and race. With the unfair advantage celebrity men have in accumulating wealth, it's time such men not only publicly call one another and other men out by naming names and supporting their removal from industries. It's also imperative that men with resources fund women's efforts to assist and empower one another. And that men do so with full accountability both to disenfranchised and more enfranchised women.


Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Problem of "Hate Crime" and Individualism


https://www.coe.int/documents/10463064/14588319/hate+speech/e89f89a2-bee0-4004-8cb4-1e2f026c0218?t=1450260737000
image above is from here
[An earlier version of this has been deleted.]

An argument in opposition to First Amendment absolutists is that hate speech is antithetical to free speech: the first exists to prevent or silence the second. I agree. Speech acts seeking the continued oppression or destruction of marginalized or subordinated peoples are oppressive and destructive.

My issue in this post is with the terms such as "Hate Speech" and "Hate Crime". Specifically, what the terms imply about how we understand and act to end oppression.

A crucial tool of White Male Supremacy--the straight kind especially--is the use of individualism to misname structural and systemic problems. One key aspect of individualism, as you may well know, is that oppression is reduced to how people feel about each other in the interpersonal realm. So, if only we loved one another; if only we treated each other as we'd have ourselves treated; if only there was no more hate... then we'd have world peace, or lack of conflict, justice. The problem is presented as "prejudice" or "lack of empathy": emotional or psychological dysfunction, problems of upbringing. We were raised with the wrong values. We had bigoted parents. Even if discussed in a more social way, we hear the problem is "bias" and "intolerance". How watered down and drowned is the language that far more accurately describes the maintenance of oppression as essentially political?

It's not that hate isn't present; it's that it is sometimes in service to class-based subordination--and not always. To whatever absurd level whites fear Black hatred aimed up, any speech used to communicate that 'hate' is not a systemic or institutional problem in the least. Political translation: there is no such thing as Black supremacy in the West. The same with an alleged preponderance of "man-hating" by women, particularly feminists.

The co-called good Christian whites who operated Boarding Schools thought they were being loving, as do many white colonialist Christian proselytisers--however ineffectively. Historically, so-called better treatment or a belief in moral motive is one tool of white male supremacy. One way white male supremacy thrives is by giving an appearance of treating people better on the individual front. The perversely over-quoted passage by King about children holding hands. In such a linguistic and social world, we assume a problem is over--or getting better--if oppressors are treating the oppressed in less overtly subordinating ways. In fact, looking at the systemic problem of het husbands and boyfriends battering women, when he moves into a stage of being remorseful and sorrowful, that is the precursor to another period of physical and emotional violence.

Calling someone a threatening and racist name ought not be framed only or primarily as a hate crime. It is an act of white supremacist subordination and destruction, rarely prosecuted as criminal. Rape is also normal, not 'mean-spirited' in the sense that many men would argue they have great affection for the women they rape. Missed is the comprehension, let alone the alleviation, of the structural-political nature of rape. And in fact, their committed rape(s), self-perceived and self-named as "love-making" are not, strictly speaking, acts of 'hate' as much as they are acts of subordination. This is to say, men lovingly rape. That's only a contradiction in terms if we make emotional states a prerequisite to or component of oppressive acts.

Even terms like 'crime' are misleading. The State uses the term 'crime' as an excuse to arrest and kill oppressed people disproportionately. What the status quo has never adequately understood or appreciated is how 'criminal' the criminal justice system is. That is to say, the system is grievously attached to political and economic hierarchies and won't function otherwise. 'Crime' is a political term in service to the status quo. Routinely, what is considered 'criminal' is effectively 'by definition' in practice, 'regular everyday acts by Black people' that wouldn't be 'criminal' if whites did them. Rape and men's sexual violence against women is not even considered a hate crime!

Stopping sexual harassment and other forms of work site threat and violence is an endemic problem requiring a structural solution. Ending capitalism is part of that. Some call it a need for 'culture change' and I'd agree it is that too, but it is also and far more importantly a permanent political rearrangement. The solution is not only an end to the interpersonal abuse.

Even terms like 'misogyny' and 'homophobia' make it sound like hate, fear, and bigotry are the problem. The corporate media will now occasionally use the term 'misogyny' but avoid the term 'male supremacy.' That says it all. If 'white supremacy' replaces 'racism' as the term used by such media, we may be that much closer to eradicating it. Not that such media has any interest in moving that effort along.

The heinous problems before us are not individualistic, or necessarily hateful or criminal. I support using language that reflects the systemic, historic, structural nature of oppression as the foundation of law-making and efforts to radically change society.

From here: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/mbpm9y/black-lives-matter-cofounder-patrisse-khan-cullors-is-only-getting-started
One of the most striking things I read in the book was how your pre-teenage brothers didn’t complain that it was unfair police had harassed and abused them for doing absolutely nothing. You write, “By the time they hit puberty, neither will my brothers have expected that things could be another way.” They internalized the devaluation of their lives at such a young age. Can you talk a bit about other ways in which young black children receive this message?

For many marginalized communities, we are told from birth that our lives are valueless. We are told that we don’t deserve things. That poverty is our fault. That our parents’ addictions and prison and inability to feed us is our fault. So if you internalize that, if you internalize the ways in which the world has literally shoved you out, then of course as you get older, you’re not going to believe in yourself. And that translates into not being able to do the things that are the most important and most healthy. We have to talk about changing systems first. We live in a culture that wants to talk about individual first, that tells people they need to take personal responsibility for their hardships. Let’s not do that. Let’s change the system that creates the hardships. That’s the work of Black Lives Matter, that’s the work of #MeToo, #TimesUp, the Women’s March, so many other important organizations that have come together in the past few years. [emphasis mine] -- Co-founder of BLM, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, in an interview about her brand new book, When They Call You a Terrorist


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Please Contribute to this Fundraiser for Girls Escaping Trafficking, War, and Genocide


I sincerely hope anyone able to send $10 or more dollars will generously support this excellent effort! Almost one half of $1500 has been raised! This is direct care to girls in need by hands-on activists, with trauma counseling and leadership training!

https://www.gofundme.com/Zithandeafrica1