race

arvan's picture

open letter from a progressive white dude to other progressive white dudes defending stephen colbert

since most of us progressive white dudes do not really don't feel safe being talked to about race by anyone else, I felt compelled to say my piece on this issue as a card carrying white progressive dude.

(note: if you feel compelled to tell me that "not all white progressive dudes are like this and that you are one of the good guys...please don't. like, ever.) 

if you are white, male ID'd and progressive - this letter is addressed to you.

stephen colbert was wrong. he said some racist ass shit and no, it does not matter if "it was just a joke". colbert's response should or could have been

"I am sorry. That was racist. I was wrong to say that. It's not funny."

and then moved on.

instead, he blurted out in bravado, vanity, pomp and circumstance a bit about michelle malkin (the GOP asian girl) in what amounted to him saying "but I'm only joking and republicans are actually bad people"

it was a fauxpology of sarcasm that people would understand if they had a sense of humor. and for this, stephen colbert continues to be wrong.

arvan's picture

This is a comment on some things in Indian politics and US politics.

I’m not from India nor did I ever vacation there.  I don’t take yoga and I don’t own the Kama Sutra (why bother, when I can download it for free, anyway?)  So, I’m not an expert and I’m probably more wrong than right.  No cookies for pointing that out.  That said, here goes anyway.

Recently - Arundhati Roy agreed to write an introductory essay to “Annihilation of Caste: The Annotated Critical edition by B.R. Ambedkar" which she titled, "The Doctor and the Saint: An introduction”.  Hindu nationalists like the BJP love to get their outrage underpants all bunched up whenever Roy does anything other than keep her mouth shut, basically.  Roy’s introduction to Ambedkar’s work may cause Hindu nationalists like the BJP to be outraged that she dare to say anything that is anti-Hindu (which is basically anything that is not unquestioningly pro-Hindu/BJP). The BJP is for all intents and purposes, India’s GOP.  So, their outrage comes as no surprise for her association with a speech that Ambedkar wrote to challenge progressive Hindus on their own desire to reap the benefits of caste are antithetical to their stated organizational goals and perpetuating the targeted oppression of lower castes.  

Ms. Roy is fairly leftist, challenging empire, corporate-military capitalism, caste and so - she’s an easy and constant target for people born into wealth and status and whose bank accounts seem to do very well when the ultra-nationalist BJP gets their way.  

arvan's picture

brown voices, white spaces

I got into a conversation the other day with my friend, about this post:

http://www.thenation.com/blog/178950/tweeters-world-unite

I said that a good strategy would be to give up on whitespace ever coming around, tell the bastards to fuck off smartly and carve out some posts in languages other than english because the thieves are too lazy to translate or learn another language.

she replied:

I read all of it and I disagree at the same spot I usually do

"If Brown bodies create social streams in their own cultures…"

The onus is on us (again) to escape such colonial forms of knowledge production

this really set me off emotionally.  I tried to restate my ideas, and that didn’t assuage me.  I didn’t want to prove her wrong, I didn’t think she was wrong, I just wanted to not have to agree with her.  then I realized that I wanted to deny that she was right.  and I thought, “oh my…” and I knew that I had to question my motives. 

why was I so attached to fleeing from whitespace?  I wanted to believe that I was cynical, resigned and willing to leave whitespace.  I wanted to avoid confronting my own active participation in sustaining whitespace and benefitting from it.  I wanted to leave whitespace and I did not want to admit that there is no way to leave, no place to run.  

whitespace can only be maintained or dismantled.  that’s it.  there are no other choices.  and no one can do your work or my work for us.

arvan's picture

Privilege within communities working to lessen privilege

Audre Lorde once spoke at a feminist conference, noting that she was the only black lesbian there and one of only two women of color.  She was pointing at privilege and exclusion within a group formed to remedy and address privilege and exclusion.  In this address, she pointed to the language and organizational structure adopted by feminists to address patriarchy was formed by patriarchy to reinforce patriarchy.  That language and organization are the "master's tools" she speaks of and her assessment is that by using them, privilege will not be eliminated, but instead renewed and sustained.  

That metaphor has resonated with me since the very first time I heard it.  I started blogging for a number of reasons, including identifying, owning and interrupting privilege.  I have come to some conclusions which I will share in this post, namely:

- Privilege is always happening, in everyone's life and in every group.

- I can only interrupt, acknowledge and impact my own privilege.  This seems to be true for us all.  It is also true for groups.

- Denial sustains and reinforces privilege and honesty creates an opportunity to interrupt privilege.

The very instant any group or community is formed or declared, exclusion and privilege are established and instituted.  

Exclusion: some people are in that group and some are not.  

Privilege: the group has leader(s) / former(s) / administrator(s) / public & private voice(s) in some form or another who agree to their ability to declare the identity of that group.  There is also privilege in the selection of new members to the group or the expulsion of current members.

This can be problematic for any group whose stated goal is to address or lessen privilege.  This is often a group whose members and lives are often largely defined by their experiences of having been excluded by privileged persons and groups.  How such an organization or group addresses its privilege and exclusion will impact how successful they are in their efforts to impact privilege elsewhere and as a group or individuals.

arvan's picture

the (snow)faces change but the (appropriated) song remains the same, and the crowd goes wild.

I was tripping over the many tumblr conversations about Hugo Schwyzer lately.  A good number of people articulated some solid points about him, as well as the many who stated their outrage and distrust of him.  Some folks take his writing as separate from his life and others will not grant this as valid.  From what I see, he's done some pretty shitty things.  Each one of those points is worth discussing, yet something else was gnawing at me in all of this and that's what I want to discuss now.

How did a cis-het white man get to be a voice for feminism?

I was asking myself why is Hugo Schwyzer, a cis-het-white-male, even a topic in conversations about feminism?  Why are we discussing his languaging of feminist concepts?  Put otherwise, how did we get a privileged face in front of conversations about the abuse of privilege, mouthing the words of the oppressed with people accepting, repeating, defending and challenging him on his merits to speak for those denied equality by the privileged class of which he is a member?  

The short answer is that it depends on the audience as to whether he is or is not.  So, who then is willing to accept the face of Hugo Schwyzer as a mouthpiece for feminist ideals?  Who indeed?  Privileged, white people - that's who.  

arvan's picture

so, here's a fucking question

Why is an HIV vaccine being tested in Canada with a 2009 HIV population of approx.64,000 instead of sub-saharan Africa with 22.5 million people diagnosed with HIV/AIDS?

We seem to have no problem testing fertilizers, pesticides and weapons systems in Africa, but saving millions of African lives before some thousands of English & French speaking lives - no can do, apparently.

Isn't that more than a little bit fucked up?

arvan's picture

Indigenous Peoples In the Sex Trade – Speaking For Ourselves

(I saw this today and felt it needed as much exposure as possible)

We as Indigenous peoples who have current and/or former life experience in the sex trade and sex industries met on unceeded Coast Salish Territory in Vancouver on Monday April 11th 2011. In a talking circle organized by the Native Youth Sexual Health Network we wish to share the following points about our collective discussion so that we may speak FOR ourselves and life experiences:

-We recognize that many of us have multiple identities and communities that we belong to – some of us take up the title of “sex worker” while others do not see themselves this way.  We have a myriad of experiences in the sex trade, everything from violence, coercion, to survival, getting by, empowerment, and everything in between.   We want to give voice to these issues so that those who are CURRENTLY involved in sex work and the sex industries feel supported and are the primary place where decisions surrounding our lives are made.  We should not be made to feel judged, blamed, or shunned from ANY of the communities we belong to or are coming from. We are the best deciders of what we want our lives to be.

arvan's picture

on gaga: how being in the news is not news

[Warning: I will actually be criticising white people, lady gaga and several sacred cows of white culture]

Lady Gaga is all the rage.  She loves her some gay people and she even sings a song that takes up the banner of gay rights - "Born This Way". 

Before anyone derails this into a conversation about music (it's not), my taste (I have none), why I don't like gaga (I think she's talented enough), any theory of me being anti-LGBTQI (wrong again, camel-breath) or my dislike for white people (I am white and harbor no such thoughts) - be clear: this is about the institutionalized cultural appropriation has been served up to and consumed by cis-gendered, heteronormative white audiences.

These are the lies we are told in order to maintain division and inequality by those who profit from our ignorance and cruelty toward each other.

I have had my reservations with a reliance on some short saying such as "born this way" to justify the identity of LGBTQI persons and I am not the only one.  I am not saying that people are not "born this way".  Some are and it is for each of us to decide for our own selves, whether this is true or not. 

-  I do not recognize the authority of others to demand from me or anyone - some accounting of how I got to be the way I am.  I don't owe anyone such an explanation and I don't need to convince them that I am a valid person.  I think that there are no shortcuts.  For me to accept that LGBTQI persons owe some sort of explanation for whom we are is victim blaming.  No different to me than slut shaming.  It is placing the power in the hands of the bullies while releasing them from accountability.  I may have been born this way or I may have chosen to be this way - either way, I cede no power to anyone challenging my rights to be.

arvan's picture

1700% Project: Mistaken for Muslim

This film is the 2010 recipient of the Grand Prize award for LinkTV's One Chicago, One Nation film competition. Using the music video format as a subversive tool of engagement and collaboration, artist Anida Yoeu Ali and filmmaker Masahiro Sugano, worked with over 100 diverse volunteers, participants and community members in the Chicagoland area.

In their film, narratives collide with music, poetry and politics to create a complex and layered experience. A poet, dancer, angel, prisoner converge with community to speak, deflect, and intervene against racial profiling and hate crimes. Featured portraits represent real American Muslims in Chicago, people who refuse to end in violence. Central to the video is an unapologetic poem, a response to injustices directed against the Muslim community that reflect both the absurdity and dangers of racially-motivated fears.

"1700%" refers to the rate of increase in hate crimes committed against people perceived as Muslim or Arab after 9/11. The video is one facet of a larger ongoing project titled "1700% Project" utilizing art as a form of strategic intervention to present works that challenge monolithic stereotypes of Muslims.

For more information visit:http://1700percent.org/

arvan's picture

Call for Submissions: Perverts Of Color

(h/t Sex in the Public Square)

pervert:

vb - to lead into deviant beliefs or behaviour; to corrupt.

n - a person who practises sexual perversion. 

person of color:

n - is a term used, primarily in the United States, to describe all people who are not white. The term is meant to be inclusive among non-white groups, emphasizing common experiences of racism. 'People of color' was introduced as a preferrable replacement to both non-white and minority, which are also inclusive, because it frames the subject positively; non-white defines people in terms of what they are not (white), and minority frequently carries a subordinate connotation.

Mission Statement

The Perverts of Color anthology is a collection of voices from people of color (POCs) who participate in alternative sexual and relationship practices which include but are not limited to: S&M, D/s, leather, kink, fetishism, polyamory, and swinging. “Pervert” is a term that society projects onto our bodies and our desires. We use “pervert” both to acknowledge the rejection and stereotyping we face, and to redefine the word on our own terms.

Our Intent

a) celebrate the experiences of US racial/ethnic minorities navigating alternative sexualities;

b) recover hidden histories and recognize the contributions of POCs to alternative sexuality rights and culture;

c) share stories about ways POCs have resisted dominant narratives about their sexuality; and

d) create possibilities for coalition and resistance for kinky POCs.

Call for Submissions

The voices of US racial minorities in alternative sexual communities are important but often unheard. If you are a POC who has been or is involved in the kink/poly community, the Perverts of Color anthology needs to hear your story.

Click here for writing prompts and ideas.

We are accepting non-fiction essays (1,500-5,000 words) related to the theme of the intersection of race and alternative sexual practices. New authors are welcome. Fiction, erotica, and poetry are not accepted. The Perverts of Color anthology is intended as a multi-ethnic, multi-racial collection, so we encourage all POCs to submit their stories. We invite POCs of all genders, ages, religions/spiritualities, sexual orientations and socio-economic backgrounds. Authors may use a pen name in order to maintain anonymity. All authors will keep the copyright to their submission, have a printed biography, and receive one copy of the completed book.

Now accepting submissions until December 15th 2010!

Contact Us

If you are interested, email us at pervertsofcolor@gmail.com with a one-paragraph summary of your essay (250 words maximum) and a short bio (250 words maximum). All submission summaries are due by December 15th at 12 midnight (Eastern Standard Time). We will contact authors individually to express interest in a complete submission.

What made you decide to create this anthology?

We are longtime kinksters, community members, and political types whose frustration with the racism experienced in the organized kink community - and with the kink-aversion in our other racial communities - got us thinking and talking to each other (and anyone who would listen) about the connections between our racial and sexual identities. This anthology is a way for us to start larger discussions on the topic with voices of all kinds.

Who are they?

Jaki is a genderqueer Black American Leather feminist with a passion for alternative sexuality and getting off. Jaki has begun a one-person campaign to promote "yo" as a gender neutral option because it is fun and original. Yo has always been interested in writing for the underdogs. This passion has lead to minority studies in many flavors which ultimately lead to the BDSM/Leather Community. Jaki sought a book about the intesection of race and radical sexuality and when it didn't exist, yo decided to create it.

Katie is a queer, biracial Korean American kinkster with experience in grassroots activism around racism and violence against women of color. She has been involved in the DC kink community since 2003 and has identified as polyamorous ever since she discovered a word for it in college.

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