Friday, May 30, 2008

Hopefully my last post on "Sex" today

Stumbled upon this article on WSJ about Sex and its role in shaping how women dress in the workplace. First off: the columnist is ass ugly. Let's just get that out of the way, because I think it needs to be said.

Now: about her column. She makes some very valid points about women's current place in the workplace in regards to pay, ceilings and perception. I find her column problematic is where she insists that while Sex was empowering to broadening the average woman's fashion outlook, it created a problem in workplace dress code. Cleavage here, short skirts there. "If Samantha can do it, so can I", says the Average Woman. (Let me just say, that this trend didn't start with Sex you can thank Ally McBeal for that.)

After mentioning one of her readers who has a problem with his psychologist's cleavage being visible during his sessions, she then quotes this guy:

Richard Billion, legal director for credit-score developer Fair Isaac Corp., wrote that distracting clothes reduce a saleswoman's credibility. "I become very suspicious of the product or service being sold if a woman representing the seller in any capacity is not conservatively dressed," Mr. Billion wrote.

Um. Thank you for my rage, Mr. Billion.

Why is the onus on women to dress in a way that doesn't warrant patriarchal oppression? If all it took for women to advance in the workplace and gain true equality was to wear a slip and thick pantyhose, bitches would be running the godddamn country by now. Seriously. cut the shit. ONCE AGAIN women are blamed for their oppression.

Hey, Lily Ledbetter, the reason you received discriminatory pay wasn't because of asshole bosses at Goodyear, it must be because you dressed like a whore at work.

And why are people afraid of cleavage anyway? Fact: humans have breasts. Female humans have ones that produce milk and that come in different shapes and sizes. Christ almighty, why are we afraid of milk glands? Oh I know: because we sexualized them to the point that any revelation or acknowledgement of them reminds us that women are sperm depositories and that makes us feel all icky.

It's almost like using that rationale that blames rape victims by asking them what they were wearing when they were attacked. Women have been subjugated in the workplace loooooooooong before Sex was on TV, hell, way before SJP was even born. Trying to explain it away by blaming too high of a heel and too low of a neckline is just sucking the giant balls of Patriarchy. And to read comments from women who think they have it all figured out with their work wardrobe just goes to prove how ignorant and complacent they are to the Patriarchy. Some of these women are in positions of authority in their workplace, yet refuse to hire young applicants who have the audacity to not care what people think of their appearance.

This isn't about respectability, this is about viewing women as sex objects. It is not my problem if a man can't keep his pervy eyes off my tits long enough to hear what I have to say. Shouldn't the fact that women even have to deal with this while men don't be enough of a sign that something is incredibly wrong here???

Sushi bars? Pools? I'll be a international nonprofit worker, too!

The WaPo has an interesting take on NGO workers in Liberia. Liberia is cool because it was founded by ex-American slaves back in 1822 and has a lady president. It's not cool because it has endured a horrific civil war for over two decades. The piece talks about the harsh living discrepenicies between the mostly white Western NGO workers and European U.N. workers and the African locals.

When you read about the sushi bars, luxury vehicles and four-star hotels, one is slightly PO'ed because when the word NGO worker comes to mind, you think about shacks, knapsacks and hippies looking to make a difference. You also have to wonder where your private donations and taxpayer dollars are going. Hell, if I realized international work could be so damn comfortable, I would have peaced out to worn-torn African countries years ago.

Of course, you can take this reporting with a grain of salt, but the bigger dynamic at play sounds all too familiar. The stratification of class and race is inescapable. I think the bigger question is how can an infrastructure exist to support the dominant class of white foreigners (and small native elite), yet the average Liberian doesn't have running water, a living wage or even food? The even bigger question is how can a country with such a rich and strong history rehabilitate itself after decades of civil war? What does the presence of these workers mean to the people of Liberia? How does living so comfortably affect local perception of foreign aid workers? Where is the oversight?

If he weren't a Republican and white, I'd want him to be my Paw Paw

I can't believe I'm finding myself agreeing with the actions of a modern-day Republican. Senator Charles Grassley from Iowa (check out this pic of him and his wife: awwwww!), who is the senior elephant on the Senate Finance Committee has declared jihad on elitist, Ivy-League institutions and their endowments. Charles is all about putting hoes like Harvard and Yale on blast for keeping their tax-free, multi-kajillion dollar endowments to themselves, while costs for higher ed continue to skyrocket, rendering average American families practically helpless in educating their kids.

I agree with the Senator. Harvard and Yale are bastions of wealth and privilege. They perpetuate this - among other things - by keeping their endowments sheltered and protected. When a student of color, or hell, just a poor student with A++ smarts can't get in because of money, they are forced to attend more affordable schools that may not necessarily carry Ivy-grade clout. These schools produce graduates who may not go on to move in bigger circles and their alum gifts are smaller and less lucrative for the alma mater's endowment coffers. Meanwhile in Harvard-land, those grads go on to bigger and better things with bigger and better pay, making bigger and better gifts to the school. The school then hoards it. Now to their credit, Harv and Yale have taken some strides to aleve the pain of sending a child to their school, but their endowments are still humungous and exempt from the reach of the IRS. It's only fair that these institutions share in the responsibility of educating the country's best and brightest regardless of their pedigree or income. By failing to do so, they are perpetuating the cycle of elitism that prevents true class mobility and well-deserving students from reaching the highest possible levels of achievement.

'Sex' Token

Aw hell. I knew I wasn't excited about the new Sex movie, but now I remember exactly why I wasn't in love with the show in the first place. Now, don't get me wrong: I love, love, love, love, love the clothes. That, to me, is the best part of the show.

And really the only part. The angry radfem in me sees this as yet another show with women over thirty trying to do the proverbial "having it all" in the cliche NYC. Their ultimate goals in life being finding a man and having babies. Over it. The second part of me was annoyed (like I was with the show Friends) that in a place like NYC, the show's writers and creators couldn't manage to find successful people of color to be included in the show. What few specks of color Sex had were few and far between. Disappointing. So I had to settle on the cheap knock-off Girlfriends and ended up falling in love with it.

Here's the thing: I understand that people do tend to spend time, date and marry, etc. people of their own race, socio-economic class, belief systems, but this is TV/Hollywood where anything is possible. God knows nothing else was realistic on Sex, Friends, or Girlfriends so why not throw in some diversity to inspire us regular folk?

But I watched Sex anyway for the clothes and found myself wishing to be Carrie Bradshaw, and wanting a man like Mr. Big. The show ended (Can I tell you how much I love the song that played over the ending credits of the last episode?). People were sad. They moved on to other shows. I grew sick of Cosmos. Gay men friends were still all the rage. And now here we are with Sex the movie.

I came across this article, which reminded me that Oscar-winning, former American Idol contestant, Jennifer Hudson is on this movie. I totally forgot about that buzz. Ms. Jennifer fucking Hudson is in this movie and she's playing a sidekick. To Carrie. And this is when I am reminded why I didn't like Sex in the first place. I know you can't just introduce a sixth character (NYC being the fifth lady) just like that, but this is all you can do? I guess I should be grateful that she isn't playing Charlotte's maid or Miranda's nanny. But for all the press and hype, no one has mentioned Jen. I've seen all the leads ad naseum, but where is OSCAR-WINNER Jennifer Hudson? She's practically an afterthought.

Personally, I think Jennifer deserves better, but I know that roles for Black women are few and far between, especially in big movies like this one. This is an opportunity, but one that I hope doesn't lead to more buddy/supporting/sidekick roles for an actor of Jennifer's caliber.

Plan? No. Pluck and aplomb? Yes.

Last night riding home on the bus after mediocre workout at the gym (mediocre them, but feeling it today)

Guy: (Columbine-style creepiness approaches and sits sideways in seat in front of me) Hi. I'm circulating a petition to get RTA to install recycling bins at all their rapid station stops. Would you like to sign my petition?

MarilynJean: Sure...but who is going to pick up the recycling?

Guy: Well, this would create hundreds of jobs because RTA would have to hire people to pick it up.

MJ:, then RTA has agreed to do it?

Guy: Well, no...not exactly. (with certainty) I'm going to deliver the petitions to them and then I'll work with them to implement the plan.

MJ: (shrugging) Yeah, I'll sign it.

Guy: Cool, thanks. It's good that you're asking questions; this helps me flesh out the idea.

MJ: Good luck.

(Guy moves towards back end of the bus and approaches a group of young men from an indeterminable African country)

Guy: Hi. Would you like to sign my petition? I'm petitioning RTA to put recycling bins at all the rapid stops.

African: What?

Guy: (louder) Hi. Would you like to sign my petition? I'm petitioning RTA to put recycling bins at all the rapid stops.

African: Is it a pay-ten-shun? OK. I will sign it.

Guy: (loud) Thank you.

MarilynJean: (thinking) It's a crapshoot, but at least he's doing something.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

You've got to be fucking kidding me: Dunkin Donuts edition

After complaints for neocon assholes including the highly annoying Michelle "I need my vag card taken away" Malkin, Dunkin Donuts has pulled online ads featuring the sweet-faced Rachel Ray because of a fucking scarf. Critics say that the scarf she is wearing resembles a kaffiyeh, which is a traditional Muslim headdress and has been associated with Muslim extremists (Muslim extremists are not to be confused with these sorts of extremists).

So the company pulled the ads. My SWL to Dunkin Donuts below:

Andrew Mastrangelo - Manager, Public Relations

Dear Mr. Mastrangelo,

I'm sure you're not the best person to send this correspondence to, but I found your contact info and your title has the words "public" and "relations" in it, so I figured I can at least vent to you since I am part of the public and this has to do with relations.

I'm not a frequent consumer of of Dunkin' Donuts, but when I have a craving for donuts you're the guys I go to. I love your iced coffee. Let me repeat: LOVE the iced coffee. When I ate meat, I was a fan of your breakfast sandwiches, paired with that coffee of yours, it made my mornings. Seriously. And of course, your donuts. I remember one time I had was experiencing major PMS. (Each month I have strong cravings for something sweet. Last month it was a brownie, but I can guarantee you that several months out of the year, I crave donuts.) I was craving donut holes in particular. Not just a whole donut, but the holes. I was dating this woman at the time (yes, queers love donuts, too) and she drove past not one, but three donuts shops just to get to a Dunkin' Donuts. She and I both knew that you guys would have the best donut holes. She got me two bags of donuts holes and I went through them in about a week.

There is this guy I have a crush on and he loves donuts. In my quest to win him over we make mundane small talk about things that interest him and we've talked about the freshness of Dunkin' Donuts products. Gosh, Mr. Matrangelo, I can tell you about several romantic relationships (real or desired) that have included your products. I can tell you about the time I woke up after a rather fun "sleep over" to the smell of a Dunkin' Donut breakfast bagel sandwich and the BIGGEST cup of coffee I've ever seen with the right amount of cream - no prep needed on my part.

The point is: I like your company and I feel compelled to tell you that I'm a smidge disappointed in this headline. I'm not the biggest fan of Rachel Ray, but she works well as a spokesperson for your company. But she's apparently not the problem, her scarf is. And after some neocon jerks complained about it's "symbolism" your marketing gurus decided to pull the ad. Now, I don't know Ms. Ray personally, but I'm pretty sure she's not a Muslim extremist. And while I don't know everything about your company's investments, I'm pretty sure you don't fund terrorist organizations.

So why did you pull the ads? Why didn't you assert yourself as the nation's - dare I say the world's - purveyor of donuts, and stand behind your ad, your product, your spokesperson and your integrity? Can't any rational, intelligent human being see that the scarf (in this context) has nothing to do with Muslims or extremist philosophies???? Of course we can, but Michelle Malkin is not a rational human being. And I can't believe that a company that has existed for over fifty years gave in to irrational, close-minded people who probably don't even consume your products.

I'm not going to say that I will never consume your products again, but I will say that I am mad at you guys and I wish you would reconsider your actions.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Barf Wentz

It's not enough that Ashlee Simpson is a waste of space, she had to go and marry some guy who also a waste of space. Now that she is Pete Wentz's wife (yes, her creepy dad officiated the ceremony), she will take his name in private and use a hypenated version in public. Her reasoning:

"I think that that's something that a woman should do when they're marrying a man," the pop star lil' sis of Jessica Simpson told the magazine. "It's a tradition that I think is a great tradition."

I think it's a stupid tradition that places the woman in subjugation, eradicating her familial name and cultural identity, thus rendering her an accessory and an invisible one at that.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Happy World Vegetarian Week!

So far sorta good with my foray into vegetarianism (pesco-vegetarianism at this point - I can't let go of shrimp). When will the craving for dead animal flesh stop???? How painful was Memorial Day Weekend with its tantalizing smells of grilled pig flesh? I survived. I must keep remembering the following ten things to help me continue on my quest to full throttle vegetarianism.

Top Ten Reasons To Go Vegetarian
By Bruce Friedrich, AlterNet. Posted May 19, 2008.

Gone are the days when vegetarians were served up a plate of iceberg lettuce and a dull-as-dishwater baked potato. With the growing variety of vegetarian faux-meats like bacon and sausages and an ever-expanding variety of vegetarian cookbooks and restaurants, vegetarianism has taken the world by storm.

With World Vegetarian Week here, without further ado, are the Top 10 reasons to give vegetarian eating a try, starting now!

1. Helping Animals Also Helps the Global Poor
While there is ample and justified moral indignation about the diversion of 100 million tons of grain for biofuels, more than seven times as much (760 million tons) is fed to farmed animals so that people can eat meat. Is the diversion of crops to our cars a moral issue? Yes, but it's about one-eighth the issue that meat-eating is. Care about global poverty? Try vegetarianism.

2. Eating Meat Supports Cruelty to Animals
The green pastures and idyllic barnyard scenes of years past are now distant memories. On today's factory farms, animals are crammed by the thousands into filthy windowless sheds, wire cages, gestation crates, and other confinement systems. These animals will never raise families, root in the soil, build nests, or do anything else that is natural and important to them. They won't even get to feel the warmth of the sun on their backs or breathe fresh air until the day they are loaded onto trucks bound for slaughter.

3. Eating Meat Is Bad for the Environment
A recent United Nations report entitled Livestock's Long Shadow concludes that eating meat is "one of the ... most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." In just one example, eating meat causes almost 40 percent more greenhouse-gas emissions than all the cars, trucks, and planes in the world combined. The report concludes that the meat industry "should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution, and loss of biodiversity."

4. Avoid Bird Flu
The World Health Organization says that if the avian flu virus mutates, it could be caught simply by eating undercooked chicken flesh or eggs, eating food prepared on the same cutting board as infected meat or eggs, or even touching eggshells contaminated with the disease. Other problems with factory farming -- from foot-and-mouth to SARS -- can be avoided with a general shift to a vegetarian diet.

5. If You Wouldn't Eat a Dog, You Shouldn't Eat a Chicken
Several recent studies have shown that chickens are bright animals who are able to solve complex problems, demonstrate self-control, and worry about the future. Chickens are smarter than cats and dogs and even do some things that have not yet been seen in mammals other than primates. Dr. Chris Evans, who studies animal behavior and communication at Macquarie University in Australia, says, "As a trick at conferences, I sometimes list these attributes, without mentioning chickens and people think I'm talking about monkeys."

6. Heart Disease: Our Number One Killer
Healthy vegetarian diets support a lifetime of good health and provide protection against numerous diseases, including the United States' three biggest killers: heart disease, cancer, and strokes. Drs. Dean Ornish and Caldwell Esselstyn -- two doctors with 100 percent success in preventing and reversing heart disease -- have used a vegan diet to accomplish it, as chronicled most recently in Dr. Esselstyn's Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, which documents his 100 percent success rate for unclogging people's arteries and reversing heart disease.

7. Cancer: Our Number Two Killer
Dr. T. Colin Campbell is one of the world's foremost epidemiological scientists and the director of what The New York Times called "the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease." Dr. Campbell's best-selling book, The China Study, is a must-read for anyone who is concerned about cancer. To summarize it, Dr. Campbell states, "No chemical carcinogen is nearly so important in causing human cancer as animal protein."

8. Fitting Into That Itty-Bitty Bikini
Vegetarianism is also the ultimate weight-loss diet, since vegetarians are one-third as likely to be obese as meat-eaters are, and vegans are about one-tenth as likely to be obese. Of course, there are overweight vegans, just as there are skinny meat-eaters. But on average, vegans are 10 to 20 percent lighter than meat-eaters. A vegetarian diet is the only diet that has passed peer review and taken weight off and kept it off.

9. Global Peace
Leo Tolstoy claimed that "vegetarianism is the taproot of humanitarianism." His point? For people who wish to sow the seeds of peace, we should be eating as peaceful a diet as possible. Eating meat supports killing animals, for no reason other than humans' acquired taste for animals' flesh. Great humanitarians from Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi to Thich Nhat Hanh have argued that a vegetarian diet is the only diet for people who want to make the world a kinder place.

10. The Joy of Veggies
As the growing range of vegetarian cookbooks and restaurants shows, vegetarian foods rock. People report that when they adopt a vegetarian diet, their range of foods explodes from a center-of-the-plate meat item to a range of grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables that they didn't even know existed.

Sir Paul McCartney sums it all up, "If anyone wants to save the planet, all they have to do is just stop eating meat. That's the single most important thing you could do. It's staggering when you think about it. Vegetarianism takes care of so many things in one shot: ecology, famine, cruelty."
So are you ready to give it a try?

Check out for recipes and meal plans and to take the World Vegetarian Week 7-Day Pledge.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Just Discovered: New Voices Pittsburgh

Reproductive Justice for and by women of color. Hot, hot, hot.

I guess I should elaborate....

I went to a panel last night held here. It featured a patient advocate, the Exec Dir of NARAL Ohio, this guy and La'Tasha Mayes, the founder and director at New Voices. The whole program was meaty and worthwhile, but it was great hearing from La'Tasha because she really spoke to the differences between reproductive health, reproductive rights and reproductive justice. She eloquently stated what I have been saying for years: choice is different for marginalized women and white, middle class feminists just don't fucking get it.

Reproductive Justice is a framework and all encompassing. Reproductive Justice is about movement building and is not single-issued focused like reproductive health and reproductive rights. It addresses intersections. It is a critique. It is a goal. Asian Communities for Reproductive Justice describes it as this:

"[R]eproductive justice is the complete physical, mental, spiritual, political, economic, and social well-being of women and girls, and will be achieved when women and girls have the economic, social and political power and resources to make healthy decisions about our bodies, sexuality and reproduction for ourselves, our families, and our communities in all areas of our lives."

Juicy shit.

Tool of the Week: President of "The" Gambia

The fact that he looks like Jub Jub is enough for me to not like this man. However, the president of "The" Gambia, host country to the African Commission on Human and People's Rights, recently announced that all gays have 24 hours to leave the country and those who don't will have their heads cut off.

Makes the backlash in California not seem so bad now.

You've got to be fucking kidding me: U.S. English edition

So the Ohio house passed that stupid bill yesterday. It was sponsored by some Repub with the last name Mecklenborg. Last time I checked, Mecklenborg was a German name and last time I checked Germans weren't Americans, nor was English their first language. So it is nice to know that someone who is the descendant of non-English speakers is such a proponent of the English language.

What is even funnier is that this organization that was founded by Japanese-Canadian immigrant to the U.S. and is run by a man from Chile is a leading advocate of making English the official language. Tools of the patriarchy? Yes, indeed.

Here is a statement from the chairman:

The lack of an assimilation policy for immigrants to the United States is rapidly changing the successful integration ways of the past. Gone are the days of the American Dream and the upwardly mobile society for immigrants. In its place are low expectations and government policies that encourage Americans to learn the language of the immigrants, instead of the other way around.

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. He is the whitest mutherfuckin Latino I've seen in a long time. Of course, he can talk about assimilation. He is already part of the patriarchy. duh. Furthermore, what is with the self-loathing? And why do they care so fucking much? I like how he tries to make his self-loathing, xenophobia look like paternal caring for the welfare of immigrants.

Nice one. Way to kick off the Memorial Day weekend.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

LA LA LA LA LA ALALAL: Karen Bass edition

Tip of the hat to WAOD.

Just Watched: Lars and the Real Girl

After a broken date with a ladyfriend, I stayed home and watched Lars. It was good and touching even though I kept waiting for him to either attempt sex with the doll, or for someone in the town to just not play along with his delusions. I particularly liked the one random Black couple in the entire town.

Up the ass, in the hole or down the throat, kids need sex education

So my niggas at the Guttmacher Institute came out with yet another boo yaa! study about teens and sex. So maybe that whole blow jobs and teens mania got a little out of hand. (I'm assuming they looked at heterosexual intercourse, and I want to assume that it's really fellatio we're talking about when we say oral sex. How many high school boys did you know who could eat mad pussy and eat it well?)

Apparently, teens are mostly like having vaginal sex and engaging in oral sex. Though we can't really tell which comes first, results point toward a trend of it you do one, you do the other - teens are becoming active in multiple ways around the same time.

The point being that teens are screwing in every hole no matter how you slice it, so we need to be talking to kids about all the ways they need to protect themselves. And yet somehow the abstinence morons are trying to make this study support their idea of teaching kids to keep it in their pants. Uh....nice try, but try again. Teens are fucking whether you like it or not. Now we can keep seeing kids having kids and catching some nasty discharge OR we can educate them on prevention, safe sex, empowerment and making healthy, safe and informed decisions.

So I guess this means you can shut the fuck up now

So there isn't a boys crisis after all. A recent study by the American Association of University Women (I love dem bitches) shows that girl achievement has little or no impact on boy achievement. I knew I was right to be pissed about this whole what about our boys? bullshit that educators and academics tried to shove down our throats.

In fact, the study says, you should more concerned about the money in their parents' pockets instead of whether they pee standing or sitting. There is no gap between Black girls and boys. Of course white boys did better than their counterparts. Latino boys and girls had a slight gap, but again, this can be attributed to several factors besides gender.

Other findings:

- A literacy gap in favor of girls is not new, nor is it increasing. Over the past three decades, the reading gap favoring girls on NAEP has narrowed or stayed the same. Nine-year-old boys scored higher than ever on the reading assessment in 2004; scores for 13- and 17-year-old boys were higher or not much different from scores in the 1970s.

- A gender gap still exists favoring boys in math, especially among 17-year-olds on the NAEP.

- The percentages of students scoring at higher levels of proficiency on the NAEP are rising for both boys and girls.

- Students from lower-income families -- families with incomes of $37,000 or less -- are less likely to be proficient in math and reading. Gender differences vary significantly by race and ethnicity.

- There is virtually no gap between boys and girls entering college immediately after high school.


So BASICALLY you can shut the fuck up now.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Don't let the door hit ya on the way out

Check into Cash is leaving Ohio. Thanks to some recent state legislation that put a cap on APRs that payday lending businesses can place on customers, Check into Cash is "forced" to leave. Boo fucking hoo on this one. I understand this strikes a blow to the 200-some employees that CiC employed, but hopefully they won't find themselves in the same dilemmas as uninformed consumers who were duped by CiC. Good riddance. (Now bring on the consumer financial education!)

Future Tool of America: John Tyler Hammons

Meet John Tyler Hammons, the newly-elected mayor of Muskogee, OK. Not that much of value ever comes out of that state, but John is news because he's 19. He's making records because of his young age and newly acquired position. I smelled Republican and of course, he is. In fact, he is the youngest at-large delegate for the Republican convention. He aspires to be governor of Okiehoma one day. And of course he wants to be President once he's governor.

Douche Quote: "Right now I'm between girlfriends," he said, "so I'm looking to fill that position."

Proof that there is little difference between a donkey and an elephant: "The senior class president at Muskogee High School in 2007, he served as president of both the Young Republicans and the Young Democrats clubs. "I threw my name in both rings ... and lo and behold, both groups elected me," he said."


I mean...I get it, but I don't get it. I was trying to psych myself up for the NOW National Conference in July so I was reading about their highlighted speakers. All of the women are notables, some familiar to me in the work they have done to advance women's rights. However, among Patricia Ireland and Lily Ledbetter, there was a glossy glamour shot that caught my eye: Nancy Redd's.

Nancy Redd is the 26-year-old author of Body Drama, a New York Times Best-Seller and a 2008 NAACP Image Award nominee. On a mission to tackle the issues least discussed but most significant in young women's lives, Redd's book dares to empower a new generation-with facts instead of fantasies, and the priceless gift of self-knowledge. Body Drama celebrates the many versions of "normal," replacing seriously erroneous information with the honest, medically proven truth in a language all girls can understand.

Two weeks after graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Women's Studies and as one of Harvard Magazine's Top Six Seniors, Redd won the title of Miss Virginia, going on to make the Top 10 and winning the swimsuit competition at Miss America 2004. She once won $250,000 on Who Wants to be a Millionaire (donating 10 percent to 4-H), and was named by Glamour magazine as one of the United States' top-ten college women "most likely to succeed-at anything."

Redd is a contributing editor and Body & Soul expert at CosmoGIRL! Magazine. She has been featured on E! True Hollywood Stories, PEOPLE magazine, NPR, PBS, CBS's The Early Show, Eyewitness Kids News, Discovery Channel, The Washington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, ABC's Good Morning America, J-14 and more.

OK. So I get that she's all about positive body image, but let me point out that despite graduating with honors from fucking Harvard, she was in a beauty pageant. Miss Fucking America for crying out loud. She was a Women's Studies student and yet, she participated in a beauty pageant, and God Bless Her, she won the fucking swimsuit contest. DOES ANYONE ELSE SEE THE IRONY IN HER MISSION?

Not only that, but she decides to donate 10% of her winnings from a gameshow to 4-H. Not CARE International, not NOW, not Planned Parenthood, not here, nor here, or here. 4-H.

I won't begin to talk about her work with fucking CosmoGirl! A subsidiary of Cosmopolitan magazine whose sole mission in life is to make women give better blowjobs, maintain unrealistic beauty standards and have pornstar quality hair at affordable prices. And yet, somehow she has been invited by NOW to talk about her "courageous" work with body image and telling girls it's OK to not be thin and light-skinneded like her.

Why is it that the message of self-acceptance and body awareness has to come from a thin, long-haired, glossy tooth, fair skinned, heterosexual woman? Why? OF COURSE it's OK to feel good in her skin because she looks like the fucking ideal. I don't want to insult Ms. Redd, after all she is a Harvard grad, (even though her ubiquitous use of the word "ya'll" undermines her ivy-league education) but gosh ya'll I feel like the femininized, "pink" version of female empowerment is just a tad too mainstream for me.

So now the only thing I'm psyched up to do is send NOW a SWL asking them WTF with the 4-H lady.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I think there is a problem with this

OK, so you spit in a police officer's face. That isn't cool, but what's even less cool is the fact that you've been sentenced to 35 years in jail for it. Because you're HIV+. If the jury that convicted you would check its facts, it would know that HIV is not spread through saliva. It is spread like this.

So....why then would a jury be allowed to convict someone under the guise that their saliva was used as a deadly weapon? Oh wait...this happened in Texas. Nevermind.

So you called her "sweetie", the bigger question is:

How are you going to help American auto workers? That is the question. Nobody cares about the sweetie part. We know you participate fully in The Patriarchy since you have failed miserably at addressing the issue of gender during this entire campaign, so dismissively referring to an adult woman whom you don't even know as "sweetie" doesn't suprise nor concern me.

Even the sweetie in question, a reporter in Michigan, says she doesn't care about the gaffe. What she does care about is the fact that she still doesn't have an answer to her question.

Ms Agar said the apology surprised her but she was more concerned he had not answered her question. "People in Michigan have to make a decision about who they're going to vote for... [Mr Obama] could take a second to say what he's going to do for them."

Dreams. Stardust and Rainbows Change we can believe in.

Here's the thing with Marc

I'm glad he resigned and I liked the motherfucker. He kept it trealz on several occasions and I respect him for that. When he failed to keep it real, he lost me. Over the weekend, I attended the Ohio Democratic Women's Luncheon and they announced that they were removing their endorsement from Marc Dann. Amid waves of sucked air and head nodding, the woman who made the announcement simply said this: We're no longer endorsing him because he failed to create an environment that was safe for women to work without harassment.

That's it. I don't care about his affair because that is no concern of mine. What I do care about is the fact that he failed to pursue appropriate actions after being made privy to several incidents of sexual harassment within his office. You failed at your job, you failed your employees, you failed Democrats and you failed the women of Ohio who fiercely campaigned for you and carried you on our backs to Columbus.

Done. Peace Out. Goodbye.

Amen, sister.

Misogyny I Won't Miss
By Marie CoccoThursday, May 15, 2008; Page A15

As the Democratic nomination contest slouches toward a close, it's time to take stock of what I will not miss.

I will not miss seeing advertisements for T-shirts that bear the slogan "Bros before Hos." The shirts depict Barack Obama (the Bro) and Hillary Clinton (the Ho) and are widely sold on the Internet.

I will not miss walking past airport concessions selling the Hillary Nutcracker, a device in which a pantsuit-clad Clinton doll opens her legs to reveal stainless-steel thighs that, well, bust nuts. I won't miss television and newspaper stories that make light of the novelty item.

I won't miss episodes like the one in which liberal radio personality Randi Rhodes called Clinton a "big [expletive] whore" and said the same about former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. Rhodes was appearing at an event sponsored by a San Francisco radio station, before an audience of appreciative Obama supporters -- one of whom had promoted the evening on the presumptive Democratic nominee's official campaign Web site.

I won't miss Citizens United Not Timid (no acronym, please), an anti-Clinton group founded by Republican guru Roger Stone.

Political discourse will at last be free of jokes like this one, told last week by magician Penn Jillette on MSNBC: "Obama did great in February, and that's because that was Black History Month. And now Hillary's doing much better 'cause it's White Bitch Month, right?" Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski rebuked Jillette.

I won't miss political commentators (including National Public Radio political editor Ken Rudin and Andrew Sullivan, the columnist and blogger) who compare Clinton to the Glenn Close character in the movie "Fatal Attraction." In the iconic 1987 film, Close played an independent New York woman who has an affair with a married man played by Michael Douglas. When the liaison ends, the jilted woman becomes a deranged, knife-wielding stalker who terrorizes the man's blissful suburban family. Message: Psychopathic home-wrecker, begone.

The airwaves will at last be free of comments that liken Clinton to a "she-devil" (Chris Matthews on MSNBC, who helpfully supplied an on-screen mock-up of Clinton sprouting horns). Or those who offer that she's "looking like everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court" (Mike Barnicle, also on MSNBC).

But perhaps it is not wives who are so very problematic. Maybe it's mothers. Because, after all, Clinton is more like "a scolding mother, talking down to a child" (Jack Cafferty on CNN).
When all other images fail, there is one other I will not miss. That is, the down-to-the-basics, simplest one: "White women are a problem, that's -- you know, we all live with that" (William Kristol of Fox News).

I won't miss reading another treatise by a man or woman, of the left or right, who says that sexism has had not even a teeny-weeny bit of influence on the course of the Democratic campaign. To hint that sexism might possibly have had a minimal role is to play that risible "gender card."

Most of all, I will not miss the silence.

I will not miss the deafening, depressing silence of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean or other leading Democrats, who to my knowledge (with the exception of Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland) haven't publicly uttered a word of outrage at the unrelenting, sex-based hate that has been hurled at a former first lady and two-term senator from New York. Among those holding their tongues are hundreds of Democrats for whom Clinton has campaigned and raised millions of dollars. Don Imus endured more public ire from the political class when he insulted the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Would the silence prevail if Obama's likeness were put on a tap-dancing doll that was sold at airports? Would the media figures who dole out precious face time to these politicians be such pals if they'd compared Obama with a character in a blaxploitation film? And how would crude references to Obama's sex organs play?

There are many reasons Clinton is losing the nomination contest, some having to do with her strategic mistakes, others with the groundswell for "change." But for all Clinton's political blemishes, the darker stain that has been exposed is the hatred of women that is accepted as a part of our culture.

Marie Cocco is syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. Her e-mail address is

I mean with people like her, I should be a Republican

Dana Perino. Man, you gotta love her. There are several Bush cult followers staff members that I have always admired because of their ability to keep it real. Their politics suck, but they tell like it is. This list would include Dick Cheney and my man, Donald Rumsfield. The truth hurts sometimes and people like Dick and Don just rip the band-aid right off.

Which brings me to my girl, Dana. In a story that would not usually grab my attention is this golden nugget:

Responding with a statement, the Obama campaign seized on Bush's remarks even as it was unclear to whom Bush was referring.

"It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 6Oth anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack," Obama said in the statement. "George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel."

The White House said Bush's comment wasn't a reference to Obama.

"It is not," press secretary Dana Perino told reporters in Israel. "I would think that all of you who cover these issues and have for a long time (a) have known that there are many who have suggested these types of negotiations with people that the president, President Bush, thinks that we should not talk to. I understand when you're running for office you sometimes think the world revolves around you. That is not always true. And it is not true in this case." (b)

HAAAAAA! Let's look at Exhibit A. First, she BASICALLY calls out every reporter who even bothered to bring this topic up. Translation: Ya'll hoes should know better than to even step to me with dis bullshit.

Exhibit B: That was just flat out hilarious. Tony Snow aint never been that bold in my recollection. But she BASICALLY just called Obama and his campaign out and raised him two or three on his attempt at a call out. Translation: None needed on this one cuz she basically laid it out there for alls ya'lls to see.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A little bit of sunshine in Somalia

This feel-good piece of news took me by surprise. Ethiopian soldiers collected donations from their own money and bought food for about 500 people in Mogadishu. It's so nice, it's almost hard to believe. That's how jaded I've become.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ohio HB 477

The ACLU of Ohio, SEIU and the Ohio Latino Commission are opposing HB 477 (sponsored by a Republican), which would require public agencies to conduct business and keep records in English. This of course, would prevent thousands of non-English speakers from effectively receiving services. The bill would make it illegal to conduct official business such as meetings in any language other than English. If there are official printed materials that said public agency creates, there must be a separate line item in its budget for printing in other languages.

I'm trying to make heads or tails of this, but this just seems like a waste of legislation because it's not as if public agencies are running around holding meetings in Tagalog. It is stealth legislation designed to create a hostile environment for non-English speakers aka immigrants in the state of Ohio. The ACLU of Ohio encourages people to contact their reps about HB 477 and encourage them (obviously) to not vote for it.

Just a little FYI.

Why haven't I heard of Gus Puryear? aka Her name was Estelle Richardson

Well, one is because the Bush Regime is ever secretive and if it can manage to appoint an asshole judge to the federal bench without anyone knowing, it will do it. Secondly, the problem with Puryear stems from the death of a Black woman and as well know, no one gives a shit about that. In fact, he enjoys bipartisan support. I'm not sure what makes him qualified outside of the fact that he is a loyal Republican (donor), but what I am sure of is this: the death of Estelle Richardson was murder and Gus Puryear did everything in his power to deny her and her family justice.

Estelle was killed while in custody of a private prison in Tennesee. She found herself in prison after losing jobs and relocating to another state to find a better life for her and her family. She made some wrong turns and ended up involved in drugs. Her life went downhill from there and she landed in prison. She was misdiagnosed and overdrugged on anti-depressants. She was isolated from the other inmates, refused medical treatment for injuries inflicted by prison guards and one day she was found dead. When her family tried to bring civil suit against the four guards held in her murder, they were blocked at every step by Gus.

And now Bush wants to make him a federally appointed judge. Nice. Read here for more reasons why he is an asshole and not fit for the bench.

Different ships, same boat

This article discusses the growing trend of de-facto and legal segregation and discrimination that Latinos in the South are experiencing. So embedded is this discrimination, there is even a new term for it: Juan Crow, which is a Spanish spin on Jim Crow.

This article is lengthy and worth reading as it details the challenging that Latinos (mostly Mexican) are facing. There is much to be said about the immigration struggle in America and the growing problem of globalization. More and more, workers are losing out as companies expand across borders. In this article, Georgia politicos welcome overseas companies into its state, while undermining the rights of the very people whose blood, sweat and tears contribute to the profits.

However, what I drew from it the most is the Latino/Black American divide that exists in this whole immigration debate. One student describes the racism he experiences from not only white students, but Black students as well. An Afro-Latina speaks about the ordeals of being misunderstood by Blacks and discriminated against by whites and white Latinos.

A striking quote:

"But when I was in seventh grade, I went to Richards Middle School, where it wasn't the white people saying things, it was black people. They didn't like Mexican kids. They would call us 'Mexican border hoppers,' 'wetbacks' and all these things. Every time they'd see me, they yelled at me, threatened to beat me up after school for no reason at all." Asked how it felt, he said, "It's like, now since they have rights, they can discriminate [against] others."

He bluntly states part of this divide. Rev. Joseph Lowery, an activist quoted in the article says this:

"There are many differences between our experience and that of immigrant Latinos--but there is a family resemblance between Jim Crow and what is being experienced by immigrants. Both met economic oppression. Both met racial and ethnic hostility."But the most important thing to remember," said Lowery, as if casting out the demons of Juan and Jim Crow, "is that, though we may have come over on different ships, we're all in the same damn boat now."

The Black Struggle in America is truly unique. And while there are commonalities in racial oppressions, Latinos are experiencing a different racial oppression unique to their culture, history and origins. While it is important to understand these truths, oppressed groups can learn much from the Black Civil rights movement. Don't appropriate it, but try to understand it and take from it a blueprint for organizing. Learn from its mistakes and glean from it some inspiration. (I understand that part of this inability to unite with Blacks is racism on the part of Latinos.)

Conversely, what have Blacks not learned from our own struggles that we are comfortable enough to reject others using the same philosophies that validated our own oppression? This sort of hypocrisy saddens me, then alarms me, then angers me. Like Lowery said, "we're in the same damn boat now" and our inability to recognize that we share a common enemy in powerful members of the dominant culture makes it no surprise that we are where we are these days. Once again, Blacks have co-opted white patriarchy and used what privilege we do have to exclude others. How can we not see that an unified racial front is needed to truly make gains? How can we not see that by advocating for and securing the rights of all workers, we are making a grand impact on a poor economic state of affairs?

While we work with nativist groups and hateful white politicians to deny fundamental rights to Latinos, we will continue to contribute to our own oppression. And while Latinos continue to resist their own African roots and adopt white racist ideologies about Blacks, they will miss opportunities to gain allies in their quest for basic freedoms in America.

Uh-Obama: Racism, White Voters and the Myth of Color-Blindness

I'm so overcome with tides of pleasure. I was reading this article about Rev. Wright, in which Bill Moyers points out the racial discrepancies in the public's outcry against his pulpit tirades when I came across this essay by Tim Wise. Tim is one of few white people that I can actually stand to listen to when talking about race. In this essay, Tim is able to articulate so well and so honestly the one thing that has bothered me about Obama and race. Here it is in full text with [my comments].

March 6, 2008

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd write, at least not as soon as I am now compelled to write it: It may well be the case that the United States is on its way to electing a person of color as President. Make no mistake, I realize the way that any number of factors, racism prominently among them, could derail such a thing from coming to fruition. Indeed, results from the Ohio Democratic primary suggest that an awful lot of white folks, especially rural and working-class whites, are still mightily uncomfortable with voting for such a candidate, at least partly because of race: One-fifth of voters in the state said race was important to their decision, and roughly six in ten of these voted for Hillary Clinton, which totals would then represent her approximate margin of victory over Barack Obama.

But having said all that--and I think anyone who is being honest would have to acknowledge this as factual--we are far closer to the election of a person of color in a Presidential race than probably any of us expected. Obama's meteoric rise, from community organizer, to law professor, to Illinois state senator, to the U.S. Senate, and now, possibly, the highest office in the land, is something that could have been foreseen by few if any just a few years ago. Obama's undeniable charisma, savvy political instincts, passion for his work, and ability to connect with young voters (and not a few older ones as well) is the kind of thing you just don't see all that often. The fact that as a black man (or, as some may prefer, a man of biracial background) [One drop rule anyone?] he has been able to catapult to the position in which he now finds himself makes the accomplishment even more significant. It does indeed mean something.

But this is where things become considerably more complicated; the point at which one is forced to determine what, exactly, his success means (and doesn't mean) when it comes to the state of race, race relations, and racism in the United States. And it is at this point that so-called mainstream commentary has, once again, dropped the ball. [Pick it up, Tim. Pick. It. Up.]

On the one hand, many a voice has suggested that Obama's success signifies something akin to the end of racism in the U.S., if not entirely, then surely as a potent political or social force. After all, if a black man actually stands a better-than-decent shot at becoming President, then how much of a barrier could racism really be? But of course, the success of individual persons of color, while it certainly suggests that overt bigotry has diminished substantially, hardly speaks to the larger social reality faced by millions of others: a subject to which we will return. Just as sexism no doubt remained an issue in Pakistan, even after Benazir Bhutto became Prime Minister in the 1980s and again in the 90s (or in India or Israel after both nations had female Premiers, or in Great Britain after the election of Margaret Thatcher), so too can racism exist in abundance, in spite of the electoral success of one person of color, even one who could be elevated to the highest office in the world's most powerful nation. [Boo ya. How is it that people keep holding this unrealistic expectation that all racial discrimination and oppression will end when a man of African heritage assumes the role of President? And what would his political success mean to other ethnic groups and persons of color? The Black struggle DOES NOT represent/is not synonymous with the struggles of other minority groups and to think so is well...biased.]

More importantly, to the extent Obama's success has been largely contingent on his studious avoidance of the issue of race--such that he rarely ever mentions discrimination and certainly not in front of white audiences [One could find it interesting to notice how Barack behaves in front of white audiences and predominantly Black audiences. Whites who claim to not notice the difference just further proves my point of white people's blindness to Black experiences in America. Further, his difference in behavior is a prime example of how many Blacks must shift roles, behaviors and personas on a daily basis to survive in a white dominated society.]--one has to wonder just how seriously we should take the notion that racism is a thing of the past, at least as supposedly evidenced by his ability to attract white votes? [Here we go again. I have been saying this for quite some time. Obama is not transcending race. He is just avoiding it, which to me is criminal given the history of Blacks in America.] To the extent those whites are rewarding him in large measure for not talking about race, and to the extent they would abandon him in droves were he to begin talking much about racism--for he would be seen at that point as playing the race card, or appealing to "special interests" and suffer the consequences [sounds familiar, since anytime Hillary references the fact that she is a woman is criticized]--we should view Obama's success, given what has been required to make it possible, as confirmation of the ongoing salience of race in American life. Were race really something we had moved beyond, whites would be open to hearing a candidate share factual information about housing discrimination, racial profiling, or race-based inequities in health care. But we don't want to be reminded of those things. We prefer to ignore them, and many are glad that Obama has downplayed them too, whether by choice, or necessity. [Exactly. Transcendence doesn't mean avoidance, which what we're doing. Discussing the systemic racial bias against Black Americans would be seen as too radical and too polarizing for white conservatives AND white liberals to hear. Keep it coming, Tim. And if his avoidance is part of some complex, subversive plan to fool every white person in America, then I am impressed. However, if it is not, then his choice to avoid racial realities is borderline traitorous.]

Erasing Race and Making White Folks Happy
The extent to which Obama's white support has been directly related to his downplaying of race issues simply cannot be overstated, as evidenced by the kinds of things many of these supporters openly admit, possessing no sense of apparent irony or misgiving. So, consider the chant offered by his supporters at a recent rally--and frankly, a chant in which whites appeared to be joining with far greater enthusiasm than folks of color [When Tim says "folks of color", I actually like it as opposed to tree-hugging, lesbian social workers]--to the effect that "Race Doesn't Matter, Race Doesn't Matter," a concept so utterly absurd, given the way in which race most certainly still matters to the opportunity structure in this country, that one has to almost wretch at the repeated offering of it. Or consider the statements of support put forth by Obama supporters in a November 2007 Wall Street Journal article, to the effect that Obama makes whites "feel good" about ourselves (presumably by not bothering us with all that race talk), and that Obama, by virtue of his race-averse approach has "emancipated" whites to finally vote for a black candidate (because goodness knows we were previously chained and enslaved to a position of rejectionism). [Here it is again. White guilt. Just the idea that voting for Barack Obama somehow absolves the entire history of white transgressions in America (let alone other countries) is a slap in my Black face to say the least.] Worst of all, consider the words of one white Obama supporter, an ardent political blogger in Nashville, to the effect that what he likes about the Illinois Senator is that he "doesn't come with the baggage of the civil rights movement." Let it suffice to say that when the civil rights movement--one of the greatest struggles for human liberation in the history of our collective species--can be unashamedly equated with Samsonite, with luggage, with something one should avoid as though it were radioactive (and this coming from a self-described liberal), we are at a very dangerous place as a nation, all celebrations of Obama's cross-racial appeal notwithstanding. [Yes, when Blacks actually remind whites of the history of Blacks in America, we are told to "let it go" and "look towards the future, rather than the past". I wonder how whites would feel if Obama started asking for reparations. (He would only be eligible for 20 acres instead of 40.) We like to think that the Civil Rights Movement, which only ended less than 40 years ago is the crowning achievement in the Black American struggle. Much like earning the right to vote for women, some people think we're done and that it is time to move on and live in a post-racial society. Not so fast. While the achievements of my mother's era were a step in the right direction, it's a step on a long ass road to true social justice.]

What does it say about the nation's political culture--and what does it suggest about the extent to which we have moved "beyond race"--that candidate Obama, though he surely knows it, has been unable to mention the fact that 2006 saw the largest number of race-based housing discrimination complaints on record, and according to government and private studies, there are between two and three million cases of housing discrimination each year against people of color?

What does it say that he has failed to note with any regularity that according to over a hundred studies, health disparities between whites and blacks are due not merely to health care costs and economic differences between the two groups (a subject he does address) but also due to the provision of discriminatory care by providers, even to blacks with upper incomes, and black experiences with racism itself, which are directly related to hypertension and other maladies?

What does it say that Obama apparently can't bring himself to mention, for fear of likely white backlash, that whites are over seventy percent of drug users, but only about ten percent of persons incarcerated for a drug possession offense, while blacks and Latinos combined are about twenty-five percent of users, but comprise roughly ninety percent of persons locked up for a possession offense? [Yes, while Obama is good at calling out people from time to time, he has failed to clearly and loudly talk about the systemic biases in this country. We may be from different sides and all want the same thing as he likes to say, but the harsh truth is that not all of us have the same means to see the same big picture and achieve the American Dream. And by means, I mean skin color. You have to be real and honest enough to say that, which Obama has yet to do.]

Why no mention of the massive national study by legal scholars Alfred and Ruth Blumrosen, which found that at least a third of all businesses in the nation engage in substantial discrimination against people of color--hiring such folks at rates that are well below their availability in the local and qualified labor pool, and well below the rates at which they are to be found in non-discriminating companies in the same locales and industries? Indeed, according to the Blumrosen study, at least 1.3 million qualified people of color will face job discrimination in a given year. [Tell me about it. I can tell you story after story of being rejected from jobs because of my race. I can also tell you stories of being the only Black professional in my office and the condescending nature in which I am told that I was hired on my merits only and that my employment is not some pathetic attempt at diversification.] Or what of the study of temporary agencies in California, which found that white women who are less qualified than their black counterparts, are still three times more likely to be favored in a job search? And what are the odds that he'll be likely to mention, to any significant degree, the recent EEOC report, which notes that in 2007 there was a twelve percent jump in race-based discrimination complaints in the workplace relative to the previous year (almost all of which were filed by persons of color): bringing the number of such complaints to their highest level since 1994?

As Obama talks about change and making the "American Dream" real for all, why is he unable to mention the fact--let alone propose specific remedies for it [Dreams and Stardust]--that thanks to a history of unequal access to property and the inability to accumulate assets on par with whites, young black couples with college degrees and good incomes still start out at a significant disadvantage (around $20,000) relative to their white counterparts? In fact, the wealth gap between whites and blacks--with the average white family now having about eleven times the net worth of the average black family--continues to grow, even as income gaps for similarly educated families with similar background characteristics have shrunk. [I recently read a book about this very issue. You can pull on those proverbial bootstraps all you want, but when one generation is poor, it is very hard to break that cycle. We can talk about racial harmony all we want, but as much I care for my white brothers as sisters, they still possess more wealth (assets, not just money) than me despite my gains in educational and social mobility and that advantages is largely due to opportunities afforded to them because of their race.]

And why such muted discussion about the way that, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, government at all levels and across party lines has engaged in ethnic cleansing in New Orleans, failing to provide rental assistance to the mostly black tenant base for over a year, plotting to tear down 5000 perfectly usable units of public housing, failing to restart the city's public health care infrastructure, and even ordering the Red Cross not to provide relief in the first few days after the city flooded in September 2005, so as to force evacuation and empty out the city? While Obama has spoken much about the failures of the Bush Administration during Katrina, openly discussing the deliberate acts of cruelty that go well beyond incompetence, and which amount to the forced depopulation of New Orleans-area blacks, has been something about which he cannot speak for fear of prompting a backlash from whites, most of whom, according to polls, don't think the events of Katrina have any lessons at all to teach us about race in America. [Hell, Brad Pitt has had more to say and has done more about the this situation than Obama.]

Surely, that Obama is constrained in his ability to focus any real attention on these matters, suggests that whatever his success may say about America and race, one thing it utterly fails to say is that we have conquered the racial demons that have so long bedeviled us. And to the extent he must remain relatively silent about these issues, lest he find his political ascent headed in a decidedly different direction, it is true, however ironic, that his success actually confirms the salience of white power. If, in order to be elected, a man of color has to pander to white folks, in ways that no white politician would ever have to do to people who were black or brown, then white privilege and white power remain operative realities. Obama's ascent to the Presidency, if it happens, will happen only because he managed to convince enough whites that he was different, and not really black, in the way too many whites continue to think of black people, which according to every opinion survey, is not too positively. [Bam! Barack Obama is a good, non-threatening Negro that makes whites of all political shades feel good about themselves. That is why when the not-so-good Negro, Jeremiah Wright said what he said, whites started to worry about Barack associating with such colored folk. Perhaps Barack was a radical colored all long! No, just in time, Obama cut his ties to assure whites that he wasn't angry like that other colored Jeremiah Wright. And Tim makes another great point: while Hillary is attacked from all sides for trying to be both masculine and feminine, she still doesn't have to be not-too-white, or too white to appeal to Blacks or any other group.]

Transcending Blackness, Reinforcing White Racism: The Trouble With Exceptions
Obama's rise has owed almost everything to his ability--and this, again, coming from people who support him and are willing to speak candidly--to "transcend" race, which is really a way of saying, his ability to carve out an exception for himself in the minds of whites. But this notion of Obama "transcending race" (by which we really mean transcending his blackness) [BAM! Race is just another word for Black in this country. Again, Tim is making the excellent point that all Barack has managed to do is make white people feel comfortable again.] is a patently offensive and even racist notion in that it serves to reinforce generally negative feelings about blacks as a whole; feelings that the presence of exceptions cannot cancel out, and which they can even serve to reinforce. [He's articulate and well dressed says Biden. He went to white institutions and earned a degree in field where whites are usually on one side and Blacks on the other. He's just not what whites expect from a Black man. His success, which is commonplace for white men is some sort of novel exception because of his skin color.] To the extent Obama has become the Cliff Huxtable of politics--a black man with whom millions of whites can identity and to whom they can relate--he has leapt one hurdle, only to watch his white co-countrymen and women erect a still higher one in the path of the black masses. [Why can't you all be like him?] If whites view Obama as having transcended his blackness, and if this is why we like him so much, we are saying, in effect, that the millions of blacks who haven't transcended theirs will remain a problem. To praise the transcending of blackness, after all, is to imply that blackness is something negative, something from which one who might otherwise qualify for membership ought to seek escape, and quickly. [Bam again. Because white is regarded as the norm, then anything not white is not normal, or other, thus something to be avoided or rejected. Exactly. If we can all just be color-blind, we can ignore the travesties of racial bias, oppression and discriminaton. Black is negative almost everywhere you go in the world, so the less you can remind whites of your Blackness, the better.]

Note, never has a white politician been confronted with questions about his or her ability to transcend race, or specifically, their whiteness. [This can't be said enough.] And this is true, even as many white politicians continue to pull almost all of their support from whites, and have almost no luck at convincing people of color to vote for them. In the Democratic primaries this year, Obama has regularly received about half the white vote, while Hillary Clinton has managed to pull down only about one-quarter of the black vote, yet the question has always been whether he could transcend race. The only rational conclusion to which this points is, again, that it is not race per se that needs to be overcome, but blackness. [Yes. If Barack were say, Mexican, or more generally a white Latino, this whole discussion of race wouldn't exist beyond a whisper.] Whiteness is not seen as negative, as something to be conquered or transcended. [It is seen as something to aspire to. Just ask any Black kid who has been picked on for speaking English properly, or reading books. They are labeled as sell outs or trying to act white. Notice all the Black comedians who parody whites: they usually capitalize on stereotypes like whites are punctual, overly polite and pay their bills on time. Whereas Black stereotypes have us labeled as lazy, unambitious and stupid. Why would anyone want to be that?] Indeed, whereas blacks are being asked to rise above their racial identity, for whites, the burden is exactly the opposite: the worst thing for a white person is to fail to live up to the ostensibly high standards set by whiteness; it is to be considered white trash, which is to say, to be viewed as someone who has let down whiteness and fallen short of its pinnacle. For blacks, the worst thing it seems (at least in the minds of whites) is to be seen as black, which is no doubt why so many whites think it's a compliment to say things to black folks like, "I don't even think of you as black," not realizing that the subtext of such a comment is that it's a damned good thing they don't, for if they did, the person so thought of would be up the proverbial creek for sure. [Bringing it home. Color-blindness places the burden on Blacks (and to an lesser extent other minorities) to assimilate and to shed any references to Blackness, thus assauging white guilt. It is still our job and responsibility to move forward and leave history as history. Somehow, the onus is on us to accept what paltry justices we have achieved as victory and true equality. "These darn Blacks just can't shut up about race!" In fact, whites think we have achieved such equality that "reverse racism" now exists and they are in fact the true victims now. Finally, there is a candidate that doesn't remind this country of our failures to be inclusive, just and fair. And he's Black! See, why can't you all be like Obama?]

In what must prove among the greatest ironies of all time, for Barack Obama to become President, which he well may accomplish, he will have to succeed in convincing a lot of racist white people to vote for him. Without the support of racists he simply can't win. While this may seem counterintuitive--that is, after all, what makes it ironic--it is really inarguable. After all, according to many an opinion survey in the past decade, large numbers of whites (often as high as one-half to three-quarters) harbor at least one negative and racist stereotype about African Americans, whether regarding their intelligence, law-abidingness, work ethic, or value systems. Without the votes of at least some of those whites (and keep in mind, that's how many whites are willing to admit to racist beliefs, which is likely far fewer than actually hold them), Obama's candidacy would be sunk. So long as whites can vote for a black man only to the extent that he doesn't remind them of other black people, it is fair to say that white people remain mired in a racism quite profound. To the extent we view the larger black community in terms far more hostile than those reserved for Obama, Oprah, Tiger, Colin, Condoleezza, Denzel and Bill (meaning Cosby, not Clinton, whose blackness is believed to be authentic only by himself nowadays), whites have proven how creative we can be, and how resourceful, when it comes to the maintenance of racial inequality. [Indeed. And the Blacks listed here are all Blacks that white America loves simply for the fact that they aren't like "regular" Blacks. They are also ridiculously wealthy and rarely make references to their race, some even going as far as to reject their achievements as milestones in Black American history (Tiger and Denzel)].

By granting exemptions from blackness, even to those black folks who did not ask for such exemptions (and nothing I have said here should be taken as a critique of Obama himself by the way, for whom I did indeed vote last month [So just in case you thought this was some sort of Pro-Hillary essay, it's not.]), we have taken racism to an entirely new and disturbing level, one that bypasses the old and all-encompassing hostilities of the past, and replaces them with a new, seemingly ecumenical acceptance in the present. But make no mistake, it is an ecumenism that depends upon our being made to feel good, and on our ability to glom onto folks of color who won't challenge our denial let alone our privileges, even if they might like to. [Well put. Obama makes whites feel good and that is disturbing. He fails to question their privilege and to some extent, one could argue he simply vying to gain that same privilege instead of challenging the system that currently exists. Racial equality is not Blacks becoming the same as whites, it's about the entire patriarchal system being eradicated, which Obama doesn't seem intent on doing.]

In short, the success of Barack Obama has proven, perhaps more so than any other single thing could, just how powerful race remains in America. His success, far from disproving white power and privilege, confirms it with a vengeance. [My God. This has to be the best essay written to date about this topic. The white support of Obama is nothing more than condescending rhetoric spewed by liberls in denial, conservatives that hate Hillary, and Blacks who are too blinded by the prospect of a Black president to actually question his ability to fill the position. I firmly believe that Barack will secure the Democratic nomination one way or the other, but I will always have problems with his candidacy and those who support him because of this very thing that Tim Wise so eloquently discusses. His success, means little or nothing to me for a variety of reasons. In his ascent, he has failed to use his opportunity to bring the Black American experience to light in America. He keeps trying to appeal to all sides and in this effort has failed miserably to confront the very racism that pervades his existence. I know that being President means you represent all people and I would not expect him to make sweeping changes that would result in some dramatic shift in Black social status. One, because it's impossible, and two: because that isn't his job. However, he is well positioned to have the ears of not only America, but the entire free world and he is too busy allaying white fear in order to seize this moment. Should he win in November, I will be proud and happy for his accomplishment, but as a woman of color in this country, the question will still remain: what exactly will you do as President to help protect my reproductive rights, fight gender discrimination and erode centuries of racial bias? (If we are arguing that his candidacy alone is a success for Blacks in America, then Black oppression should have ended with Alan Keyes, Condolezza Rice, Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell, etc.? I mean I know I hate them for very political reasons, but even I can't deny the power of their achievements. Plus, tt's OK for white liberals to hate them.) Part of me believes his candidacy comes at a time of mere opportunity. Had this country not suffered for eight years, he would be dismissed for his empty rhetoric and smooth talk. After all, where was the Black male and white liberal support for her? Why is her run for office a mere footnote in history?]

Monday, May 12, 2008

Friday, May 9, 2008

Thank you for my rage: HUD Grocery Store edition

Seriously, when does it end? What is "it", you ask? IT is the bullshit bias and systemic discrimination of poor people and poor people of color. I can't complain about the East Bank Project. It's super duper for some people. However, when I read that Voinabitch announced that the city is receiving HUD $$$ to build a fucking grocery store in the Flats, I bristled.

Um. Meanwhile on East 55th and St. Clair....
Meanwhile on West 65th and Detroit....
Meanwhile on East 79th and Superior...

There are no fucking grocery stores. None. Yet, yuppies who can plop down thousands of dollars to live in fancy new condos will have a nice convenient grocery store full of fresh veggies and organic milk. I know that this deal is more complex than meets the eye, but why can't we get grocery stores in every neighborhood in this city? We have corner stores, Subways and check cashing stores, but not everyone has a decent, full service grocery store where they can buy healthy, fresh foods.

But people who have the ways and means to access pretty much any grocery store they want, will have the additional luxury of having one in their new Flats neighborhood.

Color me pissed.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

ReVista: Puerto Rico - The Island and Beyond

Wanna know some more about mi gente? Take a gander at the recent release of Harvard's quarterly publication on Latin America.

I see who's really the conductor of the Straight Talk Express

Cindy McCain, blonde evil that she is, is no one to fuck with. Really. In an interview the Today Show, she was asked if she would ever release her tax returns. And she replied, "No." She points out that her husband is the candidate, not her. Besides, John and Cindy McCain file separately. He's rich, but she's richer. Waaaay richer. She is the heiress to some beer company and got a pre-nup so hers is hers and his is his.

I disagree with everything the McCains stand for, but I have to give it to Cin Cin on this one. The wives of candidates are their own people and have their own things going on. Besides, what the fuck do I care about her income? I know she's rich. Rich and richer are the same things to middle class and working Americans. Why do we need to see how rich the Republican candidate and his wife are? Either way, I aint voting for them...I mean him.

Her name was Romona

WAOD posted yet another example of how little value is placed on the lives of Black women and girls.

A New York court has re-opened a case involving the kidnapping, rape and murder of a young woman on grounds that the investigation was tainted with racial bias. The family of the victim is pursuing a federal case against the NYPD because officers and detectives failed to respond to repeated requests for assistance from the victim's family. (Maybe they were too busy pumping bullets into another Black man elsewhere to investigate the disappearance of a young Black girl.)

The details of the case are long and tedious. It is almost a travesty for me to use those words since every little detail was actually a second, minute, hour, day that Romona was held captive in a basement being raped, beat, burned and cut. Her day was probably like any other day until she was kidnapped by two men and held in the basement of a dilapidated house. The men (if they even deserve to be labeled as human) held her there and even brought people in to see her. One idiot saw her and even spoke to her. Did he alert the police? Why, no. He left an went to a baby shower then returned home. He was the last person besides the killers to see her alive. After several days, Romona was beat to death and her naked body was left underneath a parked ice cream truck. Did the NYPD find her? Why, no again. It was her family who found her. They developed their own search teams, they put up flyers, they contacted the media (who ignored them) and it was the mother (God bless this woman) who received an anonymous call that her daughter's body could be found near an alley.

The police were actually in the house where Romona was being held, because someone called to report hearing screams. They weren't hers, they were the voice of another young Black girl who these same assholes had kidnapped and raped. She was lucky enough to escape. She testified in court about being told about Romona by her torturers - how they made her smell Romona's dead body and told her she could end up like her if she didn't cooperate. Thankfully the two assholes were convicted to life in prison.

This happened in 2003. Did you hear about this story? Of course not. But you've heard of Lacey Peterson and Chandra Levy and Natalee Holloway. You didn't hear about Romona Carmichael, a junior psychology student at Hunter College because she was Black. And that is why her mother and family are going to court. They are trying to prove that racial bias interfered with a thorough and appropriate investigation of Romona. It will be very difficult to prove racial bias on behalf of those involved, but you'd be hard pressed not to believe it when you read something like this:

Less than two months before Romona Moore vanished in Canarsie, Svetlana Aronov, the white wife of a doctor, went missing on the Upper East Side. The day after Aronov vanished, police launched a massive search for her and the cocker spaniel, Bim, she had taken for a walk. The NYPD called a press conference, assigned two dozen detectives to the case full-time, and went door to door, passing out flyers with pictures of Aronov and Bim on them. The cops traced the Aronovs' phone and bank records and analyzed surveillance tape gathered from stores and apartment buildings near her home. A police van emblazoned with the department's 800 tip-line number drove around her neighborhood, blaring details of her disappearance over a loudspeaker. A letter was sent to rare-books dealers, a business the Aronovs dabbled in. Detectives reportedly even consulted a psychic. A bloodhound was assigned to track Bim's scent. Eventually, Aronov's body surfaced in the East River. It was never determined whether she fell, jumped, or was pushed into the water.

They looked harder for the dog than they did Romona. They questioned her mother asking if she had a boyfriend, if she was pregnant, anything to excuse her disappearance and dismiss it as just another Black girl running the streets. Maybe, just maybe if they searched for Romona they way searched for Bim, they may have saved her life and spared another Black girl from being kidnapped and raped and almost murdered.

How can the NYPD detectives sleep at night knowing that she is dead? They sleep just fine, since the detective that ignored Mrs. Carmichael's calls and pleads for help got promoted after the case. Not reprimanded. Promoted. HE DIDN'T EVEN FIND THE BODY. HER MOTHER DID. ROMONA'S FAMILY WAS WAITING BY THE BODY WHEN THE POLICE SHOWED UP.

I can't believe I'm not writing this entire post in all caps. It makes me that angry. How many more Romonas are out there? The media doesn't report on these women. The police obviously don't care. The men who torture these women don't care. You can't tell me there isn't a problem with this police system and you can't tell me there isn't an utter lack of regard for Black women in this country. And she was "lucky". Lucky because her mother cared and had resources. She had family. To know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of Romonas out there who will never be found because somebody doesn't care makes my heart hurt.

I honestly doubt that the case will make it far in the federal courts, but this is progress in addressing the imbalances in not only the NYPD, but also the way America deals with crimes against Black women.

Nothing better to do with your time, huh?

If people waited in line to vote like they are waiting in line for this, the world might be a better place. I may never buy pizza from Papa John's again. Not because they "insulted" Lebron (who this white woman called James Lebron the other day) by calling him a crybaby (which he is), but because they caved in to Cleveland sports bozos and are providing pizzas for 23 cents. Monies earned from this fiasco promotion/apology will be donated to Cavs charities. Was an apology really warranted? How many people actually cared? And maybe some idiots would have boycotted through the playoffs, but really boycott forever? Doubt it.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. And don't you just love the picture of the hungry Black people waiting in line for the promo pizzas? Meanwhile in his gajillion dollar mansion, Lebron could care less about these people for which 23 cent pizzas could mean meals for days and weeks. If Papa John's wanted to donate to charity, why not give pizzas to homeless shelters, or donate cash to youth camps where little Black boys dream of being King Crybaby one day? Just a thought...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Young Asian actors deserve to be exploited by Hollywood, too!

So there is this movie out about some smart ass MIT students who use math to win at the game of Blackjack. With everything going on in the world, this is what Hollywood came up with. Anywho, I have problem with this movie (of course) and it has to do with race (of course).

So I was a-browsin' through my BBC Online headlines and came across this story about one of the brainiacs who inspired the book that inspired the movie. I don't need to point out how far the movie has come from the actual people it is based on. If you visit the comment threads on IMDB, you will see some posters have pointed out the inherent racism in using white actors to portray what was largely a group of Asian students. This is about as annoying as the whole Angelina playing Daniel Pearl's widow last year.

White people are good actors so much so that they can even play people of color. One commenter on imdb goes as far as to say that maybe there aren't any good Asians to play actual Asians in the film. Or MAYBE Hollywood wasn't looking. To add further insult, the one actual Asian actor in the film plays a crappy role - one that could be construed as demeaning.

This (what I am sure is a godawful) movie is yet another example of how mainstream American marginalizes and erases the presence of people of color.
Pictured top: Jim Sturgess who plays lead in film, 21. Pictured below, is Yuchun Lee, one of the MIT students who developed and perfected the math techniques used in the game.