greenie_breizh: (quote)
I've been accumulating links in my tabs again, so it's time to share. :) But first, since I'm going to re-post a bunch of links that [livejournal.com profile] zombie_process posted, I'd like to direct you to the original post first.

First up - public employees!
- A Letter to Scott Walker from a Wisconsin Teacher, which touches upon tons of really good points and issues that have been raised since Wisconsion public employees started protesting. On this topic, I have been watching this whole thing unfold mostly through the eyes of my facebook friends (someone reposted this excellent note, for example), Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, and the anti-teacher rhetoric is pissing me off. I just do not understand people who can't see the massive amount of work, dedication and energy that teaching (at ANY level) requires. More broadly, anti-public-employee rhetoric in general baffles me, but the anti-teacher stuff is particularly angering.

Always good - gender and race stuff!
- My son, the pink boy. It's both a reflection on raising a gender nonnormative boy and a rant against recent advice that Dr. Phil gave to a mom regarding her own gender nonnormative boy.
"Who's confused? My son knows exactly what he likes. When Sam was 4 and his male peers trick-or-treated as Batman and Spiderman and gorillas, Sam was a princess. At 5, he was a queen, regal and proud and full of the royal prowess that Disney offers all little girls. He liked feather boas and lip gloss and dancing. Did he think he was a girl? Nope. Was he confused about being a boy? Nope. Did he need to be taught what boys are supposed to like? Nope -- how boys are supposed to behave was abundantly clear from the trains and trucks we bought him before we realized he was a pink boy, the behavior of all the boys he knew, the messages on TV, and the judgments of all the Random Moms. He just liked what he liked, the way other kids did -- only his likes were different."

- Tomboy [article in French, video in French with English subtitle]An article and trailer/interview for what looks like is going to be a really fascinating movie about a girl taking on a boy identity for a summer. I can't wait to see it. I was a little uncomfortable about the director bringing in the notion of lying into it, but I like the way that the movie seems to approach the whole thing, from the perspective of the child's lived experience rather than trying to make a statement.

- A Bitch magazine article on race and this year's Oscars, in particular the (bland) tribute to Lena Horne. The author ends with a note that really strikes a chord:
"Lately, I’ve been reading how history has sanitized Rosa Parks by characterizing her as a sweet, apolitical lady who just happened to be too tired to give up her bus seat one day. In reality, Parks was a dedicated social activist prior to her arrest. She joined the civil rights movement, in part, to end sexual violence against black women. I’d hate to see history sanitize Lena Horne in the same way. Unfortunately, that prospect seemed likely during last night's ceremonies."


- A Salon article expressing disappointment about Natalie Portman would say on Sunday night that motherhood is 'the greatest role of her life'. Motherhood is one of those difficult topics, where it's hard to walk the line between embracing motherhood, respecting women who make the choice to be moms full-time, and still acknowledging that the concept of motherhood comes with very heavy string attached in our society. The problem (to me) is not that motherhood is necessarily problematic and oppressive, it's the way that people essentialize the experience and conflate it with 'real' womanhood. In short, when we continue to see and interpret motherhood as being the ultimate fulfillment in a woman's life that (1) tends to dismiss fatherhood, and reinforce the idea that it is less central to a man's life and (2) lessens the choices and lives of women who don't want to be mothers, or even just don't want to prioritize family above all else.

- Anyway, so I wanted to link to this other article which fronws upon the tendency in feminist-oriented circles to frown upon motherhood, and it's funny because I just don't see these two articles as fundamentally contradictory, in the end. (As a sidenote, I believe the author for this article is in a same-sex relationship, which very much can change how the dyanmics of motherhood play out.) I don't know. I want to believe there has to be a place for recognizing gendered dynamics and lamenting them, without necessarily throwing under the bus everything that's been traditionally considered feminine and womanly. In short, I want to be able to say motherhood as we understand it is problematic, without necessarily judging women who want to be mothers and want to prioritize this aspect of their life. Maybe I'm hoping for too much.

- Sort of in the same vein, but wildly more depressing, this article which responds to suggestions that Laura Logan (an American reporter who got assaulted while reporting from Egypt) should not have been sent to the field in the first place. Great great piece, both about the gendered and racialized aspects of this story.

And a miscellaneous link to finish.
- Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names. It's, obviously, not just about names and programmers, but actually highlights assumptions that people make constantly, and not just about names, when you think about it. Anyway, this whole post resonates with me because my first name (of French origin) contains two accents but my Canadian university (reminder: Canada is officially a English-French bilingual country) still can't handle it and replaces the characters with ? whenever I log in, and in my university email. Super professional, let me tell you.
greenie_breizh: (political)
A few links before the weekend!

- A Guide: How Not To Say Stupid Stuff About Egypt: I haven't really commented about the situation in Egypt because, well, I haven't really had time to comment on much, but also because I'm feeling super careful with this whole thing. I feel wildly unqualified to make any kind of statement or claim because I know so little about the situation, and I refuse to believe it's as simple as some (especially American) pundits and journalists make it seem. But anyway, at least that guide was helpful, I thought.

- "#DearJohn: On Rape Culture and a Culture of Reproductive Violence": A fantastic post over at Tiger Beatdown in response to Republican efforts to limit access to abortion and redefine rape.
But we’ve been talking about “forcible rape,” right? And how fucked-up that construction is, how all rape is based on a lack of consent and “force,” in the sense that you get beaten up, is just an additional crime? Probably everybody reading this blog knows that a lot of people don’t understand that principle. And they don’t understand it because we live in rape culture; so much sexual violence is normalized, and accepted, that it’s invisible. We can’t understand that it’s rape unless we also see physical injury, or a knife, or a gun.


- Maybe more important, head over to Daily Kos and read this post, which deals with the less visible aspects of the bill that the 'forcible rape' bullshit was part of. The core of it is here: "You're meant to recoil in horror at that redefinition. And if the bill's proponents are lucky, you'll spend all your time doing that. Because then you'll miss out on the fact that H.R. 3 is also the killing blow capping 30 years of consistent losses on abortion restrictions."

- Nothing new to most of you/us, but always interesting: Physiological impacts of homophobia. I wonder if they only ask LGB youth who have been bullied, or if they spoke to straight-identified youth who have been targets of homophobia, too.

To finish with three more light-hearted links:
- Pick-up lines for feminists, a wonderful poem. My favorite stanza is, "where have you been / all my life? / hopefully fighting / against oppressive / patriarchal systems."
- Why you should always pay your webdesigner.
- Comic creator gets back at Christian organization which used an image of his to lobby against sexual minorities.
greenie_breizh: (full of words)
I'm going to try this new thing where I post more regularly, which hopefully could mean fewer massive posts. (I'm sure it's not going to happen, but one can hope!) So, let's give this a go with only two links today. :)

- That's Not Twain, a NYTimes opinion piece on the new version of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn that's coming out next month, in which the word "nigger" has been changed to the word "slave". I won't go on forever, partly because the piece says it well enough on its own: "Substituting the word 'slave' makes it sound as though all the offense lies in the “n-word” and has nothing to do with the institution of slavery." I'm worried that this, to some extent, sanitizes the U.S.'s racist past (especially that of the South) and it will only encourage a re-envisioning of that past as not only incongruent with the present (racism was then, now we don't put that word in our books!) but also as really not that bad.

- Immigration Rules Tightened For Gay Couples in Canada. Again, the piece really says it all; this decision is problematic on so many levels, and clearly singles out a group with no actual rationale. If you're worried about marriages of convenience, believe me, most of them are probably straight marriages. Ugh. I feel like this partly comes from this stupid place that make people believe that if same-sex marriage is authorized, same-sex friends will start marrying everywhere. Re: ugh.

EDIT: Reading the actual policy, it sounds like all that CIC clarified is that if you were married OUTSIDE Canada, the marriage needs to be legal in the country you were married for it to be recognized in Canada and thus be the basis for your spouse to sponsor you. If you're married in Canada, you're good to go, even if one of you is from the UK, say. What is confusing about this "clarification" is that the only way you could have gotten married outside Canada is if you live somewhere where marriage is legal... I realize there are a few, localized instances where people were married even though the marriage wasn't legal (SF in the U.S. in 2004, Noël Mamère in France the same year) but that seems to be such a tiny number that it doesn't really qualify as a loophole, nor would it be a way to address a supposed spike in spousal applications, or marriages of convenience... so, I'm confused. If someone has a better idea what's going on, I'd love to hear it.
greenie_breizh: (jon stewart <3)
I should be working (story of my life, ha) but I'm happy with how much I got done this morning so I'm going to take 10 minutes to write that post I've been meaning to write forever. First, some links! Wonderful!

- Black-Grrl Power: Willow Smith and Sesame Street: an article on black hair, started by the recent Sesame Street video featuring a black girl puppet singing about how awesome her hair is. It's a good article, and a nice reminder that racism takes forms that white people sometimes can't even fathom.

- Why Decriminalizing Sex Work is Good for All Women. It's kind of old news by now, but at the end of September, the Ontario Supreme Court struck down Canada's prostitution law (read news article here). Because it is likely to set a precedent, it's a huge step taken towards decriminalization (not to be mistaken with legalization!) of sex work in Canada. And in these Tea Party ridden times, that's almost unbelievably progressive and fantastic. So I'm just going to gleefully quote: "Whore stigma is one clue that anti-prostitution ideology is about more than just violence against women—it’s specifically about femininity. In this sense, arguments against transactional sex are a defense of both the gender binary and of heterosexuality. This is why men and transgender sex workers are invisible in prostitution debates. This is why changing laws is just the beginning, not the end, of a longtime struggle for basic human rights for sex workers."

- A post by Dan Savage on a manifesto written Episcopal Bishop John Shelby's decision to no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. More than this decision (which has positive and maybe negative sides), the reason I'm posting this is Bishop Shelby's words on "fair-mindness", which is a discourse currently used by media outlets to justify airing the views of profoundly homophobic parties: "In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by "fair-minded" channels that seek to give "both sides" of this issue "equal time." I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people." This is an incredibly powerful statement, and a serious challenge to the way we tend to think about 'freedom of expression'.

- Two links (1, 2) to galleries of photos from Saturday's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in D.C. There are many signs amongst these that I feel ambivalent about, but there are true jewels in there, too, including this one, this one, this one, this one or this one. My all-time favorite, though, is this one which I found on Lemonde.fr (#5): "I masturbate and I vote (but not usually at the same time)." And then of course I have a special fondness for geeky signs. :) I have my ambivalence regarding the Rally (most of which has to do with the way that it idealizes moderation, as if this particular political stance - because it is one, whether people like it or not - didn't have its own problems, and consequently the way that rhetoric around the rally has tended to lump together right-wight extremism and left-wing radicalism, which I find infinitely problematic) but in the midst of all the Tea Party insanity absurdity, it does feel good to see people come out and point out the ridiculousness of people who embrace their willful ignorance and refuse to debate reasonably.

- And to finish, a link shared by [livejournal.com profile] shadesofbrixton: a sexual attraction chart. Very neat, not without its problems obviously, but I love the sheer complexity of it. :)

As usual, this has taken me WAY longer than I expected, so I'd better make myself some lunch and go back to the 200 pages I'm supposed to read before 4pm. Haha...ha.

EDIT: I forgot! I went to see The Social Network the other night - I went in being slightly unconvinced but I was truly blown away by the quality of that script. Great, complex characters and super tight dialogue, I did not see those 2 hours go by at all. What did everyone else think?
greenie_breizh: (full of words)
First, [livejournal.com profile] arcadiane wrote this excellent post on Where The Wild Things Are (the movie). I realized I'd never written about the movie and what I thought about it but she's said it all, pretty much, and I'm still not sure I have my own words to talk about it. I can see how people would hate the movie and find it boring, but if you can let yourself be taken by the beauty, the quiet, the kid's point of view, and not look for a plot, it's exactly what I would have wanted this movie to be, I think.

Second, I actually discovered this a while ago but I don't think I've ever linked to them: ASL songs. They're vids that put songs into ASL language (I'm assuming you can do the same with other sign languages, but as in the world of hearing, American stuff dominates online) and they're damn cool. Two awesome guys who do them are CaptainL0ver (his version of If You Seek Amy is particularly awesome, but check out more) and CaptainValor (I love him in Party in the USA). And then there's this adorable teen (and the girl he learned it from) doing it on Hot 'n' Cold (they're not super fluent or putting the rhythm into it as much, but he's super cute). (They're all a little gay and effeminate, too, which, <3.)

Third, not so much with the fun and funny, my f-list is awesome and shared links with me about James Cameron's Avatar that I wanted to share back with everybody:
- About the white privilege perspective in the movie, check out When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like "Avatar"?, which is dead-on throughout the entire article, but I want to highlight this paragraph:
These are movies about white guilt. Our main white characters realize that they are complicit in a system which is destroying aliens, AKA people of color - their cultures, their habitats, and their populations. The whites realize this when they begin to assimilate into the "alien" cultures and see things from a new perspective. To purge their overwhelming sense of guilt, they switch sides, become "race traitors," and fight against their old comrades. But then they go beyond assimilation and become leaders of the people they once oppressed. This is the essence of the white guilt fantasy, laid bare. It's not just a wish to be absolved of the crimes whites have committed against people of color; it's not just a wish to join the side of moral justice in battle. It's a wish to lead people of color from the inside rather than from the (oppressive, white) outside.

- About ableism in the movie, read Future of Portrayals of Disability in Movies? Cameron’s Avatar. I thought about a lot of that as soon as I saw Jake in a wheelchair. :/
greenie_breizh: (badass women ftw)
Leçon du MAG numéro 1: On ne dit pas à quelqu'un qu'il est homophobe, on lui fait remarquer que ses propos sont homophobes. Ça permet d'être moins sur la défensive, et d'avoir une conversation plus fructueuse qu'une série de justification de le part de la personne sur le thème "pourquoi je ne suis pas homophobe" (j'ai des amis homos/je vote à gauche/je trouve les homos mignons/ma super garagiste est gouine/j'étais pour le pacs/insert your own).

Dans le même genre, donc, je voudrais suggérer qu'on ne cherche pas à argumenter que Brice Hortefeux est ou n'est pas raciste. A la place je voudrais qu'on réfléchisse à pourquoi ses propos étaient racistes. Peut-être que comme ça on pourrait peut-être se mettre à penser à pourquoi quelqu'un qui n'est pas "raciste" et qui est apprécié par des gens tels que le recteur de la Grande mosquée de Paris peut se retrouver à avoir des propos racistes.

Parce qu'il est bien là, le noeud du problème. De plus en plus dans nos sociétés occidentales les gens ne sont pas racistes, ils ne sont pas homophobes. Ce que je veux dire par là c'est qu'ils ne se concoivent pas racistes ou homophobes et qu'effectivement la plupart du temps ils n'ont pas de problème à l'idée de côtoyer des homos et de beurs, ils en ont sans doute parmi les amis et collègues, et ils ne leur viendraient pas à l'idée d'aller casser du PD pour s'amuser. Et pourtant ces mêmes gens ont toujours (inconsciemment) des modèles homophobes et racistes dans la tête qui leur font dire des choses homophobes ou racistes beaucoup plus régulièrement qu'on ne voudrait l'avouer. Et ce n'est pas sans conséquence.

Ce n'est pas une question de racisme ou d'homophobie individuelle. Pas foncièrement. (Ce qu'il ne veut pas dire que les gens ouvertement racistes ou homophobes n'existent plus.) C'est une question d'images, de symboles et de schémas culturels. Et si on arrêtait de s'accuser les uns les autres et de chercher à prouver qu'on est toujours le moins raciste/homophobe des deux, on pourrait être un peu plus productif et s'interroger sur les schémas racistes qui nous restent, à tous. Alors allons-y, avouons-le une fois pour toutes qu'on est tous un peu racistes. C'est plus facile d'essayer d'arrêter de l'être quand on a réussi à faire face à nos propres préjudices.

C'est un peu comme quand je traîne avec des francophones qui laissent échapper un "on est pas des tapettes" ou "c'est pas une pluie de tapette" et qui s'empressent de s'excuser ou de me dire 'sans vouloir te vexer' (ou autre). Clairement, je m'en fous qu'on s'excuse quand je suis dans le coin. Je ne crois pas non plus que les gens qui disent ça sont horribles ou homophobes ou quoique ce soit. Mais je voudrais - puisqu'ils ont déjà fait le premier pas de se rendre compte que c'était un peu la honte de dire ça quand je suis là - qu'ils réfléchissent à pourquoi est ce que c'est toujours une expression acceptable dans la langue française. Pourquoi est ce que des gens très bien éduqués à ne pas dire que les homos c'est quand même un peu moins bien que les hétéros laissent toujours échapper ce (sale) tapette?
greenie_breizh: (soci grad: painfully aware)
Some links:

- First, Obama and Bo running in the White House. The picture just makes me happy. :)

- A very interesting explanation by [livejournal.com profile] phaballa of what the Prop 8 decision says. It's an indispensable reading if you're interested in the issue, to make sure you understand the logic behind the decision.

-Following the decision on Prop 8 by the California Supreme Court, two attorneys have decided to take the case to the federal Supreme Court. I have ambiguous feelings about that, just because I'm also not sure that this is the best time to play that card. But we'll see. It needs to get to the Supreme Court first, anyway. I liked reading Corvino's opinion on the topic, in any case.

- Still following Prop 8, two pastors have decided to stop performing all weddings.

- Cheney has come out in favor of marriage equality. Yeah, that Dick Cheney. He also manages to say something important in a fairly offensive way, because, y'know, still Dick. But I think it's still a pretty significant declaration, and I'm curious to know what the reaction have been from Rush Limbaugh, etc. It's gotta be a hard blow for the ultra conservatives who adore him.

Moving away from Prop 8 for a second, two rather appalling links:

- On a 6th grader who was stopped from making a presentation about Harvey Milk because it was suspected of promoting gayness.

- On a high school in Georgia that still has a "white-only" prom. Plain scary and headdesk-worthy. (Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] shiraz_wine for the link.)

- And finally, "I am not Pro-Death", a story about abortion and working at an abortion clinic after having gone through it. (Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] queenspanky for the link.)
greenie_breizh: (everyday)
I'm still trying to get over my doubts from yesterday and the nervousness I feel because I think the project is turning into something very different from what I'd originally imagined in my head. I just need to convince myself that it's ok and I'll figure out the lit review and everything later. Basically originally I was interested broadly in how teachers teach, and I'm realizing that especially since I need to make the interview shorter, I'm really more interested in how the teachers teach and handle diversity and difference in the classroom.

Basically I'm still not sure what I'm doing. :/

So instead of freaking out, let me share a couple of funny links.
Cats can really sleep anywhere.
Cats fail and grad students.
(Funny but Dollhouse spoiler!) )

--

Now a few links stolen from [livejournal.com profile] le_canard.
The documentary Girl Like Me touches on how racism intersect with beauty standards. It's mostly bits of interviews with black girls who talk about how they've been made feel about their appearance. We often think that tastes are personal - so what if I like blonde better than brunette? It's a good reminder that tastes are also embedded in cultural bias and in Western nations, that means a certain racial bias, too.
The experiment featured at about 4 minutes is pretty heart-breaking and disheartening. It was reproduced recently and I don't know if I'd put quite the same positive spin on the story. I would love to try the experiment in France, but also to have white children do it, because I'm pretty certain patterns would differ.

And finally, in French, Mr. Haïdari who works at the City Hall in Marseille (he's assistant to the Mayor), talking about why he thinks it's important that we have racial statistics in France. The usual argument against such statistics - that they create racial categories that don't exist - is true in the sense that race is a social construct, but it blatantly ignores that this social construct has very real (psychological and material) consequences today in France (and beyond). Racial categories will never be perfect, but it's a better alternative (in my opinion) to pretending that there isn't a racial problem in France. These categories, we made them up, but today they influence the lives of people of color, and we have to stop ignoring that because it makes us uncomfortable.


That reminds me that this morning I was in a school and asked the head of the school (because he was showing me what kind of information students fill out every year) if he had any same-sex household that had a kid in his school. His first reaction was, "you know, it's none of my business" ("ça ne me regarde pas"). Which struck me as odd. Why would we want these families to be invisible? Is it that strange to imagine that teachers would know if their kids have a mom and a dad, one parent, two of the same sex? Under the excuse of giving people privacy, aren't we really playing into a system that assumes and favors heterosexuality? That's a rhetorical question, obviously. It's very telling that we ask kids to fill out information about their mother and father, but to ask if they have two moms or two dads is a breach of privacy.
greenie_breizh: (random4)
First, a gorgeous picspam of the end of Needs by [livejournal.com profile] syxstring. Obviously spoiler-y for that episode.

A really cool Chicago Tribune interview of Joss Whedon, mostly about Dollhouse. It goes into a lot of questions that have come up about the show.


...I can't believe I forgot that link in my previous entry. A really great post on racism in pop culture and political correctness. It talks specifically about the movie 300 but there's a lot there that applies way beyond that one movie. I like that it brings up the question of purposefulness, which reminded me of Robert Black's "It's not Homophobia but it Doesn't Make It Right" (unfortunately I've only had time to skim over it).
greenie_breizh: (identity)
Don't have time to work on my paper before I go out to lunch, so I wanted to share a few important links:

LJ comm [livejournal.com profile] rahmbamarama has been having an interesting and very necessary discussion about racism (and other forms of privilege). The original post itself contains a number of useful and important links for anyone looking to educate themselves about white privilege.

I originally came to this post and the fic through [livejournal.com profile] deepad's Open Letter to the Politfandom that is a MUST-READ not just for people who read and write in the Politfandom, but anyone who is ever going to think about Barack Obama and/or write/read original fiction that is based in the real world. Basically I think everyone should read it.

Once you're done, definitely check out [livejournal.com profile] color_blue's redrawing boundaries. It's frank and angry and a good reminder that oppressed minorities put up with a lot of shit on a daily basis and at the end of the day they're still the ones who are expected to give the "benefit of the doubt" to privileged individuals who have been too steeped in their privilege to see what they were doing all along. It's not an easy read and I can't quite describe my feelings about it but I think it's essential to read that side of the coin, too, not just the people who will put up with trying to explain and educate.

It's also a nice reminder that fandom is, like any other place, often safest for people with privilege.

I also need to share this video (original post here) that I all beg you to watch, because at some point you're going to be the one calling on someone for saying/doing something racist or being called on for saying/doing something racist:



Every time I do a post on white privilege and racism I think I really ought to say something myself rather than simply point to other people's posts, but I feel like I am still learning too much at this point. I feel like listening and pointing to things that make me think and help me feel more confident in my understanding of white privilege is more productive at this point, and I am less likely to say things I will later realize were pretty idiotic. I have enough of those already. :) I think one of the most important things I am learning is that, as someone who is privileged in a number of ways, when someone who is less so is expressing frustration and disappointment and trying to teach me something, the very least I can do is listen and avoid defending myself. Not because I'm not doing anything wrong, quite the opposite. But because, while I am implicated in the system of privilege that advantages me, it's not about me. It's also not about all my amazing middle-class white guys that I know and I'm proud to call my friends. Although it is often about what we do, unconsciously or not.

To finish, go read The Spoon Theory (found here originally) to think about disability and the privilege of being able-bodied.


EDIT: See also On racism, pop culture and political correctness.
greenie_breizh: (quote)
Throwing a bunch of random links at you:

- How to Suppress Discussions of Racism by [livejournal.com profile] coffeeandink.

- Prop 8 related: the SoliHairity Project, with photos of people I know (all the white backgrounds).
- Prop 8 related, 2: California's Attorney General on why it should be overturned.

- Un article du Monde sur une étude faite par le MAG sur les jeunes LGBT.

- An awesome-sauce interview by Joss Whedon (as usual) (for people outside the U.S. the transcription is beneath the video). Some of his answers literally made me laugh out loud.

"If you have a good idea, get it out there. For every idea I've realized, I have ten I sat on for a decade till someone else did it first. Write it. Shoot it. Publish it. Crochet it, sauté it, whatever. MAKE.
As for my success, well, I'm for it."

"The West fascinates me because it's the creation of culture and morality out off nothing but remnants. But it lacks spaceships! Solution: Firefly."

And of course: "DON'T TELL RHODE ISLAND."
greenie_breizh: (political)
We watched one of Stuart Hall's lectures tonight in class. Nothing ground-breaking, but beautifully articulate on issues of meaning-making and representation.

I also learned, not without surprise, that Stuart Hall is black.

It was funny - to realize I'd unconsciously been making that assumption we all tend to make, especially if we're white, because I've been reading stuff on LJ about cultural appropriation in writing and more generally white privilege and stuff, and it's frustrating, in a way, that I continue to make these assumptions. It makes me want to pay closer attention. Anyway, I wanted to share a few of the things I've been reading:

I Didn't Dream of Dragons and the continuation, more specifically addressed to white folks. A few selected passages that really spoke to me:

Do not tell me, or the people like me who have grown up hearing Arabic around them, or singing in Swahili, or dreaming in Bengali—but reading only (or even mostly) in English (or French, or Dutch)—that this colonial rape of our language has not infected our ability to narrate, has not crippled our imagination.

[...] Asking an author to write the Other with respect and assuming it to be sufficient, is like telling a person that being polite to everyone is sufficient in their goal of being an anti-racist ally. This is crap. Your definition of individuality, just like your definition of politeness is culture-specific.

[...] I distrust universalising statements proclaiming our inherent mutual humanity because they are uni-directional—they do not make everyone more like me, they make everyone more like you. And I do not want that.

[...] We are not used to throwing our abusers in jail after three strikes--we negotiate with our abusers being our bosses and television hosts and school teachers and peacekeeping forces and our clergy. When someone tells us we are wrong, we can't run away or banish them, we learn to live with them, and with ourselves.

[...] Decide whether you want to understand the critical lenses we use to deconstruct dominant narratives, and learn how to use them. This will probably be painful because it reveals feet of clay in dearly beloved books and authors. Is the cost worth the result for you? No one is saying there isn't still value in something offensive and flawed, but your line of tolerance may be different from someone else's. I found that, having once turned my critical reader on, I could not turn her off, and I am happy, on the whole, that this means that there are now books that I find unpalatable which previously I would have been able to enjoy.

(Also, frustrated because there was one good link that I can't find again. Will edit if I do.)


I also never got around saying on Tuesday just how fantastic it was to see so many African-Americans involved in the inauguration process, both in the proceedings and in the audience. I'm sure Obama will disappoint in some ways, but no matter what, he changed something big, and I can't help but smile at his image. Looking at this little girl's eyes, I feel like I won't ever be able to grasp the full extent of just how amazing it is that this biracial man is going to be everywhere for the next four years. (Not just him. All of them.)

Speaking of Obama and politics, much much win for his swift decision on Guantanamo (dude, he's left-handed, too? heee), and his support of Roe v. Wade today.

On that topic:
"I think what everyone ought to be interested in doing, whether they are or not, is reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies," Gandy told CNN. "Because if we reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, it will by definition reduce the number of abortions and reduce a lot of the pain and despair that has befallen women in these economic times, who cannot afford to enlarge their families when they don't have a job and they don't have a way to put food on the table for the kids that they have now."
THAT, yes.

To go back to Obama, how gorgeous is this B&W photo?

On this note, I will leave you with a beautiful photo and great moment. Not seeing / hearing about Bush anymore is going to be quite glorious, too.
greenie_breizh: (still life)
I was wandering at Safeway and I sort of realized/decided that this year I was going to try and consider organic food not only as a desirable option but as my default option unless it's really much more expensive. Small rant about consumption and organic food. )


Since I'm in that sort of reflective mood, have a short excerpt of Black Identities (by Mary C. Waters), a book I've just started for my methodology class. This is at the very beginning and I found this passage very insightful on the legacy of racial discrimination (in the context of the United States here but I think the insight goes beyond that):
While many white conservatives blame the culture of African Amercans for their failures in the economy, the experiences of the West Indians show that even "good culture" is no match for racial discrimination. Over the course of one generation the structural realities of American race relations and the American economy undermine the cultures of the West Indian immigrants and create responses among the immigrants, and especially their children, that resemble the cultural responses of African Americans to long histories of exclusion and discrimination.
greenie_breizh: (identity)
"See, if we can't notice color, if I'm not allowed to notice color, I'm not going to have a very easy time understanding or acknowledging the consequences of color."

If you're white, and ESPECIALLY if you feel concerned by racism, but even if you don't, I BEG you to watch this presentation by Tim Wise. I know it's an hour long. Every minute of it is worth it because this is something we don't talk about. Not in those terms, and it's extremely important that we do. That we understand what whiteness and white privilege is, that we understand what we gain from it and how it hurts us, because it does.

(People of color should also really, really watch this to familiarize themselves with the argument and because it's a really fascinating presentation. It's just that for white people it really should be close to an obligation.)

This, by the way, touches upon why I think France's approach of "we're all equal! we can't distinguish one another by skin color! this is racism!" is problematic at best. In the words of Time Wise (and to repeat the point made by the quote above) "if we're colorblind, we can't discuss white privilege". We need to acknowledge color so we can deal with the consequences.

Interestingly enough, this morning on [livejournal.com profile] metaquotes someone quoted [livejournal.com profile] nightengalesknd talking about the phrase 'I don't think of you as disabled' and why that's actually offensive to disabled people. It is the exact same mechanism at work here.

When we don't acknowledge difference and inequalities, it's always to the advantage of the dominant group.
greenie_breizh: (full of words)
Two things I wish I could talk about more than I'm going to, but my brain is not cooperating right now and I'm not going to be articulate, so there's no point. But I do want to mention both issues:

- Legislators in France are trying to make it possible to collect data concerning people's religion, ethnicity/race (but we hate the term "race" in French, it's too loaded with historical meaning), cultural background. This is causing an uproar in France as it's considered contrary to republican principles and a dangerous path to categorizing people. I've argued in the past that not collecting this data just makes it harder to have solid figures on discrimination and on the make-up on our population (which can help acknowledge new realities).

However, I find myself torn on the issue. SOS Racisme has started a petition against the practice, which you could find and sign here. "Je refuse l’idée que la lutte contre les discriminations et l’effort pour l’intégration suppose la création de catégories ethnoraciales." ("I reject the idea that fighting against discrimination and efforts for integration necessitates the creation of ethno-racial categories.") The question, of course, is, do those categories exist whether or not you say they do? There's no simple answer. Between integration and multiculturalism there's no true answer, both have their good and bad sides. So I just want to encourage you to think about it - think about your position on the topic. What does it mean to expect people to "integrate"? What are they integrating into, how do we expect them to juggle that with their other identities? What are the risks of multiculturalism? Are all practices truly equal? What if a society that becomes so obsessed with what differentiates its citizens that it forgets what unites them?


- The other thing is the WGA (Writer's Guild of America) strike. The writers went on strike on Monday at 0:01AM EST. They're marching tomorrow, and Jane Espenson will be there. Joss Whedon has come out and said he supports the strike, while Marti Noxon has signed a Variety ad by TV producers who support the strike. I believe this is an important struggle. I believe in a country like the United States where strikes are so rare, people who do make the huge decision to go on strike never make that decision lightly. While I don't understand all of the issues at stake here, I do believe that the writers understand them, and have good reasons to fight their fight. In a society that sinks deeper into reckless, unequal (but "compassionate") capitalism every day, I believe there is no such thing as privileged unionized jobs. There's only under-privileged non-unionized jobs. Those people might earn more than you do, but it doesn't mean their fight isn't right. It's not by running a race to the bottom that we will better ourselves.

My heart is with the writers. I hope that they come to a satisfying settlement soon and that people will be supportive. I would love to still be down in L.A. tomorrow to go show my support - so if you are, if you can, do it. Go talk to them, engage them in discussions, honk as you drive past. People who strike might look like they're only fighting for themselves, but they're not. They're fighting for something bigger than that. Never look at a struggle on its own - that's what the media wants you to do, but that's not how it works. It's all interrelated.

In the words of (amongst others) Alan Tudyk: power to the people, baby. Participatory democracy is our chance, so don't look down on those who act on it.
greenie_breizh: (gay)
I've talked at length about the same-sex marriage debate that's been going on in Massachusetts since the Supreme Court ruling in November 2003 that it was unconstitutional in the state of MA to deny same-sex couples the right to marry. Well, this is (hopefully) going to be the last post on the topic, at least as far as MA is concerned:
Today, MA lawmakers have finally rejected the possibility of putting an anti-gay amendment to the vote in the 2008 ballot. Proponents of the amendment can start rallying support again and try and put the vote on the ballot in 2012, but "with public opinion polls showing Massachusetts voters becoming increasingly comfortable with same-sex marriage it is considered unlikely any amendment would be approved."

Seems that same-sex marriage doesn't lead to the total destruction of society as we know it. Shocker.

I wish I'd been there demonstrating outside the State House. Would have been a lovely echo to 2004, and one that would end on a much more positive note, too. Now let's hope other states or the country as a whole can learn from this valuable lesson.

Anyway, while I'm on the issue, might as well spam you with it. Recently was the 40th anniversary of the Federal Supreme Court Ruling "Loving vs. Virgina" which ruled that denying interracial couples the right to marry was unconstitutional in the US. If you look into it, the whole interracial marriage struggle is eerily similar to the challenge same-sex couples are taking on today.

In the same spirit, I highly recommend visiting the website for Faith in America, a group that fights against religion-based bigotry. "Don't accept bigotry disguised as religious truth."

They have great posters to promote their ideas, all available in pdf form on their site:
- A simple history lesson
- Religion-based bigotry has been used by those who wanted us to believe...
- Christ and His Disciples confronted it centuries ago...
- Sexual orientation is not chosen.
- Whose standard?
- Do you know someone who's homosexual?
greenie_breizh: (together)
In an interesting twist of fate this morning, we were doing a double debate in a school : me and Christophe (who also has lots of experience) ended up with the quiet, overall very tolerant group while the two relatively new debaters ended up with the raucous, hostile group. Well, at least it was a good way for them to take things into their own hands without the safety net of an experienced debater by their side.

So anyway, the one thing that got a strong reaction from one quiet kid in our group was when Christophe mentioned he'd like to see a Disney movie featuring Prince Charming ending up with another Prince Charming. We ended up talking of diversity in movies for young audiences, and it got me wondering : Pocahontas aside, has Disney EVER presented an interracial couple? Or even just a black lead for that matter? Seriously, I've been trying to come up with something and I can't. They've had movies with "non-white" characters (Aladdin, Lilo & Stitch, Mulan), but apart from that? Not even mentioning gay characters, because I'm pretty certain that's never happened, even in a secondary role.

So anyway. I find that mildly appalling / terribly disappointing, since it's still the reference as far as young (I mean primary school) audiences go.


The other thing was that, in the group we didn't debate with, apparently there was a strong sense of homosexuality being a "Western disease" (since Fadi - who's Lebanese - is conducting another debate in that school on Friday, I'm assuming he's going to have fun dealing with that one). Racism in our suburbs )

Also no one had seen (a couple of them had heard of, but nothing else) Azur et Asmar, which is a terrible shame, because it's exactly the sort of movie that promotes multiculturalism for the young.


So, er, yeah. Sorry for the not-so-full-of-love Valentine post. Unfortunately, reality doesn't stop happening because we pretend it's all about love. And god, my friendslist being flooded with Valentine's Day-related posts? Just makes me glad we're in a country where it's not overdone, especially not in school.

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