Renee brings the awesome with this passionate, inspiring must-read post on patriarchy, culture, and ‘the cycle of victimology’:
While I am certainly not in the position to judge another on the coping mechanisms which they employ to survive our racist, patriarchal culture, I do know that we need to be conscious of why we take on certain labels and how the interpretations of others impacts our decisions. Allowing another to discern and control what the issues that effect our lives entail is nothing more than a form of submission in the guise of owning victimology.
We are more than what someone does to us. Each day when we wake, we make small decisions that have the potential to lead to great change. It is because we have been understood as powerless that these actions continually fail to merit the respect that they deserve. We can actively choose not to participate in conversations in which we have been declared unwelcome, or we can kick the door down and demand our voices be heard. This is not the action of a militant, but the actions of a person that refuses to be the eternal victim so that others may patronize our struggle. To be active is the difference between freedom and submission.
We are more than what someone does to us.
As they say, read the whole damn thing.
Go on, read it.
The Senate Labor committee postponed [Hilda] Solis’ nomination yesterday because of a recent USA Today report about her husband’s outstanding California tax liens. (NOTE: it was her husband’s auto repair business, not anything to do with Solis herself.) Though the tax liens have since been repaid, Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and his Republican cohorts are still delaying the confirmation vote, claiming they need to investigate Solis’ involvement with American Rights at Work (ARAW), a pro-labor non-profit. But this really boils down to the GOP’s inherent fears over the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill Solis co-sponsored in the House that would enable workers to unionize more easily and negotiate for equitable wages and benefits and safer working conditions.
Solis might understand the needs of workers better than anyone in Congress. There’s no question she could help ensure President Obama’s plan to create 3.6 million jobs by next year actually happens. We must fight like hell to get her approved. Join this Facebook page and help confirm Hilda Solis now. Then, sign American Rights at Work’s petition to support the Employee Free Choice, where you snag their Employee Free Choice widget for your own personal blog.
For Immediate Release: Dated December 27, 2008
Another Transgender Woman Shot in Memphis
On Christmas Eve, a Memphis television station reported the shooting of Leeneshia Edwards in Memphis. She becomes the third transgender woman shot in Memphis in just six months. At last report, Leeneshia is in critical condition. We extend our hopes and prayers to Leenashia for a speedy recovery.
We also ask for anyone with any information about this latest crime to call Memphis Crimes Stoppers at (901)528-CASH.
The shooting of Leeneshia Edwards helps shed light on a disturbing trend in Memphis. Transgender women who work in the sex industry in order to survive are now being targeted by a pervasive culture of violence.
The indifferent attitude of law enforcement towards the February 16, 2006, murder of Tiffany Berry, and the February 12, 2008, beating of Duanna Johnson by Memphis Police Department officers, has sent a message that the lives of transgender people are not important. This has fed the culture of violence that has permeated the second half of 2008, and is exemplified by the July 1 murder of Ebony Whitaker, the July 28 murder of Dre-Ona Blake, a two year old girl who was killed by the man who had previously been charged with the murder of Tiffany Berry, but was allowed to walk free for two and a half years, the November 9 murder of Duanna Johnson, and now the shooting of Leeneshia Edwards.
This open season on transgender people in Memphis and elsewhere, regardless of whether or not they engage in sex work, must come to an end right now.
We call on business people who refuse to hire transgender people to open their doors immediately to transgender workers so there are alternatives to working on the streets.
We call on shelters that routinely turn away transgender people who are seeking help, to open their doors so that transgender people do not have to live on the streets.
We call on religious leaders who preach intolerance towards crossdressers and transsexuals from the pulpit to cease immediately and begin preaching messages of love and acceptance of diversity.
We call on political leaders of all parties to stop campaigning against transgender people and start supporting fully inclusive employment non-discrimination and hate crimes legislation to show that the lives of transgender people have value.
The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition (TTPC) is an organization designed to educate and advocate on behalf of transgender related legislation at the Federal, State and local levels. TTPC is dedicated to raising public awareness and building alliances with other organizations concerned with equal rights legislation.
For more information, or to make a donation, contact:
Update: Renee, bumped from comments:
What bothers me most about this is the way in which these acts of violence and murders are ignored. When I wrote about this issue I focused on the race aspect. Trans women of color are being targeted. At remembering our dead over 65% of the women listed are of color. I want to know where the hell the NAACP is. I want to know where the hell NOW is. When are we going to decide that these women matter?
bfp (who, due to technical issues at her pad, is once again guesting @ elle’s place) takes a look at race, feminism and how some have framed the complicated (and at times contentious) familial relationship between Alice and Rebecca Walker.
In October 2007 people all over the United States gathered physically and in spirit to speak out against violence against women of color. Some of us wore red all day and explained that we were reclaiming and reframing our bodies as a challenge to the widespread acceptance of violence against women of color. Some of us wrote powerful essays about why we were wearing red and posted them on the internet. Some of us gathered with bold and like-minded folks and took pictures, shared poetry and expressed solidarity.
This year, on the first anniversary of the Be Bold Be Red Campaign, we invite you to make your bold stance against the violence enacted on women and girls of color in our society visible. In D.C., Chicago, Durham, Atlanta and Detroit women of color will be gathering to renew our commitment to creating a world free from racialized and gendered violence, and this time, we’ll be using a new technology called CyberQuilting to connect all of these gatherings in real time. To learn more about CyberQuilting, which is a women of color led project to stitch movements together using new web technologies and old traditions of love and nurturing, visit www.cyberquilt.wordpress.com.
This letter is an invitation for you and yours to participate in a gathering in your city on Thursday, October 30th that will be webcast to similar gatherings in other cities. We are calling on you because we recognize and appreciate the work that you and the organizations you work with are doing everyday to make this a more loving and less violent world for women and girls in oppressed communities. Please join us on October 30th so that other warriors in this struggle can be strengthened and affirmed by the energy of our collective ferocity! Also we will upload the video of the video conference on this website on October 31, 2008 so that everyone can see what happened during video conference.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said, in the course of covering the Obama candidacy, and I’m paraphrasing,
” He (Barack Obama) brings none of the ‘ bad stuff’, you know?”
By ‘Bad Stuff’, he meant the legacy of enslaving Africans in this country and then keeping them as second-class citizens until 1965, a mere 11 years before this country celebrated its 200th anniversary. So, for 189 years from its official founding as a country, and tack on another 150 years pre-Revolutionary War, and you’ve got the ‘ Bad Stuff’ done to people of African descent. You know, ‘the original sin’, or ‘ the birth defect’, as Condi Rice called it.
But, guess what…..despite being ‘ oh so smart’ by supporting Barack Obama, the ‘Bad Stuff’ smacked White America in the face.
First, with the revelation that his White Side was still involved in ‘the bad stuff’ (slavery), only as SLAVEOWNERS.
I had a good chuckle on that.
But, also, he comes home every chance he can, to ‘the bad stuff’.
To the ‘ Bad stuff’ wife and ‘ Bad stuff’ children he had with said wife.
And there it is: the 400 years of ‘ Bad stuff’, wrapped up in Michelle Obama.
When that came to me on the elliptical machine this morning, it all made sense.
Michelle Obama is a direct threat and lightening bolt against White Superiority.
Because, she’s Black…
But, does not, in any way, shape, or form, contour to the acceptable Black Pathologies that enable White Supremacy to sigh with relief.
What I noticed about the video (aside from the cops jerking a young woman off a public bus and injuring her for a damned finger sign) was how police brutality has led us to be always ready to assume the defense. Her mother stated over and over that her daughter was “good” and wasn’t a “criminal.” She’d never been in any trouble. She theorized that the police officers’ actions were a manifestation of the problem” LBPD has with young, black lesbians.
Renee also has it exactly right:
If the people who are supposed to be upholding the law, daily violate the law, then we have no law. What we have is a masquerade of justice wherein certain bodies matter, and others are only considered to the extent that can be exploited, and marginalized.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, “assaulting a police officer” is an Orwellian synonym for ‘disobedience’, as manifested in this specific instance by Ms. Patton not showing appropriate fealty towards, as Elle puts it, “the power of the uniform.” And, these days, that’s a hollow, impotent power, devoid of any earned respect or authority to bolster the legitimacy of those who wear the uniform. I mean, really, would a goddamn bird-flip warrant such a horrifyingly disproportionate response unless the officers who got dissed didn’t feel obligated to subsequently assert and affirm their dominance–to demand obedience–by force?
Attorney Sophia A. Nelson on Michelle Obama and being an accomplished black woman in contemporary American society:
Sad to say, but what [Michelle] Obama has undergone, though it’s on a national stage and on a much more prominent scale, is nothing new to professional African American women. We endure this type of labeling all the time. We’re endlessly familiar with the problem Michelle Obama is confronting — being looked at, as black women, through a different lens from our white counterparts, who are portrayed as kinder, gentler souls who somehow deserve to be loved and valued more than we do. So many of us are hoping that Michelle — as an elegant and elusive combination of successful career woman, supportive wife and loving mother — can change that.
“Ain’t I a woman?” Sojourner Truth famously asked 157 years ago. Her ringing question, demanding why black women weren’t accorded the same privileges as their white counterparts, still sums up the African American woman’s dilemma today: How are we viewed as women, and where do we fit into American life?
“Thanks to the hip-hop industry,” one prominent black female journalist recently said to me, all black women are “deemed ‘sexually promiscuous video vixens’ not worthy of consideration. If other black women speak up, we’re considered angry black women who complain. This society can’t even see a woman like Michelle Obama. All it sees is a black woman and attaches stereotypes.“
Black women have been mischaracterized and stereotyped since the days of slavery and minstrel shows. In more recent times, they’ve been portrayed onscreen and in popular culture as either sexually available bed wenches in such shows as the 2000 docudrama “Sally Hemings: An American Scandal,” ignorant and foolish servants such as Prissy from “Gone With the Wind” or ever-smiling housekeepers, workhorses who never complain and never tire, like the popular figure of Aunt Jemima.
Even in the 21st century, black women are still bombarded with media and Internet images that portray us as loud, aggressive, violent and often grossly obese and unattractive. Think of the movies “Norbit” or “Big Momma’s House,” or of the only two black female characters in “Enchanted,” an overweight, aggressive traffic cop and an angry divorcée amid all the white princesses.
On the other hand, when was the last time you saw a smart, accomplished black professional woman portrayed on mainstream television or in the movies? If Claire Huxtable on “The Cosby Show” comes to mind, remember that she left the scene 16 years ago.
The reality is that in just a generation, many black women — who were mostly domestics, schoolteachers or nurses in the post-slavery Jim Crow era — have become astronauts, corporate executives, doctors, lawyers, engineers and PhDs. You name it, and black women have achieved it. The most popular woman on daytime television is Oprah Winfrey. Condoleezza Rice is secretary of state.
And yet my generation of African American women — we’re called, in fact, the Claire Huxtable generation — hasn’t managed to become successfully integrated into American popular culture. We’re still looking for respect in the workplace, where, more than anything else, black women feel invisible. It’s a term that comes up again and again. “In my profession, white men mentor young whites on how to succeed,” a financial executive told me, but “they’re either indifferent to or dogmatically document the mistakes black women make. Their indifference is the worst, because it means we’re invisible.”
As they say, read the whole damn thing.