theradishpress

Friday, June, 19, 15

#blacklivesmatter

Filed under: Uncategorized — theradishpress @ 9:33 am
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Depayne Middleton Doctor, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, The Rev. Celementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, The Rev. Dr. Daniel Simmons Sr., Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson.

These are the nine people killed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, Wednesday, June 17.

Nine people. Nine African Americans. Murdered by a white man. Dylann Roof opened fire after apparently announcing the need to stop African Americans from raping “our” women and taking over the country.

As the story has been unfolding in the media, Dylann Roof is being presented as someone with a troubled mind and altercations in the past. Despite the fact that Roof blatantly targeted African Americans in an historical Black church, and authorities are calling his acts a hate crime, Roof is still being presented as some sort of wounded individual. Wounded by mental illness or a dark past. And, the most obvious words are not being stated by the authorities, that this is an act of racism. That Roof acted out of hatred for Black people. To call it what it is would require examining why. And examining why would lead to acknowledging that racism is still very present in the United States and that, according to this country, Black lives, in fact, do not matter.

Labeling Roof’s act a hate crime is also a very purposeful choice of words, South Carolina does not have any laws preventing or punishing hate crimes. As far as the state of South Carolina is considered, from a legal standpoint, Dylann Roof committed murder. Not murder prompted by hate or racism, just murder.

Roof’s arrest is being compared, by some, to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner (just to name two). Brown and Garner were brutally murdered by police officers despite the fact that both were unarmed and begged for their lives. Brown asked why he was being shot and Garner, who was choked to death, declared his inability to breathe. The recent death of Freddie Grey in Baltimore, who was killed while in police custody, is another example of how Black lives are taken by the people who are supposedly intended to protect and serve. Meanwhile, Dylann Roof was escorted to a police car wearing a bullet proof vest – for his protection.

Let us not forget Jonathan Ferrell. Ferrell, a young Black man, was killed by police in Charlotte, NC, not far from where Dylann Roof was arrested. Ferrell had crashed his car and after a white home owner would not assist him and rather called police, Ferrell was shot multiple times, and killed as he ran towards police disoriented and seeking assistance.

When will we, as a nation, acknowledge that racism is still very much a part of the United States experience? Will we? What if Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev’s bombing of the Boston Marathon had not been considered an act of terrorism? What if their attack had been referred to simply as a hate crime or as murder?

To call Roof’s attack an act of terrorism would mean involving the federal government. And involving the federal government would require some deeper analysis. It would require more attention, long drawn out attention that would last throughout the trial and sentencing. By keeping Roof’s actions locally based, this story can die in the mainstream media. The media can abandon it the second Kim Kardashian bats an eyelash or Brad Pitt takes a shit.

The terrorism enacted by Roof against Depayne Middleton Doctor, Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, The Rev. Celementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, The Rev. Dr. Daniel Simmons Sr., Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson, as well as the entire Black community, needs attention. It is up to us to keep calling out the names of those killed by the terrorist actions of Dylann Roof, the police, and the United States government. Senators, governors, the president – they can all talk about how sorrowful they are. They can all talk about gun control. They talk and talk. What they do not do is acknowledge the terrorism that is racism. They do not act.

Dylan Roof is 21. If racism were truly over, a 21 year-old would not sport confederate flags and think he has the right – the duty – to kill Black people.

Dylan Roof just did what he saw authorities doing. This country is systemically removing Black people from their homes, keeping them poor, and killing them. To call Roof a terrorist is absolutely what he is. To call this country terrorist is true too.

Let us not forget:

Rumain Brisbon, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Michael Brown, John Crawford III, Eric Garner, Yvette Smith, McKenzie Cochran, Jordan Baker, Miriam Carey, Jonathan Ferrell, Kimani Gray, Freddie Grey, Chavis Carter, Kendrec McDade, Shereese Francis, Wendell Allen, Alonzo Ashley, Aiyana Jones, Oscar Grant, Sean Bell, the list goes on.

And because there is already so much literal white washing of the terrorist attack and attention being given to Roof and his personal life , let us remember who was killed:

Depayne Middleton Doctor – Retired, 49 year-old mother of four.

Cynthia Hurd – Regional Library Manager for St. Andrews Regional Library.

Susie Jackson – 87 year-old member of the church.

Ethel Lance- Cousin of Susie Jackson, 70 year-old retiree.

The Rev. Celementa Pinckney – Emanuel AME Church’s pastor and a state senator. He has a long history of outreach with the Black community.

Tywanza Sanders – 26 year-old who was shot when trying to protect a family member. He recently graduated from Allen University.

The Rev. Dr. Daniel Simmons Sr. – 74 year-old pastor at Emanuel AME and also a graduate of Allen University.

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton – She was a mother of three, reverend, and high school track coach.

Myra Thompson – 59 year-old, and the third pastor of Emanuel AME.

Sources: The Root, CNN, Think Progress, Gawker

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Wednesday, May, 28, 14

MOVE into the Fire

Filed under: Uncategorized — theradishpress @ 10:32 am
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False trials bring forth their smiles

White men lie from brown podiums

refuse to speak without lies

their words are written as truth

MOVE, they say

or we’ll shoot.

MOVE, they say

and we’ll shoot.

Build a hearing and you will hear

more lies.

No one was wanted left alive.

They sit in suits with high ties.

They force calm words out from

bigoted lips.

MOVE, they say

into our li(n)es of fire.

MOVE.

 

Friday, February, 7, 14

12 Years a Slave

When the film ends – over two hours of a harsh reality I have never seen so blatantly exposed on a Hollywood screen – words come across the screen declaring that there is no knowledge of how, when, or where Solomon Northup died. There it is, the value of Black life in our society. Solomon Northup survived being drugged and sold into slavery, wrote his own story, and then worked as an abolitionist, only to be forgotten and swept under the proverbial rug. I began to think back on my public school education in Fairfax County Virginia – one of the wealthiest and (boasting) most diverse school districts in the United States. The topic of slavery was glossed over. There was never any room for debate – an agreed upon bad thing from our past, but there was never any examination of slavery and its impact on African-Americans and the entire country. 

While slavery was never up for debate in the classroom (I guess good job on that front teachers), there was a definite period – primarily in elementary school – when we were taught about Columbus, Ponce de Leon, and other colonizers as if they were heroes. If these men were heroes then presumably their actions were heroic. Thankfully, I was raised in a house where we were told the truth in regard to colonization – after all, I am from two heritages that have been colonized – and the subsequent genocide of indigenous tribes on North and South American soil, and then the slave trade. But still, that was my fortune at home – the school system made little effort to expose the horrors of colonization and slavery.

As I watched 12 Years a Slave I kept thinking about how important Northup’s story is. Steve McQueen does a brilliant job of not shying away from the brutality of slavery. And there are no white saviors. Yes, Brad Pitt portrays a man (Bass) who assists Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) in regaining his freedom, but when Bass is first introduced he uses the “n” word when speaking in reference to the enslaved men he is working with – at the same time, arguing with Epps (Michael Fassbender) over the immorality of slavery. Bass’ use of the word and hesitation at helping Northup set him apart as not a clear hero – too often stories about oppressions against people of color are told from a White perspective (Dances With Wolves, Geronimo, Cry Freedom), and the writers could have easily tried to make Bass a completely likable character. But this is Northup’s story, not Bass’, not Epps’, no one but his.

The film is a reminder of the ways in which slavery and the oppression of African-Americans is still so engrained in US culture. That Northup could not trust White people, the rifts created between Black and White women, pitting Black folks against each other, denying proper education and disenfranchising Black youth – all these experiences that Northup and other Black folks in the film endured, are in effect today as well. Yes, I know that Black folks are not in shackles, so don’t bother commenting that. And I know that there are people who would argue this point – White people, let’s be real – and ask for specific examples. The thing is, if you don’t know this to be the case and refuse to believe it, I have zero interest in engaging in a debate. There is nothing to debate. There are DC public schools that are a reflection of how our country values or devalues Black life and education, there is Trayvon Martin’s death and George Zimmerman’s current celebrity status, there is Miley Cyrus co-opting Black culture and identity along with a long list of other White pop stars, there is the fact that the majority of men in prisons are Black, and I could continue. But these are only the blatant discriminations, not even the micro-aggressions that occur on a daily basis. And as I stated, there is no debate.

When Mistress Epps (Sarah Paulson) throws the liquor bottle at Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o) I was so stunned by the pure cruelty of the act. As Mistress Epps’ jealousy of Patsey grew and violence toward Patsey escalated, I began to think about the layers of complexity within the story. There are moments of sadness for Mistress Epps – I was shocked at the sadness I felt for Mistress Epps, stuck in a marriage to a cruel man who has no interest in her sexually. Slavery and the constant rape of Black women by White men created animosity from White women, only the anger was directed at Black women. As if Patsey and other Black women had some say in the actions of these White men. That Mistress Epps’ rage was directed at Patsey and not her husband goes to show the depth and reach of racism. I was also reminded of the ways in which patriarchy prevails, pitting women against each other, while men remain without fault. 

Armsby (Garret Dillahunt) and Ford (Benedict Cumberbatch) were fascinating characters as well. tHe latter because he seems in some ways genuinely kind, but when it came down to it, he was just as scary as Epps. In some ways, a man like Ford is more terrifying because at least Epps was clear in his cruelty. There was no question that Epps could not be trusted. Ford seemed perhaps to have goodness to him, but ultimately, Ford only wanted to protect himself and refused to hear Northup’s truth. Ford also gave Northup to Epps. Armsby though, is the perfect example of White guilt and White supremacy. Armsby works the cotton fields along the African-Americans who have been enslaved. It is a reminder that poor White people were also subjected to some of the labors of slavery. Armsby, though, is not beaten and is publicly forgiven and shown kindness for doing a terrible job, while the African-Americans are whipped and beaten routinely. Armsby reveals to Northup – as he helps salve Northup’s lashed back – that he was once in charge of regulating slaves for a plantation owner. Armsby became a drunk and could not work, and was then sentenced to the cotton fields. Armsby tells Northup that the task of hitting another human takes its toll, which led him to drink. He said that some men buried the pain of it, and others drank it away. Armsby’s acknowledgment that his work was inhumane causes Northup to think he can trust Armsby with the task of helping him regain his freedom. Armsby’s quick betrayal is yet another reminder of White supremacy – Armsby saw a way to gain himself loyalty from Epps and get money from Northup. By the time Bass was on screen all I could think was “No, don’t trust him! He’s white!” 

When Bass came through for Northup I wondered at the casting of Brad Pitt. I could not help but think that as one of the producers Pitt would rather be in a favorable light. And I wondered at the extent to which White guilt can dictate actions. Did Pitt want to be a “good guy” in a film with so many horrible White characters? And can we blame him? I can’t say that I wouldn’t necessarily want the same. It made me wonder at Ejiofor and Fassbender as well. The former is an English native of Nigerian heritage and the latter a German native of Irish and German descent. This particular story is not native to their homes, but as Fassbender stated in his Daily Show interview, it is a universal and important story. Slavery was common in other colonizing parts of the world – it lasted longer in the United States, but not exclusive to it. And I wondered more at McQueen, a Black Englishman. Perhaps this story is best told from an outsider perspective. There is no desire to hide behind guilt or shame. The first McQueen film I saw was Hunger (starring Fassbender) about Irish nationals who went on a hunger strike under English imprisonment. I wondered at an Englishman telling this story, but upon realizing McQueen is Black my thought was “oh, he gets it. He knows what it’s like to be Othered”. The point is, Northup’s story, and the story of slavery in the United States is an important part of our history. It is part of what has shaped our nation, and we cannot ignore that fact. We cannot ignore the fact that its impact is prevalent. There are Black folks alive today who have relatives not that long dead who were enslaved, and there are Black folks alive today who lived under Jim Crow. To argue that slavery is a thing of the past is to diminish or straight out ignore the consequences of its existence. 

 

 

Tuesday, July, 14, 09

The Politics of Bruno

Filed under: a moment in my head,cinema — theradishpress @ 2:07 am
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by theradishpress

I liked Bruno. I am putting that out there. I think it is smart, crude, and funny. I do not think it is perfect, nor did I find Borat to be perfect, but both used humour to make some serious points, or point out some serious issues and problems. They both had their own issues, sure, but the nice thing about art is we can have conversations about the impact and meanings.

So, I went into Bruno with expectations and an understanding that my own political and social views would effect how I read the film. Things that I saw as humourous and proof that we live in a society rife with prejudice could be easily read by someone else as a cruel prank pulled on innocent and ignorant victims.

I noticed that myself and some Arab boys sitting in front of me in the cinema laughed pretty hard when Bruno interviewed two Jewish and Palestinian leaders, confusing Hamas with humus, and calling for Palestinians to return the pyramids to the Jews. In contrast, a scene I did not laugh much at was Bruno’s interview on a day-time talk show, The Richard Bey Show, about raising his African son as a single parent. The entire Bey audience were folks of African descent. As I watched and listened to the audience express serious concern over Bruno’s capabilities as a father to this child he claimed to swap for an iPod and named “a traditional African name” O.J., I could not help but feel saddened that they were not in on the joke. From my point of view, Cohen’s aim is to make fun of the trend to adopt, particularly by celebrities, and of children of color. But from the point of view of the audience, at least the majority of opinions that are revealed on camera, here is yet another white person literally co-opting a culture and life that is not his. One woman put it best by declaring the Bruno seemed to view his son as an accessory.

As I watched this scene I kept thinking that if it were an Iranian child and I were in the audience I would be pissed too. I would want to know who the hell this guy thinks he is. I also wondered afterward if there were African and African-American folks who watched that scene and laughed as much as I did when Cohen took his satire/documentary to the Middle East, or Middle Earth as he calls it.

When Cohen points out the prejudices and ignorance of white folks in the US I did not feel bad for them, save for one of the men he went hunting with. Showing up naked outside someone’s tent and receiving an angry response does not necessarily prove that the guy is homophobic. I know I would have freaked out. While other moments of dialogue and the man’s anger reveal his prejudice, that scene in and out of context brings some sympathy for me. I even felt bed for Ron Paul for a hot second. Then he proceeded to call Bruno a queer.

Cohen, no matter how one feels about him, does also deserve credit for being a great method actor. The fact that he can maintain his characters for so long, without missing a beat, is amazing. He kept Bruno going for premieres and interviews. It is a great publicity stunt for sure, but aren’t all actors acting at all times anyway? Aren’t they all just performing for us, the audience, and the cameras? Why not have some fun with it. Why not create totally different personalities. The level to which Cohen commits is awe inspiring. Not to mention the fact that it helped his movie get the number one box office spot, so hey, he wins. The joke is on all of us. We have all fallen for his antics.

The thing with documentaries is that they are still films that follow a story line. There are scholars who argue that they are no more real than a fictional film. Christopher Guest has been making fake documentaries for years, and he is good at it. Borat and Bruno combine reality with fiction, and ultimately there is someone directing and someone editing and someone selecting costumes and music and setting up lights and audio and all the things that make a movie. so is Cohen just more honest about the fact that things are scripted? Is he challenging viewers to find out what is actually real and what is not? Maybe it’s all scripted. Maybe Richard Bey was in on it. Maybe the ex-gay minister was too. Maybe he was an actor. Maybe the hunters knew exactly what they were getting into. Aren’t movies all about suspending disbelief anyway?

Is arguing that Bruno is all scripted an easy way to ignore that very real problem that homophobia exists? And not just homophobia. Cohen makes a point, as he did with Borat, to address racism as well. It is not as blatant, and perhaps easier to brush aside in this movie, for those who care to not confront it, but the adoption of an African child, his (Bruno’s) blatant ignorance of Jewish and Arab cultures, and his constant references to Hitler, are all examples of racism. Most of which go unchallenged, particularly by white folks. To say that Borat and Bruno are simply scripted fictional films makes ignoring things like homophobia and racism a lot easier. That way, we can tell ourselves, these are all actors. They are reading lines and being told what to say and how to perform. That way, we never really have to have a serious conversation. That way, we can argue, it’s just a comedy.

Thursday, April, 24, 08

The Bubble/Ha Buah

Filed under: a moment in my head — theradishpress @ 12:04 pm
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I watched The Bubble last weekend with KJ. My interest in it is that it is about an Israeli solider and Palestian who fall in love. And it is a gay love story. So, I thought, considering that Israelis and Palestinians generally seem to be able to come together on one issue, their dislike for gays, this movie may have some good things to say about conflict, fighting for rights, fighting for life, etc. I thought, “this movie is already going against the grain, maybe it will have some radical ideas.”

So, Ashraf, the Palestinian, and Noam, the Israeli, meet at a checkpoint. Maybe it is my own internalized oppression, the images I see on the media, words I hear, maybe it was that I am a seasoned movie viewer. I knew the moment I saw Ashraf what would happen. But before I get to that, let’s discuss some of the other bobo things in the movie. (I say discuss, because there are spaces for comments, though this clearly is just me at the moment…anyway).

Ashraf gets into Tel Aviv and meets Noam – Noam had dropped his identification card. Ashraf wants to remain in Tel Aviv, but must be there illegally. Noam’s ahole roommate agrees to get AShraf a job at his coffee shop, but with a Jewish name and the agreement that everyone pretends he is Jewish. So, why is Noam’s roommate an ahole? Let’s see, first off, he constantly talks about not wanting to be political. First off, you live in a fucking political world, and an area of the world that is entirely run by politics. (anyone who says they do not like to talk politics or don’t care about it, well, too bad, you are in it no matter what). Also, Noam’s roommate clearly does not like Ashraf or Palestinians at all. Noam’s other roommate is involved in politics. She is a leftist and she and her leftist friends are planning a Rave for Peace. Apparently getting high and dancing to trance music will bring peace to Israel and Palestine.

The thing is, none of them really defend Ashraf or Palestinians at key moments. For example, they meet another Israeli soldier at a bar who says something against Palestinians and Noam responds with “Oh, yeah, well, we all hate Arabs” while patting Ashraf on the shoulder. Really?! I mean, I get that you are trying to keep Ashraf from being found out, but really?! And it is not even addressed later on.

Also, how about the fact that Noam’s friends are developed. They are given some sort of character, some dimension. Even his roommate’s boyfriend is developed enough for the viewer to gain some sort of understanding of him. Ashraf’s family and brother-in-law on the other hand are completely flat. His brother-in-law is just angry and all we see of his sister is preparation for a wedding and her hate for Ashraf’s true identity when he outs himself. Every other Palestinian character is simply window dressing.

A huge point is made by Ashraf that he is distancing himself from his brother-in-law’s fanatic ways. Clearly, his brother is part of some sort of resistance. I guess fighting for your life is not important to Ashraf. And to make him likable the director and writer felt he needed to be not political as well. In fact, he isn’t even developed as well as Noam. Even Ashraf’s sister talks against her new husband’s fundamentalism. “And he swore he would stop when we got married.”

So, here is the best part. What I knew was going to eventually happen. After Ashraf’s sister is killed by accidental fire and Ashraf has already accepted the fact that he cannot be out to his family, he decides to take his brother-in-law’s place as a suicide bomber. Yup, of course. I guess all Palestinians are crazy, right? I guess they are all evil, right? I mean, this just proves the suspicions of everyone, but Noam. So, what is the moral? The moral is, do not trust Palestinians.

Ashraf blows himself up in front of th cafe he worked in, oh and right next to Noam, so they die together. How romantic. Meanwhile, Noam and his ahole roommate have already had a discussion about how they have never hooked up because they are the best of friends and soulmates, blah blah blah. So as soon as Ashraf blows himself and Noam up, cut over to roommate who feels a sudden sharp pain and KNOWS there is something wrong.

This movie was terrible. It was stereotypical and angering. It is racist. It is bullshit. Way to keep feeding into those lies.

Tuesday, April, 22, 08

elections and lies

Filed under: a moment in my head — theradishpress @ 10:31 am
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I do not like Obama distancing himself from Pastor Wright. That is proof that he is like every other politician, only trying to save his own ass. Maybe he really does disagree with Wright, but to refer to him as his “former” pastor in regards to what Wright said, just seems like Obama is acting as is expected.

Frankly, I do not see what is wrong with what Wright said. One of the biggest problems with this country is the lack of accountability. Take some fucking responsibility for the atrocities that have taken place. Own up to them. Why was I not officially taught about the prison camps Japanese were put in to until I was a junior in high school? Why was I taught that people like Columbus, De Gama, Cortze, etc were heroes? Why was I taught that groups like the Black Panthers and American Indian Movement are terrorist groups? Thankfully, I was getting better history lessons at home. I recently watched The Good Shepard and that movie confirmed for me that I am not crazy. I do not trust this government, and there is no reason I should. I was born into enemy blood and am at risk.

Why. That is the question that this country fails to ask. When I say “this country” I mean the government and those citizens who refuse to ask questions and take accountability. Let’s ask why Pastor Wright said what he said? Why is he angered by the United States? Why? I believe he was sharing his truth. (Also, if at this point people watching TV are not aware that things are edited and distorted…idiots.)

The US government has failed to ask why with regards to the September 11th attacks. And in so doing, encouraged US citizens to ignore that question as well, while this government wages war, more like enacts genocide, upon Afghans and Iraqis. Don’t worry North Korea and Iran, you may get your turn soon.

“Why” is an important question. But it is not encouraged at all. Ever. I remember as a child being told not to ask too many questions. Well, sorry fuckers, I always have and that is *why* I am not voting. That is why I do not trust anyone. That is why I used to have nightmares that this government took my father away and imprisoned our whole family. Not just me and my siblings and mother, extended family as well. (Yet again, Good Shepard confirming a lot of those fears).

I was watching some of the Clinton/Obama debate the other night. First off, I could not help but think of Black Bush from Chapelle’s Show when he keeps saying “you’re skirtin’ from the real issues.” So much time of the Clinton/Obama debate was spent on discussing things each of them has supposedly said about the other, lies about their past, Pastor Wright, etc. They were not being drilled on issues like the war, education, health care. Maybe they got around to that. My blood was already boiling. I will say this, Obama at least tried to move conversation away from personal attacks. Clinton seemed to really relish the opportunity to talk shit, particularly in regards to Pastor Wright.

Again, what is wrong with what Wright said? Of course he is being called anti-American and racist. White people love to call non-white people racist. They love to find the opportunity for some sort of mistreatment by an African-American or Asian or whoever, just so they can pull the classic “reverse racism” bullshit. First off, let’s not forget that there are African-Americans alive today who lived through the whole “separate but equal” crap. Let’s not forget that slavery did not end that long ago. Let’s not forget that 10 years ago James Byrd was dragged to his death in Jasper, Texas. Let’s not forget the Jena Six. And these are only a few of the things done against only one group of people by the United States. Would you care for me to go on about acts committed against the Sioux, Navajo, Pawnee and other tribes? Would you care for me to go on about United States colonialism past and present?

White people do not like to be called out on their racism. They do not want to discuss the things of the past as if they are still relevant to the present and future. But they are. And anyone who has suffered any sort of trauma knows that. Why, for example, did I fear that my family would be imprisoned and my father taken away? I was raised with the knowledge that this country had abused Iranians and Muslims and that we were not welcome here. I was raised with the experiences of my parents. And then, of course, I got a taste for the hatred myself. I was discriminated against by other kids and adults. Maybe because they were also raised with the experiences of their parents. These cycles have to stop. Educating ourselves is one way to do that. Though, I mean this in regard to passing on hate. Passing on mistrust of the US government and passing on mistrust of white people for people of color is not necessarily a bad thing. It is necessary for all of the Others to be able to navigate in this society and survive. And in order to do so, being educated is key. Mistrust is one of the things I was educated in. And maybe, ultimately, in order for there to be true change, this also needs to stop. But I need to see a greater effort from those in places of privilege. I need to see reason for me to let my guard down.

And I have. I have met some truly righteous white people in my life, who work to end racism, classism, and all the isms that have made this country the hot mess of empirialism that it is. And I know that there are some white people who are going to read this and get upset and say “that’s not me!” Well, if it’s not you, ten great. But that is one of the mistakes made by white people, myself included (let’s not forget, again, I am half-white, even if throughout my whole life I have not been treated as such). We distance ourselves from other white people, from those whose ideas and ideals go against our own, particularly when they enforce white patriarchy. But white people cannot keep turning their backs. White people need to stay in the conversation, as NCBI loves to say. Racism is not just an issue for people of color.

Friday, April, 11, 08

Stuff white people like

I had a good conversation with MR about the blog stuffwhitepeoplelike.com. Overall, I find the blog funny. MR finds it irritating and does not like being boxed into categories and having stereotypes perpetuated. MR also said that MR is able to relate to some of the things, but stuffwhitepeoplelike makes various activities, ideas, interests, etc seem fake and boring. It takes the energy and life out of them.

I told MR one of the reasons I find the blog funny is that to me it is like sweet sweet revenge. I am glad MR finds it frustrating to be placed in a box, to be stereotyped, welcome to the world of not being white. I gave the example of being asked to represent ALL Iranians and/or ALL Muslims in different settings. I have been in classes where the one black person is asked to represent ALL black folk.

So, if this blog infuriates some white folk, or makes them step back with frustration at being placed in a box, great. But then there is the responsibility of taking that feeling, that knowledge, and doing something with it.

I told MR that I know MR is smart enough to figure out why it is infuriating, MR said it them self. They do not like stereotypes being encouraged, particularly when there are people who work hard at combating stereotypes.

I liked MR’s point about stuffwhitepeoplelike make things seem fake, because I think that stereotypes have that power. They take an entire group of people and no matter if the generalization is “positive” (in quotes, cause really, it’s still BS) or negative, this group is now no longer human, but a huge clump or mass identified by their supposed actions, beliefs, ideals, etc. There is absolutely a falseness to it. Stereotypes remove the human, the individual, from their own actions and words.

The thing with stuffwhitepeoplelike is that I do not get the sense that its purpose is to bring about social change. It is more of a let’s make fun of ourselves sort of a thing…in fact, there is an element of hipster humour to it. The “oh look how ironic and cool I am” sort of humour. The “I can say (insert racist, homophobic, sexist, classist remark here) that because I know it’s not true” sort of humour. Meanwhile, the majority of hipsters are rich white kids who have no idea what it feels like to be placed into a box simply because of your race.

No white person is ever asked to speak on behalf of all white folk. (Maybe we should all visit, or re-visit, Peggy McIntosh).

It has been almost two years since I have removed my scarf. Not once when I wore it was I treated as if I were white, certainly not by white folk. I remember in elementary school I tried real hard to get those kids to believe I was half Irish-American and half Iranian. But I was a liar, as far as they were concerned. As I stated in an earlier post, I am privy to things, to privileges, I was not before.

Sometimes I feel like I abandoned myself and my people. Sometimes I feel like I have pushed myself even further away.

I can’t help but feel glad that there is some annoyance at stuffwhitepeoplelike. It doesn’t feel good being boxed in with everyone else, especially when everyone else means people like George Bush, Paul Wolfowitz, and Donald Rumsfeld (seriously, that man has the most evil face I have ever seen).

I can only hope that if anyone else is annoyed, like MR, they understand why.

Also, for what it’s worth, there are a lot of things on that blog that I relate to. The funny thing is, like MR, I felt a slight bit of annoyance at first. For me, it was more, I don’t want to be grouped with the very people that have treated me like shit my entire life and are killing my people right now. Only, I am half white….so, I need to get the fuck over myself and my privilege.

And, as I told MR, from the outsider perspective – to which MR responded that I am a “honky.” For once, some white person acknowledges my whiteness and I get called a honky. – there are certain things I related to. For example, there is a post about white people loving to tell poor people how to live their lives. I related to that in the sense that it reminded me of this person B who used to tell me and a fellow Iranian how we, as Middle Easterners, should react to Middle Eastern representation in film and television. Apparently me and this other Iranian were not supposed to laugh at the false representation, but get angered. Thank you for telling me how it feels to be called a terrorist. Thank you for enlightening me on my own oppression.

Anyway…clearly all this is still fresh in my mind. Frankly, I don’t want it to ever not be.

Wednesday, April, 9, 08

sometimes NY makes me angry

Filed under: a moment in my head — theradishpress @ 10:49 am
Tags: , , , , ,

Chris Mann was right. Missing some morning writing sessions made me feel not so good. I have been pretty exhausted with work and now with trying to find people to take our apartment and a place for me. Writing would most likely have helped.

The evil eye has such a hold over me that I was not sure if I should even post about apartment hunting, in case some negative influence prevented things from happening. Awesome.

Mind you, I am not ashamed of my knowledge of the evil eye. I almost said belief, but it’s not just a belief, I have seen it work.

(Side note: Bot Cat is chewing on his cat tower. I think he wants me to think he is hungry. How can I think he is hungry when he is sitting there like the beached seal that he is, eating his tower?)

Some cool people came to look at our place last night and seemed really interested.

I am tired of NY and I thought I found a place on my first outing, but I am already being dicked around, which is great. If I could afford this place, or stand living with some stranger I find on craigslist, I would stay here. First off, it is convenient to not have to move. Secondly, I like this neighbourhood a lot. Third, overall, I like the apartment.

As much as I do not trust people, and sort of Good Will Hunting my way through life, I am amazed at the level of dishonesty there is when it comes to housing in this city. I thought finding the Arlington house was a pain in the ass. Compared to this, that was fucking easy.

I am also amazed at Girl Cat’s ability to lick her own ass.

I have only just started, well, I have been looking on craigslist for about a month now, but I only just started seriously looking. However, it’s all coming back, the hot sticky trip we took up here with Mom and then the following one with Matt Reilly. The small places, gross places, overpriced places, crazy landlords, hard to find places.

I saw quite the shit-hole yesterday. I threw the landlord, Mohammad, off by saying As-Salaam-alaikum. That’s right, don’t fuck over one of your own. But, that would be inevitable. He wants $800 for a place that is worth maybe $500. Maybe. Though, I don’t know that I would live there if I were paid to.

….

I am done with apartment talk for now.

Yesterday some dude came in to the office and was waiting for a meeting. My co-worker, S, came back from whatever meeting she was at (I swear nothing gets accomplished when people are forced to be in fucking meetings all day every day) and said to him something along the lines of: You emailed me, I am S, not F.

Dude tried real hard to act like he knew who she was and that he made a mistake and was sorry.

I IMed L, trying to hide me laughter, that it was so clear the guy didn’t know who she was and fucked up, but couldn’t admit it. When L said S was pissed earlier I told her I would be too. Not only did he not know her name, he of course mixed her up with another Middle Eastern woman. Which, according to L, is exactly why S was pissed. So, I jokingly emailed S that I could call her Behesheth if she wants, or any other Iranian name.

Turns out, dude has worked with S for 5 years…and she taught his son. Awesome.

But there is more to it than his racism. Which by the way, let’s not kid ourselves, sefeeds never see that as racism. And this is why racism and white privilege go unchecked so often. There is sexism and classism here too. S is a woman, so why should he care. S also works in a lower level position than him, so why should he care. I am willing to bet that dude has a PhD too. It has been my experience in higher education that most people with PhDs, especially those in administrative positions, walk around with their heads shoved so far up their asses, and have had them up there for so long, they really do think that their shit don’t stink. But no, sir, you and every other fucking racist, sexist, homophobic, classist, PhD wielding asshole out there are a major problem, and reason for the suckiness that is higher education.

Also, wordpress refuses to acknowledge classism and classist as correctly spelled words. I even went to dictionary.com to make sure I was spelling them correctly.

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