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Category Archives: racism

I’m BAAAAAACK!

I’ve been away.  Not away, per se, but away from writing.  I took a writing break.  A pause.  There is no reason except to say I needed a break.  Maybe it’s because I write about social justice and sometimes you just need to take care of yourself.  Maybe I was overwhelmed with all the killing of black men and women.  Maybe my work was calling my attention.  Maybe I needed to be present for my stepmother’s cancer journey.  I can’t exactly pinpoint it, but I just couldn’t force myself to sit down and comment on the world.

I’m giving myself permission to take that break.  I wouldn’t have done that before going to an ACPA  (American College Personnel Association) Mid-Level Management institute a week ago.  It was there that I realized it was OK to take care of yourself.

So how do I make up for the last six blogs I haven’t written?  How do I comment on the strange that is our present moment in this world?  I can’t.  I can only try to look at the positive (one of my strengths, by the way) and hope that all this sadness is taking us to another level.  A recent poll stated that 60% of people were concerned about race relations in the U.S.  Three years ago, it was only 30%.  I think that is positive.  The more folks are concerned, the more they will, hopefully, begin to look inside themselves and uncover what their own biases and internal oppressions are.

I love this post by a colleague  The Perpetrator was Caught, but the Killer is Still at Large.  She says everything I think and feel and said years ago.  I wrote an op-ed in the local newspaper after the Jonesboro shooting in 1998.  17 years later, here we are.

Painful realities like this are the ones that call me to escape, to use my privilege and drive away, running to nature where you can feel protected from the hostility and hate in our world.  As much as I would like to do that, I know I am called, instead, to speak out against injustice and to educate others about it.

I was a witness and a participant last night at our First Year Orientation’s program by the Social Justice Institute.  It was moving and powerful.  I never expected that a group of almost 400 students could come together over their differences and similarities in a large group format like that.  The facilitator did an activity similar to the “Step Forward/Step Back” activity where he would read a slide and students would stand up if the slide resonated with them.  I was astounded by the numbers, students who spoke more than one language; students who grew up in homes with violence; students who knew someone who had attempted suicide; students who had attempted suicide.  That moment gave me pause.

What have we adults done to allow this world where so many young people are witnesses to violence and anguish?  I wanted to run through the crowd and hug everyone one of them and say “You are here now.  You are loved.”  But I can’t save any of them.  I can only continue to be a model and a guide.

How are you adding to the conversation to make this world a better place?

 

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Solidarity is for White Women: A Re-cap

This past week, via Twitter, originally started by blogger Mikki Kendall, the hashtag “solidarityisforwhitewomen” trended as a statement that white feminism leaves out women of color.  (History behind solidarity is for white women hashtag).  (NPR Story) The hashtag went global.  I picked up on this trending and then got to watch it and learn.  I recommend you search #solidarityisforwhitewomen, but I have included some great examples. 

This story is nothing new.  This dialogue was part of my education in Women’s Studies, that women of color did not have a voice at the so-called feminist table.  Women of color were left out of this very white “problem that has no name” movement.  Women of color were left out of the suffragist movement.  Look around the tables where you sit.  What do you see?  I see that we are still not doing a good job at being inclusive.  My workplace is a microcosm of the world.  There are very few women of color on our faculty, or men of color, for that matter. 

Many of the tweets include great examples from media and pop culture that reinforce white privilege, power and white supremacy.   As someone who considers herself a social justice critic of media, I know, as a white women, I notice sexism instantly, but I have to continue to push myself to see the racism. This hashtag, this trend, is asking white women to do just that.  Push yourself, learn, and LISTEN.  Actively listen. It was listening to my friend Cynthia that got me interested in the drama Scandal.  When I learned the history of how few black women had held the lead in a network drama, I was shocked and appalled. (My take on that subject). 

I often criticize an artistic director friend of mine for not producing enough plays by women and people of color.  His response is that he produces a lot of shows by gay men and that he “can’t cover every cause.”  This is the kind of non-intersectional thinking that we get stuck in and one that gets perpetuated in our society. Last year I decided I couldn’t subscribe to theatres who don’t make an EFFORT, even just the slightest effort, to diversify their seasons.  What does this mean?  It means I’m not supporting the arts with my dollars.  I’m picking and choosing what shows I see instead of subscribing.  It means I’m not watching much television today because I’ve become too wary of watching something that misrepresents people. So what else can we do as white feminists who want to eliminate racism and end white supremacy? 

When I was teaching Women’s Studies, one question I always asked my students was “what if the women’s liberation movement of the 70s and the civil rights movement of the 60s had joined up?”  What if groups representing oppressed people weren’t divided up and given pieces of a pie to share? 

Mikki Kendall has a great article in XOJane this week talking about next steps. 

What this hashtag trend has done for me is to challenge me to be even MORE intersectional in my work with student and in my own thinking.  We’re starting out the semester by doing a privilege worksheet to lay this stuff all out on the table at once.  We’re running a social justice media literacy conference and I’m asking all the presenters to keep an intersectional analysis of race, gender, class and sexuality as the foundation for all their talks/workshops.

And I’m looking in the mirror, constantly reminding myself to pay attention and to call out that misrepresentation wherever I see it:  the workplace, the media, and in the theatre.

Sexism and Racism and Classism, Oh My!

This past week has been one that in the words of my student “my parents did not raise me to be a queer feminist filled with the wrath of a thousand enraged dragons and yet here I am.”  Here we’ll recap all the awesome oppression taking place in a country which, on the cusp of it’s “birthday” still doesn’t get it.

Sexism:  I want to think this is internalized sexism, but it might include a little class privilege along with it. Serena Williams comments about the victim in the Stuebenville rape case were appalling. 
“Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people,” Williams said to Rodrick.” She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.” (quoted in http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/18/serena-williams-steubenville-rape-victim_n_3462519.html).  My question is why this topic was even being discussed in a Rolling Stone article. 

Sexism Two:  Texas.  My favorite quote by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, “Lawmakers, either get out of the vagina business or go to medical school.”  

Racism:  Cheerios put out a commercial with an inter-racial couple http://youtu.be/kYofm5d5Xdw.  Apparently inter-racial couples are controversial and there was so much hate speech about it that Cheerios disabled comments.  I continue to be amazed that in 2013 people actually have the balls to write out racist comments in public. Maybe I shouldn’t be shocked.  I get socialization, I get all the theory behind oppression but I don’t get people who hate. 

Racism Two:  Paula Deen. 

Classism:  Why does a millionaire sports figure like Aaron Hernandez decide to commit murder when he could afford to hire an anger management therapist? What a sad moment for young children who look up to athletes like him.

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