The first known successful and self-governing black community in the Americas was the town of San Lorenzo de los Negros de Cerralvo, which was established in Mexico in the 17th century by Gaspar Yanga, a leader of a slave rebellion. A former member of the royal family of Gabon, he successfully led a band of revolting slaves near Veracruz around 1570, fleeing to the difficult terrain of the…
An Iranian channel ran a story about how a certain kind of martial arts is enjoying increasing popularity among Iranian women. This means that a) Iranian women have rights, b) Iranian women can access the public sphere, c) Iranian women participate in organized, public sports, and d) an Iranian government news channel has no problem with any of this.
Faced with these facts, the Western media panicked: some news agencies resorted to the stereotype of Iranian women as veiled, militant fanatics; others opted for infantilizing portrayals of suffering women using martial arts as their only escape. Can you imagine any self-respecting Western reporter writing a story that explained, unprovoked, the popularity of karate among girls in suburban Los Angeles by citing America’s high rates of sexual assault? Additionally, few bothered to mention that recently it has been Western sports organizations that have prevented Iranian women from playing, for example in 2011 forcing the Iranian women’s soccer team to forfeit hope of reaching the Olympics because they wore sports hijabs on the field.
Narratives of weak or militant Iranian women are not just dishonest; they also fuel a political narrative whereby Islamism is equated with backwardness and the ability of women to reconcile Islamic ideals with feminist goals is entirely obfuscated. Both Western conservatives and many secular feminists often participate in this obfuscation, effectively trying to either hide Iranian women’s successes in order to demonize Iran or by ignoring the ideologies of liberation they have formulated in order to preserve the status of secular feminism as the only path to women’s liberation.
When the researchers sat down to analyze the videos, they found something (not that) surprising: girls’ feelings about pop culture and fashion are complicated. For example, girls talked about the fine line between wanting to appear ‘mature’ and attractive to boys, while at the same time expressing absolute disgust with other girls and women who dress too sexily. Elodie, a 12-year-old, says that girls at her school aspire to look like “the whole Playboy Mansion image. … It’s sick, like, it’s seriously sick!” Though she obviously doesn’t approve, she still seems to care about what boys think, she just thinks the boys her age aren’t “mature” enough to recognize girls’ efforts: “They wouldn’t notice any kind of that stuff.” Elodie is dealing with that thorny double standard that expects girls to work on being attractive and sexy to boys, but not too sexy, because if a girl is too sexy, then she’s “seriously sick!” It’s a tricky balance to strike, and so for Elodie, her feelings about what to wear are complicated.
Girls in the study also talked about totally understanding that the media markets clothes to them by using images of celebrities and sexuality. And at the same time, they embraced the trends of fashion and were enthusiastic about the creativity and self-expression fashion allowed. 11-year-old Iris, for example, says, “Ads can influence us in different ways especially us girls.” Just a moment later, she adds, “I have loads of clothes and everything,” showing us that collecting clothes is something she likes to do, even while she recognizes being influenced by advertisements. Once again, it’s complicated.
[…]But more often than not, our culture doesn’t leave a lot of room for this wishy-washiness. We want people to say what they mean and mean what they say! We yearn for consistency and stability and dependability. That’s why we love to label people as simply one thing or another. Are you liberal or conservative? Are you fat or thin? Are you a prude or a slut?
Real life isn’t like that. Usually, a person is liberal in some ways, conservative in others. A woman is pretty much never simply a naïve, angelic, prude, nor is she simply an oversexed slut. Life isn’t simple, and neither are people.
10 Things A Black Woman Writer Must Do:
1) Do not be a black woman writer.
2) If you come from an island in the Caribbean, that’s a mistake. The islands are not a proper place. People from places like the islands can’t write about being alienated, because how can you feel alienated in a place where people like to wear bikinis? Be a writer from England. Do not mention you are black.
3) You mustn’t write long sentences.
4) You mustn’t write about yourself.
5) Do not be abstract.
6) Do not write about race. Everyone will say you only write about race.
7) Write about race. If you don’t, they will point out that you haven’t written about race.
8) Do not be a black woman writer.
9) Do not be a black woman.
10) Do not be black.
Jamaica Kincaid, during a lecture given as part of Columbia University’s creative writing lecture series (via ethiopienne)
Jamaica Kincaid wrote one of my all time favourite short stories called 'At the Bottom of the River' and you should all read it because I think it’s one of the most important reflections on life, time and humanity’s capacity for meaning that I’ve ever read. It’s also one of the most insightful reflections on the existential dilemma that I’ve ever read. Also it’s beautiful. And perfect. Go read it.
A is for Ama Ata Aidoo, Amina Mama, Ayesha Imam, Akosua Ampofu
B is for Bessie Head, Bolanle Awe, Bisi Fayemi
C is for Charmaine Pereira, Calyxthe Beyela, Cynthia Mugo, Chimananda Ngozi Adichie
D is for Dzodzi Tsikata, Doria Shafik
E is for Eleanor Sisulu, Embet Mulugeta
F is for Fatima Mernissi, Filomena Steady, Flora Makwa, Fenella Mukungara
G is for Gertrude Fester (based in Rwanda)
H is for Huda Sharawi, Hamza, Amal
I is for Isabel Casimiro, Ibitola Tolu Pierce
J is for Josephine Akhire, Jessica Horn, Jessie Kabwila Kapasula
K is for Khaxas, Elizabeth
L is for Liz Frank
M is for Molara Ogundipe, Margaret Munalula, Mariama Ba, Marjorie Mbilinyi
N is for Nawal el Sadaawi, Nabuwiyya Musa, Nobantu Ratsebotsa
O is for Obioma Nnaemeka, Onalenna Selolwane, Oyeronke Oyewumi
P is for Pat McFadden
R is for Rudo Gaidzanwa, Ruth Meena, Ruth Ochieng
S is for Sheila Bunwaree, Shailja Patel, Sylvia Tamale, Sara Longwe, Sandra Manuel
T is for Tsitsi Dangarembga, Therese Cruz e Silva, Takiywaa Manuh
U is for Unity Dow
V is for Veronica de Klerk
W is for Wangaari Mathaai, Winnie Binyanyima
Y is for Yvonne Vera, Yasmina Faull
Z is for Zenebeworke Tadesse, Zo Rriandriamaro, Zubeida Tumbo Masabo.”
- from an article by Elaine Salo, director of the Institute for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Pretoria
We’re accustomed to seeing portrayals of early humans (aka cavemen) as slightly tanned but otherwise mostly European-looking. But a recent study reported in NBC challenges that assumption, finding that as fairly recently as 7,000 years ago, Europeans were…
Today, the theft of Aboriginal children is now higher than at any time during the last century. By July 2012, there were 13,299 of these children in institutions or handed over to white families.
Every nation has a creation myth, or origin myth, which is the story people are taught of how the nation came into being. Ours says the United States began with Columbus’s so-called “discovery” of America, continued with settlement by brave Pilgrims, won its independence from England with the American Revolution, and then expanded westward until it became the enormous, rich country you see today.
That is the origin myth. It omits three key facts about the birth and growth of the United States as a nation. Those facts demonstrate that White Supremacy is fundamental to the existence of this country.
A. The United States is a nation state created by military conquest in several stages. The first stage was the European seizure of the lands inhabited by indigenous peoples, which they called Turtle Island. Before the European invasion, there were between nine and eighteen million indigenous people in North America. By the end of the Indian Wars, there were about 250,000 in what is now called the United States, and about 123,000 in what is now Canada (source of these population figures from the book _The State of Native America_ ed. by M. Annette Jaimes, South End Press, 1992). That process must be called genocide, and it created the land base of this country. The elimination of indigenous peoples and seizure of their land was the first condition for its existence.
B. The United States could not have developed economically as a nation without enslaved African labor. When agriculture and industry began to grow in the colonial period, a tremendous labor shortage existed. Not enough white workers came from Europe and the European invaders could not put indigenous peoples to work in sufficient numbers. It was enslaved Africans who provided the labor force that made the growth of the United States possible.
That growth peaked from about 1800 to 1860, the period called the Market Revolution. During this period, the United States changed from being an agricultural/commercial economy to an industrial corporate economy. The development of banks, expansion of the credit system, protective tariffs, and new transportation systems all helped make this possible. But the key to the Market Revolution was the export of cotton, and this was made possible by slave labor.
C. The third major piece in the true story of the formation of the United States as a nation was the take-over of half of Mexico by war — today’s Southwest. This enabled the U.S. to expand to the Pacific, and thus open up huge trade with Asia — markets for export, goods to import and sell in the U.S. It also opened to the U.S. vast mineral wealth in Arizona, agricultural wealth in California, and vast new sources of cheap labor to build railroads and develop the economy.
The United States had already taken over the part of Mexico we call Texas in 1836, then made it a state in 1845. The following year, it invaded Mexico and seized its territory under the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. A few years later, in 1853, the U.S. acquired a final chunk of Arizona from Mexico by threatening to renew the war. This completed the territorial boundaries of what is now the United States.
Those were the three foundation stones of the United States as a nation. One more key step was taken in 1898, with the takeover of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam and Cuba by means of the Spanish-American War. Since then, all but Cuba have remained U.S. colonies or neo-colonies, providing new sources of wealth and military power for the United States. The 1898 take-over completed the phase of direct conquest and colonization, which had begun with the murderous theft of Native American lands five centuries before.
Many people in the United States hate to recognize these truths. They prefer the established origin myth. They could be called the Premise Keepers.
One sign of the power of San Francisco’s gay elite is that any successful mayoral candidate must pander to the “gay vote,” so it was no surprise when, in February 2003, Gavin Newsom, a straight, ruling class city council member representing San Francisco’s wealthiest district, hosted a lavish, $120-a-plate fundraiser for the new $18 million LGBT Center. At that point, Newsom was most famous for a ballot measure called “Care Not Cash,” which took away homeless people’s welfare checks and replaced them with “care.” Gay Shame, a radical queer activist group, gathered to protest Newsom’s agenda of criminalizing homeless people in order to get ahead at the polls, as well as to call attention to the hypocrisy of the Center for welcoming Newsom’s dirty money instead of taking a stand against his blatantly racist and classist politics. Whose Center was this, we asked? Was it a center for marginalized queers, queers of color, homeless queers, trans queers, queer youth, older queers, disabled queers, queer artists, queer activists, queer radicals… — or a Center for straight politicians to hold dinner parties?.
Our questions were answered when police officers, called by the Center, began to bash us as soon as they escorted Newsom inside. One officer hit a Gay Shame demonstrator in the face with his baton, shattering one of her teeth and bloodying her entire face. Several of us were thrown face-first into oncoming traffic; one protester was put into a chokehold until he passed out. As four of us were dragged off in handcuffs for protesting outside “our” Center, Center staff stood — and watched — and did nothing to intervene. Neither Newsom nor the Center has ever made a statement condemning the police violence of February 2003. In fact, one year later, newly-elected Mayor Gavin Newsom rewarded the powerful gays who stood on the Center balcony and watched queers get bashed. Newsom grabbed national headlines and solidified his San Francisco support base by “legalizing” gay marriage, and throngs of gay people from across the country descended upon City Hall at all hours of the day and night, camping out, sharing snacks and wine, and toasting Gavin Newsom as the vanguard leader of gay civil rights.
—Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, “Sweatshop-Produced Rainbow Flags and Participatory Patriarchy: Why the Gay Rights Movement Is a Sham” (via projectqueer)