Friday, December 3, 2010

Dear anyone who still supports the idea of the Confederacy: You lost. Deal With It.

Yeah, yeah, this blog is obsolete and I haven't posted in it for-frickin'-ever, but this rant was too long for a Facebook status update.

I just read this New York Times article, "Celebrating Secession Without the Slaves." In short, the 150th anniversary of the Civil War is next year and a bunch of people, including the Sons of Confederate Veterans, are planning celebrations. You know, opening a conversation about how noble the South was and how the war was really about fighting tyranny and you know what, I can't even type this bullshit anymore.

Look, the Old South these people glamorize so heavily was good for wealthy plantation owners. That's it. The bulk of the population, white, black, or native, was poor and shat upon. Whenever I hear this "good old days" spiel, I have to ask "good for whom?" Because it sure as hell would not have been good for me. And let's face it, unless you're a doctor, lawyer, wealthy businessman or owner of vast amounts of land, it wouldn't have been good for you either.

But that's what this attitude is about, the desire to return to a kinder, simpler time when they were on top and did whatever the hell they pleased. It's Tea Party rhetoric, but with even fewer less logic. And the timing is just damned unfortunate. I feel like they're going to need to step up the Presidential security detail next year.

I will say this, though: I hope these people all wear Confederate flag memorabilia, all year long. I always appreciate it when people wear their ignorance on their sleeve; it's great when people let you know from the get-go that friendship with them is a bad, frustrating, headache-inducing path and likely not worth the effort.

In closing, I'm just gonna leave this here.

Monday, January 26, 2009

X-men, Triggers and the world at large

I'm watching X-Men with some friends right now, and I'm realizing why I prefer X2 so strongly to the first or second movies (aside from the fact that, you know, it's the best of the three). In X2: X-Men United, the villain is a whack-job, manipulating everyone else to his hate-filled agenda. In X1 and X3, the mutants aren't fighting against one villain, but against the outright hate and fear of the world at large, and that's just too much like real life. It's one thing to watch a movie where the world at large fears the protagonists - the characters you as a viewer are supposed to identify with - but you can believe that it's because they just don't know any better, and the hate is coming from a clear villain. It's something altogether different to see mobs of people protesting against the very existence and basic human rights of your protagonists. It's something altogether different to watch a movie telling you to identify with characters fighting against a mob of people saying that they should be round up and shot, when 40 years ago the same thing could very well have been happening to you, when 40 years ago the same thing happened to the people who raised you. And it's damn difficult to watch a movie telling you that the right thing to do is to forgive these people, to work with these people and wait for them to come around to seeing you as human when they want to lock you up, invade your home and/or take away everything that makes you who you are so you're less threatening to them. It's especially difficult to watch a movie where the only people fighting for your rights are painted as crazy and willing to kill everyone else to do it.

I love X-Men. It's my favorite superhero universe. I understand that the positing of mutants as the hated minority is deliberate and meant to elicit sympathy for the protagonists and that the tactics of the Brotherhood are meant to keep readers/viewers from sympathizing too heavily with them. Doesn't make it any less of a triggering issue for me.

That said, I can't wait for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I'll just have to focus on fights, explosions and Gambit, and try to sublimate squicky oppression issues until I'm within reach of my computer.

ETA: Yes, I was once excited about the Wolverine movie. In my defense, I think it was before the reviews came out. All I knew about it was exploding helicopter and Hugh Jackman. I wish that were still all I knew about it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

J. Mac, What?

Okay, I'll admit I missed the first airing of the debate tonight. I helped with auditions for a show and then there was senior pub night (when the University foots the tab at a local bar; it's fairly awesome). I'll also admit that I'm mildly tipsy right now, and it's entirely possible that I'm hearing things wrong. But it sounds like John McCain just dismissed the accusations that he has used racially coded/othering language that harks back to Civil Rights era racism in his campaign and then he took Obama to task for not defending him against such accusations. And a few minutes later, McCain defended the hate-filled comments made by supporters at his rallies by invoking military wives and veterans?

J. Mac, what kind of fuckery is this? Who told you this was alright to say? And can I punch that person in the face? J. Mac, your advisors will never tell you this, but you need to know: Bullshit like this = NOT OKAY.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

History - It exists, use it OR Using Historical Lenses to Assess Modern Racism

I know I haven't blogged in a while, but now that my schedule is somewhat set and the election is nearing, I'm going to try to post on at least a weekly basis (and possibly continue that on through graduation). This week's post will be a brief one. Topic: using historical lenses to assess modern interactions in terms of racism.

The Biden/Palin debate has received a great deal of press and assessment over the weekend, but I'd like to jump back to the first Obama/McCain debate. The Angry Black Woman analyzed McCain's body language through the filter of Jim Crow etiquette and Old South racism. In short: don't look at or address the uppity nigger daring to talk to you, because he is not your equal and you should not address him as such. Given McCain's legendary temper and his portrayal of Obama as an upstart, there are other readings for this body language, but they do not make the Jim Crow throwback reading less valid.

Each time I see someone make this reading, I also see someone wondering why race has to play into it. The simple answer is that no matter how much we would like to pretend we extist in a colorblind world, race matters in today's American society, and ignoring that fact does all Americans a disservice and greatly hinders race relations. We also have to deal with the fact that we have a history of racism. That history informs the behaviours of the American people today, for good or for ill. And even if one person in particular isn't familiar with a racial filter, that doesn't mean other people aren't familiar with that filter, and won't be using it to assess a situation.

In this instance, that filter is Jim Crow etiquette. As a black woman who grew up in the South with a black family that has been in the area for generations, I am very familiar with the way blacks were expected to behave towards whites. As both someone who has grown up in the South and someone who has studied Black literature and Southern literature (and occasionally Black Southern literature), I am familiar with the ideas of humility and subservience, or shuffling and bowed heads. And even were it not for my academic studies, as a person from Alabama, I would be familiar with the idea. And as someone familiar with the idea, the thought that popped into my head every time McCain clenched his jaw and refused to look at Obama was, "How dare this uppity nigger speak to me! I'm John McCain." (or alternately, "I'm white male secure in my sense of white male entitlement and this black boy is screwing it up.") That is body language that has resonance with the Southern population. I do not know if McCain was doing it intentionally or not (I suspect he was), and I do not know if his body language was intended to serve that function (I suspect "yes" on disrespecting the upstart, but I don't know if the racial part was considered). I do know how it came across. And I know I'm not the only one who felt that way.

There are people in America who remember Jim Crow. There are people in America who remember segregation. My mother, who is not a particularly old woman, went to an all-black Catholic high-school and was a member of the last graduating class before the diocese integrated the schools. My uncles were among the earlier graduating classes at the integrated high school, and had a hell of a difficult time there. This resonates with a great deal of Americans, and whether or not the racial reading is the intended reading, it is a valid one. And it is one I hope I won't get a chance to use when I watch the debates tonight, though it's a point on which I'm not too optimistic.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

One Uppity Black Chick, reporting for duty

Because I've spent this summer at home, I've had a great deal of free time. With me, free time = frequent internet wanderings. Through my growing awareness of race/gender/religious/sexuality/class etc. issues, both through my schooling and through this country's increasing fucked-up-edness, I've spent a great deal of time reading about discrimination in various forms, and I just keep getting pissed off. Not at the discrimination itself; I'm grown and jaded enough to know that it happens sometimes, and that people in power do dumb shit. What frustrates me are the apologist comments, the rants and justifications from people who just don't get it, and don't seem to have no idea of the vastness of their ignorance, nor an inclination to change their ways. Simply put, people are stupid, and the brands of stupidity I'm seeing are harmful.

I can't bitch-slap America and make the entire country see reason. I can, however, take down the morons who cross my path. For too long I have been polite, fearing to call shenanigans lest I offend someone, or get dismissed as just another Angry Negro (now with Afro and fist pounding action!). I have let my well-meaning white friends get away with some erroneous conclusions because gee, I know they're good people, does it really matter if they don't get it? It does matter. The ignorant don't know what they don't know, and thus keep on spreading misinformation. I can't make this world a better place, but I can decrease stupidity, one bawling out at a time.

I here pledge to stop holding myself back for fear of alienating people, for fear of being dismissed as just another overly PC liberal, for fear of becoming one of those women, one of those black people (because being both black and a woman is apparently difficult for some to grasp). I am an Uppity Black Chick, and I am going to mess with some folks' heads. Hey, they started it.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

"I'm sorry. Providing you with adequate health care goes against my religious beliefs."

The Department of Health and Human Services Considers Denying Funding to Entities Refusing Opt-Out Plan.

This scares me not only because of it's option to opt-out of abortive procedures, but it's redefinition of what an abortive procedure is. Under this, people are allowed to refuse to provide the morning-after pill; that's gotta be a fun discovery when you're getting a rape kit. It also includes all birth-control procedures that run counter to someone's personal convictions. I'm trying to think about what this will mean for women who opt to get voluntary sterilization; "Sorry, I can't perform the tubal ligation because my religion tells me that you're supposed to have lots of babies. Yeah, I know it's not your religion, but I've gotta do what I think is right here."

It's probably more of a superficial political battle to impress pro-lifers than anything else; that said, pharmacists have been fighting (and winning) the battle to refuse to fill prescriptions that violate their moral code for awhile now. While I don't think anyone should ever be forced to do something that violates his/her religious code, demanding that health care providers give their employees the right to refuse patients services is not the way to provide greater religious freedom in this country.

One of the biggest arguments I've seen in favor of plans like this is, "Religious freedom is important and besides, patients who want those services can just go somewhere else." Wrong. Many insurance providers specify a specific clinic or doctor, and patients cannot go elsewhere without a referral and still have their insurance cover treatment. There's also the fact that not everyone has the option of going somewhere else. There are 3 hospitals within a 15 minute drive of my house, but I'm lucky enough to live in a decently sized city. People who live further out in the county don't have as many choices. If I need an abortion and someone at the nearest hospital refuses to perform the procedure or give me a referral (fairly likely, given that I live in Alabama), there's a Planned Parenthood in my town. But what about all the people who don't have that option? What about the people living in rural areas where there aren't a lot of hospitals and clinics? Where do they go to get what they need?

The "get someone else to do it" argument only works if you live in a city; if you live in an isolated rural or mountain area, you probably only have access to the one clinic, and if the workers at that clinic refuse to prescribe birth control or perform an abortion, you aren't exactly flush with options.

What about getting the doctors and nurses to go somewhere else? If you're so opposed to abortion and birth control, then don't work for a company that is supposed to provide them. Start your own clinic, with your religious objection to abortive acts in the mission statement. Express your religion to your heart's content, but don't do it in a public hospital.


My other big problem with this is obvious: people using their religious freedom to push their values onto others. Just because you believe something does not mean you can enact that belief upon my body. Religious freedom gives your the ability to practice, but it should not give people the right to force that practice upon others, because that action infringes upon my freedoms, specifically my freedom to not participate in someone else's religion.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Parole Board, what the fuck?

O.k., I'm not the world's hugest advocate for parolee's rights or anything, but this is ridiculous.

Paroled parents not allowed to live together.

For the linkaphobic: Parolees were placed together in a shelter, fell in love, she got pregnant, their parole officers found out, he was jailed for parole violation, and now they're not allowed to associate with one another. The article states that he helps to take care of the baby, which probably means that his parole officer is looking the other way on that, but not allowing them to live together? When convicts are released from jail and put on parole, they're supposed to be easing back into normal lives as productive members of society. But when these two people have a child and try to do the right thing and raise it together, they're not allowed? In addition to extending their parole, let's put them under the financial strain of raising a family in two separate households; that's an absolutely brilliant idea. It won't cripple their reintegration into society at all.

I understand the reasoning behind the rules forbidding convicts to associate with one another. After all, why take the chance of people banding together, enabling criminal habits and backsliding into their old ways. But if the parole board is going to enforce that rule, then getting more housing and spreading the parolees out a bit more thinly would be a good idea. However, there probably isn't enough money for that, so let's look at punishment for the violation. In this case, separating these two individuals isn't going to do anything good because the kid's already been conceived. In this case, separation is probably worse for rehabilitation than anything else; it's putting them under unnecessary financial strain and diminishing their support network. How is the mother supposed to work if the father's not allowed to come over and watch the child?

I'm just going to whistle and ignore the fact that consenting adults should have the freedom to date each other and form romantic relationships if they so choose, because the initial relationship was a violation of the parole, but once there's a kid in the picture, I think allowances should be made on a case-by-case basis. If they're obeying their paroles in every other way, perhaps allow the couple to live together for a probationary period; if there are no domestic disturbances or calls to social services, let 'em shack up. This is one tale of the prison system that could have a happy ending, if only people would let it.