Saturday, January 31, 2009

My Banner, My Name, and My Avatar

This post is a really long time coming. I've had this blog for well over a year now, and yet I've never addressed it (though I've sat down to write it a few times). I've also, surprisingly, gotten no comments about it (though I have had comments on my avatar. Someone asked me why, if I was such a feminist, I used a picture of a woman with her mouth "so obediently covered". I had to laugh, and informed the asker that it is a picture of "Drusilla", a vampire from BtVS, who is anything but obedient, and is probably just covering her mouth to call more attention to her eyes; so she can hypnotize you and slit your throat. :P BTW, yes, that is specifically why that particular picture is my avatar.). What I'm talking about here, is my banner.

An intersectional feminist blog that uses a white man on her banner?

Maybe it's the look on his face, who that character is, or the message on the poster behind him. Or maybe it's expected that white feminists will identify with a white power structure figure (I hope that's not it), or something along those lines. Or perhaps quite simply no one, if they did find this incongruent, felt the need to mention it.

But every time I see him sitting there, knowing that the reasons have gone unsaid, it's struck me; so here I am.

I have always had a vivid imagination. It's how I kept myself sane when the world around me wasn't so pleasant to be in, it's how I retain my optimism about the world, it's how I empathize with people who I've never met, and it's also why I can't stand horror movies (they stay with me). Often, what this means is I get terribly attached to characters. Most often, TV or book series characters. Growing up, there were lots of them; Troi and Roe from Star Trek: TNG, the little bratty girl from The Secret Garden, Mara Jade and Leia from Star Wars (books and movies respectively), Tom Paris and B'lanna Torres from Star Trek: Voyager, Dr. Ross on ER, and of course, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully (it wasn't until I was older that I discovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Firefly, which is why I'm not going to discuss them). My two greatest loves as a "tween" and teenager were the X-Files and Green Day, and the walls of my old room in my mom's house prove it; pictures everywhere. To this day The X-Files is still my favorite TV show of all time.


Shit if I know for sure! But there are some things I think I've figured out over the years of a rising consciousness. For one, there is what both Green Day and The X-Files had in common, a serious lack of respect for authority. I love a rebel, I love counter-culture, I love defiance. I saw all of that in the character of Fox Mulder. If you want to put a feminist analysis on it, it's really what Laura Mulvey was talking about; the gaze and the two sorts of desire for a character, I both wanted Mulder and wanted to be Mulder (rather similar to why I fell in love so hard for Spike from BtVS too I think). There was also something in the Mulder-Scully dynamic that I found irresistable. I will admit, I didn't have a great working model for partnership; my parents, by the time I was old enough to figure this out, had their own problems and were growing apart, to eventually divorce.

The model Mulder and Scully set out was one I could identify with, circumstances bringing them together, and a shared mission keeping them so, respect and love growing between them, and always the files to work on together. I could identify with Mulder because his defiant, sarcastic way of handling things felt familiar. His constant ostracization from "normal" society was painfully so. I was quite convinced that all I could hope to do in this world was beat out my own path and pursue my own passion, because I'd never been able to do anything any other way. And growing up being teased, I found solace in the fact that he was too, but so rarely let it get to him. He also had an optimisim and faith in what he did that I envied. "I want to believe", is a catch phrase for so many situations I found myself in, then and since. I'm convinced that growing up with this idealization of him and their relationship formed a lot of my own self identity, what I looked for in a partner (I found it), and how I think relationships should function.

While I loved Scully's character, I couldn't identify with her strict scientific method and rationalism. That wasn't (isn't) how my brain works. In watching every week, how her strict science both inhibited and enabled Mulder; I think is where I learned a respect for people who challenge me. Yet I would grow frustrated at her attempts to rein him in, seeing Mulder as everything that is pure and good in the world and simply wanting him to be vindicated; she often stood in the way of that. Watching now, I interpret much of this differently, but hey, I didn't know much about feminism at 12 and 13. :P

But this is why I knew I had to use this picture for my banner. There is so much I want to believe in, and I'm willing to work for it. I wanted something at the top of my blog that was loaded in meaning for me, even if it wasn't obvious to the casual observer. The way he's looking up from his desk, he probably fell asleep working again; books and papers piled up everywhere; jacket off, sleeves rolled up... He is me. And he is the perfect man (or at least my idealized vision of him is).


That's why.

I could probably ramble on, but I think that pretty much covers it. And now you know why I picked the avatar I did too!

That only leaves my alias, so why not? I'll get into that too.

I have had one comment on my alias, a friend of mine said he though it was "self deprecating, in the worst way" and didn't like it. I found that terribly interesting, and have since wondered what others think about it when they first see my name next to a comment or post; but no, self deprecation is not why I chose it.

I had longed for a good online name ever since I started on the internet (about the same time I started watching The X-Files, actually, and oh yes, I researched UFO's like you wouldn't believe :P). And I had always wanted a name drawn from a Green Day song (my first great love, like I said). I tried on so many screen names over the years, drawn from all sorts of sources meaningful to me. "Serenity" finally stuck, for quite a while, but just didn't keep fitting. I very much wanted "Haushinka" to work, but the song didn't echo anything from my life, and it just never stuck. And then American Idiot came out. To say I was proud when I first heard that album all the way through doesn't even begin to cover it. My hometown boys had finally grown up, finally gone political, and not in the lame U2 way (sorry U2 fans) but in the Green Day way, and I was so on board. I first started using lyrics from "She's a Rebel" in signatures on message boards, but it wasn't until I thought about blogging that "Whatsername" really clicked in my head.

1) I love the song.
2) In the blogging world, there's a certain amount of organic anonymity (also why I don't capitalize). Your ideas can be sucked up and distributed by others and there's not a WHOLE helluva lot you can do about it. Yet, in some way, you live on through those ideas being disseminated.
3) Well, it IS an alias.
4) In the lyrics to "She's a Rebel" they say, "she's a rebel, she's a saint, she's the salt of the earth and she's dangerous...she's the one they call old Whatsername". So there's a link back to that song, which I identify with, as a sort of ideal to live up to (kind of like Mulder...).
5) Long after I'm done with all this I do hope that something of me is remembered. Like the lyrics say, "I can recall the face, but not the name. Now I wonder how Whatsername has been" and "Forgetting you, but not the time".

To me, there is something profound in that. It's like dying; your matter and energy is spread to the winds, personality dissolves, you are just an almost nameless essence that has effected those around you and carries on afterwards. I don't know if there's another song written that is so bittersweet to me, that makes me both sad and hopeful.

"They say home is where the heart is, but what a shame. Cuz everyone's heart doesn't beat the same..."

So, that's it, my avatar, my banner, and my name.


So, I saw someone on a message board somewhere mention that Sarah Michelle Geller is in the crowd in the Death Ray scene at the end of Doctor Horrible. Anyone else find her? She's actually really easy to spot once you know to look, hard to hide that familiar Buffy face (though they tried!).

I was never her biggest fan, but I think it's pretty cool she'd show up just to hang out for this. Good times.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mehserle has been let out on bail

As I walked home the police were breaking up a march, people who had been at the courthouse (I gathered at a vigil) in support of Oscar Grant marched peacefully from there when they were told this. Several people have been arrested, that I saw, one thrown to the ground and his head held down against the sidewalk with a knee, though they were just walking on sidewalks and then standing with signs in a parking lot. 

More updates as/if things happen, as this is once again outside my door. Organized protests planned for the 6th, though I wouldn't be surprised if they happened sooner now.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Carnival of Feminists #71!

#71 is up at Hop To It!

Just Too Important

I'm sure you know the drill by now, this weeks entries that were just too important to only put in my "what I'm reading" widget. Snippets of entries which don't give you a vague notion of the content of the entry. But these are all well worth looking at.

Angry Black Bitch Blog for Choice – There, but for Roe...

guerrilla mama medicine hotel israeli prison
we are in amsterdam. feeling much better than we have in a few days. it is rainy and a bit chilly but my trusty red coat is working well.

we spent three days in israeli detention. and then were shipped to amsterdam.

via Wild Hunt Blog Ceremony purges White House of evil spirits

Shapely Prose No Words
Robert Blue was arrested for chaining his 15-year-old daughter to a bed, because he thought she was fat and wanted to stop her from eating.

Womanist Musings Dear White People
If there is a critique of whiteness and it isn't about you, don't make it about you. I don't know how many times this has been said. Whiteness, like racism is a systemic force and while it seems that commentary is said in vague generalities, in actuality, it is a critique about the way whiteness is experienced and functions throughout society. Though not all white people are alike and benefit differently from privilege based on connections to other isms, what cannot be denied is an inequality of worth and value. Whiteness is a hegemonic force and acts in its defence daily. While said defence may take different forms, its goal is to maintain unearned power.

Ann at Feministing Kirsten Gillibrand

The Curvature links to an Alternet article on how the NY Times got their DIY Abortions wrong

From Peace 4 the Missing Poverty Vs Domestic Violence And Women Who Are Homeless

Guest Post at The Rotten Little Girls How I Became a Feminist Part I

At Shakesville Read This—and Resolve Again to Be All In about a "hidden camera" show which put up the scenario of a woman having her drink spiked with some sort of powder by her date while she is in the bathroom to see what neighboring bar go-ers would do.

guerrilla baby mama tells us about her Israeli stay, this is not a hotel, the first day. Read them all.

A Little Boob For JetBlue and Delta Goes A Long Way, from Renee at Womanist Musings, along with Brown In The Land Of The Maple Leaf: An Excuse For 3 BC Officers To Beat A Man.

I know many people could give a shit less what happens to people who end up in prison, but I'm not one of them. Check out this Alternet article on women, access to medical care, and the prison system; "Medical Neglect Is the Norm in Women's Prisons".

What would you do if you were just elected mayor and started getting death threats? Well, apparently when you're a black man receiving racist ones, to protest it and resign is "playing the race card".

Hope you enjoy another set of important posts 'round the blogosphere and beyond. I've started school again this week, reports on how things go perhaps at the weekend, but so far, so good. :)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Women of Color and Allies Carnival

Currently actively looking for submissions!! If you have anything that might qualify as "posts that you have written that intersect with race that involve class, gender, sexuality, ability, etc." then submit it here!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Elizabeth Alexander on Colbert

Really liked this interview. Colbert is clearly such an English geek. :P

Read the official version of her poem HERE.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Speech From the House of Commons on Israel

There are a number of quotes I want to pull from this speech, but I don't want to ruin the emotional impact of them. I will tell you, this is a speech from Jewish, Zionist, Labour MP, Sir Gerald Kaufman, on the current situation in Israel/Gaza. And that I think you should watch it.

Special thanks to Steph's blog where I found a link to this Youtube video when I Google.

We've Still Got Work to Do

From Ill Doctrine:

The Weekly Round Up Comes Again

It's been an interesting week! Take a look at posts that had me thinking...

TransGriot - Your Pink Sheets Are Showing

Federal Tax Dollars Are Going to CLOWNS
h/t to the Curvature

Tammy Oler writes for Bitch Magazine: Black Widow: A Superheroine Who Won't Get Screwed Over On Screen?. I made a comment on the article, calling for a letter or email writing campaign to ask for what we as feminist women really want out of this character and why. I swear to gods if they write her as just some rival love interest ala James Bond I will scream.

Want to read one of the funnier articles I've read in a while? FSM’s Third Annual ‘America’s Most Dangerous College Courses’. Lord, have mercy. :P
h/t to the Lizard Queen

The Angry Black Woman takes on Cultural Appropriation in Science Fiction, the introductory post to a new series!

Check out the Weekly Immigration Wire!

More on Gaza from the last week:
The Crisis in Gaza and Feminism
The Gaza Ceasefire and the Hereafter
Razor Wire Dharma

Feministe writes about a Nurse who "Accidentally" Pulled Out Her Patients IUDs

Rethinking Walking Part 1, An Introduction

If Only That Black Friend Were Real

Reverand Gene Robinson's Prayer, mysteriously cut out of the pre-inauguration show when it went to air.

A "Prostitution Free-Zone" For the Inauguration

A thought provoking guest post at Womanist Musings "I Gave Birth to a White Man"

The Wild Hunt on: Inauguration Day

SCOT Peps Funding Withdrawn

When Punishment is Cruel and Unusual, on Trans people in the prison system.

How to be a Gori Girl, Shada Meye, Memsahib, or Farangi in India, another thought provoking guest post at Womanist Musings, on what it means to be a white woman working in India.

When Hyper Masculinity Supports Racism

That's it for this week!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Honestly, who throws their shoe?



Nah nah nah nah, Nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goooooooooodbyyyyyyyyyyyyye (Bush).

Inauguration Day

What fun. :D With the exception of Rick Warren (whose invocation just, sucked; not even getting into what a douche he is) that was a really enjoyable Inauguration!

Elizabeth Alexander should have spoken before Obama. He's a tough act to follow. But I loved this poem, I misted up as I saw the ideas she was drawing together and the imagery she was trying to leave us with. So I share my joy with you all today by sharing the transcript of it here with (I'm going to break it up from the straight transcript from how I remember her speaking it). Happy day!

Praise Song for the Day
A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration
Elizabeth Alexander

Each day we go about our business,

walking past each other, catching each other's

eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is

noise and bramble, thorn and din, each

one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning

a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,

repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,

with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,

with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky.

A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words

spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,

words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark

the will of some one and then others, who said

I need to see what's on the other side.

I know there's something better down the road.

We need to find a place where we are safe.

We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.

Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,

who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built

brick by brick the glittering edifices

they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.

Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,

the figuring-it- out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,

others by first do no harm or take no more

than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,

love that casts a widening pool of light,

love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,

any thing can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Copyright (c) 2009 by Elizabeth Alexander. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul,
Minnesota. A chapbook edition of Praise Song for the Day will be
published on February 6, 2009.

And a h/t to VivirLatino where I found this official version.

Throw That Shoe!

"Throw" your shoe at Bush on Inauguration Day!

My husband also heard about a group who is trying to break a world record for largest mass protest or some such thing. I looked online but couldn't find it! Anyway, they'll all be flipping Bush off when he gets on the plane to leave, and taking pictures of it! That might be fun too.

Monday, January 19, 2009


And tomorrow Inauguration Day. Just, damn... It feels right, doesn't it?

Last year I posted one of my favorite speeches, "Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam". This year, I want to share a quote I find particularly appropriate.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love, 1963.

So, I say; let us hope, and let us love.

Are you ready for a miracle?

Want an uplifting post for Martin Luther King Jr. day, and in getting ready for our inauguration day? Melissa Lacewell-Harris got me feeling warm and fuzzy with a recent post at The Kitchen Table.

I haven't stopped shaking with relief and joy about the USAir flight that landed in the Hudson. I was flying from New Orleans to Minnesota when it happened. My friends and family know that I am on an 17 day, 8 city trip, so when I got to Minneapolis I had a dozen voicemails asking me to call and confirm I was safe. These loving calls reminded me to say a quick prayer of thanks. I get complacent when I travel and sometimes forget to offer gratitude for each safe landing. After a quick prayer I rushed to a CNN monitor expecting to see grief and carnage. Instead, I saw a miracle. All the passengers were safe: fathers, children, grandmothers, fight attendants, pilots. Everyone was safe. The pilot did not crash his plane, he landed it...on the Hudson River!

There are miracles all around us.

Hamas and Israel have laid down their weapons. It may not last forever, but the Mideast cease fire is a miracle this morning. Tomorrow I will board another plane bound for Washington, DC where I will witness the inauguration of America's first black president. It may not change everything, but the election of Barack Obama is a miracle this morning. In New Orleans I met young and old people of all races who are determined to save a city they call home. I stood in that city just 6 weeks after Katrina and I can tell you that the spirit of New Orleans is a miracle this morning. Yolanda, I have even lost 5 pounds since the start of the New Year. Miracles abound!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Grades and New Classes!

So I figured there would be some interest amongst my readers what exactly I'm doing in school, so I thought I would tell you!

Last semester I took:

Introduction to Women and Gender Studies
Introduction to origins, purpose, subject matter, and methods of women studies and the feminist perspectives on a range of social issues affecting women. [Transnational department, btw]
I got an A

Women and Media
Analytic modes, including feminist, psychoanalytic, and economic criticism, to assess both how women are represented in mass media and the status of women employed in mass media. [This class was WAY more interesting than I thought it would be, my textbook was Shohat and Stam's Unthinking Eurocentrism, which was dense, but awesome]
I got an A

Gender and the Culture of War
Using historical, theoretical, fictional and cultural texts, students discuss political, cultural and ideological configurations of war in conjunction with case studies of men/women’s involvement in different violent conflicts.
I got an A

Lesbian, Queer and Transgender Identities
Examination of lesbian, queer, and transgender identities in cultural and historical contexts. Using a transnational feminist approach, presents a challenge to Western assumptions about sexual identities and analysis of sexuality through nation, gender, race and class.
I got an A-

Not bad. :D

This semester I'm taking:

Celtic Literature
Literary traditions of culturally diverse Celtic world from earliest legends of gods, heroes, warriors, and saints to modern literature; texts may include traditions such as Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Breton and Manx.

Gender, Race and Nation
Through an interdisciplinary perspective, examines the politics of representing women and gender through differences of race, class, sexuality, nation and state. Focuses on feminist and related social movements including US women of color.

Making Whites: Race-making in America
Evolution and implications of whiteness in America from colonial period to the present post-Civil Rights, multicultural era; includes the definition of whiteness and critical role of the racial construction of whiteness in the history of American racism and race relations.

Variations in Human Sexuality
Variations in sexuality: sexual identity, relationships, behavior, and fantasy; identification of personal and social problems associated with varied sexual lifestyles.

I bought my books in a mixture from the bookstore, Amazon and I've gotten two of them so far, The Tain and White Women, Race Matters: The Social Construction of Whiteness. I read the introductions to both and in most respects can't wait for school to start, despite how lazy I've been this winter break. Frankenberger's discussion of her coming to terms with discovery of her own white privilege and racism was painfully familiar and I think I am probably looking forward to that class ("Making Whites") the most. I might put up a quote from the intro to that book tomorrow... But honestly I am looking forward to the whole line up. The only thing that irritates me at all is I signed up for "Gender, Race and Nation" last semester but couldn't take it, so I kept the books, and we had a BUNCH of books. This semester she only has one of them! One book! Wtf! That's a bit irritating. :P

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Video from Gaza - post cease fire talk

What's caught on tape here is really emblematic of what's going on there in general, I think. These two countries are tied to each other at this point, and despite best efforts to demonize and dehumanize Palestinians the reality is the vast majority are just people trying to get through their day. None of us are so very much different from each other. :\

h/t to bfp for the video.

Roy Brown

from: Womanist Musings

Here we have two vastly different interactions with the justice system; a black man who turned himself in after stealing one hundred dollars because he hungry and Madoff who stole billions to feed his greed and ego. How does the man who stole 100 dollars out of a sense of desperation merit 15 years in jail, while the billionaire sits in his luxurious home surrounded by his ill gotten gains? Someone want to tell me again about how blind the justice system is?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Did you know?

50% of the population of Gaza is under 14 years of age?

I didn't know that.

So we're creating fanatical little children over there, when we could EASILY be creating allies by providing them with the means for food, shelter and medical care...


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Weekly Round Up of Links Too Important Just For My Widget

Natural Cesarean

Gaza Update

The Price of Fey-m

Obama wants to resolve Puerto Rico's colonial status while saying nothing on Gaza

Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos' Speech on Gaza

Oscar Grant wasn't the only one who died on New Years Day
h/t to this commenter for bringing this to light for me.

Blue Cross vs. Tufts Medical Center

The Other Half of Choice

Grow Up Already

The Gainesvilles fight

Mentally ill man Tasered to death by NYPD officer

Keith Ellison booed by Palestinian Protesters

bfp Tells her kids about Gaza

Don't Let Him Get Away With It

CA man puts daughter up for sale???

A terrible idea indeed

14th Carnival of Sexual Freedom and Autonomy!!


also via Womanist Musings...
Everyone Deserves a Roof
About EDAR
EDAR (Everyone Deserves A Roof) is a 501(c)(3) charity that provides unique mobile shelters to those living on the streets all around us. Each EDAR is a four-wheeled mobile unit which carries belongings and facilitates recycling during the day and which unfolds into a special, framed tent-like sleeping enclosure with a bed at night.

While respecting permanent and temporary housing for the homeless in group settings which use buildings to provide shelter, EDAR addresses the unrepresented hundreds of thousands of homeless people amongst us for whom no beds are available or who are unable or unwilling to participate in those solutions.

Immigration Prosecutions Drain Resources

Pondering Justice for Oscar Grant...

And on that note, I'll simply add that the protest and march today appears to be going very well at this point. They marched by the house earlier and it looked noisy and peaceful. Cops are diverting cars from my street to let them march unimpeded. So far, so good.

Citizen's Briefing Book and the Freedom of Choice Act

So earlier today I got an email message from the Obama team to tell me about a new feature on It's called The Citizen's Briefing Book and lets us put up our issues, vote on those put up by others, and comment on them. Naturally one of the first areas I looked at was "Health Care" and was surprised not to find the Freedom of Choice Act in a high position. So I searched for it. Guess what I found?

So I'm putting a call out to all those feminists out there who I've seen discuss the importance of this act. Spread the word, go vote it up, and make your voices heard, so far, the pro-life, anti-choice folks are ruling the day.

And I've now seen that we only have until SUNDAY at 6PM to make our voices heard!!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

On: Oscar Grant

So, while I was on a short "vacation" the story about Oscar Grant's New Years Day shooting broke all over the place. To say I'm taken aback by the whole thing is an understatement. I take BART to school and back from Oakland into San Francisco. I've rarely interacted with BART cops, who until this incident I thought acted somewhat as glorified security guards.

I watched the videos over and over again, watched videos of news coverage, families crying, BART trying to say as little as possible, people trying to suggest the cops gun just "went off". And then the riot footage.

The McDonald's around the corner from my apartment was vandalized, windows broken. I watched as people walked down the same street as I do every day to school just smashing the windows of cars as they went. Cars set aflame.

One witness of the riot saw his own car go up in flames.

"It's a little ironic. I was writing a story about the injustice of the young man's death," said Ken Epstein, assistant editor of the weekly Oakland Post.

Suddenly, Epstein saw 150 demonstrators smashing cars in the street below his office. "Flames were shooting up in the air, six or seven feet. My car was engulfed."

There's not a lot I feel like I can say that hasn't already been said. And said better, by Slyvia, Black Amazon, Holly, bfp, Samhita, La Macha, Melissa, Margari, and Renee.

I know this may not be a popular position (in fact it is directly rejected by Melissa's post) but after viewing what happened from all the camera angles I could find, I do think this was an accident. The look on the Mehserle's face, the way the other cops jumped back, the way he looked up at the man standing in front of him and then back down, all speak to stunned disbelief. One "expert" suggested that he believed Mehserle thought he was reaching for his taser gun. That level of force would have been unwarranted enough, but what happened is a fucking tragedy. And someone needs to be held responsible for it. Because that is what is supposed to happen when someones' mistake costs someone else their life.

And when that was all I knew, all I could feel about this case was grief for all involved.

And then he resigned. Mehserle's resignation, "shortly before he was supposed to meet with investigators" (1) means "he does not have to answer questions about the shooting from BART internal affairs investigators. He has previously declined to talk to separate investigators from BART and the district attorney's office, who will decide whether he should be charged with a crime" (2).

Even assuming it was an accident, what the fuck do you think the result of refusing to answer questions and help in the investigation is going to do to this city?

The more I think about it, the angrier I get. Whatever happened on that platform, this man would rather watch Oakland go up in flames then take responsibility for his actions, or weaken his lawyer's case. That speaks fucking volumes.

Today there was a bit of window breaking again downtown, again at the BART station I go to. There was also a meeting with BART earlier in the day.

Rita Jones, a 53-year-old Oakland schoolteacher, said she had taught her children as her parents had taught her to trust the police.

"I told them, 'Go to the police when you have a problem,'" she said. "But now I'm a grandmother, and some of my grandchildren are boys. And I cannot in my heart tell them the same."

Oakland Councilmember Desley Brooks presented written demands that BART create a citizens review board to monitor BART police, request that the California attorney general investigate the shooting, and identify and investigate all officers present at the shooting that night for possible misconduct.

She also asked that BART improve public communications about the shooting investigation and conduct hearings to explain BART policies on police hiring, training, use of force, diversity, de-escalation and other issues.

I don't know what else to say, it all seems empty.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Weekly Round Up of Links Too Important Just For My Widget

Not surprisingly I'm sure there were a lot of posts this week on Gaza and Israel, I want to highlight a few of them:

"You're an Anti-Semite!"
On Gaza
Ways to Help Gaza
The Land of Milk and Honey
I Fear For the Future of Judaism Today
For Immediate Updates on Gaza

In other news:
On BDSM, "Two Ways of Coping"

Petition to defer any bill on prostitution until after the next general election

Sex Slavery

Mary and Jesus in Afghanistan

The Evil Behind the Smiles

Indifference Has Robbed Generations of Our History

I AM SEAN BELL, black boys speak from Stacey Muhammad on Vimeo.
"I am Sean Bell" a Mother's Lament

Creating complicity: Racism From Generation to Generation. I think Renee is right on in her analysis here, it's not that there is one such incident at that in the video of the little girl (see story) but that through many such incidents in a child's life that complicity with kyriarchy is created.

Why Some Black GLBT Peeps Hate the "Q" Word was an illuminating post from Monica at Transgriot this week. I've only starting coming to use of "queer" since starting school and seeing it's use there and I can understand the appeal of it, but her criticisms of it also make sense and are something I will have to give more thought to.

"There is Only One America"

The continuing battle against putting former waste water as snow on sacred site

Benefits awarded to beaten Hooters waitress

Environmental disaster in Tennessee

Supporting the DREAM Act

Sheriff Arpaio is On Conan Tonight. Um, W T F? This is our "face of law enforcement"??

Nobody's Asian in the Movies

As I said in my post on the DVD my favorite song on "Commentary! the Musical" was "Nobody's Asian in the Movies" (though actually I see it's just called "Asians in the Movies" but, whatev). Well the liners notes for it came up so I thought I'd share!

Music and Lyrics by Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon
Performed by Maurissa Tancharoen






But Maurissa, movies couldn’t even be made without Asians.
We need them to play the parts we’re not willing to.

You’re right, Jed!

I guess my parents will be proud of me after all.

What does your dad do again?

Oh! He’s a nerdy, funny scientist.

Other favorites? Neil's Turn was brilliant and I loved "Groupie #2"s Ten Dollar Solo, girl can sing! And Felicia Day's "The Art" was worth noting as well as "Moist". I can't watch the last shot of the film without thinking "depressing shot!" in my head now either.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

"Mystical Negro and Self-flagellation," Thoughts on being an ally

A recent post from Renee (as, truth be told, many posts from Renee do) hit home with me more than usual because of a conversation I had in the last week with a long time internet acquaintance, someone whom I greatly respect and often have much in common with. The conversation was of the more taxing variety; of exclamation points, frustrations, sadness and detailed explanations.

As I mention from time to time I belong to a forum in which we discuss current events. Because of the nature of the forum we "get all kinds", well, sort of. There's rather a dearth of people of color or people of radical politics. There's quite a few Europeans and moderately liberal folk from the U.S. and vocal Christian and conservative minorities. We all post stories and articles of interest and discuss them. In many respects this is a lot of fun but it can also be incredibly frustrating.

I have always been an outspoken minority just for being a socialist and a feminist but as over the last year I have been coming to terms with and divesting myself of white privilege and coming to analyze the events of the world from an increasingly intersectional perspective I have become quite the divisive figure. As I said, there are almost no people of color, and certainly none that (to my knowledge) are posting regularly. I try to bring in marginalized voices to the articles discussed, but this is rarely met with happiness. I've had private messages both of quite a critical nature, and compliments from folks who see what I'm trying to do.

The difficult thing about the conversation I had last week, and in fact the reason it was being had, was that some of those with whom I've long been allied have felt alienated from my new analysis. And I was faced with the difficult situation of being torn between wanting to say "fuck their privileged issues" and the incredibly hurtful knowledge that people with whom I thought I was on the same page are emotionally distancing themselves from me.

At the same time, I was almost proud of it. In a weird way. I've been reading everyday of the alienation felt by people I care about, like Renee, from people who should be on her side, who say they are, but don't act it. I've seen first hand the way marginalized voices who speak their truths are treated. If I am getting a taste of that, perhaps my divestment is actually starting to work.

Yet if I alienate the people to whom my voice carries a unique kind of authority (my white as well as class privilege in action), am I mucking it up as an ally?

These are the thoughts that go through my head as I read Renee's post, and as I replay the more heart hitting parts of my conversation with my friend. Yet these are certainly my trenches, they are the everyday conversations I have and while I remain introspective about how I can communicate what I wish to impart to others more effectively I can't help retaining a bit of grim pride in the fact that at least I am living my intersectional feminist beliefs in my every day. Though even in that there is a challenge, because I am coming to a place where shutting the fuck up and listening is less and less relevant, where I need to grab myself by the ovaries and speak up, risking being called out for whatever mis-conceived notions or latent privilege I might have left. I can always do better, and that's going to be my focus for a while.

Astrobarry's Forecast for the Year

It's that time again! Now for my favourite astrologer...

Without a doubt, over the coming year, you will confront the need to integrate two seemingly incompatible calls to action, thanks to this Saturn-Uranus opposition. You must hold responsibly tight at one end of the spectrum, to secure an enduring grasp on that which legitimately requires it (Saturn), while simultaneously rattling and rocking at the other end, to breathe revolutionary new life into the stale sector that desperately needs it (Uranus). Maddening to distinguish which is which, and how much of each? Hell, yes.

The vexing question—how to balance it all?!?—remains in effect a while longer. The Saturn-Uranus opposition continues into 2010… shifting signs (Virgo/Pisces to Libra/Aries), moving into double squares with Pluto in Capricorn, and only further intensifying these macro-dilemmas by bringing in this third Pluto issue to consider and integrate: whichever zone of life is due for deep psychological purging and transfiguring.

Your year is not all comprised of dicey balancing acts and trial-by-fire tests, however. As of today (Mon Jan 5), big-man-on-campus Jupiter will be in the heady, humanistic sign of Aquarius… eventually leading into a heart-opening, idealism-inspiring conjunction between Jupiter, Neptune and Chiron, within 5-degree orb by April and lasting through December. In the midst of both personal and collective transformation, coming at an increasingly vigorous pace and with increasingly extensive reach, you'll also welcome unparalleled opportunities to connect with your companions and comrades. Somehow, we all ended up sharing life at this especially climactic moment in history together. We're all in this same boat.

Jupiter in Aquarius (which you'll hear more about quite soon) widens our view of how each node in the network, cog in the machine, or individual within the group necessarily impacts each other… helping us to think more holistically (if not a bit less selfishly) about ways we can unite our efforts for a greater collective benefit. Joined with Neptune, Jupiter will heighten our idealism, bestowing bounteous amounts of blissful togetherness upon those who act for the good of all.

Chiron's presence, meanwhile, just reminds us that, within this idealistic worldview, it is perfectly okay—encouraged, even—to reclaim and proudly showcase those parts of ourselves we consider most damaged, flawed or fucked-up. That's the big joke: We're all fucked up. The less we resist that fact, the more willingly we flaunt our fuck-ups … and you'd be surprised how beautiful these so-called 'flaws' often appear through other people's eyes.

Jupiter and Neptune in union are a faith-fostering, dream-inspiring duo whose visions of a compassionate utopia provide a potent counteragent to the ongoing difficulties portended by Saturn, Uranus and Pluto. Thank goodness for them, right? At times throughout '09, you might even temporarily forget just how monumental (and, yes, monumentally trying) this period of history really is.

You could become happily swept up in a wave of optimism, making it easy to neglect the many delicate details you're charged with attending to, even as the backdrop of rational reality rapidly morphs before your very eyes. You could be distracted by short-sighted headlines that scream, 'It's not really as bad as we thought it was!' as if to lull you back into zombiefied consumption.

And the worst of potential Jupiter-Neptune delusions? At the peak of your open-hearted compassionateness, you could mistakenly assume others are on the same page you are… that they are as open-hearted and compassionate as you, and actually care about their impact on your life… that altruism is ultimately a universal human drive, instinctively spurring the haves to lend support to the have-nots, out of heartfelt concern.

Read in full!

The Daily Show on Gaza

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Ground Troops Move Into Gaza

I woke up this afternoon with this in my inbox from the NY Times:

Armored Column Seen Moving Into Gaza

Israeli television showed a column of tanks moving into the
Gaza Strip on Saturday evening, in what appeared to be the
beginning of a ground offensive against Hamas. The Associated
Press and Agence France-Presse reported that Israeli defense
officials were confirming the movement of ground forces into

This is not good, not good at all.

Friday, January 02, 2009

More on Abu Ghraib and Guantanomo

A report released Thursday by leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee said top Bush administration officials, including Donald H. Rumsfeld, the former defense secretary, bore major responsibility for the abuses committed by American troops in interrogations at Abu Ghraib in Iraq; Guantánamo Bay, Cuba; and other military detention centers.

The report was issued jointly by Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the Democratic chairman of the panel, and Senator John McCain of Arizona, the top Republican. It represents the most thorough review by Congress to date of the origins of the abuse of prisoners in American military custody, and it explicitly rejects the Bush administration’s contention that tough interrogation methods have helped keep the country and its troops safe.

The report also rejected previous claims by Mr. Rumsfeld and others that Defense Department policies played no role in the harsh treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 and in other episodes of abuse.

The abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the report says, “was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own” but grew out of interrogation policies approved by Mr. Rumsfeld and other top officials, who “conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees.”

By the time of the abuses at Abu Ghraib, Mr. Rumsfeld had formally withdrawn approval for use of the harshest techniques, which he authorized in December 2002 and then ruled out a month later. But the report said that those methods, including the use of stress positions and forced nudity, continued to spread through the military detention system, and that their use “damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority.”

The report documents how the military training program called Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape, or SERE, became a crucial source for interrogations as the Bush administration looked for tougher methods after the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The SERE training was devised decades ago to give American military personnel a taste of the treatment they might face if taken prisoner by China, the Soviet Union or other cold war adversaries. “The techniques were never intended to be used against detainees in U.S. custody,” Mr. Levin said in a statement.

The committee’s report says little about the Central Intelligence Agency, except to note that that agency also drew on the SERE program for harsh methods it used in secret overseas jails for Qaeda suspects. The C.I.A. has said it used waterboarding, a method of near-drowning previously used in the Navy’s SERE program, on three captured terrorism suspects in 2002 and 2003.

Unlike the military, the C.I.A. is still permitted to use some coercive methods, though the precise rules are classified. The agency has said that it no longer uses waterboarding.