Sunday, May 31, 2009

BREAKING NEWS - George Tiller Dead

via Feministe

Dr. George Tiller was shot dead as he was walking into his Sunday morning church services.

Dr. Tiller was one of the few late-term abortion providers in the country. He had previously been shot, his clinic burnt down, harassed by ideological anti-abortion attorney generals, and threatened with death countless times. We’ve written about his many trials and tribulations here numerous times. Still, Dr. Tiller continued to provide abortions to women who desperately needed them, to save their own lives or health, or due to tragic fetal deformities. He put the health of women above his own life.

And now he is dead.

Suspect is NOT in custody.

Those in Wichita area please check out the details and contact police if you see anything:

Police were looking for a blue Ford Taurus with a K-State vanity plate, license number 225 BAB. Police described him as a white male in his 50’s or 60’s, 6′1,” 220 lbs, wearing a white shirt and dark pants.

Written on Wednesday the 27th

The Icing on the Fucking Cake...

The animal shelter who we were assured was holding her for us, killed my aunt’s fucking cat.

But that's not where the story of my trip to Las Vegas starts...

Yesterday started out rough but then got easier. Today, well, not so much.

Yesterday we drove about 7 hours and arrived to find out that much of the information we had been told over the phone for the last two weeks, was in fact wrong. Bunch of bureaucratic bullshit summed up – someone was fucking flat lying, because what they told us about the lease, when we FOUND the lease (which my aunt led my father to), was not true. To sum up, if what they had told us had been true, our trip would have been halfway for nothing because we would not have been allowed to take my aunt's stuff back with us (mostly my grandmother's stuff).

But from there, we were able to pack up my aunt’s stuff and get ahead of schedule. We even had some laughs. A couple incidents attested to her presence and her laughing at/with us.

Today… We were supposed to get started at 9am this morning with the preliminary hearing. I’ve gathered that this means they go over all the witness testimony and other evidence they have and the judge decides if there is enough evidence to continue to a jury trial. We were hoping that he (my aunt’s accused murderer) would simply have worked out a deal. No such luck. We came in and sat down and there he was; one of a dozen defendants in custody. Shortly, he was moved and ended up sitting about 12 feet away. We sat like that for the better part of 3.5 hours. How fucked up is that?

He was the last defendant up that day. I dunno how many cases we sat through, mostly plea deals, a few not. One that was most thorough was another domestic violence case, this time where the female victim (btw the vast majority were DV cases and all were male defendants) survived and was testifying against her husband.  It was clear she just wanted to forget about it, it took about three tries to get the story she told the cops out of her while she was on the stand and she had to keep being instructed to speak up because her quiet voice was inaudible. I felt terrible for her.

Her husband ended up being sentenced to two days in jail, 90 days suspended sentence and community service or something. That’s it, for pushing her, slapping her hard enough to make her nose bleed and BITING her (and gods know what kind of mental abuse to put her in the state she was in).

Finally though, we were up and my Grandad had to testify. But because there were so many cases that day, he was the only testimony taken. The first responder (who we were able to talk with) was sent home, and the prelim will continue on Friday the 5th. Grandad was only allowed to speak because we came in from out of town, my dad’s testimony won’t be needed (unless it goes to jury trial, I guess, because he was excluded from the courtroom).

We then got my Aunt’s ashes from the mortuary, and then went to check on her cat Cleo and found out what happened there...

I don’t even know what I would do if Travis died in some unexpected way and our cat was taken by such folks and I returned home to find this out… There would be fucking hell to pay, I do know that, I would sue them so bad.

My dad (AND Grandad!!) had spoken with the people who had Cleo removed from the premises and they ASSURED them both she would be taken care of until we could get there. Again, someone either flaked or is lying, because the animal shelter people said they’d gotten no such information and thus Cleo was subjected to the normal 10 day recovery period. And then they tried to tell us "well she was in pain". Wow, holy shit, no kidding, her person was murdered in front of her and she wasn't feeling great?

So we ended with no closure in the case against Dave and a living link to my aunt, who'd been through so much with her – dead too.

I dunno, it’s almost too much for me.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Forced to Pay Rent on a Homeless Shelter???

via Womanist Musings
By Brenda Ryan
New York

Published May 25, 2009 11:02 AM

The cruelty of capitalism is clear as more than 5.7 million people in the U.S. have lost their jobs in the last 18 months and hundreds of thousands of homes are foreclosed every month. Now New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has come up with a new form of ruthlessness for those suffering the most.

His administration recently started charging rent to homeless people who are working and live in public shelters. People must pay up to 50 percent of their income to stay in these minimal facilities. They are making far too little to rent a place of their own. Having to turn over a huge portion of their earnings for rent means they won’t be able to save money to get out of the shelters.

The New York Times reported May 9 that one woman who makes $8.40 per hour as a cashier at Sbarro received a notice that she would have to give $336 of her approximately $800-per-month income to a shelter she has lived in since March. Another woman who makes $1,700 per month as a security guard was told she must pay $1,099 in rent to her shelter.

“Families are being told to pay up or get out,” Steven Banks, the chief attorney for Legal Aid Society, told the Times. He noted that a survivor of domestic violence was actually locked out of her room.

Billionaire Bloomberg is pushing this policy as a record number of people have lost their homes. The Coalition for the Homeless reported in December that the number of homeless families in New York City was 9,720—the highest level since the city began reporting such data 25 years ago. The total number of homeless people was 36,000, including nearly 16,000 children.

Not only has the economic crisis increased poverty and homelessness, but the Coalition for the Homeless says Bloomberg’s policy of denying federal housing vouchers to homeless people has also increased the number of people in shelters. Those who receive federal housing vouchers pay no more than 30 percent of their income on rent. In 2004 Bloomberg halted the city’s long-time practice of giving homeless families priority in receiving the vouchers.

The city’s new shelter policy is based on a 1995 regulation issued by then-Governor George Pataki. The rule was never implemented because of an ongoing class action lawsuit against the city. The case, which was filed in 1983 and settled in 2008, claimed the city failed to provide adequate shelter for homeless families.

The new “income contribution requirement” is devastating for people who aren’t earning enough to live on in the most costly city in the country. One-bedroom apartments typically cost more than $1,500, even in the outer boroughs.

New York State Assembly member Keith Wright held a press conference on May 14 denouncing Bloomberg’s policy and announcing legislation to halt the new rules.

People must fight back against all attacks on poor and working people. No rent for shelters! Stop evictions and foreclosures!
Articles copyright 1995-2009 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Just a note

Letting everyone know I made it home.

Internet cost money in our hotel. WTF.

It was a good trip but very emotional, I definitely have a lot of thoughts and will be sharing them, I think.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Once a Week Links of Awesome

The High Cost of Poverty
This won’t surprise people who have ever been poor, but poor people pay more for things that middle-class people take for granted.

whatsername says: yah this is definitely noticeable in my neighborhood. Husband and I manage to save money only because my family was middle class enough to get my a car when I was 18, so we can drive to places like Costco etc. to save money.

DYP goes hardddd
everyday people brush us off ’cause we talk a little differently, think a little differently, move a little differently or because we are from group homes, in the foster care system, etc. they just don’t know. i love how creative you are. give you thirty minutes, markers, poster paper, and you come up with hot shit like this

Support diverse midwifery education!

Creativity and Living Abroad

Invite to 2nd NYC Anti-Displacement Encuentro

After all that…nothing?

labor time, clock time, & story time, part III

Joe The Plumber: Men Kissing Throws Me Off
whatsername says: I really hate to give this douchebag attention, but Renee's post on his comments are too good to pass by.

Native News Stories

Unfortunately, the Numbers Don’t Lie

'Comedian' Jay Mohr Disses The First Lady

White People Like to Discover Things
Because point blank if it wasn't NECESSARY , you wouldn't be in love with our communities or in our neighborhoods, because when you weren't your barely pretended they existed.

What can White Women do?

Nude Photos of Rihanna and Prejean Which One Is The Slut?

Oh my God, was your high school boyfriend onto something?

Weekly Immigration Wire: Women Central to Immigration Story

stuff white people do: use clichés that trivialize mass oppression

State of Arizona Commits Negligent Homicide Against Sex Worker

whatsername says: I had no idea about this history of discrimination at Denny's
Damn Denny's And 'Errbody' Else, Let My People Pee

The Woman In The Zoot Suit: Gender, Nationalism, and the Cultural Politics of Memory

Tyra Asks: Is Gay the New Black?

whatsername says: this movie is about Hypatia, and if you know who she is, you know why I'm interested, if you don't, you should look her up!
Post-Cannes Reaction to “Agora”

what is butch?

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Case-study: Part 3

Part Three: The Role of Gender and Sexuality in Whiteness

The perpetuation of whiteness as discussed in regards to heterosexuality and gender is displayed well in the case of the archetypal “gay white male” as well.[1] Whiteness is so invisibly entrenched in the minds of American citizens that it is adaptable enough now to include some of those who before it could not – homosexual/queer identified people. And as entrenched as whiteness is, the movement for gay rights has often replicated its demands in their own organizing. “To gain recognition and credibility, some gay organizations and media began to aggressively promote the so-called positive image of a generic gay community that is an upscale, mostly male, and mostly white consumer market with mainstream, even traditional values.”[2]

While perhaps different on the surface, this appeal to “mainstream, even traditional values” is not very different from the appeal made by Blee’s Klan Women, as both groups are appealing their exclusion from public life by displaying a constructed vision of all that they and the group in power have in common, at the expense of those who do not meet the ideal.[3] Thus, as in the two examples discussed before it, the image of the “gay white male” helps maintain the social structure and understanding of whiteness, as well as perpetuate the ideals which serve as its foundation.

In my view, this appeal is made because of an unconscious understanding of intersectionality on the part of each group making their citizenship claims. Raised to believe in the legitimizing force of the ideals of whiteness, it only seems logical to point out “we’re just like you”. Groups of activists each can identify a part of their identity which overlaps with the ideals of proper American whiteness and use that to bring legitimacy to their whole body. Of course, reciprocally, appealing to whiteness in this way gives whiteness itself more legitimacy and reinforces its power in the cultural imagination. Such is the fundamental mistake of this “we’re just like you” appeal, and appeal too many social justice advocates and groups make (such as the Campaign for Military Service discussed in Berube[4]).

By its very nature as a hierarchal power structure, whiteness thrives on Othering people and defining itself against what it is not. As has been shown in the cases discussed in this paper: white womanhood’s role in the WKKK, “normal” heterosexuality in the marriage manuals, and appeals to whiteness in gay rights organizing; it is possible for groups to use this method to appeal for rights of full citizenship. However, to do so inevitably comes at the expense of someone else. In addition, such an appeal does not in any way dismantle the structure which made the appeal necessary in the first place. No, in fact, to structure a social justice appeal in this way only makes that over-arching oppressive structure of whiteness stronger, more invisible, and harder to tear down. And that is the role that gender and sexuality have played in whiteness.

[1] Berube, Making and Unmaking of Whiteness.

[2] Berube, Making and Unmaking of Whiteness, 235.

[3] Berube, Making and Unmaking of Whiteness, 239.

[4] Berube, Making and Unmaking of Whiteness, 239.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

So I Went and Saw Star Trek

(ON IMAX suckers!)

And then I read Black Amazon's post and got really annoyed by the idiocy of some fellow sci-fi folks. I haven't looked into what's going on with that in depth yet, but I read the links BA's put in her post, and it seems that some people are having trouble with Uhura and Spock's relationship. Apparently such a relationship makes her a "whore"? (As an LJ commenter pointed out, if her being in a monogamous relationship makes her a whore, what exactly the fuck is James T. Kirk?)

Others apparently annoyed that she didn't get a big enough part, or was relegated to "just a girlfriend". Now, at least here I can see some justification. But let's remember folks, this is an INTRO movie. The only characters who got any REAL development were Kirk, Spock and Bones and even they got very little. This is to be expected. That said, yes, I was left wanting more Uhura, and specifically Uhura that didn't relate to her relationship with Spock, I would like to see more of her as an individual in the next movie (you know, like Uhura was SUPPOSED TO BE in the series).

But the relationship doesn't diminish her. I can't say much here that hasn't already been said at BA's and at the lj link she included. Call me silly, but brainy girls are just as awesome to me as ass kicking girls. And clearly she was not just the top of her class but rather a genius. That's a good set up for character development if you ask me. BUT LET'S HAVE SOME OF THAT PLEASE NEXT TIME.

I will tell you something that annoyed me though... Why was Harold from Harold and Kumar in this movie as Sulu? Don't get me wrong, his part was cool enough I suppose. John Cho is a fine actor and all that. But. He's Korean. Sulu is Japanese. Why does Hollywood still think Asian actors just all look alike? I mean, for serious? He doesn't look remotely like George Takai (unlike the UNCANNY resemblance between Quinto and Nimoy and no it was not just the ears) or sound remotely like George Takai. I mean, just, that just kept annoying me. Zachary Quinto really couldn't call up Masi Oka? I mean, hello, he IS Japanese, also he looks a LOT more like young George, he's awesome, and oh yah HE PLAYED GEORGE TAKAI'S SON already, which would have made a hilarious cross-franchise tie-in (one I would have especially appreciated since BOTH Takai and Nichols have been on Heroes).

(And let me be perfectly clear here, in the hierarchy of irritants, the fact that the actor doesn't look like the original actor is my chief annoyance, after that it's like, wait, so they didn't get someone who looked like him OR someone who was even of the same ethnicity?  Were they even trying or do they just think all Asians look alike so we won't even notice that this guy doesn't look like Takei?)

I shall also complain about excessive slow motion action blow up sequences. About 3/4 of the way through I was starting to get bored with them. I just DIDN'T CARE. I was way more interested in the interpersonal stuff going on with these new actors and this new version of the crew. Yes JJ you can shoot a pretty action sequence, congratulations, WE KNOW. So yah a bit less of that would not be amiss.

But lest you get the wrong idea, I really liked the movie overall. I enjoy the new franchise.

But there is one more thing, to anyone who's seen it... When Spock and Kirk are fighting on the bridge and Spock's got him pinned down with his hand on Kirk's throat and he's just choking and glaring, did anyone else have the inescapable feeling Sylar-Spock was totally about the cut the top of his head off?

Cuz I did, and I started laughing hysterically while poking my husband and making that finger motion and laughing some more.

Thus ends the review.

A Case-study: Part 2

Part Two: The Role of Gender and Sexuality in Whiteness

The new understanding of womanhood [addressed in the previous post] intersects with a similarly (then) new narrative of so-called “normal” sexuality; a concept which was coming to be understood during the same era through the work of psychiatrists like Beatrice M. Hinkle.[1] “Between 1920 and 1940, modernization’s impact on marriage was a central issue in American popular culture”[2] and so-called “marriage manuals” instructing couples how to prevent the disintegration of their own marriages were becoming all the rage. While at first glance this practice would appear to be race-neutral, there is a silent subtext of whiteness which is pervasive in these manuals, “a race-evasive, power evasive response to the fear that white civilization in the United States might be destroyed by its own evolved superiority.”[3] Thus, “normal” sexuality, like “modern womanhood” relied heavily on white supremacist beliefs. However, unlike “modern womanhood” as practiced in the WKKK, “normal” sexuality’s appeals to whiteness were far more subtle.

Instead of appealing overtly to the inferiority of non-white persons, the discourse on “normal” sexuality relied on the racially loaded idea of “civilized” and “non-civilized” persons and society. But, as people of color have been unrelentingly portrayed specifically as less civilized than Anglos, this is clearly a racialized standard, even if not explicitly stated so. Therefore, sexuality’s role in maintaining whiteness here was in categorizing sexual philosophy and behaviors that were “normal” and demonizing all variations from that norm. This portrayal reciprocally reinforced a vision of whiteness as “civilized” and non-white races (as well as non-heterosexual sexualities) as less than. Thus, “the kind of ideal whiteness that had once set refined Anglos apart from other Americans was itself normalized…so that self-alignment with white racial ideals was increasingly represented…as the basic requirement for participation in American life.”[4] By “suturing” whiteness to “normal” sexuality, the marriage manual writers also quite successfully helped whiteness fade into obscurity as a blatant influence, further normalizing it.

Normalization is something both the marriage manuals and the WKKK did well in their usage of sexuality and gender to maintain whiteness; tying their efforts to citizenship claims. By defining their standards as “American” or “true American” standards, the influence of whiteness became an unconscious one, with the dominant narrative being that of the proper national citizen, not whiteness itself. This approach manipulated unconscious racist assumptions, giving credibility to white citizen’s suspicion of people of color. And this created a narrative of; “they” (people of color) are different from “us” (white people) in tangible ways; it’s not that we’re against these people; it’s just that we’re for proper citizenship![5] This evolving narrative of proper gender and sexuality is therefore unconsciously but irrevocably tied to whiteness in such a way that only helps whiteness perpetuate itself.

[1] Carter, Heart of Whiteness, 6.

[2] Carter, Heart of Whiteness, 1.

[3] Carter, Heart of Whiteness, 2.

[4] Carter, Heart of Whiteness, 4.

[5] Blee, Women of the KKK.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Life Before the Lobotomy

Dreaming I was only dreaming Of another place and time
Where my family's from

Singing I can hear [her] singing
When the rains have washed away All these scattered dreams

Dying Everyone's reminded Hearts are washed in misery
Drenched in gasoline

Laughter There is no more laughter Songs of yesterday
Now live in the underground

Life before the lobotomy Christian sang the eulogy
Sign my love a lost memory From the end of the century

Well, it's enough to make you sick
To cast a stone and throw a brick
When the sky is falling down It burned your dreams into the ground

Christian's lesson is what he's been sold We are normal and self-controlled Remember to learn to forget Whiskey shots and cheap cigarettes

Well I'm not stoned I'm just fucked up
I got so high I can't stand up
Well I'm not cursed 'cause I've been blessed
I'm not in love 'cause I'm a mess

Like refugees We are lost like refugees
The brutality of reality Is the freedom that keeps me from

Dreaming I am only dreaming Of another place and time
Where my family's from

Singing I can hear [her] singing
When the rain have washed away All the scattered dreams

Dying Everyone's reminded Hearts are washed in misery
Drenched in gasoline

Laughter There is no more laughter Songs of yesterday
Now live in the underground

-copyright Green Day 2009-
"Before the Lobotomy"
words in [] represent my changes bolding my emphasis
I have had this on works so well to describe how I feel on every level.

A Case-study: The Role of Gender and Sexuality in Whiteness

Yet again I bring you a paper written for school, this one on the role gender and sexuality play in whiteness in some texts that we read in class. This will be a three part series, one posted every day. I do not know if, at the beginning of the week, I will have access to a computer. Myself and my grandad, brother, father and uncle will be on our way to Las Vegas to wrap up my aunt's affairs, I will have my laptop with me but who knows if I will find wifi to connect to. If I do, expect to see me blogging about the trip. If not, there will be saved posts coming up when I get home. But for now, enjoy the fruits of my labors!

Part One

Gender and sexuality have played important roles in perpetuating and maintaining the legitimacy of whiteness. Because gender is a social construct, the way a society views gender can be manipulated to fit changing social needs, and those needs frequently fundamentally normalize whiteness. Similarly, as understandings of sexuality have changed, the newly emerging narratives also frequently appeal to normalized understandings of white supremacy to acquire legitimacy in the cultural imagination. In this essay, I am going to explore three ways gender and sexuality have maintained and reinforced whiteness; specifically, through the ideas of “modern womanhood,”[1] “normal sexuality,”[2] and the archetypal “gay white male.”[3]

To begin, the first incarnation of the KKK “summoned white men to protect threatened white womanhood and white female purity.”[4] This KKK utilized an understanding of imperiled white womanhood as a rallying cry against Black men in particular. But, in the second incarnation of the Ku Klux Klan “modern womanhood” was utilized differently, to unite the white women themselves behind the banner of white supremacy in a guise of feminist solidarity and social activism.[5] Women, now enfranchised, objected to being left out of their husband’s activities. Citing reasons ranging from: protection from physical harm no longer being justified, to fraternal secrecy violating “the essence of ‘new marriages’ in which women were equal partners with their husbands,”[6] to demanding why “white native-born Protestant women [should] be excluded from the Klan…along with such inferior groups as the ‘Knights of Columbus, Jews or negroes”[7] these women demanded recognition of their new rights.

Conceptions of “modern womanhood” dictated the right of women to be involved in public community life and this belief was assimilated into the prevailing community structures of white supremacy (the KKK). As a result, the WKKK (Women of the Ku Klux Klan) was founded; a group which allowed white Protestant native-born American women the ability to work for their own causes within the white supremacist community of their husbands and fathers. Importantly, “without ‘sacrifice of that womanly dignity and modesty we all admire.’”[8] In this way, the expanding role of white women in public life rested directly on those same women reinforcing the ideology of whiteness. And the result of reinforcement is, of course, the further normalization of white supremacy.

[1] Kathleen Blee, Women of the KKK: Racism and Gender in the 1920s, (Berkeley: University of California, 1991).

[2] Julian B. Carter, The Heart of Whiteness: Normal Sexuality and Race in America, 1880-1940, (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2007). Please note that all page numbers for Carter citations will be in reference to the printed copy of a .pdf file of this text.

[3] Allan Berube, The Making and Unmaking of Whiteness, Brigit Brander Rasmussen, Eric Klinenberg, Irene J. Nexica, and Matt Wray, eds., (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2001).

[4] Blee, Women of the KKK, 11.

[5] Blee, Women of the KKK.

[6] Blee, Women of the KKK, 24.

[7] Blee, Women of the KKK, 24.

[8] Blee, Women of the KKK, 30.