Whenever Assata Shakur is in the news, even now in 2016, prominent newspapers refuse to use her legal name (Assata Shakur) and instead deliberately use versions of her old name (she was born JoAnne Deborah Byron). They respect that she changed her name briefly after getting married (to JoAnne Chesimard), but not the change to Assata Shakur. Here is the New York Post doing it two days ago. Here is the New York Times doing it in 2014.
This article informs me that they did the same to Muhammad Ali when he changed his name from Cassius Clay. This seems to be a special form of disrespect and identity erasure that “the establishment” and the white mainstream reserve for POC, women and queers who they deem too uppity, and whose identities alone are considered so dangerous to white cis-het-male hegemony that their names are literally unspeakable, unprintable.
I posted in a public forum today, asking what the going rate for DJs is in the town I recently moved to.
Several men mistook my post to be a *request for them to DJ* and sent me unsolicited private messages.
Then came Roman.
Roman was just a regular guy who was *very concerned* that I couldn’t possibly be an experienced DJ, as I claimed, and not be Right On Top of current DJ rates in medium-sized midwestern towns.
He assured me he meant no disrespect. He was just VERY CONCERNED that I might be lying about the whole “experienced DJ” thing. And it was very important that he air this concern in a very public manner, being sure to tag me into his comment.
I am COMPLETELY CONVINCED that he had NO INTENTION of publicly humiliating me in front of potential clients. (sarcasm)
Before I could respond, the forum moderators deleted my post and all comments. They did not inform me why.
This is what I needed to say to Roman.
I have been a DJ for 15 years. I have DJed friends’ weddings, parties, cultural events, fundraisers, on the radio, clubs, you name it. I have DJed across the country, but not in a celebrity kind of way… just having fun with friends and the communities I lived in.
Since I started as a teenager, there have always been men who told me I couldn’t do it. I can’t possibly be a DJ. That’s a man’s job.
And men worked to keep it a man’s job. Men have laughed in my face for wanting to be a DJ. Men have insulted me to my face. And behind my back. And online. They have sexually harassed me, groped me, and stalked me. They have posted threats and insults about me online because I was a woman and I was in public and I was getting attention.
Men have collaborated together to push me out and keep me out of certain spaces where they thought I didn’t belong. They have kicked me off of line-ups for being “too gay” and “not serious” (wtf?). They have used their influence at venues to make sure their inexperienced male friends got gigs, while locking myself and other female performers out. They have talked down to me, explaining basic information about equipment to me like I was some kind of child, when I have a top-notch set up at home that I paid for myself, with money made from DJing. They have come up to me while I am DJing, and attempted to physically push me aside while grabbing my records because they assumed it is totally cool to do that…. to a woman.
And yet, I never let any of these men stop me. I kept on doing it. Now I live in Lawrence. And I will keep on doing it.
Here I am, in my mid-30s. What has changed? I can still be publicly humiliated by a strange man named Roman who believes I cannot possibly be a DJ. Because I am a woman, and I spoke up in a public forum. And that forum chose to erase my voice and presence instead of let me be a woman, and a DJ, in public.
This Kansas City Star op-ed, while using Black Lives Matter language, makes the claim that pro-gun legislators only think of rural white hunters, and don’t consider that lax gun laws mean that Black people can get guns to murder with.
“White legislators do not care that black men in Kansas City and St. Louis can kill easier because of the laws passed in Jefferson City.”
Here is a little something to take with you if you happen to be driving around looking at Christmas lights and decor.
The bingo card is blank, followed by a list of potential bingo items. This is so you can fill in the blanks with random items from the list, creating a variety of different bingo cards so that you can effectively compete against others. This one is a Word document.
Here are four bingo cards in PDF format, filled out with four different combinations.
“To make a mess that another person will have to deal with—the dropped socks, the toothpaste sprayed on the bathroom mirror, the dirty dishes left from a late-night snack—is to exert domination in one of its more silent and intimate forms.”
I’m going to express an unpopular opinion. This is a reaction to social media memes that aim to make feminism feel safe and non-threatening to men by saying some variation of “feminism helps men too!”
To be honest, my feminism has nothing to do with men. If men want to begin a movement to dismantle toxic masculinity, I’d support that. But I am not doing this work and living this life for men. I’m doing it for me, for my liberation from this painful patriarchy, and for other women.
I am not trying to make feminism “safe” for men. My feminism is supposed to make them uncomfortable. It is about liberation from men’s oppression, so it had better make them uncomfortable! I am not down with this safe neo-liberal brand of feminism that focuses on centering men and making sure men are comfortable with what the little feminist women are up to.
I’m not trying to collect male allies. Men can decide based on their own consciousness whether or not they would like to stop behaving in sexist, oppressive ways. But self-declared “male allies” are usually the ones who hurt me the most because they use that label to distract from their *actual behavior*, which is just as shitty. However, I can spot a man who is truly acting in solidarity with women from a mile away. It’s his actions, not his words, that make it obvious.
Like do we make the Black Lives Matter people say “Oh we’re fighting for white victims of police brutality too?” in order to legitimize them in white eyes? Do we make BDS activists explain how actually, their movement is equally pro-Israeli government as it is pro-Palestine? So that Israelis aren’t offended? No we do not.
The “we’re just like you!” and “our cause will also benefit [fill in privileged group of oppressors who is the reason the cause exists]” tactics in social justice movements are conservative trends that neutralize the radical message of equality and liberation and turn it into a superficial popularity contest that is no longer a threat to the status quo.
Cooptation. That’s what it’s called.
My feminism isn’t simply “to be equal to men”. I don’t like the society, the government, or the world that male supremacy has created. I’d rather men start their own movement “to be equal to women”.
What is annoying me in the lgbtq world right now, post Supreme Court marriage equality decision:
This conservative stance being publicly embraced to tell the straight white middle and upper classes “we’re just like you!”. No, we are not.
Most of us aren’t able-bodied cis white gay dudes who just needed one more right to be as privileged as straight white dudes. Most of us have a broader vision for what love and family and relationships can be and who is important to our movement. I’d rather celebrate and honor our differences with love and understanding than enforce a sameness that happens to match neatly with capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy.
I found a lot of truth in a blog post I read recently called “Positive Attitude” Bullshit: On the dangers of “radical self-love”.
People whose lives aren’t going well or who experience mental illness are often subjected to “positive thinking” and New-Age-y “manifest abundance” crap. The idea is that if you just think the right kind of thoughts and change yourself with sheer willpower and perhaps by purchasing certain self-help books, suddenly you will get what you want in life.
Life doesn’t actually work that way. Marginalized and neuro-atypical people can’t just think their way out of institutionalized systems of oppression. These systems mean we get shittier jobs, get paid less, are harassed and degraded for existing as ourselves, and have less access to generational wealth and benefits. “Positive thinking” and the idea that simply changing how you think will change how rewarding and comfortable your life is hides how capitalism, white supremacy, and heteropatriarchy form your life conditions and chances.
It makes the systemic problems and violence of capitalism into into individual flaws. It takes unfair external conditions shaped by the effects of centuries-old oppressions and tells you that your lack of total success in life is actually your personal fault. And there are certain self-appointed people who somehow have discovered the right way to think, and they are happy to sell you products so that you too can discipline your naughty negative thoughts.
New-Age-y positive thinking philosophies, which some corporations have used to indoctrinate their workers, are just another cover for rapacious hyper-capitalism. They are a clever way of keeping people divided and focused on their personal flaws and their personal financial goals and their personal relationship problems.
Instead, what would be truly POSITIVE for most people would be to band together and find ways to end our current economic system, which requires a few winners and a lot of losers to work. It would be POSITIVE if we remembered community, unions, liberation, a multitude of loving relationships, and collaboration instead of competition. Caring people coming together to overthrow our hateful system and creating something new that benefits everyone by design is more my style of positive thinking.
The Baltimore looters and rioters have something figured out. If everyone struggling against racist police brutality was a peaceful marcher, we wouldn’t even be discussing Baltimore right now.
In the recent years of activism against racist police brutality, we have seen many peaceful marches, protests, vigils, and rallies. There have been hundreds of thousands of participants across the country and across the world. These are fabulous actions. These are people standing up, being seen and making their voices heard in public. A mass movement against white supremacy is vital.
Do these peaceful protests dominate the mainstream news cycles? How much time have important politicians given to peaceful protesters and their prominent leaders or their sponsoring non-profits? How much change has occurred on the ground?
But as soon as a Black person loots or riots, the MSM are ALL OVER IT. We saw this with Ferguson. Complaining about this fact doesn’t change it. Peaceful protests do not make headlines and do not dominate news cycles. Nonviolent protest is the safest tactic for most people, it allows for mass participation, and by demonstrating that large numbers of people care about this issue, it is an important part of the struggle to end white supremacy. But it does not do all things. Relying on a single tactic for such a massive undertaking is setting us up to fail.
Other tactics exist. We should use all tactics if we are serious about our goal. This is called diversity of tactics, and it has a very interesting history.
Looking purely at effectiveness: what brought the Baltimore Black community’s oppression to mainstream national attention? We have the rioters to thank. Flagrant injustices committed against them have gone unnoticed by the MSM for years. It was the rioters and looters, people who actually broke the laws that have unjustly targeted them, who took real risks to their livelihood and safety, who disobeyed the rules of capitalism, who brought this struggle to the mainstream national news. Peaceful protesting is not a tactic that succeeded in this way. It is safe, sanitized, controlled by “leaders” with agendas, and easily ignored.
Rioting is rational for the people under these circumstances. I think oppressed people, when the police, the government, the justice system, the media, and the wider society have failed them, have every right to rise up against their oppression using whatever means they deem necessary.
We’re observing bravery; racists and reactionaries will call it thuggery, and traitors will demand resistance be a little more polite–no rocks, no fire please. Respect the law that desecrates you, uphold the property relations that oppress you, and don’t forget decorum.
Liberals, entrenched community leaders and white allies do not like this tactic. They can be found blaming rioting and looting on “a few thugs” the “criminal element taking advantage of the situation” or my favorite, “outside agitators.” They still believe in respectability politics: that if Blacks can just prove to whites that they are Just Like Us, by living unimpeachable, perfect, Cosby Show lives, whites will suddenly dismantle institutionalized racism. This tactic was thoroughly debunked in the sixties, but clearly continues to hold allure for those who are afraid of what it would mean to take more drastic measures. It also reinforces that there are indeed certain contemptible Black people who must be separated out from the “good” Black people.
It hurts my ears to hear liberals mouth the phrase “outside agitators” to disown the most militant anti-racist-oppression agitators. That phrase has a history. It has a long association with Black uprisings against white supremacy and capitalism. To use that phrase is to tap into America’s disgusting history of justifying Black oppression and privation. Outside agitators were blamed for slave revolts because it was believed Blacks were too stupid to rebel against their enslavement. Outside agitators were blamed for various riots throughout the 20th century, including the Watts riots. George Wallace, the infamous Jim Crow-supporting Alabama governor, blamed Black organizing and rebellion on outside agitators. Often these agitators were painted as in some way socialist because property was destroyed. Communist agitators fomenting Black rebellion was discussed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the sixties.
Of course, as it turns out, the Baltimore looters and rioters were locals. Well-meaning liberals and allies need to cut it out with this “outside agitators” crap right now. What we have on our hands are local heroes, and it is wrong to rob them of their bravery by saying they couldn’t have done it. It must have been the communists!
Looters and rioters are the bravest participants of the protest against police brutality in Baltimore. They also have a very effective tactic when it comes to attracting media attention. As we move forward, we need to learn and adapt so that our battles against white supremacy can be more efficacious. This is more than theory: lives are at stake.
Further reading: here is a big information dump of background on the history of Black people in Baltimore and their encounters with racism.
Many people believe there aren’t any organized alternatives to the corporate duopoly show that comes to town every election season. The good news is that there are many options, and the more votes that leftist parties get, the more legitimacy they gain in the media and the public eye, and the closer they get to being real challengers to the status quo. (Learn more about how that can happen here.)
A vote for a Democrat or a Republican is a vote for business as usual: systemic racism, patriarchal abuse of women, queers and trans folk, labor abuse, murderous military adventures abroad, destruction of public goods and services, and of course fat cat corporate oligarchy. Despite what liberals say, YOU DO NOT HAVE TO VOTE FOR THIS SYSTEM. Do not be emotionally blackmailed into another cycle of legitimizing this system only to watch it hurt the same people it always hurts. You have options, which include not voting (a legitimate choice in itself, called conscientious abstention), or voting for Progressive, Socialist or Communist parties. Below is a list of currently active leftist parties, with links and short self-descriptions.
The largest leftist party is the Green Party, which boasts over 100 elected officials in the United States.
Committed to environmentalism, non-violence, social justice and grassroots organizing, Greens are renewing democracy without the support of corporate donors. Greens provide real solutions for real problems. Whether the issue is universal health care, corporate globalization, alternative energy, election reform or decent, living wages for workers, Greens have the courage and independence necessary to take on the powerful corporate interests.
But there are so many other options for Progressives, Socialists, Communists, and other Leftists. For example:
The Trotskyist Socialist Alternative, with a city council member in Seattle, Kshama Sawant.
We are a national organization fighting in our workplaces, communities, and campuses against the exploitation and injustices people face every day. We are community activists fighting against budget cuts in public services; we are activists campaigning for a $15/hour minimum wage and fighting, democratic unions; we are people of all colors speaking out against racism and attacks on immigrants, students organizing against tuition hikes and war, women and men fighting sexism and homophobia.
The New York-founded Working Families Party, which has a state Senator in New York, Letitia James.
Working Families is a growing progressive political organization that fights for an economy that works for all of us, and a democracy in which every voice matters. We believe that our children’s life chances must not be determined at birth, and that America must be a nation that allows all its people to thrive.
The Democratic-Socialist Socialist Party USA, which has an elected official in New Jersey, Pat Noble.
The Socialist Party stands for the abolition of every form of domination and exploitation, whether based on social class, gender, race/ethnicity, age, education, sexual orientation, or other characteristics.
The revolutionary-feminist Freedom Socialist Party
The Freedom Socialist Party is a working class organization composed of women and men of many races, nationalities, sexual orientations and ages who are fighting for a new, just social order that will serve the majority of the human race. In a time of environmental and economic crisis, perpetual war, high unemployment, immigrant scapegoating and rampant corporate theft, we reject despair and work collectively for a future cleansed of all oppression and violence.
The nearly 100-year-old Communist Party USA
A better and peaceful world is possible — a world where people and nature come before profits. That’s socialism. That’s our vision. We are the Communist Party USA.
The Marxist-Leninist Party for Socialism and Liberation
At the same time as we aim for revolution in this country, we stand for defense of the existing workers’ states, the national liberation movements, and for workers and oppressed people around the world. The magnitude of our tasks will be matched by our determination to win.
The Peace and Freedom Party, which has had such notable nominees for president as Leonard Peltier, Ralph Nader, and Roseann Barr.
The Peace and Freedom Party is committed to socialism, democracy, ecology, feminism and racial equality. We represent the working class, those without capital in a capitalist society. We organize toward a world where cooperation replaces competition, a world where all people are well fed, clothed and housed; where all women and men have equal status; where all individuals may freely endeavor to fulfill their own talents and desires; a world of freedom and peace where every community retains its cultural integrity and lives with all others in harmony.
The Trotskyist Socialist Equality Party
The Socialist Equality Party is a political party of and for the working class. The SEP seeks not to reform capitalism, but to create a socialist, democratic and egalitarian society through the establishment of a workers’ government and the revolutionary transformation of world economy. We seek to unify workers in the United States and internationally in the common struggle for socialism—that is, for equality and the rational and democratic utilization of the wealth of the planet.
Socialist Action is a national group of activists committed to the emancipation of workers and the oppressed. We strive to revitalize the anti-war, labor, anti-racist, feminist, student and other social movements. In the process we hope to bring activists together from different backgrounds into a revolutionary workers’ party that can successfully challenge the wealthy elite. Our ultimate goal is a truly democratic society organized to satisfy human needs, rather than corporate greed.
What the Justice Party envisions:
A peaceful nation and world where social, economic, and environmental justice prevail.
Time to change your party affiliation on your voter registration card? Who doesn’t want to be a card-carrying Communist??
I am so happy the insightful and brilliant writer Katie Barnes took on this topic in her article On Queered Masculinity and Misogyny for Feministing. In a lot of queer spaces you can’t talk about this because masculine women and other masc-presenting people assigned female at birth are more visibly queer than femme women. So they get more shit from straights, but they get more recognition and celebration amongst queers for that visibility. Double-edged and confusing sword there.
Because of that visible queerness, for which they are oppressed, it feels like we can’t talk about the way some queer masculinity uses misogyny to prop itself up. This Is How To Be Masculine. This Is What You Do. You need to denigrate, sexualize, objectify, condescend to, trivialize and mock femininity. The outside world may oppress you, but in your queer world, you can now oppress femmes and get your power back.
Here is what Barnes experienced:
It became more important for me to be read as masculine, and so I performed masculinity in the ways that I had been taught through media, my friends, and my family. I would often open doors for women, offer to carry items for them, and openly objectify women with my father and brother, because I was one of the bros after all and this was what bros did.
She goes on to own up to other excellent examples from her own experiences, which she takes apart and examines with excellent self-reflection.
I guess this kind of critique could sound like tired old critiques of the butch-femme dynamic. I don’t want to do that. I am not critiquing anyone’s gender identity or presentation or roles, because FREEDOM & Taste The Rainbow. So no, I am not trying to rehash old bashes of butch-femme identity. Also there is no need for #NotAllMascQueers. No need.
I am just saying queer masc misogyny is still misogyny, it is still patriarchal and male-supremacist, and it still hurts women and femmes. End transmission.
Sadly, this topic almost requires that I begin with an iron-clad caveat. So first that.
I don’t discredit that some crimes have victims and some people who have committed crimes have hurt people. There should be a consequence for hurting people. I am not discussing that topic in this post right now.
Let’s recall, though, that prison is a giant system for hurting people, including super-guilty people and innocent people or people whose “crimes” had no victim or wouldn’t even be considered “criminal” by many people. The Prison-Industrial-Complex reinforces almost every system of oppression that operates in our society, actively making life worse for poor people, trans people, people of color, etc. In prison, rape and violence is rampant. Your rights are routinely violated. You have no privacy. You cannot access acceptable healthcare. You cannot get healthy food. You may be forced into neo-enslavement-style work programs. You live in a box and locks, bars, cuffs, and chains are part of your daily existence. Your connection to family, friends and community is a thin thread that could snap at any moment. Your career is FUCKED.
People in prison are still people, and people who have survived prison are still people. Extremely *vulnerable* people whom it is legal to discriminate against when it comes to housing, employment, education, child custody and government benefits. I think, Big Picture, that as we fight against the Prison Industrial Complex, we also need to treat people who are or have been in prison a whole lot better, asap. The system has to end, but before it does, real people and their communities are being really harmed right now in real life.
When we send one person to prison, we are not just ending their life as they know it. This hypothetical individual has family and friends. They may be a parent, they may have their own parents and siblings, they have friends and they have connections to a community as well as probably roles in that community via jobs and volunteer work. So we are placing their parents in a state of deep sorrow and loss. We are taking parents away from children, who will feel confused and abandoned. Spouses who depended on their partner’s income to keep a roof over their heads. The whole community is affected if you imprison just one member. It’s a loss that’s like temporary physical death, and on-going social death. A single imprisonment ripples outward in waves of pain, injustice, and misery. A whole family and community is punished along with the targeted individual.
Protip: One way to help individuals and their loved ones from being devastated by this system is to refrain from calling the police unless someone is in literal danger due to another’s behavior. It just isn’t worth fucking up a whole family’s existence over a quality of life complaint.
The wonderful RH Reality Check recently posted an article called Names Do Hurt: The Case Against Using Derogatory Language to Describe People in Prison by Victoria Law and Rachel Roth. The article discusses the ways words such as “inmate”, “convict”, “criminal”, “felon” and “ex-con” hurt and dehumanize the vulnerable people in the grip of these institutions or who have survived and are trying to live outside the prison system. It also goes straight to people affected by the PIC and highlights their voices.
Advocate Andrea James elaborates, “While in prison, part of the dehumanizing programming is the use of the word inmate. You are referred to as inmate 27402-038, for example, and relegated to an underclass referred to as ‘the inmates.’ It stays with you, creating a public and subconscious persona that is far removed from a person’s true identity. Inmate is a term used to reduce human qualities, separate and disparage.”
Check out RH Reality Check’s series Women, Incarcerated to learn more about how women are treated in the PIC, particularly pregnant and parenting women.
Anecdotally, a financially comfortable person told me that once they saw someone they think was poor who was wearing what appeared to be an expensive accessory. Therefore all assistance to the poor is used unwisely and it is morally acceptable for society to allow its most vulnerable members to wallow in humiliating misery.
When men in my life get pumped over pro football, systemic shit like what is outlined here is all I can think of. Short version: if a violent man is good enough at a sport, thereby bringing in the big $$$, his gendered violence can, with the help of professional PR types, be glossed over.
Propagating toxic masculinity for the $$$ is inexcusable. And literally deadly. But when men I care about continue to support it, I wonder if there is something I could do to help them experience empathy, since my words alone are clearly not enough. In an effort to help men understand what it feels like, I’ve tried to think of a popular cultural tradition where women’s aggressiveness is publicly celebrated while often accompanied by violent acts towards men and children that are then excused because $$$.
Still can’t think of one, but taking suggestions. Also possibly looking to join??
I fucking hate the entitlement that so many pedophiles express. “But I loooooovvvvveee her” or some such shit. As though their sexual feelings for a CHILD entitle them to do whatever the fuck they want with that CHILD.
I don’t give a fuck if you think you are in love with a child! What are you suggesting, that because you have feeeeeeliiinnnngs now the CHILD owes you sex?
And there is always a Greek chorus of men ready to back them up, especially if their target is 12 or older. Evolutionary psychology often shows up in their defense of (fellow?) pedophiles to justify that it’s “only natural” for grown-ass middle-aged men to pursue teens and tweens. No. Because if we’re going to pretend this is ingrained in men because CAVEMEN, then let us also remember men the Stone Age did not live much into their 40s and later, and if they did they would be banged up, crippled old men, so…
Reality check: those in America who make $200k a year or more are in the TOP 3% of income earners. Did you think $200k makes you middle class? Wrong- it makes you RICH.
I think somehow most of us got it twisted and think that you have to be the ultrarich 0.001% to be rich.
We hear so much *from* and *about* the ultrarich, while the truly poor are almost totally silenced, that we have completely skewed ideas about what wealth is and what poverty is. This is how even the rich are fooled into thinking they are struggling and part of the middle class.
Whereas only 3% of American households make $200k or more annually, 20% make $20k or LESS. We have a fuckload of poor people and we can’t even ACKNOWLEDGE that $200k is rich.