Femme Science & Community Based Research

So unbelievably thrilled to be sharing this with everyone. 

This is the 'Femme Science & Community Based Research prezi from the AMC and it abounds with a ton of femme wisdom that was shared in the workshop by the participants including strategies to negotiate institutional learning, how to nurture our intuition and so much more.

SO much special thanks to Eddie Ndopu & Chanelle LeLovely for all their work in creating this space.



http://prezi.com/bkpfroriyfuz/femme-science-community-based-research/

On PUMZI

This was the most beautiful short film I have ever seen and my activism; my sense of self is transformed as a result of it. It takes place in the ‘Maitu Community, East African Territory’ 35 years after World War III also known as ‘The Water War’. At this point in the future, the world is presumed ‘dead’. If you want to be surprised stop reading here and  go watch the film.

Ase.
I want to ask Black womyn, how did it feel to see a complex and layered science fiction short film where Black East African ‘Maitu’ women were the central characters? ? How did it feel to watch the small and powerful act of solidarity between two women of colour? And I want to know how it felt to watch our lead in her quiet, determined bravery walk out into the ‘dead’ world in search of life? How does it feel to sit with the end, where she gifts this budding tree with the sweat from her brow and her armpits (how often have we ever seen women’s armpits acknowledged as something that is valuable) and literally gift her life to provide it with shade and earth?



How did it feel to watch the moment where it seems as her body composed and turned into rich Black soil? How did it feel to watch us and Blackness depicted as a source of life and not death or ridicule? How did it feel to watch you in an imagining of the future? So often corporate science fiction films leave us entirely out or only allow one or two to slip in. How did it feel when the rain began to fall?



I felt real and possible and valuable.
And hope, a lot of hope.

I Love The #Selfie

I love when People Of Colour & Indigenous People do self portraits and I love the #selfie. Here's why. In a world that is dominated visually by corporate displaying millions of white faces, it is radical, comforting and beautiful to see that we exist. And that we exist everywhere in Berlin and Bangladesh and in boardrooms and bedrooms. And sometimes we worry that we are being narcissistic, while whiteness literally basks in itself and becomes furious when Rue in the Hunger Games is portrayed as Black despite being written as a Black character.
I want to see us. I love your instragram with y'all acting out and getting your life. I am honoured to see what you are afraid of and drawn to, what you are emotionally wrestling with and the wisdom that you are sharing. I like how many different stories we have, and some I like more than others. But, ya I wanna see you, wanna see us and we at the same time need to ask questions about the politics of visibility, who gets seen and how much and who gets praise and for what. And I think we can have it all, we can embrace our desire to see each other and challenge our places of privilege critically.

On Academic Research; Who Benefits

Often because of the work that I do I get asked to participate in university studies and I am very critical about how information is taken from communities of cash poor folks, folks of colour and 'at-risk' youth. Community members are rarely compensated individually or collectively and those who execute the study end up benefitting professionally, academically or personally from our strategies, our resilience and our wisdom. I wrote this response back to an ask I got, and I thought it was worth sharing for others who may be participating on either end of studies like these:

"I have a few questions.
 

Where will this information be housed and how will it be made accessible to communities that are its focus? Too often I think research projects are done about our communities harvesting incredible knowledge and wisdom and community members broadly do not have access to the information and continue to lack the autonomy and support to make decisions about the content and/or recommendations.

Does this study take into account the way other communities (i.e. through processes of gentrification) over exploit 'at-risk' communities? The term developing or underdeveloped when it refers to countries obscures the fact that these countries are in fact over exploited by the global north for labour, resources and as sites of waste. The use of this language for me suggests that there isn't an awareness of the ways that underdevelopment is intentional.

The development of joint policies and action plans also means holding governments responsible for the ways in which they contribute to the pathology of sickness within urban communities as well the ways that health institutions in this city are homophobic, transphobic, racist and sexist. What are the levels of commitment from the various partners to engage in institutional transformation to make our communities safer? Part of the ways that privilege plays out is the the ones in positions of authority are often exempt from perpetuating social inequity - this looks like pathologizing our communities as 'at-risk' as opposed to examining the systems that not only create it, but function based upon it.

I look forward to your detailed responses."

If there are any questions that you ask when considering your participation in academic studies, please share below.

 

 

Chasing the Bluest Eyes: Real Talks On Internalized Racism

We have to remember that racism is terrifying because it works. We don’t blame people for dying from cancer, for not being strong enough to withstand the debilitating affects of the disease; we blame the disease and the terrifying way that it consumes the bodies of people that we love. Our focus needs to be on figuring out ways to counter the messages of shame and violence and target the message makers not to further shame the ones who are clearly suffering from it. We need to support community media makers and artists who create images in ways that affirm and recognize our multiplicity and illuminate the many ways that beauty manifests.

Read the rest on the Black Girl Dangerous Blog.

5 Things From One Survivor To Others

Fam, to those of you out there who are survivors I am speaking only to you. As a survivor of rape and years of sexual assault in my home, I negotiate daily as well as in all of my relationships the effect these experiences have had on my body. I have had to negotiate my desire, expressing desire, receiving both wanted and unwanted desire. I have worried if these things have made me dirty, or unlovable. I have worked hard to be a 'good girl' with few sexual partners with hopes that somehow neutralizes the violation of my body. 

And as I connect with more folks who want to decolonize, and deconstruct shame and liberate us, I have learned new and important things that have been integral to my healing that I thought I might share:

1. It's okay if you want to be sexy. Sometimes the people who abused us might have said that we 'made them do it'. It isn't true, there are many different ways to respond to something that is sexy. I am sure you have many different ones. Your sexy is not the problem. The problem is that capitalism and sexism commodify our bodies and people are taught to derive power from desecrating us. 

2. It is ok if you enjoy 'rape fantasies', power play, S & M. It is okay if you enjoy even re-enacting your experience. You may find it feels liberating to have control over a situation that you didn't have control over. It might feel like going back in time and getting to have a 'do-over'. If you don't like or enjoy this or this feel scary, that is okay too. You deserve the sex that makes you feel affirmed. There is violence, and pain in sex that can be healthy if you consent to it. Violence isn't the problem, consent is. You are not dirty or bad if you like violence in your sex.

3. Racism, Ablesim, Transphobia, Classism - Some/all/other/none of these things may have been a part of your experience and your healing. There is a hierarchy that is applied in 'victimhood' (you may not identify with this term, that is okay too). Male or masculine of centre folks' experience can be met with disbelief, sex workers, Folks of Colour. These things can also affect the kind of help, support and responses you get from other people. Trust your gut and trust your struggle, if something someone says feels icky, go with it and remove yourself from that space physically, mentally, emotionally - disassociate if you have to. Disassociation can be a powerful tool that you have to take care of yourself.

4. This is real. It effects you, it doesn't define you, but it means things and it evokes feelings, strategies and responses which are all your bodies way of taking care of itself. That is really great. You don't have to force yourselves to watch movies with rape scenes, or cuddle if you don't want to, or hug a new friend or an old friend. It's okay to feel sad and get depressed about it cause it is hard and we often have to carry it by ourselves and never get to talk about it and the whole world just keeps going and expects us to do the same. That is fucked up and we didn't choose that. 

5. You are precious beyond measure.

The Femmes

"I love Hood Femmes
Gold doorknocker earrings
Three inch teal nails adorned in jewels that put any queen to shame.
Love your curves and
the way you cuss me with that mouth
Baby it's like you speak in tongues

Love Chola Femmes
The gorgeous gradient of rich brown lip pencil outlines
Into whispers of cream

You bring us all to our knees with a single glance shaded by lashes thick and plush.

And all the Desi Femmes dripping in gold outside and in
Layers of coal black hair 
You are made of so many browns that strain against the imagination

You made us possible
And the more I stole glances of you, the more I could steal glances of me.

This landscape covered in snow

You were as hot and luminescent as the houses I passed one Diwali night in Trinidad.

With practiced poise, you arched eyebrows and slicked down baby hair.
Filling scentless hallways with life giving smells of turmeric, coconut and Calgon

And there were so many of us who were both, who were all, who were so many versions of

Pakistani Mama
Kenyan Papa
Cree Uncle
Korean Mother
Columbian Granny
Dominican Aunty

Our possibilities are endless in the ways we do Black, Yellow, Brown and Red

And there are so many femmes I haven't named who exist in technicolor

And I write these femmes because these were the ones in my hood
The ones who I studied
The ones I first loved at 15
Posted up at their respective corners at the intersection of Keele & Eglinton 

And for the Femme Sisters from The Middle East, First Nations Femmes, Femmes from all across The Continent and all the femmes I have not named 

I will work to learn you
And love you
And respect
If only from afar
And up close if I get the chance"

I am so blessed for every femme of colour space I have ever had. This world works so hard to diminish our glory, to pretend that they don't/can't/won't love us. As part of my decolonizing practice, I work to be humbled by your ugly and your beauty, to listen more and check my ego and to love you like my life depends on it - because it does.

 

All That We Need

We often lament how hard 'this work' is. How difficult it is to push against the prevailing tide of oppression with bodies. To push in ourselves to rid ourselves of the colonizing spirit. And it is definitely harrrd. I find myself experiencing profound joy and deep and aching depression. After I was sexually assaulted by a massage therapist last year when seeking self care I felt destroyed and was destructive to the joy I feel when I read that a friend was just recognized for their powerful poetry collection as a queer Sri Lankan powerhouse femme.
The truth of it though is that it is all possible. It is entirely possible because we have everything that we need. It is not like we are asking for something that defies the nature of the universe. We are not asking for something that would require enormous innovation, we arent asking for everyone to turn into puppies or for trees to grow out of the sky. We are asking, some of us are demanding a change in mind, a change in perspective, a transformation in the way that we take care of each other. All these things that plague us poverty, sexism, rape are all creations by people and a very small, very specific group of people. The wealth we have is enormous, the diversity of our cultural histories and achievements and our own personal resilience as people who have been marginalized are absolutely the key to living in ways that are just and life affirming. Communities of colour, queer and trans, cash-poor and working class, I invite us all to look to each other more and more with love and affirmation. To find ways to be quietly devoted and firmly in solidarity with each other. I ask us to find ways to heal, to make room for multiple truths and to ask each other more questions. We have spent so long responding to the monolith of racism and sexism, that we don't get to talk about homo-normativity or shadeism or islamaphobia, all the things that happen between our communities, in our countries. We can even treat each others in ways that are only deserved to the people who built this system and who benefit most from it, because when we hold each other down we all stay low. Let us hold each other accountable with love, learn each others scars and triggers and proceed with caution and care. 

Young Politiking

So politics.

I regularly go to conferences and I am met with questions and/or frustrations at the state of youth today and how politically disengaged they are. And people are often trying to figure out some sort of way to 'trick' them into caring about politics, maybe with a pretty celebrity or possibly an iPad! It's discussed in various ways, but the question lingers:

Why does it appear that many young people are discouraged by the political process?

As readers I ask you to consider your willingness to engage in a dialogue about this. This requires that you listen and ask questions of young people (lots of them) and not just around election time. It requires that you challenge your own assumptions and stereotypes and possibly even make changes to the way you think or act. 

Let’s reframe the question, instead of blaming the people, let us examine the system:

Why does the political process discourage many young people?

Systems are flawed because humans built them. Humans, on the other hand respond to stimuli, they respond to culture and to influence. Regardless of how violent, confusing, irrational it might be, our responses have a context that we can understand if we take the time to. When we deconstruct context, we can find the source of a challenge and address it at its root.

1. School: 

In institutional education in Ontario, which is predominantly what I can speak to, we learn nothing about the political process. We are taught that all defining politics happened in 1812 and the 1960's and was a process that happened between white male straight able bodied colonizers and their military or a handful of Black revolutionaries who 'succeeded' and are all dead and gone.

We don't study the many different ways that communities have organized both in the past and present. We don't actively critique our current political process, nor do we interrogate ourselves to see what we need of our government. We don't learn how to exact pressure on politicians, don't learn how to challenge oppressive laws; we don't talk about the ways that government is meant to be accountable to us. We don't learn of alternatives to these systems except as examples of what not to do. 

Every other type of political process is dismissed as archaic, savage, counter-democratic or mythology. Every single contribution by trans folks, many by womyn and particularly womyn of colour is erased in favour of battle stories and tales of small rooms with few men signing documents making nation-states on occupied land. 

This is an education system that deems grammar and spelling more significant than anti-racism. This is a system that gathers people under the pretense of learning and sacrifices creativity and community based modes of learning for the sake of conformity and deference to authority of the violent 'victors' of history. 

This is not to say that there are not incredible educators and institutions including the June Jordan School Of Equity and alternative educators like The Audre Lorde Project or Lost Lyrics but this is a critique of systemic education.

  

 

Advertising

  

The best and the brightest adult minds of the past few generations spend millions and billions of dollars to figure out how we think. And they don't do this to figure out how to love us better or to encourage healthy self esteem (apparently only parents should be required to do that in isolation) or how we can work to share space and resources more equitably. They do this to figure out how to sell us something.

"Cool" isn't an idea that comes from the ground up. Cool is developed in board rooms where they sell the idea that all young people are getting wasted, and driving nice cars, and wearing hundreds of dollars in new clothes. They tell us that so that even the ones of us who aren't drinking and are cash-poor are made to feel so ashamed of our existence that we will do anything to hide and continue to perpetuate the myth that we are all happiest drunk and insecure in bars and clubs across the country (no shade to anyone here, do what makes sense for you and respect those around you).

We have literally been asked to stop thinking, by a few greedy folks of a few generations above us who have developed an economy that requires unrestrained consumption. With taglines like, 'Just Do It', and "Be Stupid', we have to acknowledge that there is a very deliberate culture that has been created by adults (not all adults) that has begun to saturate us in advertisings on diapers and on fb. Could you imagine if billions of dollars were spent on encouraging young people to learn about themselves and others and to stay informed and keep each other safe? 

Some of us are accepting a world where corporations can say and do whatever they want, and in particular things that we know have negative effects on others and they get let off the hook. But we want to blame young people solely for not being able to resist the persistence of the powerful mass media? People spend their entire educations and careers specializing in manipulation through marketing and media, build entire companies fortified by teams of lawyers and we are confounded at their enormous success? There is reason why Coke and Nike and McDonalds are so successful at making money off of low quality goods, they invest primarily in the propaganda. 

Nation states dedicated to genocide have known the same thing, if through the repeating of images and messages, we can get entire countries to participate in the massacre of millions through warfare, I am again not sure why we don't think the sexy messaging of the mainstream media would not also have a powerful effects on minds of all ages.

Authority

We know this to be true, the more you hear something and the more that it comes from 'authority', the more likely you are to believe it. On top of that we train young people to defer to authority and to adults at all cost. The adults that this society glorifies by investing in them financially and giving them the most air time are celebrities, athletes and corporations and they share in common an ability to be bought and sold to the highest bidder.

When adults at school and adults in the media and authority figures continually reaffirm, 'stop thinking and buy stuff', including buying your way out of guilt with breast cancer lip-glosses and bono-sponsored sweatshop made swag.

 

Ageism


This exists and has very real effects. Once people fall outside of the category of being consumers or producers and they are in positions where they require care from others, they are immediately deemed less valuable. As young people, we are not able to vote until we are 18 and until that point our opinion is irrelevant, coloured by our immaturity and our inability to be anything but selfish. But the moment that we are 18, all that apparently drains right out of us, and our authentic adult, mature, decision-making self emerges! Suddenly we can vote and now our opinions matter. This ‘transition’ doesn’t do service to young people in general much less in engaging them in politics. Wouldn't it be valuable to engage young people in politics and political organizing when we are young?

It is possible to explain how the system works (or doesn't work) and the younger we do this, the quicker we grasp it and the more able we are to deconstruct it and hopefully transform it.

 

We Are Political!

 

Just because young people are not appearing to be engaged in voting does not mean that they are not political. There are so many ways that young folks organize and resist that is highly political and visible but is not acknowledge in the mainstream voting process. Shouldn't politicians have a responsibility to come to us as well? To meet us where we are at and to take a look and research all the powerful organizing we have done with and for each other without the resources, without the support, without the knowledge.

We meet in living rooms and over Skype, across borders that we did not make. We work on the internet until 3 in the morning researching Dionne Brand and Vandana Shiva and make images and share quotes to help educate ourselves and others about the political climate that we are in that no one in the mainstream voting process is being 100% honest about. We piece together the histories of our communities and meet and share skills and we can do so much of this online which give us space to be our anxious, awkward, fearful, urgent, powerful selves. 

 

You are wondering why some of us don't desire to be accountable to a voting process that has not been accountable to us. That only shakes hands and kisses babies. To politicians who blame young people for a system that we didn't create and depending on our social location may not even benefit from it.

I am not saying that we all shouldn't ask questions about how to engage our communities broadly around politics. I am not saying that young people have no agency and are not able to discern or deconstruct messages, quite the contrary. I am saying that nothing happens in a vacuum and we need to consider the world that young people are raised in and work to understand the many different motivations that would make anyone feel disenfranchised with voting. I am saying that we should speak directly to young people, that we should examine young people's relationship to politics in context and that we need to challenge the monopoly that voting has over politics. It is not useful to guilt and to pander to young just to demand that they go through the motions, ignoring systemic problems does not make them disappear.

The government is meant to serve the people, not the other way around.

Pride Sunset Service

 

I want to begin this with a quote from Audre Lorde, who says “and when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed but when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive.” And when I say speak, I mean that in any way that we communicate, whether to our prayers, our movement, our intentions.

 

And specifically for those of us whose voices, stories, experiences are so often eclipsed even in the Queer community, I invite you speak loudly, often, freely. We welcome you to be honest, to ask questions, find kin. We welcome you to know that you are not alone. We welcome you to speak for yourselves and to make space for others to do the same. I invite us all to remember that all of our liberation is wrapped up in each other and by creating the space for us all to collectively craft that vision piece by piece, we are saving ourselves.

The past year has been a long and difficult one, personally and politically.

When I first started doing this work, although I didn't know it at the time, I did it in part because I wanted to be accepted  - by White people, by Straight people, by Queer people, by Male People - I wanted people to acknowledge me as smart and valuable. I wanted to be invaluable and I thought that would grant me asylum, it would protect me and allow me to protect others like me.

I am not sorry for the person I was or the lessons I learned in order to find myself here. I am grateful for the ability to confront internalized oppression and learn that I have nothing to prove to anyone and neither do you. And part of learning that has been understanding my connection to the divine, that I am both huge and small.  Recognizing I too am divine and seeing myself in each other without erasing the nuances of our profound multiplicity.

What I have learned and what has profoundly changed in my approach is that I am now most interested in self-acceptance, self-love and healing in the grandest sense. I am interested in illuminating to all the members of my community who are tired, dedicated, crying because they have been strong for so long that we are not valuable because of what we produce, we are valuable because we are here and you don’t have to do nothing to be loved. In the diversity of our opinions, our bodies, our brilliance, we are courageous and resilient and we are all that we need. We are not disposable. And we are miraculous.

Our experiences of oppression are things that we name, and can evaluate, but the feelings that we have, the exchange of energy when we know something feels wrong - I want to invite us all in the knowledge of our divinity to trust our struggles. We are so often told to distrust our selves, or that it is the naming of oppression that is the problem. Rather it is a gift an opportunity of transformation, a moment where our spirits are able to recognize that we are not affirming each other’s.

Religion, spirituality and karma have often been concepts that have been used against us. We are asked to suffer in silence with the promise that our good deeds will be rewarded in another plain of existence.

If we can explore mindfulness as a process of decolonization of spirit and recognize as my sister Imani says, that for every experience of pain we are entitled to an equal amount of love and joy because the universe is balance, then we access our healing now, our joy now, our liberation now.

Our silence will not save us, but this recognition of universal connectivity will.

As the creation of whiteness erases white people; trading ethno-cultural diversity for neutral objectivity (white folks have ethnicity too).

And when we acknowledge that homophobia hurts straight people too; for all the little girls who want to be carpenters and get called a dyke.


The search of power, the desire for ego, these experiences that happen at the expense if each other – we have to make conscious and deliberate choices to learn more and to ask each other, ‘How can I love you and me well?’

And so I want to take a moment to see each other, to affirm our beauty and resilience and to remind ourselves of our divinity.

I want to acknowledge our genderqueer siblings who still find it in them to go to them bathroom in the face of fear and accusations and femme sisters who walk into the world brokenbeautifulgorgeous and contend with being rejected by their own communities telling them that their gender is less radical, less political or less important. I want to acknowledge the trans womyn and men who dare to be entitled to their bodies in a world that tells us we have no choice. I want to recognize our bisexual family who continue to love despite being met with suspicion. I want to acknowledge 2 spirited folks, hijra – all of the folks who’s genders transcend English’s limited way of describing the boundlessness of human beings.

 

I want to acknowledge the Queer & Trans refugees who had the courage to flee violence only to encounter the systemic violence of the Canadian immigration system and still take it upon yourself to educate the rest of us about the trauma that you experience.

I want to honour all of us in the room code switching, living one life at home, one life with your friends and one life in yourself.

I want to recognize the variety of strategies for coping, for loving, for living and resisting every single day. It’s okay that you don’t feel strong every day. Most of the time balance looks like this.

For the survivors, for those who come to school hungry, tired, scared. I see you. You make magic out of dust everyday.

For the chronically ill, for the differently able who are magnificent in their presence.

For the freaks and the misfits, for those of us on the fringes. I promise you, it is better on the outside, in our honesty and our integrity. Our most radical work is to love ourselves, to learn ourselves and to forgive ourselves.

We keep going in the face of a system that criminalizes us, erases our histories, and denies us access to basic civil liberties. And we still create culture wildly, irreverently. We make new families, and raise each other. We turn grants into lifetimes of experiences and we turn curriculums into tools of liberation (Thank you to all the educators in the room) we still learn and share our stories. We scare the folks at the ‘top’ because innovation and survival is in our DNA.

We also need to recognize that across this spectrum, all things are not equal. Depending on our social location, we have different work to do. While some of us are figuring out how to heal, how to live away from the edge of subsistence, how to learn to love ourselves and each other – for some of us, the need is to have the courage to step aside so there is finally room for all of us. I urge us all to take responsibility for the work that we need to do. This is not a plea for sympathy, but rather solidarity.

 

For me solidarity and spirituality are inextricably link, and this revolution of spirit is necessary to transform this power dynamic and a desire to be connected to something that supports each other’s spirits and affirms each others life force. I have often struggled with the word ally, because it suggests that you are somehow outside of the experience, but I hope that as ‘allies’, people are able to realize that fighting for others freedom is the key to your own freedom. In the midst of all of this change, let us ask more questions, learn more of each other and create even more space to hold together. We are given opportunities each day to make it different than the last and today is no exception. Do what you can, do it with love, speak only for yourself.

And so I sit here at the beginning, middle and the end of this transition and as always I am embarking on a journey to heal, to ask questions, to be patient, forgiving and to continue to make change. To love and learn how to be loved. To protect myself, to learn new tools, to change and to grow.

And to everyone all at different places in their journeys, I wish us all the best, the honest and the divine.


Who Are You Calling A Slut: Speaking Slutwalk 2012 The Video & Transcript

May 25th 2012, Queen's Park, Toronto, 'Slutwalk'

Video by Kalmplex

Thank you to the organizers, to all the people who made it possible for me to be here. I do not and never have done this alone and I reject the celebrityism that often comes with this work – there are people who came before, are here now and will come after who we may never see and they are just as valuable to the movement as the people who we see here.

I also want to acknowledge that we are on First Nations land and acknowledge the labour of enslaved people that constructed this country. I want us to acknowledge migrant workers, domestic foreign workers and folks filling up the prison industrial complex who know just how expensive it is to be poor.

Our Colonized Tongues

Ask someone what gender pronoun they go by, ask someone how they describe themselves and just like with someone's name - when you forget, ask again. Take time, have more conversation than less, write down things that you might need to remember. In any process of education, learning isn't immediate; it takes time and various different approaches to integrate it into our brains.

I want to remind us all that this process of unlearning language and culture that has been and is being used to limit, erase or violate each other and learning new terms that people have forged in direct response to the violence that they have experienced should be joyous. We are learning new ways to affirm and celebrate each other. We are creating more space for individuals to name themselves, we are creating bonds of solidarity, we are resisting a society that tells us our directives must come from 'above', from 'far away' or because that is what 'they' say, when in fact language and culture is created now, here and in our hands.

Who Are You Calling A Slut?!: Speaking At Slutwalk 2012

What is distinct is that we as womyn of colour and First Nations Womyn face the experience of having a negative meaning assigned to being female and to being of colour or of being First Nations (which is different because this is also profoundly related to land).


These experiences are further complicated by ability, class, status (as well as other social locations). Differently abled womyn have an additional layer of dehumanization, which often cloaks their experience of sexual violence at the hands of caregivers and the medical industrial complex. As well ideas like ‘freedom and self-determination’ too are privileges when you are not able to even dress yourself and subject to the decisions of others, as is the experience of some differently abled womyn. Non-status womyn and incarcerated womyn are provided no recourse in cases of violence and are faced with threat of deportation and/or continued violence. And cash poor womyn and girls voices are consistently devalued and silenced and cannot afford the ‘luxury’ of time to heal so are often forced to continue their labour post, as well as during sexual violence and harassment.

 

We must continually recognize that there is privilege and complexity that comes from claiming the word ‘slut’, ‘dressing like a slut’, knowing that for the vast majority of those womyn who are victimized through rape, sexual harassment, sexual violence and state sanctioned violence that this is impossible.

 

And as a cis womyn, with Canadian citizenship, English speaking whose femme ness is expressed in short skirts, tight dresses, glitter and push up bras; and can afford to do so due to relatively stable self- employment and a community of support, I too must recognize my privilege.

Deconstructing Whitness & White Privilege In Honour Of Black History Month

This in response to some questions that have come up in workshops lately and over the time of me doing anti-racist work.

I am going to define some terms and explain some concepts that I have lived and also been taught about by amazing individuals like Bell Hooks, Audre Lorde, Imani…I’ll tag all you in this and will thank you openly for all that you have shared with me.

I am including a note written by a super great blogger, dionthesocialist. I included the link below, to explore. I made a few changes to language that was ableist.

I also just want to preface by explaining that ‘Whitness’ and white people, groups as well as individuals are different. When you hear other People of Colour talking about hating ‘Whiteness’ it isn’t about hating all white people or even individual white people. “White privilege is not a judgment against white people as much as simply an institutional analysis.”

Racism is a system. Systems combines social power, institutional power (policies & practices), cultural messages, and individual actions. Institutional Racism is a system of advantage based on race rooted in and reinforced by cultural, political, economic and educational foundations. This is never accidental. And even when there are People Of Colour in the system, i.e. Black Cops, it is the system that is racism and so People Of Colour will still be targeted. What it isn’t is the “Shit White Girls Say To Black Girls”, I’ve included a picture that further illustrates this concept.

Whiteness is a racial identity created by upper-class colonialists to distinguish themselves from indentured servants and slaves. It is a social and political construct that didn’t always exists. People of European descent weren’t describing themselves as White prior to colonization. This category also eclipses the nuances of White folks. We all have ethnicity, not just People Of Colour. White People benefit the most from this category, whether or not they want to, whether or not they have ‘done anything’.

Other systems like Maleness, Ableness were also created with clear political intentions. These categories defined human. All else was property. Although these are other systems, it is offensive to compare these systems to each other. They are not the same and you don’t need to use racism to explain sexism or vice versa, this diminishes the unique pain and suffering of these experiences.

They were used as guarantees against being enslaved and they still are used in this way.

Colonization is the violent taking of land, wealth, labor of indigenous peoples through domination & conquest leading to their extermination in some cases, and an ongoing genocide in all cases & the Transatlantic slave trade which created a permanent underclass based on race and gender.’ People of Colour and Indigenous people are different, their experiences of oppression in this system are markedly different and also profoundly connected and intersection. People Of Colour can be Indigenous people and also might not be. The nuances of people’s identity and experience cannot be determined just by looking at their face, and at the same time, it is true that the oppression of visible minorities is distinct and deeply violent.

colonialism is racist genocide, mass rape and massive theft.

it is nothing to be nostalgic about.

colonialism is mass murder by racists for fun and profit.

 

Now comes White Privilege. This is an unacknowledged system of favoritism and advantage granted to white people as the beneficiaries of historical conquest. Benefits include preferential treatment, exemption from group oppression and immunity from perpetuating social inequity.

Now here is the part that I think most people are trying to speak to when they say that they are ‘colourblind’ (which is the most offensive, don’t say it, it sux) Race is an ever evolving social, legal and political construct that has no basis in biological fact.

When the Indian Act was created in Canada (if you don’t know about this document, youNEED to know about it, This is racist legislation that affords some First Nations People of Turtle Island ‘rights and privileges’ based mostly on the whim of the Canadian government, but occasionally based on rights that First Nations people deserve and tirelessly fought and died for.) it was based on whoever showed up at a particular time to a particular trading post. This means people can be First Nations, look absolutely any way, be of any nation and not be legally classified as an ‘Indian’.

During slavery, there were Blood Laws, meaning one drop of Black Blood made you Black.

Who is assigned into what racial category has been socially and politically defined ALWAYS.

Ok so here is some further context about White Privilege and ‘White Pride’, also known as “Why isn’t their a white entertainment channel” or “why isn’t their a white history month?”

“Yes, being “proud to be white” makes you a racist.

Let’s go back to Sociology 101 here for a second. White people, you have this thing called white privilege. You’re born with it. You live with it. It benefits you every single day. When your car is broken into and you feel comfortable enough to call the police, that’s white privilege. When you take a standardized test in school that was most likely written by someone who looks and speaks like you, that’s white privilege. When you’re able to see that the vast majority of wealth in this world is controlled by white people, that’s white privilege. Whites have amassed a great amount of power in this world, both concrete power and abstract power.

Now let’s go to History 101. How do you think white people have amassed this power? Hard work? Self-reliance? Swag? Nope. The power whites have amassed is almost universally through the oppression, genocide, occupation, and imperialism of people of color.White people have accomplished some amazing things, but mostly because they’ve established a power structure that benefits them at the expense of other human beings.

And you’re proud of that? You’re proud of an ancestry that has slaughtered countless people of color for their own benefit? True, every race has violence in its history, but none of those situations are even close to being comparable to the worldwide white supremacist structure that has been responsible for the oppression of pretty much everyone else on the planet for pretty much as long as anyone can remember.

When you say you’re proud to be white, proud of white history, proud of what white people have accomplished, you’re saying you’re proud of the genocide of the Native Americans (of Native Folks the world over), the enslavement of black people, the colonization of Africa, the Holocaust, the internment of Japanese-Americans, the oil wars in the Middle East, and a host of other violent tragedies, tragedies perpetrated through white privilege and white supremacy.

People of color have pride movements because we have been so dehumanized by white people, we need to reeducate ourselves on how to take pride in our accomplishments. These accomplishments have been made in spite of white privilege, whereas white accomplishments have been made because of white privilege. It would be like if you were in a race with someone, and then before the race, you busted their ankle with a tire iron, and then after you won the race, you acted as if it was ingenuity and talent that won you the race. No, you won the race because you (severely disadvantaged) your opponent.

White people, you’ve spend your entire history (severely disadvantaging) every other race on the planet. You as in individual may not have done anything wrong, but when you say you have white pride, you’re explicitly stating that you’re OK with the tragedies that have been committed to create and maintain white privilege.”

http://dionthesocialist.tumblr.com/page/2

 

 

Hope this helps us all. Deconstructing this system is hard work and we have to do it every single day. Unlearning the White Mythology often perpetuated in our school systems (despite the best efforts of so many rad educators) is painful. It is important to be able to locate yourself as having privilege in this system and hate the system. There is no point in feeling guilty, it is offensive to get defensive, agree that is sux to have a system that benefits 1% of the population and let’s destroy it.

 

In Love, Rage & Solidarity,

Done

I am tired of talking about 'whiteness', tired of responding to and negotiating it, being assaulted by it, being drained by it. Here's why, literally EVERYTHING that could be said about racism and white supremacy has already been said. People of colour have been prolific in naming it, resisting it and educating about it in ways that sacrifice our mental, emotional and spiritual health - even in our decisions to walk to the store just in our bodies can end in racial profiling, rape or death. We've written books, manifestos, made movies, films, art - if you can google and find the address of the nearest hipster hangout with wifi, I know you can learn in detail about the legacy and continuing effects of systemic racism. And then, WE STILL take the time to educate,  our friends, our colleagues, our lovers about the violence we are subjected to and we need to deal with defensiveness, derailing, name calling (too many of us have been called psychotic), tone policing - we are asked to say it softly or not at all, to ease up, while still having to negotiate the ubiquitous experience of racism - from which we get no break. To ask us to stop talking about it is exercising a privilege we don't have - the privilege to stop thinking/feeling/living racism. And because we do this, we don't get to talk about ourselves, don't get to talk about the dynamics between us as people of colour. I wanna talk about the connections/love/pain between Black communities and Latina communities, between East Asians and South Asians, between First Nations communities and Pacific Islanders - I want to talk about the ways we live those experiences as Afro-Latinas, as Indigienous Pacific Islanders - I want to talk and learn and build together as communities of colour. If you believe that Black Men are all violent offenders, that every womyn in a Hijab is oppressed and you don't understand why people of colour are so angry, I'm done. Read a book, use the Internet, look around, do some work.No more apologies, do something.If you make $250,000/yr, break it up into several people's salaries and hire some brilliant womyn of colour. Tell your old racist aunt who means well to stop talking. Stop mining diamonds, for the love of all life, stop wallowing in self pity and change the system that you benefit from every single day. Do it now. And do it daily.

We Are Life

I am so proud of us, proud our ancestry whose reverberations I feel now. Even if no one sees your actions, no one compensates you for your work, even if no one hears your voice and all the things you want to say (all things that we deserve), know that you are valuable regardless of whether anyone bears witness to you - to us.

Our energy and our spirits persist, the universe is grateful for your brilliant life force and this little brown queer, like a lot of others thank heavens for your presence and the life affirming solidarity that tells us that we are not alone.

I will keep resisting, we all will in our own way. We will fight even though we shouldn't have to, we will teach even though it is not our responsibility and we will be murdered even though there is more than enough to go around.

Solace

 

I find comfort in knowing I shouldn’t take any of this rhetoric personally, because I understand that it isn’t about me. It is about the insecurity of people who are afraid of losing their ill gotten gains. Once I realized that, loving myself, loving other womyn, loving us when we are on social assistance, when we are sex workers, when we are trans womyn, when we are womyn of colour was easy - all these womyn are surviving and challenging the patriarchy with every single breath they take. That means I have so many examples of beauty, of resilience, of creatively navigating the system. Every time we organize, we love each other, we forgive each other, we heal other, every time we name this shit, we are a threat. Breathe, play, fuck, rest, resist sisters, we are beautiful threats.
- Kim Crosby
 
“They said, “You are a savage and dangerous woman.”
I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous.”
― Nawal El Saadawi, Woman at Point Zero”

 

Why Reverse Isms Don't Exist

This is why reverse racism, sexism, heterophobia doesn't exist.

A member of a group with less power cannot affect a group with more power.

Similar parallels can be made with sexism, women as a whole do not have the ability to exercise power over men, but men do. Globally, men are in the most decision making positions.

Truth

This in part is why I reappropriate words like bitch and cunt. Bitch has been used to dismiss the experiences of violence that we have had, to act like we are entirely unreasonable for being angry when we are being deprived of basic human rights. If you run into me in the streets, I won't have a smile, cause I am protecting myself against racism, misogyny, if I am on a bike, a violent car culture and now, it is also cold.

But when I look across the street and I lock eyes with the adorbs Queer & Trans POC that resist by existing in glitter, bow ties, swagga that won't quit - I remember our resilience. I know we ain't got a choice, but babies you do it with such style, such grace.
Thanks for keeping me whole.