Tag Archives: society

Post the Tenth 2 or Remembering Trayvon

The judges gavel cracks

My head split in two

Not

Guilty

Innocent slain

Yet cleared of all charges

One more drop

In a swift moving river of blood

But this drop

Is an ocean

An expanse stretching back 500 years

Not the first nor the last

A steady stream of souls

Every 28 hours released

Slain

In cold blood

By jackals who fear majesty

He was just a boy

And we were just children watching

A farce on the screen

Knock knock

Whose there?

Motherfucker

His life was not a joke

And this is not justice

This is a travesty

A tragedy branded upon our scalps

I ask myself

Are you human?

Are you made of rock?

How do you not see this black boy slain

How do you not SEE

Take your face and press it against the glass

Of his coffin

Grab you by the wrist and force your hands to feel

The stillness of his chest

Pull your eyes open and show you what it looks like

To mourn life

I am driven mad

By this wondering

The knot in my throat

Pushing me to desperation

How is your heart so cold

Your mind so calloused

Your conscious so numb

That you don’t see these lives

Human

6 women

Representative of our world

That sees blackness

And cowers in perpetual fear

Sees blackness and thinks

Criminal

But they are not the ones

Who crossed the ocean

To burn and steal and kill

They are not the ones

Who subjugated whole people

They are not the criminals

These 6 women

And the lawyers

And the judges

And their whiteness

Are the criminals

Murderers all

Whiteness is a hell of a drug

But I refuse

To lose any more sleep

Worrying about white people

They don’t deserve my energy

Today

I worry about my Black sisters and brothers

Today

I wonder how we can eradicate anti-blackness

In our communities

In myself

Today

I will do what I can to keep my lover safe

Today

I remember Trayvon

Today

I fight for Trayvon

Advertisements

Post the Ninety-Ninth or On White Atheists and Knowledge Production

I recently reactivated my OkCupid account because my partner is out of town and I get lonely. So far, however, I’ve gotten mostly douchebags messaging me. One in particular bothered me. I messaged this guy because I thought we had a lot in common and might get along well. He replies by saying, “I’m not interested in people who believe in pseudoscience.” I was confused, what did he mean by “pseudoscience.” So I asked him and he replied, “Astrology and tarot cards.” Mind you, this person only knows what I wrote in my profile and so I’m a little bewildered why he would write me off so quickly.

I look at his profile again and written in big bold letters is, “I am an Atheist.”

Of course.

I reply, “Wow. Ok. Well, enjoy your patriarchally assigned designation of what is and isn’t valid.”

He then accuses me of being ignorant and that I should go take an upper level physics course.

That’s the problem I have with atheists, and white atheists in particular. They think that their way of viewing the world is superior to all other ways and that if you do believe differently, you are somehow unintelligent and inferior. Only simpletons would believe in such superstitious nonsense! But the thing is, science and knowledge that is produced by the West has just as much dogma as anything else. It is subject to biases, prejudices and injustices. But white/western atheists would have us believe that they are the only ones who are truly “objective”.

Atheist are quick to dismiss any world view that does not agree with their own and yet

The other reason why it bothers me is because white folks/the West is positioned as the arbiters of knowledge. Knowledge is only considered valid if white folks produced it. From academia to medicine to law, the only knowledge that matters is the kind sanctioned by the white establishment. How many times have we seen studies that say, “Hey! Racism is still a thing!” published by white folks? And of course the the only people who are shocked are other white people.  People of color have been talking about that shit forever, but only until it is approved/stolen by white people does it have any “credibility”.

So when white atheists look down their narrow noses on “superstitious” brown people like myself, I know that a lot of that is couched in the white supremacist ideology that knowledge produced by white people is the only objective and valid kind of knowledge.

Further, the kind of knowledge that black and brown folks have access to is considered inferior. PoC, and particularly WoC, are underrepresented in the sciences and the academy. Either because we don’t have the social capital to be visible or we just can’t afford it, a lot of PoC cannot afford to go to school. But that doesn’t make them less intelligent. They just need to learn from different sources, whether that be from the streets or at the knee of their abuela. The knowledge and knowings of survival and hustle that is produced by poor and working class people of color is undervalued and under appreciated.

The production of knowledge by white institutions have constantly invalidated and erased people of color, women of color, queers of color, etc. And many times, the white establishment has stolen wholesale from communities of color and patented knowledge produced by people of color as their knowledge. This is one of the ways that white supremacy, capitalism and heteropatriarchy hold on to their power. Because the people who produce the knowledge, that says what truths are valid, control the way we think and what we believe.

If we want to create a world that is free from marginalization, than we need to take the production of knowledge into our own hands. We need to realize that there is more than one way to view the world and that just because they are different doesn’t make one inferior over the other. We need to theorizing about our own lives and speaking truths that make sense to us. Most of all, we need to throw away the idea that if you are educated in certain things that you are more objective, more intelligent and more worthy of being listened too. We need to realize that we are all intelligent and creative people.


Post the Ninety-Eighth or On Family Dinners and Whiteness

Family dinner is something that my community does regularly. The host of family dinner rotates and everyone brings food, booze or cash. They are integral to community building and safety. At these dinners, we talk about everything from radical politics to what art projects we are working on to the escapades of the night before. We share stories about ourselves and connect with each other in authentic, life-saving, world-changing ways.

I’m not sure how we got onto the subject, but at the last family dinner we talked about the problematic nature of transnational adoption and how white folks are just not equipped to raise Black and Brown babies. The main reason for this being that white folks are socialized to be racist by default. They live in a world that privileges them over people of color and they often cannot, or will not, see it. So, they are just not prepared to teach a Black or Brown child about the harsh realities that this world will subject them too. Further, there is nothing to stop a white parent’s subconscious racism from harming their child of color. Case in point, there was an article in a magazine recently that talked about a white dad caring for his Nigerian daughter by combing her hair out with a fork. A motherfucking FORK.

Needless to say, we all agreed that transnational adoption is the wackness.

However.

There was this white Latina there who asked, “But what about all of the Black children in foster care who need parents?” Basically, she was asking why Black folks don’t just take care of their children.

This lead to a shit storm of frustration and trauma. Instead of having a nice pleasant dinner with familia, we had to spend the whole time trying to get her to shut up. She even had the audacity to say, “If you don’t like it, why don’t you do something about it?” As if building community and coming together in solidarity and talking about our experiences wasn’t “doing something”. Because its not like we live in a world that wants to silence and erase us. Its not like speaking our truth to one another is not a revolutionary act. No, according to her, we were just sitting there with our thumbs up our asses griping about the world.

She went on to say that the solution of racism is education and that she, the daughter of two Mexican immigrants, worked hard to get scholarships to go get an advanced degree. She, a teacher who works at a private school, thinks that if we all got our education we would be just fine. She worked hard for what she had and if she could do it, why couldn’t everyone else?

The only thing I could do at this point was laugh because she was so ridiculous.

The thing is, even though she is Latina, she was still hella light skinned. In fact, I didn’t know she was Latina until she told us that she was Mexican. And it was clear by the bullshit she was spewing that she walked through the world being perceived as white.

That’s the thing, just because you are Latin@ doesn’t mean that you don’t have white privilege. White Latin@s are a thing. They exist. And white Latin@s benefit from white supremacy. Their prosperity is often made on the backs of Black and Brown Latin@s. And more often than not, white Latin@s take up space in the ways that Anglos do. They have been socialized to think that they are entitled to all spaces so that when they do enter PoC-centered spaces, they often are the ones fucking up. They are the ones dominating the conversation and what was once a safe space is now a battleground.

So I implore my fellow Latin@s, check yourself.


Post the Ninety-Fourth or How to be a Douchebag

The room as dark

As your mind

The stage as bright

As my scrutiny

And you walk

Full of vacant

Masculine swagger

Your words

Devoid of meaning

Bullshit pouring

Out of your mouth

Splattering all over the stage

Confusing sexism

For philosophy

Your trite and hollow poetry

Masquerading as

Profundity

School is in

Session

So take a seat

And remember that

Reading

Is Fundamental

You say

We are equal

Say that there is no

Difference

In our experience

But just

Listen

To the millions of women

Who are victims

Of domestic violence

Just read

About the millions of women

Who are assaulted and raped

By men

Who think

We are equal

You say

“I should just be able to compliment

A beautiful woman”

But all I can think

About

Is what that man whispered

As he tore at my crotch

And violated the most intimate parts of myself

“You are just so beautiful”

“How could I resist”

You say

You feel objectified

But when

Was the last time

A stranger

Followed you down the street

Hurling compliments

At your unwilling ears

When was the last time

Some asshole commanded you

To smile

When was the last time

You felt unsafe

Because you thought someone would sexually assault you

When was the last time

Someone called you

A bitch

Hoe

Slut

Cunt

Dyke

Because you denied some strangers

Advances

The thing is

Dude

You can’t say

The same sexist shit

That society tells women

And be a feminist

You can’t be “for equality”

When you fail to see the disparities

That keep us unequal

Matter of fact

You wouldn’t know what

Feminism was

If it fucked you

Matter of fact

You are not entitled

To a woman’s

Affection or attention

Just because you are

a Nice Guy™

You do not get a cookie

For meeting the standards

Of being a decent person

But please

Keep crying those salty motherfucking tears

About how hard it

Must be to be

A man

In a world dominated by men

But by all means

Continue to regale me

With all those stories

Of how you

Are such a misunderstood

Nice Guy™

But hold up

Before you do that

Do us a

Kindness

And fuck off


Post the Seventy Eighth or On Racism and Rape Culture

Last Friday, a white gay man grabbed my ass. I was so startled that I just glared at him and walked away. Later that evening, I run into him again and he whistles at me. I very clearly state that I do not want him to touch my ass and instead of respecting my desire, he laughs and grabs my ass anyway.

This triggered all sorts of memories of past sexual trauma and I felt panicky and depressed the rest of the weekend. More than that, though, I was struck by the blatant disregard for my boundaries and my body. This white gay man thought my desire to not be touched so ridiculous that he laughed. He felt so entitled to my body that he did not care what my wishes were. My right to self-autonomy meant less than nothing to him.

But it gets worse.

I posted on my Facebook about what happened and I specifically named the whiteness of my assailant. And while I had many of my friends write messages of support, I had several white “friends” interrogate me as to what “race had to do with it”. They varied from “race has nothing to do with it” to “why are you so racist?” “quit playing the race card” to “any Latina that I know would have slapped him” to “if you don’t like white people, leave America”.

This is the additional way that rape culture manifests for people of color. On top of street harassment and victim blaming, which tells people that they are responsible for being sexually assaulted and puts the onus of proving their assailant’s guilt on the victim. On top of rape jokes and the sexualization of rape in the media, women of color are silenced when they name the whiteness of their attackers. They are interrogated as to why they were victimized by a white man. They are accused of being racist for exposing the way white supremacy attempts to own brown bodies. And even at the same time that it denies that race exists, it thrusts racial caricatures on to the victim.

If I had written gay man, instead of white gay man, everyone who read that status would have assumed that he was white. This is because white is the “natural setting” for any human and anything different is automatically other. In order for one to know that someone is talking about a Black man, one needs to say Black man.

But when I name my assailants whiteness, when I interrupt the assumption that people are naturally white, it is suddenly I, the victim of sexual violence, who is in the wrong. The conversation, which should be focused on what kind of support I need, instead focuses on their demands for me to educate them on the role of whiteness in sexual harassment.

And this is rape culture at its finest because it compels me to give more of myself, of my experience, to my oppressors. Under the guise of debate, it claims a right to my victimization as theirs. The racialized nature of rape culture also allowed them to completely ignore my pain/needs as a survivor of harassment and place priority on their hurt feelings; despite the fact that this was never about them. It also allows them to ignore the systemic and historical factors that play into the sexual assault of brown women by white men.

The reason for this is because rape culture is really all about ownership. It is about arbitrating who owns whom and who has power of whom. In this case, rape culture lays claim not only onto women and gender non-conforming bodies but also any bodies that are not white. Further, rape cultures seeks to erase itself and does this by masking itself behind the Purity Myth.

In class, we saw the movie the Purity Myth that, among other things, talked about how Western society’s obsession with “virginity”. What was particularly interesting to me was how this myth of virginity promulgates rape culture. This is because the standard that Purity demands is impossible to attain or attainable by very, very few women. For one to be Pure, one must at the same time be sexy but not sexual, white, thin, cisgender, able bodied and neurotypical. Purity demands that you divorce yourself from many things that make you a living creature. And at the root of this is patriarchal control of desire.

This reinforces rape culture because when women inevitably fall, and it is inevitable, it creates a feedback loop that proves that women “deserve” to be sexually assaulted because they are not Pure which than reinforces the myth.

But a person of color can never be Pure, because Purity is predicated on whiteness, so that means that women of color always deserve to be raped. Nowhere is this more clearly demonstrated than in Lorena Garcia’s article, “Now Why Do You Want To Know About That?”. In it, she details the experiences of several young Latina women when they received sex education in public school. More often than not, the sex educators assumed that young Latinas were already experienced in sexual matters. They assumed that their partners weren’t going to use protection and thus didn’t need to learn about it. They were also not encouraged to ask questions because that was perceived as being “too interested” in sex.

The underlying assumption here is that Latinas are hypersexual and thus always sexually available. Their bodies are public property and consent need not be given for any sort of sexual interaction. Young brown bodies are further commodified by their representation in the mainstream media, which is controlled by white men.

And it is this, which forms the foundation that justifies the rape of Latinas (and other women of color), which is in turn supported by rape culture.

All systems of power and oppression are interdependent and nowhere is this clearer than in white supremacy and heteropatriarchy. These two bedfellows must be challenged simultaneously if any lasting change is going to be effected. I will continue to name whiteness when it must be named. I will continue to expose the ways in which white supremacy tries to disguise itself. I will continue to challenge whiteness, especially if it makes white people uncomfortable, because my survival and the survival of my people is bound up in the eradication of white supremacy. I will continue to interrogate whiteness even if it scares me.

      I refuse to be a victim any longer.


Post the Seventy-Third or For Fierce Brown Mamas

Conflict minerals

As if

The diamonds that encrusted

Her neck

Were not paid for in blood

As if

Someone just argued over them

As if

They weren’t clawed out of the Mother’s belly

By fingers filthy with the gore of greed and madness

As if

There wasn’t a reason why

Our lands and our bodies continue

To be pillaged

She holds her baby tight to her bosom

Hoping

That the toxic fumes of colonialism

And industrialization

Won’t kill her child

Or

Transfigure it beyond

Recognition

This is for all the

Fierce Brown Mamas

Who hold it down

Who work two jobs

And raise three kids

Who risk deportation

And rape

Who push against

Images

Of the Welfare Queen

Or The Neverending Strength of

Black Women

This is for those Mamas

Who give

And give

And give

So that her future generations will

Thrive

Who fight

And fight

And fight

For their family’s

Survival

This is for those Mamas who never had kids

This is for all of us

Whose insides

Will never match our outsides

For those of us

That are pursued

By hearts filled with

Avarice and fear

For those of us

Whose glory is unmatched

Saved by the Sun

This is for those of us

Who refuse to have our

Stories and Herstories

Erased or rewritten

For convenience

For those of us

Who refuse to be silenced

For those of us who

Stand and Fight

With glitter, fake eyelash and

High Heel

Against the pollution of our

Spirits

Justice

Is never simple

But it is

Clean


Post the Fifty-Eighth or My Body is NOT Public Property

Before my transition, when I was presenting as male, I could walk down the street or take the train late at night relatively free of fear. No one turned their heads as I walked pass or undressed me with their eyes. No one made unwanted or unreciprocated advances. No one followed me home. Unless they were homophobic and read me as gay, I usually walked through the world free of the fear of harassment.

Now, 3+ years years into my transition, I am almost always read as a woman. I have a lot of passing privilege and a lot of pretty girl privilege. And I’m certainly not complaining about that. I love the way I look, the way I present myself today and I know that it is only because of my relative class privilege that I was able to transition early and have access to the health insurance necessary to transition safely and effectively. Not to mention the fact that my family didn’t disown me or kick me out of my home, which is a HUGE blessing. I don’t know where I would be today if that weren’t the case. I have been very, very, lucky.

What I am complaining about, and what frustrates me to no end, is the fact that now that I am read as a woman, I’m getting harassed nearly everyday! I can’t tell you how many times someone has assaulted me with their eyes or made unwanted advances all with the unspoken assumption that I MUST reciprocate, validate and want that attention. I cannot enumerate for you all the occasions in which some cis, straight, man (both white and brown) has harassed me in public. Obviously, some are worse then others (I’ve only been followed home once but being stared down happens almost everyday) but they all contribute my general sense of dis-ease and wariness when I’m out and about. What, then, is the under lying cause of this?

It is because brown women’s bodies are considered public property.

The reason for this is because we exist in a racist, sexist and cissexist society that places ownership on, and strips agency from, anything that is not white, male, cisgender, straight, able-bodied etc. From the exotification of Black and Brown women in the media (you know, the Foxy Brown Lady who constantly oozes sex and wants to sleep with EVERY white guy) to the majority of sex workers being Black and Brown, it’s clear that our bodies are free-game to whomever wants a grab.

If you are a brown transwoman, then you are doubly fetishized not only as “exotic” but also as “freaky” or “strange” or that you are not truly a woman, so that the man that you have to sleep with will get “best of both worlds”. On top of that, if a white person is dating a brown woman then  he has “jungle fever” and will eventually leave her for a civilized, marriable white woman.

And we must never forget the long, brutal, history of white slaveowners raping their black slaves. The long brutal history of white conquistadors abducting and raping Native women. All of them thinking that this was the right and proper order in “God’s” world because brown people are inferior and white people must manifest destiny.

This is not a thing of the past, either. This system that is alive and well today strips us of our agency and appropriates our sexuality as it’s own. In the minds of most white men, especially in a subconscious level if they haven’t interrogated their own privilege, our sexual agency and freedom of choice is in their hands and they call the shots. And to deny them results in retaliation and physical/sexual assault. This all might have gone underground but it still manifests in subtle, insidious ways.

And while the sex-positivity movement and the sex worker rights movement has done a lot to challenge this and articulate the need for consent, most of these primarily white movements have failed to incorporate the effect of white supremacy into their power analysis. Many women of color can’t find power in the world slut, for example, because of what racism as wrought on their bodies. Claiming the identity of slut will put us in greater danger because we are sluts by default and our sexualities are not our own. Much of the sex worker activism is done by white, hotel- or home-based sex workers who are, in many ways, free of harassment and are able to take only the clients that they want. Little is done to reach out to poor, street-based sex workers of color, both transgender and cisgender, or to represent and advocate for their needs and concerns.

How, then, do we interrupt, interrogate, and begin to dismantle this system of power? The first thing is to shed light on to this unspoken problem. We start by talking about it, with each other. We share our stories with one another for solidarity and healing. We share our stories so that we know that we are not alone and we can begin to organize. And by organizing, we can start to manifest a world in which EVERYONE can walk through this world free from harassment.

I would invite all of my brown sisters of any gender to share their stories in the comments, if they so choose. I would also encourage everyone to watch the video below and visit Meet Us On The Street to find out how to get involved in International Anti-Street Harassment Week.