triggered. like a motherfucker.

my identity as a queer woman is hard-won.  through years of vascillation, denial, secrecy, and srategic planning dedicated to hiding myself from myself i am now working at being authentically myself. and a big part of that is being forthright with any potential lovers about my sexuality.  there is no introduction that goes, “i’m sparkle, and i’m bisexual”.  but there’s also no soap opera (or jenny jones) moment when i spring it on futureboo or presentboo in a space that she or he might find uncomfortable.  because that’s not how you treat folks.  my honesty has most likely cost me a relationship or three.  and i’m okay with that.  nobody wants to be in a relationship where they feel stifled instead of feeling edified.  so, it is with that knowledge i walk.  it’s not an easy walk: there are folks who don’t recognize my sexuality as legitimate compared to their own, there are folks who presume that i’m unaware of what i want in life (or in my bed), and there are also folks who believe that my queerness makes me impossible of being monogamous.

it is this completely erroneous belief/ assumption that makes me impossibly pissed off.  and it is this idea that made me want to write this blog post, because of a song called “think my girl (ay, ay)” by omarion.  this song gives what might be considered an inside view of a relationship between the narrator (whom i presume to be a hetero-identified person whose sex assignment at birth was male, who identifies as male/ man) and his girlfriend, whose behavior implies that she may be cheating on him with a female associate of hers.  this woman does not answer her phone when she’s with this friend, referred to as “the girl that doesn’t have a man” in the lyrics to the first verse. (you can listen for yourselves here, dear readers; i refuse to transcribe this shit.)  the hook of this song goes on to express that though the girlfriend is very physically affectionate with the narrator her behavior changes when around this friend of hers, has a better eye for attractive women than her paramour, and also presumes that the narrator is welcome in the bedroom with the girlfriend and whomever she’s cheating on him with.  the second verse includes some information about the narrator’s girlfriend and her friend having matching tattoos, and some “secret conversations” between the two women.

what bothers and upsets me is the fact that this song is a bunch of stereotypes and assumptions wrapped into one neat little sonic package.  this song is a symptom of the problem — it’s giving me hives when goddess knows i am allergic to bullshit.  this song neatly lists (for me, anyway) what seem to be the predominant, erroneous, widely held beliefs about bisexual women.

i have to acknowledge that  heterosexual privilege allows this song to exist.  heterosexual privilege allows the demonization of anyone who does not exemplify compulsory heterosexuality.

the narrator’s girlfriend is acting suspiciously (in his opinion, or per his explanation as narrator).  since there’s another woman involved in this (as either a friend or lover, possibly both), it’s implied that the girlfriend’s behavior can be attributed specifically to a sexual relationship with this other woman. so, this makes her hot-in-the-ass and unfaithful.  this also demonizes the presumed other woman; she’s got some kind of a stranglehold on the girlfriend’s mind, via sex. there’s no suggestion that the girlfriend is keeping company with this woman who “doesn’t have a man” because she’s sick. or because she’s got kids she needs help with. or an ailing relative. or something that is not about sex.  (could it be that only women sing/ write songs that discuss concern for other women? see: eve’s “love is blind”, destiny’s child’s “girl”, or the jazzyfatnastees’ “how sad”. i don’t think that this is the case, but i’m just asking.) let’s examine this: not answering the phone within an hour (verse 1), a friend with no man who’s often around (probably cuz she hasn’t got a man to keep her company), a knack for identifying a beautiful woman before her man does, and limited PDA when said manless friend is around — she’s just got to be cheating with this manless friend!  am i the only one who thinks this is rather base?  furthermore, bisexuality does not exclude any human being (male or female, cisgender or transgender) from monogamy! emotional immaturity may exclude one from being faithful to their partner.  (polyamory is not a condition of being bisexual, either. but let’s not talk about that right now.)

the idea that the narrator should try having an openly bisexual girlfriend implies that she’s open to having a threesome, which is also not a fact of bisexuality.  there are some bisexual folks who are not in any way interested in group sex.  this is also incredibly troublesome, as it feeds into the idea that the hetero man’s job is to conquer vaginae far and wide, that the sexuality is not valid if he’s not (a) involved or (b) giving approval to the sexual relationship.  hello: i’m autonomy, and i believe that i only need the person who utilizes me in order to be valid or legitimate. your dick hasn’t got anything to do with it, narrator (or anyone else).  that’s hetero privilege for you: you can do what you want, cuz there’s nothing “wrong” with the kind of sex you’re into.

bottom line, this song is offensive for a number of reasons.  ultimately, it turns a woman’s body into product, into object, into a commodity to be fetishized.  it takes away her humanity and reduces her autonomy to a jezebel’s supposed nature.  and no,  a pop song should not have the final say on how we as a larger society view sexuality. but, art often imitates life.  somebody, somewhere may think of this song and either identify with it on some level or forming opinions based on it.

of course, there are ideas that aren’t addressed in the lyrics of  “think my girl (ay, ay)”.  there’s nothing quite like the limited attitudes of some folks in the GLBTQ community to make a woman like myself feel even more boxed in.  there’s the idea that we are nasty, the flat-out lie that we are incapable of loving one person at a time, and most of all there’s the simple misconception that we are who we are because we’re hot in the ass.  not all of us are.  there are polyamorous heterosexual and homosexual people.  there are people who sabotage relationships by cheating, but that has nothing to do with their sexuality.  that’s an issue of emotional maturity, in my opinion.

Advertisements

the black male privilege checklist.

you read that right.

The Black Male Privileges Checklist
By Jewel Woods
© Renaissance Male Project (2008)

What does “privilege” have to do with Black men? We understand some kinds of privilege. The privilege to call a black man “Boy”, even if that black man happens to be 60 years old or older. The privilege to drive a car and never have to worry that the police will racially profile you. Privileges that have nothing to do with what a person has earned, but rather are based entirely on who a person is, or what color they are.

As African Americans, we have the ability to critique and condemn these types of “unearned assets” because we recognize that these privileges come largely at our expense. We have also learned from social and political movements that have sought to redress these privileges, and academic disciplines that have provided us with the tools to critically examine and explore them.

However, there is another type of privilege that has caused untold harm to both black men and women but has not had the benefit of being challenged by a social and political movement within our community, nor given adequate attention within our own academic community. The privilege that I am referring to is male privilege.

Male privilege is more than just a “double standard”, because it is based on attitudes or actions that come at the expense of women. Just as white privilege comes at the expense of African Americans and other people of color, gender double standards come at the expense of women.

Given the devastating history of racism in this country, it is understandable that getting black men to identify with the concept of male privilege isn’t easy! For many black men, the phrase “black male privilege” seems like an oxymoron — three words that simply do not go together.

While it is understandable that black men are hesitant or reluctant to examine the concept of male privilege, the African American community will never be able to overcome the serious issues that we face if we as black men do not confront our role in promoting and sustaining male supremacist attitudes and actions.

Inviting black men and boys into a conversation about male privilege does not deny centuries of discrimination or the burden of racism that we continue to suffer from today. As long as a black man can be tasered 9 times in 14 minutes, shot at 50 times on the morning of his wedding night, or receive less call-backs for a job than a white man with a felony record, we know that racist sexism that targets black men is alive and kicking.

Examining black male privileges offers black men and boys an opportunity to go beyond old arguments of “personal responsibility” or “blaming the man” to gain a deeper level of insight into how issues of class and race are influenced by gender. Gender is one of the most important tools in the production and reproduction of power because it relies on consent and not just coercion.

The items represented on the Black Male Privileges Checklist reflect aspects of Black men’s lives that we take for granted, which appear to be “double standards,” but in fact are male privileges that come at the expense of women in general and African American women in particular.

I offer this checklist based on years of experience working with men, and with the faith that we as men have far more to gain than we have to lose by challenging the privileges that we take for granted.

I believe that there are more similarities between men than there are differences. Therefore, many items on the Black Male Privilege Checklist apply to men generally. However, because of the specific privileges that black men have in relationship to black women; there are specific items that apply only to black men. I will leave it up to you to determine which items apply only to black men, and which items apply to men in general.
The Black Male Privileges Checklist
Leadership & Politics

1. I don’t have to choose my race over my sex in political matters.
2. When I read African American History textbooks, I will learn mainly about black men.
3. When I learn about the Civil Rights Movement & the Black Power Movements, most of the leaders that I will learn about will be black men.
4. I can rely on the fact that in the near 100-year history of national civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and the Urban League, virtually all of the executive directors have been male.
5. I will be taken more seriously as a political leader than black women.
6. Despite the substantial role that black women played in the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement, currently there is no black female that is considered a “race leader”.
7. I can live my life without ever having read black feminist authors, or knowing about black women’s history, or black women’s issues.
8. I can be a part of a black liberation organization like the Black Panther Party where an “out” rapist Eldridge Cleaver can assume leadership position.
9. I will make more money than black women at equal levels of education and occupation.
10. Most of the national “opinion framers” in Black America including talk show hosts and politicians are men.

Beauty
11. I have the ability to define black women’s beauty by European standards in terms of skin tone, hair, and body size. In comparison, black women rarely define me by European standards of beauty in terms of skin tone, hair, or body size.
12. I do not have to worry about the daily hassles of having my hair conforming to any standard image of beauty the way black women do.
13. I do not have to worry about the daily hassles of being terrorized by the fear of gaining weight. In fact, in many instances bigger is better for my sex.
14. My looks will not be the central standard by which my worth is valued by members of the opposite sex.

Sex & Sexuality
15. I can purchase pornography that typically shows men defile women by the common practice of the “money shot.”
16. I can believe that causing pain during sex is connected with a woman’s pleasure without ever asking her.
17. I have the privilege of not wanting to be a virgin, but preferring that my wife or significant other be a virgin.
18. When it comes to sex if I say “No”, chances are that it will not be mistaken for “Yes”.
19. If I am raped, no one will assume that “I should have known better” or suggest that my being raped had something to do with how I was dressed.
20. I can use sexist language like bonin’, laying the pipe, hittin-it, and banging that convey images of sexual acts based on dominance and performance.
21. I can live in a world where polygamy is still an option for men in the United States as well as around the world.
22. In general, I prefer being involved with younger women socially and sexually
23. In general, the more sexual partners that I have the more stature I receive among my peers.
24. I have easy access to pornography that involves virtually any category of sex where men degrade women, often young women.
25. I have the privilege of being a part of a sex where “purity balls” apply to girls but not to boys.
26. When I consume pornography, I can gain pleasure from images and sounds of men causing women pain.

Popular Culture
27. I come from a tradition of humor that is based largely on insulting and disrespecting women; especially mothers.
28. I have the privilege of not having black women, dress up and play funny characters- often overweight- that are supposed to look like me for the entire nation to laugh.
29. When I go to the movies, I know that most of the leads in black films are men. I also know that all of the action heroes in black film are men.
30. I can easily imagine that most of the artists in Hip Hop are members of my sex.
31. I can easily imagine that most of the women that appear in Hip Hop videos are there solely to please men
32. Most of lyrics I listen to in hip-hop perpetuate the ideas of males dominating women, sexually and socially.
33. I have the privilege of consuming and popularizing the word pimp, which is based on the exploitation of women with virtually no opposition from other men.
34. I can hear and use language bitches and hoes that demean women, with virtually no opposition from men.
35. I can wear a shirt that others and I commonly refer to as a “wife beater” and never have the language challenged.
36. Many of my favorite movies include images of strength that do not include members of the opposite sex and often are based on violence.
37. Many of my favorite genres of films, such as martial arts, are based on violence.
38. I have the privilege of popularizing or consuming the idea of a thug, which is based on the violence and victimization of others with virtually no opposition from other men.

Attitudes/Ideology
39. I have the privilege to define black women as having “an attitude” without referencing the range of attitudes that black women have.
40. I have the privilege of defining black women’s attitudes without defining my attitudes as a black man.
41. I can believe that the success of the black family is dependent on returning men to their historical place within the family, rather than in promoting policies that strengthen black women’s independence, or that provide social benefits to black children.
42. I have the privilege of believing that a woman cannot raise a son to be a man.
43. I have the privilege of believing that a woman must submit to her man.
44. I have the privilege of believing that before slavery gender relationships between black men and women were perfect.
45. I have the privilege of believing that feminism is anti-black.
46. I have the privilege of believing that the failure of the black family is due to the black matriarchy.
47. I have the privilege of believing that household responsibilities are women’s roles.
48. I have the privilege of believing that black women are different sexually than other women and judging them negatively based on this belief.

Sports
49. I will make significantly more money as a professional athlete than members of the opposite sex will.
50. In school, girls are cheerleaders for male athletes, but there is no such role for males to cheerlead for women athletes.
51. My financial success or popularity as a professional athlete will not be associated with my looks.
52. I can talk about sports or spend large portions of the day playing video games while women are most likely involved with household or childcare duties.
53. I can spend endless hours watching sports TV and have it considered natural.
54. I can touch, hug, or be emotionally expressive with other men while watching sports without observers perceiving this behavior as sexual.
55. I know that most sports analysts are male.
56. If I am a coach, I can motivate, punish, or embarrass a player by saying that the player plays like a girl.
57. Most sports talk show hosts that are members of my race are men.
58. I can rest assured that most of the coaches -even in predominately-female sports within my race are male.
59. I am able to play sports outside without my shirt on and it not be considered a problem.
60. I am essentially able to do anything inside or outside without my shirt on, whereas women are always required to cover up.

Diaspora/Global
61. I have the privilege of being a part of a sex where the mutilation and disfigurement of a girl’s genitalia is used to deny her sexual sensations or to protect her virginity for males.
62. I have the privilege of not having rape be used as a primary tactic or tool to terrorize my sex during war and times of conflict.
63. I have the privilege of not being able to name one female leader in Africa or Asia, past or present, that I pay homage to the way I do male leaders in Africa and/or Asia.
64. I have the ability to travel around the world and have access to women in developing countries both sexually and socially.
65. I have the privilege of being a part of the sex that starts wars and that wields control of almost all the existing weapons of war and mass destruction.
College
66. In college, I will have the opportunity to date outside of the race at a much higher rate than black women will.
67. I have the privilege of having the phrase “sewing my wild oats” apply to my sex as if it were natural.
68. I know that the further I go in education the more success I will have with women.
69. In college, black male professors will be involved in interracial marriages at much higher rates than members of the opposite sex will.
70. By the time I enter college, and even through college, I have the privilege of not having to worry whether I will be able to marry a black woman.
71. In college, I will experience a level of status and prestige that is not offered to black women even though black women may outnumber me and out perform me academically.
72. If I go to an HBCU, I will have incredible opportunities to exploit black women

Communication/Language
73. What is defined as “News” in Black America is defined by men.
74. I can choose to be emotionally withdrawn and not communicate in a relationships and it be considered unfortunate but normal.
75. I can dismissively refer to another persons grievances as ^*ing.
76. I have the privilege of not knowing what words and concepts like patriarchy, phallocentric, complicity, colluding, and obfuscation mean.

Relationships
77. I have the privilege of marrying outside of the race at a much higher rate than black women marry.
78. My “strength” as a man is never connected with the failure of the black family, whereas the strength of black women is routinely associated with the failure of the black family.
79. If I am considering a divorce, I know that I have substantially more marriage, and cohabitation options than my spouse.
80. Chances are I will be defined as a “good man” by things I do not do as much as what I do. If I don’t beat, cheat, or lie, then I am a considered a “good man”. In comparison, women are rarely defined as “good women” based on what they do not do.
81. I have the privilege of not having to assume most of the household or child-care responsibilities.
82. I have the privilege of having not been raised with domestic responsibilities of cooking, cleaning, and washing that takes up disproportionately more time as adults.

Church & Religious Traditions
83. In the Black Church, the majority of the pastoral leadership is male.
84. In the Black Church Tradition, most of the theology has a male point of view. For example, most will assume that the man is the head of household.

Physical Safety
85. I do not have to worry about being considered a traitor to my race if I call the police on a member of the opposite sex.
86. I have the privilege of knowing men who are physically or sexually abusive to women and yet I still call them friends.
87. I can video tape women in public- often without their consent – with male complicity.
88. I can be courteous to a person of the opposite sex that I do not know and say “Hello” or “Hi” and not fear that it will be taken as a come-on or fear being stalked because of it.
89. I can use physical violence or the threat of physical violence to get what I want when other tactics fail in a relationship.
90. If I get into a physical altercation with a person of the opposite sex, I will most likely be able to impose my will physically on that person
91. I can go to parades or other public events and not worry about being physically and sexually molested by persons of the opposite sex.
92. I can touch and physically grope women’s bodies in public- often without their consent- with male complicity.
93. In general, I have the freedom to travel in the night without fear.
94. I am able to be out in public without fear of being sexually harassed by individuals or groups of the opposite sex.

Background:

The Black Male Privileges Checklist was born out of years of organizing men’s groups and the numerous — often heated — conversations I have had with men while utilizing Barry Deutsch’s The Male Privilege Checklist. In my experiences, most men would object to at least some items on the Male Privilege Checklist. However, “men of color”, and especially African American men, often had the sharpest criticisms of the Male Privilege Checklist and the most problems relating to the idea of male privilege.

There are many reasons why black men would be reluctant to identify with the concept of male privilege. One of the most important reasons is that our experience with privilege is based on a history of political, economic, and military power that whites have historically exercised over black life. This conceptualization of privilege has not allowed us to see ourselves with privilege because the focus has been placed largely on whites. Privilege is not restricted to economic, political, or military areas of life. Privilege is also social, cultural, sexual, institutional, and interpersonal in nature. Our inability to have a more expansive understanding of privilege and power has foreclosed important insights into virtually every aspect of black men’s lives and other “men of color”.

As black men, we have also been skeptical of pro-feminist males, most of whom were white and middle class. Black men who fought for freedom during the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movements were suspicious- to say the least- of the motives of white men who were requesting that black men give up the privilege they never felt they had. Given the timing of the pro-feminist male movement and the demographics of these men, it has not been easy to separate the message from the messenger. Black men had a similar reaction to the voices of black feminists, who we saw as being influenced by white middle class feminists. Alongside this, there has long been a belief among many black men that racism provides privileges to black women that are denied to black men.

In addition, many of the items on The Male Privilege Checklist simply did not to apply to black men and other men of color. As a result, many black men argued that the list should have been called The White Male Privilege Checklist. In light of these considerations, the Black Male Privileges Checklist differs from the Male Privilege Checklist in several respects.

First, It departs from an “either/or” view of privilege that suggests that an individual or a group can only be placed into one category. Therefore, the focus is on privileges and not privilege. It also highlights belief systems that often serve as the basis for justifications and rationalizations of exploitation and discrimination. Second, The Black Male Privilege Checklist takes a Life Course perspective, acknowledging the fact that privilege takes on different forms at various points in men’s lives. Third, it takes a Global perspective to highlight the privilege that black males have as Americans, and the privileges black men share with other men of color. African American men rarely acknowledge the privilege we have in relationship to people in developing countries — especially women. Too often, our conception of privilege is limited to white men and does not lead us to reflect on the power that men of color in Africa, Asia, and Latin America exercise over women. Finally, it calls for action and not just awareness. We need “men of color” to be actively involved in social welfare and social justice movements.

Invariably, the Black Male Privileges Checklist will inspire some men to create their own list describing the list of privileges they believe black women benefit from. What men need to understand is that paying attention to male privilege does not mean that women are without faults. Rather, it means that black men cannot be blind to the facts that black men earn more than black women do, black men continue to dominate most of the political, religious, and cultural institutions within the black community, and that black men continue to dominate black women in areas of physical and sexual abuse.

As “men of color”, we have a responsibility to acknowledge that we participate in this system even though it offers us little rewards. Most African Americans, for example, take for granted the system of capitalism that we all participate in, even though we know that it does not offer us the same rewards that it does for whites. The sex-gender system, which privileges men over women, operates in similar way for all men. Black men and other “men of color” can participate in this system even though it does not offer similar rewards.

Finally, the Black Male Privileges Checklist is a tool that can be used by any individual, group, organization, family, or community that is interested in black males having greater insight into their individual lives and the collective lives of black women and girls. It is also a living tool that will grow and be amended as more discussion and dialogue occurs. This is the first edition of the Black Male Privileges Checklist and will be updated regularly. This checklist was created with black men in mind, and does not necessarily capture the experiences and cultural references of other ethnic males. I would welcome dialogue with others who are concerned about these constituencies as well.

Please visit our website at http://renaissancemaleproject.com/ to view our Teen & Male Youth Privileges Checklist. An historic tool for all young males, schools, community organizations, youth groups, sports teams, and families that can be used to assist our young males in becoming the type of adult men we want them to be.

Jewel Woods is a gender analyst specializing in men’s issues and executive director of the Renaissance Male Project . He is also the co-author of ‘Don’t Blame it on Rio: The Real Deal Behind Why Men Go to Brazil for Sex.’

dope girls.

in streetwise terms, the word dope only means one thing: the illegal, illicit shit. usually coke or heroin. it’s the norm to be a dope girl nowadays. you have a kid or two. job corps really didn’t do for you what you thought it would. that welfare-to-work medical assistant training is fine but the pay caps out at $32K per year depending on where you live — and if you’ve done welfare-to-work, you probably have babies to feed. so what’s a girl to do?
you start pushing weight, or boosting & selling the hot shit on the street. or, you get two jobs — maybe three — so you can handle your business.
i’m not saying that this is what happened to gina hunt & andrea yarrell & their children, but damn if it doesn’t seem that way. i’m not okay w/ this shit. it bothers me to no end that they were targeted for robbery and killed over some weed & money. i’m fucked up about the comments ppl have made as to the whys of these murders. i’m not okay with pointing my finger at any woman who seems to have chosen to push weight (or strip or prostitute or do any of those “bad” things) so she can maintain a fucking roof over her fucking head. i’m not gonna knock anybody because i know for a fact that in the past 2 years i’ve been so desperately broke that i wondered if selling weed was a better idea than dayjobbing it. no lie. & heaven only knows if i’ll find myself there again. who knows if any of us will be in that position? over and over again, ppl are saying it’s all about what the mothers did before that point. my god, is it really like that? you mean to tell me that before the killer shot that he couldn’t have decided to do something else? he couldn’t just walk out? what the fuck? but i guess if their house had been mistaken for a different house, it’d be okay. these girls weren’t euologized as ph.ds or neurosurgeons — cuz rich motherfuckers get into drug shit too — so i’m under the impression that just maybe it wasn’t about the fun or glamor of selling dope. i’m pretty sure that these women knew that it’s not cute out here — it weapons were found in the home, they probably knew what the norm is. there’s no honor among thieves, obviously. shooting babies? for what?
my heart’s broken by shit like this. i understand that murder is par for the course, and i know that folks are transitioning at what seems like an alarming rate. but the way this shit went down really breaks my heart. sometimes i understand why so many folks say “some days it doesn’t pay to wake up black.” apparently, it doesn’t pay to wake up female, mothering, black in this country.

fuck. what is wrong with people? these cowards won’t even admit to who shot whom. pointing fingers and laying blame at others’ feet, like that shit’s gonna help shit. so damaged. so damning.

may these lives be lost not in vain, but to teach valuable lessons to those who hear of the events. may there be rightful, righteous justice visited upon the heads of the killers. may the families of the lost/ loved ones be comforted & edified by the outpouring of sincere support from wherever it comes. it’s not often that a mother or father has to bury a child or even a grandchild — but i pray that those left behind are able to heal.

i don’t even know what else to say. peace to the mothers & children.

oh, hell no.

wtf?

i’m kinda, like… flabbergasted.

please feel free to engage me in discourse in the comments, okay?

there is so much wrong here. so much.

it goes deeper than

just hating one’s job. sometimes, the job manifests its destructive nature in how employees are treated. this post from yearning mice on fire more than explains the indoctrination that large companies (& even government entities, like the one where i work) drill into the heads of their employees. there’s a comply-or-die attitude that lots of employers seem to have. i’ve seen it everywhere from retail/ food service to non-profit environs.

this reflects exactly how i feel about the job i have now. really.

thanks to tenacious one for posting the link on her blog. (i’m digesting that transpolitics post. good GODDESS, it made my brain tingle!)

i’m very comfortable right now.

my cheap apartment, my ‘pretty damn good for someone with no college degree’ salary, regular paycheck, almost-middle-class privilege, second-hand laptop, clearance-purchased & sweatshop-manufactured clothes, hand-made jewelry, ‘nice black lady’ appearance… i am comfortable. i have the advantage of being perceived as heterosexual, as christian (is it just me or are black folks really into assuming that you’re a worshiper of jesus?), as all those things that the dominant society is/ reflects/ seems to value.

it’s starting to make me really annoyed, though. because i’m not really, like, all the way straight. because i’m nowhere near christian, muslim or jewish . . . because my mom was on public assistance when i was a kid so i know all sides of that fucked up ‘welfare’ system, because i don’t think my vote counts but i do it anyway & hope to change shit from the inside out . . .

it’s so hard biting my tongue sometimes when ppl assume that my silence is the same as agreement. i mean, in a lot of ways it can be — but the fact that i don’t say anything could mean that i don’t wanna waste my time digging into your ass & laying all your shit bare. it might mean that i don’t believe you’ll understand me if i tell you precisely what’s wrong w/ making declarations that all white ppl are inherently corrupt, that all men are terrible human beings, that your moontime is a bad thing . . . man, i don’t motherfuckin know. i’m just . . . not okay w/ a lot of this shit but i’m having this problem. the problem is knowing when opening my mouth is worth it, & furthermore knowing that the person to whom i’m speaking is gonna really get it. example: i think i ranted myself into the beginnings of an asthma attack at work some weeks ago when i told the clerical assistant that making racist jokes isn’t the way to get me to laugh — just b/c you’re black doesn’t mean you get a pass to say nasty shit about other groups of colonized ppl. he didn’t understand shit i was saying until i told him to stop talking to me for the rest of the day. that’s a bit extra, probably very unprofessional, but so is cracking jokes about puerto ricans & then saying it’s okay cuz you’re ‘part rican’ w/ your not-really-kinky hair as validation of such information. fuckwad.

anyway, yeah, so… i’m less comfortable. i don’t believe in letting my position of comfort be a reason not to get involved, or at the very least to give a damn. i’m trying to return to the idea of being an activist. someone once told me that he makes signs for protesters because he doesn’t have the energy or time to attend these events. i nodded & thought to myself, “is that really the same as direct involvement in making shit happen?” of course there’s a lot of noise made at protests, not necessarily a lot of change . . . & these shits are definitely like activist cotillions sometimes. i mean, yay signs. is it even that serious? to feel like part of the bigger ‘movement’ you have to make brown bag lunches for the attendees? i don’t know. but to me, activism isn’t about switching your vigilance on or off. in my head, i’m standing up for folks (myself included) at given opportunities, when i know i’m gonna make the biggest impact. maybe being super opportunistic isn’t ‘correct’ activism but i’ll be damned if i interrupt someone running his mouth in the supermarket about some evil jew empire or whatever the fuck. i don’t care what he thinks while i’m tryna buy some toilet tissue. i’m not yet on my constant watch for bullshit. i may never be. sometimes, a sista just wants to get her tazo tea from starfucks or whole foods & just go the hell home (or to old navy).

this is a complicated thing, this being socially responsible. this being an active activist. but when you’re uncomfortable, you do things to make yourself comfortable. being used to something is not the same as being comfortable. also, it’s impossibly fuckin easy to be an angry blogger, a pissed off ACLU member who doesn’t think they have to help send out all that fucking campaign mail* & it’s impossibly simple to say you don’t want ludacris showing up at your university because he said something fucked up about quote-unquote hoes/ hates on oprah/ hasn’t spoken against darfur enough or at all or whatever the hell y’all are mad at this month. like . . . some of this shit is so small potatoes. or, let’s pick our battles wisely enough that we can create change across the board. so many of the bullshit situations we suffer through are related to one another. maybe that’s what it is. maybe the bigger picture isn’t seen. saving the whales is important because nobody’s looking at what’s behind the danger to them — it’s the same danger that oppressed/ hunted ppl suffer. don’t you think? i guess that the balance must be found before we can really put things into motion. at least, i think so.

it’s 3 in the morning, i shouldn’t even be messin w/ this blog right now.

i’ll write something coherent at another time. not having steady internet is probably gonna cause me to write the most insanely lengthy diatribes & then posting them here. so get ready. i might have a book in me yet.

* i used to work for the ACLU. i had ppl call our offices and demand to know why we ask them to volunteer. “aren’t my donations enough to, like, hire someone?” armchair philanthropist wannabe activist assholes. ugh.

some other crazy mess

my intern said:
“i was so offended, well, kinda offended, when i saw knocked up. because, you know, they didn’t have to show the baby comin’ out and all that.”
smartly, i asked him what the rating of the film was. he responded that it had an ‘r’ rating. i coyly giggled, “that’s just what you get for seeing a film that you technically shouldn’t have without an adult guardian present, instead of your only friend who’s 18 already.”

inspired by miss dark daughta’s post on what society at large wishes to quote-unquote protect children from seeing.

i’m not gonna waste my time picking apart his logic. i don’t have the energy to. his internship is over, so now i have to tackle the recurring problem of my supervisor’s apparent unwillingness to make sure that the temporary office assistant actually knows how to do and executes his job. fuck the both of them, for the record. i have much anxiety about this job.

that’s another post for another time.