Thursday, September 17, 2009

White Rage/ White Fright: White Lies (white racial resentment & anti-Obama protest)

***Let's be clear about our starting point.
Here is what Tim Wise meant when he used the phrase "white racial resentment" to describe the motivation for opposition to Obama's health care reform plan***

***I appreciate it when folks ditch the elusive metaphors, and say how they really feel***

***Obama: another reiteration of the trope of the traditional black male threat to white children;
BEWARE GOOD WHITE FOLK!! The black man will raid the white man's home,
and strip him of authority over his white family!***


***Less subtle***

***Invoking the concept of white slavery, eh... which mobilizes the rhetoric of Revolutionary War Era whites, who were quite comfortable with the literal enslavement of black people, but violently rejected their "tax enslavement" to British imperialists. White folks were too good to be, even, discursively enslaved!! (And Revolutionary Era white folks concept of their enslavement obscenely distorted the reality of blacks' enslavement in the Americas ):

Monday, September 14, 2009

Of Mice and White Men: Racism & Political Speech in the Age of Obama

Check out this 6 minute CNN interview of white anti-racist activist Tim Wise. Wise discusses the role of "white racial resentment" in the opposition to Obama's health care reform plan.


I would love to know what folks think of what Wise has to say here. If you're interested in this topic -- white politicians' use of "hidden racism" (or racially coded language) to gain support for their agendas and win white voters , I recommend
Dan Carters' From George Wallace to Newt Gingrich: Race in the Conservative Counter-Revolution. Carters book is short, well researched and very interesting (I think:). He discusses the evolution of politicians' racist rhetoric from the time pro-racial segregationist George Wallace ran for office in the 1960s and Newt Gingrich's opposition to welfare and affirmative action in the 1990s. 

Carter demonstrates how the U.S. conservative white politicians -- like Wallace -- shifted from explicitly racist appeals (in one his public speeches, Wallace shouted, "Segregation Now! Segregation Forever!) to coded racist appeals (or "hidden" racist speech -- like that deployed by Richard Nixon, who, while campaigning for the presidency, vowed to restore "law and order," which white voters understood to refer to a particularly racialized criminal element -- i.e., poor urban blacks and Latinos. When Nixon talked about crime he invoked a specific racial image/racial stereotype -- that of the immoral, lazy, unwilling to do "legitimate" wage work, ignorant, welfare receiving "inner city" (another racially coded term) African American and Latino -- who were, let's not forget, sexually threatening to white women and white girls (after all, the black man was believed to have a particular predilection for white women's sex -- a predatory desire that could only be cured by police batons and guns and prisons -- lots of them).

Nixon's successful presidential campaign laid the groundwork for George Bush, Sr's exploitation of one black man's brutal crimes -- that man was Willie Horton. Under Dukakis' tenure as governor, a Massachusetts state law permitted inmates, like Horton, to be released on a 48 hour weekend furlough from prison. Horton never returned from furlough, and after having escaped from prison, he brutally attacked a white couple -- stabbing the white man and raping the white woman.

Here's one example of the way in which the Horton situation was used to discredit Dukakis as a worthy presidential candidate.

Bush, Sr.'s gained extreme mileage from Horton's crime. In fact, chaunceydevega's blog post tells us that the Bush campaign's Willie Horton ad permitted him "to make a comeback against Dukakis and take the White House." Bush Sr's campaign staff cast Dukakis as, not just an irresponsible leader -- but an irresponsible white man -- an irresponsible white male leader -- that supported the "right" of savage (read: black) criminals to rehabilitative "vacation" from incarceration rather than the rights of upright, hardworking and innocent citizens (read: white) to be free of and protected from the sexual savagery of escaped convicts (read: black men).

Dukakis didn't stand a chance.

Before Bush, Sr.'s victorious run for presidential office, presidential hopeful Ronald Reagan railed against "welfare queens" abuse of government help and the sin of affirmative action (which was perceived as yet another attack on the "rights" of "qualified" white men to the fruits of their hard labor). Bush's use of Horton's crimes and Reagan's purposeful reference to "welfare queens" held salience for millions of white voters, in particular, who had been taught from birth -- via cultural and social institutions like the media, schools, and family -- that black and brown people were to be feared; they did not work hard like the "salt of the earth" white folks who "made" this country "what it is today" (which is free dontcha know!); they posed a threat to Western civilization, which is best led and protected by white men -- white patriarchs. And it is white men's dependents -- white women and white girls -- that need protecting.

What today's conservatives -- like Pat Buchanan, who said that Obama's presidency is doing to white's what Jim Crow did to blacks, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, who agree with Buchanan that Obama is a new millennium Hitler for the "West" (see an all too vivid example of this racist anti-Obama propaganda here)-- it is Beck that tells us that Obama "hates white culture" -- is definitely nothing new under the son. In fact, there is a long, rich history of white male politicians exploiting white people's racist/race-based anxieties about people of color.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Transmen & Masculine Females: a Radical alternative to patriarchal masculinity

Erica, a presenter at this years ButchVoices conference, uses bell hooks' theories on white male supremacy and black patriarchy to analyze, re-position and re-conceptualize female masculinity and transmanhood, in general, black female masculinity and black transmanhood, in particular. She states: "...personally, as a black lesbian I...have...felt a need to construct a radical alternative to patriarchy and to patriarchal masculinity...transgender men, doms, studs, I think all of us...have a powerful..position in terms of reframing this discussion around what is black masculinity."

My comment: While I have thought of my gender experience and gender expression as a butch identified woman -- in explicit terms -- as a tool to subvert patriarchy, in particular, white male supremacy -- I hadn't thought of my gender experience and gender expression as a butch identified woman as a "radical alternative to patriarchy" -- as Erica brilliantly and eloquently states.

Right on, brother! Optimism inspiring stuff:)

Erica's suggestions on how to accomplish the goal of resisting complicity in and subverting patriarchal norms, and thus, constructing a radical alternative to patriarchy:

1) Fully embrace one's masculinity and femininity

2) Context helps define masculinity and femininity -- and the degree to which one's gender expression is masculine and feminine.

My comment: With statements 1 & 2 Erica was saying (I think) that there is no one way to be butch, stud, dom, a masculine female, a masculine person (etc.,) -- therefore, the spectrum, variations and differences in queer expressions of masculinity need be embraced, affirmed, validated and respected (as long as these expressions are not tied to the abuse of another person -- like misogyny and sexual violence directed at femmes, non-"masculine" people, and masculine people, for example.)

3) Interrogate one's emotions (in defiance of masculine gender norms). Engage in self-analysis or introspection -- in so doing, I believe we honor and respect our emotional experiences. Patriarchy teaches men to repress emotions that render a man vulnerable -- like sadness, for example (I think patriarchy encourages, validates and awards male expressions of anger). Erica encourages masculine females and transmen *not*

4) "Develop a healthy relationship to our own power and authority and our own power in the world." -- which means *not* abusing one's power as a stud, dom, transman or masculine person

Thanks, Erica!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

internalized oppression/ irrepressible idealism (Dear Janine)


I feel so lonely.

and so scared.

I don't know: what to do.

where to run.

where to hide.

the Rage does not satisfy.

Sometimes. I choke. on it.

scared&lonely even though things always end up okay -- even as they do not go as hoped for
or as planned.

Would you believe... it's the idealistic hoping that makes it so?

I can't help but hope -- can't help but fight for it -- can't help but pursue that revolutionary ideal... as I imagine it... in the context of myLife.

And it is that very thing -- that very thing -- that scares me the most.

that leaves me feeling isolated.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

national Reviews: Another pictorial attack on Sotomayor

And this time, the image attack is on Latinas, Latinos and East Asians (I'm being kind, if not accurate, by allowing that the artist would distinguish between the various Asian groups. After all, the popular racist notion is that "they all look alike."


The Huffington Post headline blares "National Review Perplexingly Depicts Sotomayor As Asian." The articles writer, Jason Linken, says"It seems that the National Review has confused their ethnic stereotypes, or their religions, or maybe they just wanted some sort of two-fer, because their 'Wise Latina' cover story presents Sotomayor as an Asian, in some sort of Buddhist pose." blogger writes, "Ah yes, porque a Puerto Rican can’t be wise draped in a Puerto Rican flag, eating a bacalaito, and shaking her big ass. And anyway that would be a Puerto Rican stereotype. Much better to use an East Asian physical stereotype and Asian model minority/smart stereotype, no?"

No, er, I men, yes! :) Better for the National Review to use an East Asian physical and "model minority" stereotype -- or so their editors thought. I don't think those wise white men (heh:) at the National Review are confused at all. I think they're (not so) effortless genius is the product of trying to dodge cries of "racism" by relying on "Asian" stereotypes -- and not stereotypes of Latinas/Latinos, which -- since Sotomayor's nomination for Supreme Court Justice -- a slightly broader audience of people in the U.S. appear to more readily take issue with (Maybe I'm giving non-Latina/Latina folks in the U.S. far too much credit here -- I'd love some feedback on this particular assertion). I mean, you can't represent black presidents as escaped gorilla's that get murdered by white police officers and you can't portray black presidential hopefuls as cartoon figures in traditional Arab dress and their life partners as militants doing the "terrorist fist bump" without a white man's job being threatened:) though not stripped from him. At least, National Review editors appear to think that racial/ethnic stereotypes of East Asians won't ruffle as many feathers. So, why not go with buddhist imagery! Makes total sense. Not. Generally speaking, I don't think most non-East Asian, non-Chinese, non-South Asian, and Central Asian folk living in the U.S. take offense to racist, sexist (etc.,) stereotypes of the aforementioned groups. Whereas, an obviously minstrelized depiction of a popular African American figure would elicit ire and intense criticism, minstrelized imagery of various Asian groups (as well as Middle Eastern, Muslim, Arab, and indigenous/Native American groups) would not lead most folks to bat an eyelid.

(I made up the word "minstrelized" :) Let me define minstrelsy for you -- or rather, I'll let Global Oneness define "minstrelsy" for you:)

"Popular entertainment perpetuated the racist stereotype of the uneducated, ever-cheerful, and highly musical black well into the 1950s....

Minstrel-show characters played a powerful role in shaping assumptions about African Americans. However, unlike vehemently anti-black propaganda from the time, minstrelsy made this attitude palatable to a wide audience by couching it in the guise of well intentioned paternalism.[64] Black Americans were in turn expected to uphold these stereotypes, or else risk white retaliation. Some were even killed for defying their minstrelsy-defined roles. Louis Wright, himself a black minstrel, died after being lynched and having his tongue cut out for cursing at some whites who had thrown snowballs at him.[65]"

Allow me to further support my claims:) about the widespread indifference with which racist portrayals of Arab peoples, Muslims, and indigenous/Native American people are met:

1) A popular, crude and staggeringly racist stereotype of indigenous/Native American people:

I mean -- seriously. I know how pervasive, insidious, and unexamined racism is by most white people -- but I still have a hard time believing that anyone -- even white folks:) -- could successfully convince themselves and then argue that this image is not racist and offensive, mainly to the group it targets. But, then again, the people who defend these types of images don't care about the views, feelings, or history of the groups that call for the abolition of them (this link presents you with an opportunity to sign a petition demanding the removal of the Cleveland Indians logo). And there is PLENTY of money to be made on people's indifference, lack of empathy, and conscious and unconscious and unexamined racism.

2) A MadTV skit -- brought to you by FOX Television! -- mocking Al Jazeera, a major news network, and important news source, owned and operated by Arab people for people in the Arab World:

Wow. This one hurts my heart. And my gut. Arab caricatures chanting "Death to America" and MadTV's actors in blackface! God help us. ("blackface" is defined and discussed here)

3) Which is not to say that racist stereotypes of blacks and Latinas/Latinos aren't abound in the cultural mainstream -- they are -- and they are also routinely ignored -- by white folks and people of color, including blacks and Latinas/Latinos themselves, who occasionally are the creators of said images.

Tyler Perry's beloved Madea films are a fine example of that which I speak. Here's a clip from Madea Goes to Jail:

There's a lot more I could say about films like these that are made by black artists, do well in the box office with a multi-racial audience, provide opportunities for black actors and other black professionals in a white dominated entertainment industry, while also mobilizing racist stereotypes. The subject is a complex one. For brevity's sake, I will save that discussion for a separate blog post:)

Then there's Hancock:'s Latoya Peterson entitles her blog critique of this film: "Will Smith: Flip-Flop wearing, Alcoholic, White-Woman Chasing [Black] Superhero?" So, yeah, the films got its problems:)

And Tropic Thunder:

Actually, make that "fuck me." 

Cuz that's what this film does -- it discursively bends black folks over, and forces us to take it in the rear quite non-consensually.

I hate this fucking film. A festival of white racism in blackface packaged as post-racialhipster cool that excessively wealthy white men used to get even wealthier. Fuck that. 

But this blog started with a discussion of the National Review cover caricaturing Sotomayor and her statement that "I [Sonia Sotomayor] would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life."  The white boys really hate that one:) Her words should remind us where this all started for the Rush Limbaugh's, Sean Hannity's, and Bill O'Reilly's of the world. She -- this proud, brilliant, successful Latina -- pissed these white boys off. They and their fraternity of followers -- which include white women and a few folks of color -- are, subsequently, using their institutional power in the government and media to heap racist and sexist attacks on her.

As I've said before. She will be nominated. The Supreme Court's politics, and thus, the Court's verdicts and role in making federal policy will change. White supremacy, and it's footsoldiers -- however wealthy they are -- will not and cannot stop that.

Why is it important to identify, critique/discuss, and actively work to purge such imagery from the U.S.'s cultural, social, political and economic spheres?

Dr. David Pilgrim, Professor of Sociology, provides a useful response to this question in a text he provided the Jim Crow Museum (an online source): "1) during the period of Jim Crow, 1877-1965, racist images of Blacks permeated American society as evidenced by the proliferation of anti-Black everyday items; 2) anti-Black caricatured items were used to support anti-Black prejudice and discrimination; and, 3) Jim Crow-like images are still being created and distributed."

It is useful to substitute Pilgrim's reference to "racist images of blacks" with a more general reference to "racist images of people of color" -- and his racially specific reference to "anti-black" imagery and prejudice with a racially specific reference to "anti-Latino/a" or "anti-Asian" or "anti-Arab" (etc) imagery and prejudice.

Racist images of people of color and prejudice against people of color is ubiquitous in U.S. society as is "evidenced by the proliferation" of everyday racist items that attack East Asians, the Chinese, South Asians, Central Asians, Middle Eastern peoples, indigenous/Native American groups, Latinas/Latinos, and blacks.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Another high-tech lynching: Sonia Sotomayor cartoon

When I first saw this image -- originally published here, at The Oklahoman, about a day ago -- I was pissed. 

Just pissed because, you know, blatant, unapologetic racism is unsurprising. Another white cop shot a black cop last week Thursday night -- my gut and my mind are still meditating on that tragedy.

But then I looked at it again. And you know what -- isn't this exactly what Republican politicians, their supporters, and the neo-conservative media is doing to Sotamayor right now. 

Isn't this exactly what the Republican gang in congress will do to her at her confirmation hearing. 

Won't they rhetorically lynch her -- like FOX News has done constantly since Obama nominated her.

So, this image, like so many others we've seen since Obama became a serious contender for presidential office, represents something very real -- though much denied -- for Obama's opponents, for Sotomayor's opponents -- for those white folks that believe their rights, their power, is being stripped away by the scurge of Affirmative Action -- by deluded white liberals and deluded liberals of color who have downed too much of that subliminally socialist liberal kool-aid.

This image is another ugly birthchild of white supremacist thinking and behavior.

Lynch the bitch.

Lynch her in print. Lynch her with words. Beat the shit out of her in our racist imagination because we can't do it for real. Not like in the old days. When you could lynch her for real. So lynch her now, in this way, and make her family, her supporters, and everyone that looks like her watch. Make them as uncomfortable -- as sorry, sad, scared, and angry -- as we are. Because we (think we) are losing control.

Well, they -- the wealthy neo-conservative white male oligarchy -- is losing some control.

And I, for one, am not angry or scared (for once:). I do feel sorry and sad.

Sonia Sotomayor will be confirmed. She will be the first Latina, and third woman, to serve as a Supreme Court judge. Some things are changing.

So, mostly, I am ecstatic. Because her appointment is a big deal:) Sotomayor will be in a position to help make institutional changes as part of a Court that has been predominantly conservative/Republican -- before she occupies a seat on it, that is.

Please contact The Oklahoman or call them at  (405) 475-3311, and tell them what you think about their cartoonist's depiction of Sotomayor's upcoming confirmation hearing.

Ask them, "What's up with white Republican's and their nostalgic urge to throw lynching parties?" 

Thanks to Feministing, I know that the Oklahoma Women's Network Blog has more to say here.

Also: Because of my blog's format, which I can't figure out how to change, the cartoon is partially cut off. The crude and arguably racist representation of Obama (a sombrero for goodness sakes?) is saying,"Now who wants to be first."