Thursday, September 04, 2014

The N-Word--Poll Request

The other day, Bibi was exposed to something at school that had me distressed.  One of her classmates found (or was given) a piece of paper on which some older students (judging by the quality and variety of handwriting on said piece of paper) had written various things.  Some of the things are inappropriate for a ten or eleven year old child to be writing (about “tapping that” and “pulling him”) while others were outright offensive (vulgar language and “retarded” used as a slur against a fellow student).   Bibi’s peer-aged classmate took this piece of paper and folded it into a fan and gave it to her innocently enough and Bibi brought it home.  She had been told by the classmate to read what it said but Bibi told her mother that she couldn’t understand some of the words. 

I wanted to share the above story to put the following into context.  One of the words on the paper is the N-word.  I cringed at the thought that she had been exposed to any of the above but this word in particular stood out to me. 

It is my instinct to immediately protect Bibi from this word, from its implications, its meaning, its ugly history.  I want to cover her ears, her eyes, to hide her from the vulgarity of it. 

I listen to myself. 
She’s too young. 
It’s not fair. 
Too young to know of such things.
Why?  How? 
I know I know I know I cannot protect her from these things but damn damn damn I wish I could.
She’s only six, not quite seven, and already, so soon, too soon, this word.
This hateful, hate-full, fucking word.
She’s too young.
And then I think . . .
But wait.  She’s lucky, so very lucky, because she is almost seven, mostly six, and this accidental, incidental, meaningless moment is her first exposure to this word and it wasn’t even aimed at her.  She wasn’t being called anything hateful; she was merely, glimpsingly, exposed to it.  This is not a label that will ever be slapped across her or her future, will never be used to define or describe her by someone who wants her to feel less than she is.
She is so fucking lucky.

Because there are children younger than she who have been called the N-word, and worse, more than once, perhaps even often.  They have heard the word used with intention, with purpose, with hate and these children cannot and will not ever escape it or be able to avoid it.  Not really, not fully, because it has roots and it digs in. 

I know this without having to protect myself from it, even as I wish I could protect her from it.  I can’t keep the ugliness of the world out and, even if I could protect her, would I?  From this word?  No.  Not really.  It’s a word.  But it is not meant for her.  No.  I’d rather protect all of the children, the millions of younger than she even children, who have already suffered the cruelty of our nation’s history, who see and recognize themselves in the faces of the decades and centuries of African Americans who are in the pages of their history books and on the television screens in their homes who have been lynched and murdered and imprisoned and called over and over again this one damn word that can never touch me or my granddaughter and stick. 

We’re lucky.

the n-word
by Evie Shockley

i want to write a poem
about the time a little white boy
called me a _____:
but i can’t use the word:
it’s busy.
busy, i say:
headlining the new civil rights agenda,
bedding down with dictionary editors,
shuffling back and forth between
huck finn and new jack city:
oh, it’s busy, busy,
and i wouldn’t want to disturb it.

i want to write a poem
about when I was nine
and a little white boy
whose coat sleeves didn’t reach his wrists
called me a _____:
but i can’t say the word: 
it’s busy, i tell you:
black folks got their mouths around it,
chewing, swallowing, regurgitating,
chewing, swallowing again, re-
defining it, they tell me:
they’re calling cow-cud
what i thought was bull-shit:
either way, i can’t stomach it!
since the word is busy, busy busy,
i wouldn’t want to disturb it.

i want to write a poem
about how this little white boy said it:
wasn’t even talking to me:
told his father wait—
i wanna play on the pinball machine
as soon as the ______ gets through with it.
yeah, we both up in woolco
mooching amusement in the toy department:
neither of us could afford the damn thing:
but this little white boy
he called me a ______:
and i still can’t say the word:
it’s busy,
busy, you hear me,
all tied up with quentin tarantino
and i wouldn’t want to disturb it.

you know, i thought i’d write a poem
about the time this little white boy
who could be married to my ex-best friend,
could end up wrapped in a confederate flag,
who could be our next president
the time this little white boy
called me a ______:
i’m busy.
deeply involved in self-definition
and world-reconstruction:
i said i got work to do
and i’m tired of being disturbed.

Ask Me Anything. Tell Me Anything.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Why #SeductionSunday is Boring (and Problematic)

First, the criteria.

I chose ten random images from three social networks.
I did not choose an image shared by the same person.  (It is possible that someone out there has shared more than one of these.  If that's the case, I probably didn't share two from your posts because, odds are, you aren't the only person who shared one or more of these images.)
I chose the first image posted by a person.  In other words, I did not cherry pick in any way.

Now, the images.  Take your time.  Enjoy them and see if you notice anything.  Maybe you'll notice what I've been noticing for months.


Embedded image permalink

Once upon a time, I asked everyone over on google+ to remove me from their #seductionsunday posts because, at the time I thought I might be spending more time with my granddaughter and didn't want her to see anything with which would make her parents (or me) uncomfortable.   It didn't happen.  Not sure if the people just didn't care about my concerns, willfully disrespected my wishes, or were too lazy to give a damn.  In any event, it became a moot point and, as a result, I actually started paying more attention to #seductionsunday posts.  I even looked for them on tumblr (didn't find anything) and twitter (again, not much) but it is definitely a thing on google+ so every week I could count on images like the above.  And I started noticing a pattern that I find discomfitting.  

Why so heteronormative? 

There are, of course, rare exceptions.  I actually had to fudge my above guidelines (*) for finding a second non-heterosexual image.  And of course, in both cases, what do we find?  Two women.  Why?  Probably because #seductionsunday is all about the male gaze and is not well and truly about sexual diversity or exploring the full spectrum of what is seductive.  

Why so white?

Another and equally disturbing observation is that there are no people of color in any of these images. I became a little excited when I saw a second #seductionsunday post from one person (**) that had a white man sucking on the fingers of an African-American woman.  Then I realized that the woman's hand was covered in chocolate and you can't see what her skin tone is anyway.  But do you see anyone of any color up there?  I mean, besides Caucasian which is yet another normative standard?  I don't.  In fact, I typically don't on any given #seductionsunday.  (***)

What's wrong with this picture?  Or should I say "these pictures"?

Do I even have to spell it out for you?  We live in a society that presumes white heterosexual lifestyles and standards of beauty are the norm.  On the rare occasion we see something else, it is a fetishized white male filter that is overlaid on #seductionsunday.  Two women = hot.  Two men = gross.  (***)

Insert a collective yawn here.

Seriously, I can't be the only one who sees these images as a disturbing comment on our collective societal psyche.  Surely, others have seen this pattern and consciously choose not to participate in #seductionsunday because it is tedious and cull.  Give me something anything that isn't defined by the White Male Gaze and maybe, just maybe, I'll take notice. Until then, forgive me if I don't find any of it especially intriguing let alone stimulating.  #seductionsundayfail

*  Specifically, I skipped an image posted by one person on twitter and used a second one.  The first post was of a fully clothed woman and frankly looked more like a well-placed selfie than a legitimate #seductionsunday image anyway.
**  I can bend my guidelines once, I suppose, but not twice.  
***  Honestly, if there has ever been a Person of Color in the past three months, I missed it.  Not one out of at least a dozen images week after week.
****  FYI, the solution is not to make anything or anyone a fetish.  Inserting People of Color to create something "exotic" within the erotic is merely objectifying and further complicates an already complicated issue.  Yellow/Jungle Fever is as insulting as a complete White Washing. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Weekly Update Plus Month's End Looking Forward

A weekly update and month’s end post all in one?  Uh oh.  Hope you’re ready for a long one.

Having a pain-free knee has made a difference in everything.  I’m able to help with housework, move about to fetch myself some water or a book, even as I refrain from overdoing things.  Most of my exercise has been limited to the physical therapy exercises I did while waiting to see the orthopedist.  I say “most” because I did go for a walk with Kanika. Two miles and it felt so good.  Just like old times!

Blogger corrected the image
and reoriented it so it would be
right-side up.
Another upside-down drawing exercise,
unfinished because I ran out of time.
Nonetheless, I gained weight.  Only half a pound but every ounce is putting me further and further away from my goal which is increasingly out of reach.  Before I injured my knee and stopped exercising, I had been using My Fitness Pal with little success.  People were eager to friend me but, per usual, not eager to interact.  I would leave encouraging comments on their posts and they would give me a thumbs up click of the link.  (Similar to liking something on Facebook or plussing something on Google+ in that it takes no time or any real thought.)  I’m considering just giving up on it altogether now because, even when I posted about finally being pain free nobody said anything so it seems to me that they have better things to do and when I’m feeling discouraged about gaining weight and all I need encouragement more than ever.  Especially when, over the next few months, I’ll be dealing with the challenge of creating an exercise regimen that is both effective and will not risk injury. 

My choices are:
  • Stick with MFP and try to reach out to more people to add more friends
  • Find another website like MFP (I’ve tried SparkPeople and LiveStrong and would be willing to return to either of these, I suppose)
  • Resurrect my Body Blog which I stopped using several years ago

I’ll think about it some more in the next few weeks and make a decision which I’ll begin in October.  If you have any thoughts, don’t hesitate to chime in with a comment.  I’m trying to make a decision and I often find that easiest to do when I can weigh the pros and cons through dialogue with myself or others.

Really, don't know why
blogger is flipping the photos.
Anyway, another upside-down drawing.
Not only did I get to see Kanika this weekend but on Thursday my son, Marc, came back to town for Dragon Con.  I love it when Marc is in town!  We went over to Joe and Erin’s to play a board game that night which is why I was oh-so-tired on Friday.  He went to DC in costume on Saturday (dressed as Poison) and on Sunday (today) he took Shira with him.  So he was able to see everyone in the family.  Isn’t that perfect? 

Saturday I also talked with Love and had a lovely quiet afternoon chat and pizza for supper with Mary who came over after not seeing one another for months and months.  We are going to hang out again in October.  I have a birthday gift for her somewhere around here but I misplaced it.  (I also misplaced Matt’s and Pia’s birthday gifts.  Not sure where any of them are but I suspect they are all together and will be found any day now.)

So all-in-all, it was a good week.

September is going to GREAT!

Or maybe not.  You see, first the television in the room where I typically play the exercise DVDs and watch my movies, is the one that quit working.  We have another, smaller one, that will take its place so it’s not a crisis.  Just a disruption.

More worrisome is our car which is having transmission problems.  Transmissions don’t come cheap but what can you do.  If I were working, we could think about buying a “new” used car but that isn’t an option.  So we can only hope for the best.  We won’t know where we stand with the car until later this week but it is something that could influence the rest of September. 

But September won’t be all gloom and doom!  Rob and I are going to London, England.  This will be the first trip out of the United State for the both of us.  And what a first it shall be!  The whole time I was stuck in bed, a part of me was worried that I’d be unable to take full advantage of this opportunity.  How was I going to walk around museums or a castle when I could barely limp along with my cane?  Truth is, that was one of the reasons I was feeling so discouraged about the ongoing pain.  Truth is, that’s part of the reason I’m so delighted and relieved that I am pain free!  

Finally, it didn't flip the pic.
Last upside-down drawing.
What You Can Expect in September?

Well, I’ll do like I did last year when we went to New York.  I’ll post a series or “itinerary” posts of things we plan on doing on what days.  Naturally, there will be changes in the plans, just as there were when we went to New York.  Or perhaps the itinerary will stand firm.  You never know.  Our friend, Chris, will house and dog sit for us while we’re out of town.  We’ll worry about Holly, naturally enough.  Still, she knows him and will survive the distress of our leaving while benefitting from the knowledge that we may go away but we’ll never ever abandon her.  She’s our girl.   Snowdoll has experienced our leaving and returning more than once so, although it’s disruptive, it won’t be quite so traumatic.

So the next couple of weeks will be busy with the car and getting ready for our trip, packing things and making sure we have everything as planned out as can be.  I’ll be making the itinerary blog posts and some book review posts as well.  Hopefully, you won’t even notice I’m gone.   Of course, if you see me around google+ or twitter or tumblr, you won’t see me posting there or linking over to my blog posts.  You’ll have to remember to check in without my reminders.  Sorry.  Not much I can do about that.  I trust you’ll forgive me. 

Don't forget to vote in the poll to the left and choose a future blog post for your reading pleasure.