Monday, March 28, 2011

Obama used in another anti-choice ad targeting black women...

Sickening, I know. This advertisement will be plastered all across Chicago, Obama's hometown, within the next few weeks. As conservatives have proved time and time again, they are all about "saving" children from lower socio-economic backgrounds, but against helping to support them once they're in this world. I wanted to offer some more common realities for our country's future leaders:

-Our next possible leader's parents are told that public assistance such as foodstamps, section 8, welfare, or WIC, will be decreased because they are too taxing on our budget.

-Our next possible leader is forced into an unequal education system where teachers aren't paid enough, books haven't been updated in years, and facilities are in desperate need of repair because they have been deemed as an academic lost cause.

-Our next possible leader is forced into gang-life because no one else is there looking out for them, including the police.

-Our next possible leader may be arrested for several minor offenses, that were only committed as means of survival, as funding for policing and the prison system increases and prisoners are used as cheap sources of labor.

-Our next possible leader is told that their Pell grant is only going to be covering 1/5 of your education costs at a traditional four-year institution.

-Out next possible leader decides they don't want to play your reindeer games of politics because they see how viciously conservative "activists" attack Barack Obama based on the color of his skin:

I'm sorry folks but you can't have it both ways. You can't treat a group of people like a subspecies of human beings while at the same time try to "save them from themselves." No one is falling for it, and black women will not act as your pawns in your attack on women's rights.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Once in a while, you find something that speaks exactly to your experience...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

"There's a communist living in the White House"

As a uke enthusiast (as well as a decent human being), I'm pretty bothered by this:

1) Obama is NOT a communist
2) What the hell is so great about capitalism anyway?
3) Are you seriously trying to invoke Red Scare sentiments (ok fine, I may be impartial to communism, but that's something I won't apologize for, nor is it something that is illegal)
4) "Black liberation" is not's a struggle that was started long before you, still a struggle today, and it's ultimately inevitable...GET OVER IT!
5) In fact, I feel like the source of your issues with Obama are more rooted in
"black liberation" than in communism. (and by "black liberation" I mean of course that Obama is black and you and the "sweet tea drinkers" can't deal)

6) Finally, and perhaps most are a terrible singer/uke player...

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Higher Ed and Social Justice: Meaningful Diversity

Meet Alexandra Wallace, aka the 'Asians in the Library' girl...
(ironically, also a political science student)

I'll give you all a minute to recover...pick your jaw up off of the floor...punch a pillow...scream a little

Feel a little better? Yes? Great!

We discussed this video in my Diversity in Higher Education class, and honestly I was shocked that people were shocked. Certainly the amount of diverse ethnicities and cultural groups on college campuses has increased over the years, but that doesn't mean that there is meaningful interaction occurring between us. I am speaking from my own undergraduate experience and I recognize that not all campuses are the same, but as a queer multi-ethnic person I existed differently in different spaces. Not to say that I didn't bring all of my identities into whatever clubs and organizations I was in, but I will say that I was much more aware of the lack of intercultural sensitivity in various instances.

For Example:

A) It was hard being a person of color/socio-economic minority in the one queer organization on campus because I felt some blatant discomfort with those identities. Specifically, when an incident occurred between a cultural-fraternity member and a member of the queer group. There was a lot of talk in the group about "black homophobia." But we know damn well homophobia is everywhere.

B) Someone once told me that I spoke so well for an "inner-city kid."

C) On more than one occasion, I was assumed to be an EOF (Educational Opportunity Fund) student based solely on my skin color.

D) During a club meeting focused around light-skin vs. dark-skin media portrayals and community, I was forced to sit on the light-skin side, which is fine because I am light. But then there was a bunch of talk about how light-skin African Americans didn't choose their complexion. Rather, it was years of sexual violence in their family histories by white slave owners. While light skin and "good hair" are often seen as more beautiful, many folks were enraged but their European bloodlines. This was also fine because this history is a very real, very painful, truth. But I'm half black and half white, and I am not ashamed of or angry at either. I made a very conscious choice to stay quiet about my interracial parents.

E) Sometimes I felt like the only brown face in a sea of queer white friends, and I wasn't sure if I was just a token. I'm sorry, but some days that's just how I felt.

And believe me, I'm not the only one with these types of stories. I once saw an racially-charged fight break out right behind my apartment. There was a group of 15 young men, primarily white with one or two black men among them, and one of the white students said "what's up nigga?" to one of the black students. There was immediate violence, as some might expect, but the white student didn't expect to get punched at all. As he was being tackled to the ground by the black student, all I could hear him say was "I said nigga, not nigger...there's a difference." Who the hell told him there was a difference, and that it was ok for him to use any form of that word? I think he learned his lesson.

The point of all these stories, and this disturbing video, is that getting diverse people on a college campus is NOT enough. Meaningful dialogue might occur naturally, but there's no guarantee. Campus administrators shouldn't feel complacent or as though they've done their diversity duty just because they've recruited people of color. Are clubs organized or comprised of homogeneous students? How are diverse people being supported, and nurtured, and integrated? How are privileged people being challenged? Are we even talking to one another outside of the classroom? Keeping in mind that little interaction is occurring between social-identity groups: If gaining a seat in the student government is purely based on voting, but your school is 77% white, how many people of color are actually being voted into positions of power? Keeping the educational achievement gap in mind, how many professors of color have you actually encountered? And this is just race and ethnicity. I'd need a whole other blog post for different forms of oppression and power and representation.

I'm just frustrated y'all! And I know there are folks out there that are helping to create genuine conversations and learn on college campuses. And I know I hope to be one of those educators one day. But more often than not, this education happens for folks who choose to be challenged. I don't think the Alexandra Wallaces out there are signing up for diversity seminars or intergroup dialogues. How do we reach them!?

On a side note: Ms. Wallace has dropped out of UCLA. Sure we all have freedom of speech, but we better be prepared to deal with the consequences of our words.

How do you feel about it?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Color Me Feminist

Color Me Feminist is a new project I'm working on that is intended to create an interactive space for folks to share their feminist stories. Contribute and share!

From the website:

Are you a feminist?
Do you want to tell your own feminist story?

We want to hear from people of color, trans/gender non-conforming, people with disabilities, kinky folks, polyamorous folks...anyone who has ever felt silenced by the mainstream...and of course our proactive allies. We want to change the face of feminism!

Submit a picture along with your story, and hopefully your journey will awaken the inner-feminist in someone else!

You can also access Color Me Feminist on the Not Your Average Feminist navigation bar located at the top of this page!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Well....that wasn't very funny at all

For a former SNL cast member...her material has gone downhill.

Chick-Fil-A exposed...

I've sort of stayed away from this Chick-fil-a issue because I didn't want to give it any more time than it deserved when there are tons of pressing queer issues I worry about on a day to day basis. But a recent article from Equality Matters has revealed some undeniable truths. You can find the whole article here, but I wanted to focus on one particularly fun tidbit of homophobia:

Since 2008, Chick-fil-A has been a sponsor of All Pro Dad, a program created by the Tampa-based organization Family First, also known as the "Florida Family Council." The Florida Family Council is an affiliate of the American Family Association, which has been designated as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. [The Gospel According to Disney, 2004; SPLC, Spring 2005]

  • Chick-fil-A Sponsors All Pro Dad. [Chick-fil-A, accessed 2/4/11; Voice of Reason, No.3, 2005]
  • Family First Is Actually The Florida Family Council. [Trademarkia, accessed 2/4/11 and 2/4/11]
  • Florida Family Council is an Affiliate of the American Family Association [The Gospel According to Disney,2004];
  • SPLC designated the American Family Association an anti-gay hate group [SPLC, Spring 2005]
I highlight Chick-fil-a's support of the American Family Association because they have a rather interesting campaign right now calling for the boycotting of Home Depot because the company is...

proud of their support for homosexual behavior. It set up a tent along the parade route, built a custom "gay pride float" on the bed of a company truck and waived the company's dress policy by allowing employees to wear their Home Depot aprons, decorated with pro-gay buttons. If that wasn't enough, Home Depot sent its official mascot to help promote the company's homosexual activism.

Here is the video in question that has the American Family Association so upset:

I know I know, totally ironic that Chick-fil-a is complaining about being criticized and boycotted, particularly on college campuses, yet they are giving money to organizations that are doing the EXACT same thing. Taken from the American Family Association page again:

Over one-half million people have signed a pledge to boycott The

Home Depot until it agrees to remain neutral in the culture and political war over homosexual marriage.

Everyone has the right to boycott whomever they wish to speech...whatever.

But I have to have a few words of advice for Chick-fil-a: Don't dish it out if you can't take it. And stop trying to hide the fact that you're dishing it out, the queers have caught on. You've brought this boycott on yourself.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Cisgender Privilege

Check out this amazing list from the UMass Stonewall Center (emphasis on my favorites):

• Strangers don’t assume they can ask me what my genitals look like and how I have sex.
• My validity as a man/woman/human is not based on how much surgery I’ve had or how
well I “pass” as a non-transperson.
• When initiating sex with someone, I do not have to worry that they won’t be able to deal
with my parts, or that having sex with me will cause my partner to question his or her own
sexual orientation.
• I am not excluded from events which are either explicitly or de facto (because of nudity)
for men-born-men or women-born-women only.
• My politics are not questioned based on the choices I make with regard to my body.
• I don’t have to hear “so have you had THE surgery?” or “oh, so you’re REALLY a
[incorrect sex or gender]?” each time I come out to someone.
• I am not expected to constantly defend my medical decisions.
• Strangers do not ask me what my “real name” [birth name] is and then assume that they
have a right to call me by that name.
• People do not disrespect me by using incorrect pronouns even after they’ve been corrected.
• I do not have to worry that someone wants to be my friend or have sex with me in order to
prove his or her “hip-ness” or good politics.
• I do not have to worry about whether I will experience harassment or violence for using a
bathroom or whether I will be safe changing in a locker room.
• When engaging in political protests, I do not have to worry about the gendered
repercussions of being arrested. (i.e., what will happen to me if the cops find out that my
genitals do not match my gendered appearance? Will I be placed in a cell with people of
my own gender?)
• I do not have to defend my right to be a part of “Queer,” and gays and lesbians will not try
to exclude me from OUR movement in order to gain political legitimacy for themselves.
• My experience of gender (or gendered spaces) is not viewed as “baggage” by others of the
gender in which I live.
• I do not have to choose between being invisible (“passing”) or being “othered” and/or
tokenized based on my gender.
• People will not assume that I’m a top/bottom based on my anatomy.
• I am not told that my sexual orientation and gender identity are mutually exclusive.
• When I go to the gym or a public pool, I can use the showers.
• If I end up in the emergency room, I do not have to worry that my gender will keep me
from receiving appropriate treatment, or that all of my medical issues will be seen as a
result of my gender.
• My health insurance provider (or public health system) does not specifically exclude me
from receiving benefits or treatments available to others because of my gender.
• My identity is not considered “mentally ill” by the medical establishment.
• I am not required to undergo an extensive psychological evaluation in order to receive
basic medical care.
• The medical establishment does not serve as a “gatekeeper,” determining what happens to
my body.
• People do not use me as a scapegoat for their own unresolved gender issues.

...please note quite a few of these also apply to folks who are perceived as cisgender ("individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity")

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Meet Travis!!!

ello everyone, my name is Travis. I am currently an undergraduate student at Ramapo College of New Jersey majoring in History and going for my Secondary Education certification. I work at the college’s Women’s Center as the Men’s Outreach Coordinator and am the secretary of Feminists United.

Feminism and social justice have been great passions of mine since early high school when I was exposed to the world of activism by way of punk rock. I believe strongly that no one can be free until we are all free and I want to help make that goal closer to being achieved in any way that I can. Some of my biggest passions in regards to activism revolve around history and how it is applied to the political realm, especially as a tool of oppression. I also seek to de-stigmatize the feminist movement for male-identified persons and deal with issues like misogyny and homophobia in that community.

I am excited to start posting here; I love to learn and be exposed to new viewpoints!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The girl you just called fat?

There's a new anti-bullying facebook status being reposted that I think is really great. It goes like this: 

The Girl you just called fat? She has been starving herself & has lost over 30lbs. The Boy you called stupid, he has a learning disability & studies over 4hrs a night. The Girl you called ugly? She spends hours putting make-up on hoping people will like her. The Boy you just tripped? He is abused enough at home. There's a lot more to people then you think. Put this as your status if you're against bullying.

I think using facebook statuses is a really creative way of bringing awareness of different social issues that people usually don't encounter in their normal routine. I especially love it when it comes from someone unexpected, or offers support to someone anonymously listening. However I want to add to the spirit of this message that it's not only negative words that work their way into a person's psyche or become part of an accepted discourse. It's ALL language - sometimes even things that are well-intentioned - that have power in shaping someone's identity, self-esteem and sel-concept. So I offer an alternative facebook status as just food for thought :).

The girl you just called SKINNY? She has been starving herself and lost over 30 lbs to fit a societal imperative that she be "beautiful" according to a prejudiced, unhealthy and unrealistic/unattainable ideal. The boy you called STUPID? He is an imaginative and enthusiastic painter, but is branded as inferior according to a single definition of success. The girl you called BEAUTIFUL? She lives in a society where it matters what other people think of her, and where she is expected to welcome comments on her body and taught to need external validation of her self-worth. The boy you just tripped? He is secretly afraid and starts to bully others to protect his own ego. 

There's a lot more to people than you think. Sometimes it's not just the negative comments that get to us, but the positive ones that have only the best intentions. Commenting on others' bodies is supposed to make them feel good. Kids who are bullied get more empathy than the bullies who are bullied. Language has power, plain and simple. But thinking about the things we say and do that are so deeply ingrained we don't even question them? Now THERE'S a powerful message.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Body Image and Queer Intersections...

We know that body image is an issue that affects everyone in different capacities. From diets to disordered eating to liposuction and breast implants, people are constantly in search of the "perfect body."

I write this post because for many women, black women in particular, expectations for the "perfect body" are a bit different than what would be considered the American standard of beauty. Women are taught that to be desirable by men (yep, forget about all of the queer women out there), they have to be:

Fair skinned
Blue eyed
Long haired


Better known as Barbie. Now we know that Barbie has some multi-colored friends, but in reality women of color are not expected to fit this same mold. Women of color are often dehumanized and overly-sexualized. Black women in particular need to be aggressive, readily-available for sex, kinky, wide-hipped, light-skinned, long-haired, and have a large butt. Nicki Manaj describes herself as the black Barbie, and many girls idolize her, especially women trying to make it into the rap scene.

Meet Claudia Aderotimi:
Claudia, an aspiring rap artist, recently passed away after receiving illegal silicone injections to enlarge her buttock. Her friends closest to her told reporters that Claudia had become convinced that a larger butt would equal rap success. Let's be honest, there is a lot of pressure in the media for women of color to look like this ideal black Barbie.

This story is sad and eye-opening in terms of body image in and of itself, but where it also intersects with queer experiences is with transwomen. Transwomen, particularly transwomen of color and lower-socio economic status, have been risking their lives to receive silicone implants and injections for purposes of gender expression for years. Cosmetic surgery is expensive and very rarely covered by issuance, even if it is for gender-identity purposes. While Claudia's reasons for having this surgery were different, the fact remains that silicone injections are dangerous and often unmonitored.

Bad-Ass Folk!

This may be cheating because this person is a personal friend and colleague, but this month's Bad-Ass is Chris Mosier!
Click this link to learn more about his amazing Iron Man journey, but know that Chris is an amazing student, athlete, and queer advocate (among many other things), and he needs your help! Watch the following video as many times as you can tolerate and help Chris get sponsored!

"I'm Chris Mosier, and I want to be sponsored by TRX. My goal is to qualify for Race Across America, a cross country cycling race. I'm a cyclist, runner, and Ironman triathlete, and a lot of other things.
TRX is the single most effective cross training and strength training tool I've found to help meget maximum results in minimal time. And it's portable and can be used anywhere - like Times Square. Perfect, for a busy New Yorker like me.

Please keep watching this video and help me get sponsored by TRX!"

Monday, March 7, 2011

Please Watch...

This video is disgusting. And I was literally brought to tears after viewing it. If you want to read more about the protest, click here. I can't really bring myself to look at it anymore, so I won't be posting a longer blog. The video speaks for itself.