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In Solidarity With #ThisTweetCalledMyBack

18 Dec

Last week, a collective of the seven of the most incisive and insightful feminist/womanist social and cultural critics working in contemporary digital media, who are Black Women, AfroIndigenous and women of color, began a social media blackout. Over the past five years, across various social media platforms, they have created what they describe as “an entire framework with which to understand gender violence and racial hierarchy in a global and U.S. context“, one which is deeply analytical and highly critical of mainstream feminism and heteropatriarchy, as well as cishet activist movements. We at Sisters of Resistance have often engaged with, been challenged by, and learned from them and their work.

And yet, as they explain, far from being celebrated and embraced for the enormity of the work and contributions they have made to 4th wave and digital feminism, their body of work has been colonized, plagiarized by mainstream white feminism and mainstream media while they themselves have been vilified, said to constitute ‘Toxic Twitter”, had their livelihoods threatened and their physical and mental welfare put at stake. Rejected, harassed and provoked by people in mainstream media, academia, and the non-profit industrial complex, who at the same time hijack their prolific and movement-inspiring thought and theory, this collective of women is taking a stand against the status quo with this statement and their conspicuous absence from Twitter.

Here are some of the questions that they ask:

In an age where young women often have cell phones with internet access before they have access to healthcare and social services, why are so many so quick to demean the work of digital feminism in the hands of Black women? When depression, anxiety and disability make it so that getting out of bed, much less into the streets, is a debilitating challenge and risk, why do we demean social media and tell people they cant fully engage without taking up physical space? Whose interests are we centering if we constantly hyperfocus on the limits of grassroots social media, instead of the impact and possibilities, while not making the physical spaces safe or accessible for these women?

They point out that an expanded understanding of violence is necessary to address the kinds of issues they and many others like them/us face and experience, even within “leftist” and “activist” circles:

Once we expand our understanding of violence to include plagiarism, harassment, gaslighting, emotional abuse, ableism and exploitation of labor, we find huge fissures in a movement that the women we are prescribing solutions for fall through on a daily basis. We find a replicated system of violence that prioritizes those closer to systemic and hierarchal values of bodies rather than anti-violence.

They challenge those who will listen to consider the following questions, which are incredibly necessary for our time:

“How do we, as a movement, engage unaffiliated women with no institutional covering or backing, on the grassroots level? How do we close ranks around these women in both digital and physical spaces so that they can continue this work? There is a refusal to legitimize the words of women of color without the backing of academia, established media, and non-profit monikers. How do we then legitimize the lens with which marginalized women of color view their lives and the spaces where they are actually allowed to assert their agency?

The collective includes: @tgirlinterruptd, @chiefelk, @bad_dominicana, @aurabogado, @so_treu, @blackamazon, @thetrudz

Those who have signed in solidarity include: @blackgirldanger, @cheuya, @notallthots, @jazzagold, @natashavianna, @mizzblossom, @sarahkendzior, @scATX, @lilybolourian.

At the same time, we wish to call to mind @redlightvoices, who we believe has been very much a part of this same wave of work, and who expressed many of the same sentiments during the time that she was still on Twitter.

We have so much respect for all of these women. We offer them our solidarity and support in their decision to step out of the Twitterverse and assert their humanity in the face of such despicable systemic discrimination and harassment. We stand with you! #ThisTweetCalledMyBack

READ THEIR FULL STATEMENT HERE.

Individual personal statements are also being posted here.

Read more about the groundbreaking work by radical women of color, This Bridge Called My Back, the 1981 anthology, to which the conversation #ThisTweetCalledMyBack refers.

Justice for Jennifer Laude

14 Nov

laude

Although about a month late, we are sharing this post from another sister of resistance, who organizes with BAYAN USA via the New York Committee of Human Rights in the Philippines. Her piece is a reflection on last month’s stomach-turning murder of Jennifer Laude, a Filipina trans woman, by a US Marine, Joseph Pemberton. This is only one of many incidents of violence against Filipinas by US military personnel, who due to longstanding colonial and imperialist relationships are enabled to continue to impinge upon Filipino rights and sovereignty. But Jennifer’s murder, framed by racism, sexism, and the economic domination of the US over the Philippines, was also complicated by a violent transmisogyny which was perpetuated by news outlets in the coverage that followed. Trans people, and particularly trans women, are continuously at risk of violence in the Philippines and elsewhere – only days after Jennifer’s tragic death, according to this Time article, two other trans women were murdered.

A excerpt from the post by our much-loved and respected sister:

As a participant in joint-military exercises between the U.S. and the Philippines through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) Pemberton is shielded from the punishment of his crime through the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).  The legal system, mired with racism and sexism (at minimum) views Jennifer as subordinate to her murderer’s status – Pemberton, a cis-male, white, a U.S. citizen, and a marine.  This is where the outrage lies in Jennifer Laude’s death.

Not many of us notice the ways these policies, discussed and signed behind closed doors in meeting rooms between politicians and ambassadors, threaten the lives of women and transgendered people on a daily basis. Jennifer’s murder is a prime example of how bilateral agreements that live on paper, like the EDCA and VFA, damage the lives of citizens in the Philippines.  One death is already too many. 

Read the whole thing here.

Rondeau Redouble

14 Oct

There are so many kinds of awful men -
One can’t avoid them all. She often said
She’d never make the same mistake again;
She always made a new mistake instead.
The chinless type who made her feel ill-bred;
The practised charmer, less than charming when
He talked about the wife and kids and fled -
There are so many kinds of awful men.
The half-crazed hippy, deeply into Zen,
Whose cryptic homilies she came to dread;
The fervent youth who worshipped Tony Benn -
‘One can’t avoid them all,’she often said.
The ageing banker, rich and overfed,
Who held forth on the dollar and then yen -
Though there were many more mistakes ahead,
She’d never make the same mistake again.
The budding poet, scribbling in his den
Odes not to her but to his pussy, Fred;
The drunk who fell asleep at nine or ten -
She always made a new mistake instead.
And so the gambler was at least unwed
And didn’t preach or sneer or wield a pen
Or hoard his wealth or take the Scotch to bed.
She’d lived and learned and lived and learned but then
There are so many kinds

poem by Wendy Cope, b. 1945

The Long Journey: Sending Love to Grace Lee Boggs

30 Sep

99 year-old legendary American activist Grace Lee Boggs has been in hospice care in her Detroit home for the past two weeks. Recent posts on her social media outlets have intimated that Boggs may be “coming to the end of a long journey,” as she has put it. She is not conducting interviews, taking phone calls or receiving visitors. After a lifetime of inspirational and powerful community activism, having been at the forefront every major social justice movement in recent American history, including civil rights, feminism and environmental justice, she has earned a well-deserved rest.

However, her work does not stop – the posts also note that her contributions will be celebrated and advanced at an October conference called, “Reimagining Work and Culture” to be held Oct 18-20 in Detroit.

We at Sisters of Resistance would like and express our deep love and gratitude to Grace for her incredible life work, and send love to her and to her family, with our wishes for peace and strength at this time.

Read the whole article at Detroit Free Press.

UPDATE, 28 Nov 2014: Grace’s trustees have made an urgent request for donations to help support Grace during her time in hospice care. If you can, please make a donation here.

UltraViolet Campaign to Cancel CeeLo Green’s TV Show

2 Sep

In recent news, CeeLo Green has admitted to drugging a woman and defending his actions on Twitter, claiming it wasn’t rape if the victim wasn’t conscious. A coordinated public response that resulted in cancelling his upcoming TV show would be a profound statement against rape and rape culture. UltraViolet, a “new and rapidly growing community of women and men across the U.S. mobilized to fight sexism and expand women’s rights, from politics and government to media and pop culture” has put together a petition to do just that.

Click here to sign the petition

Re-posted from UltraViolet:

Grammy-winning artist CeeLO Green just let loose a series of tweets claiming that rape isn’t rape if the victim is unconscious.

What’s worse is that his tweets aren’t out of the blue—he recently pled no contest to drugging a woman who later woke up naked in his bed, with no memory of what happened. Yet despite this criminal act, and these incredibly dangerous tweets, major network TBS and its parent company Time Warner are still giving him a huge public platform in a reality TV show that recently premiered. They’ve got to drop him, now. 

Tell TBS and Time Warner:

Rapists and rape-apologists should have no place in your line-up. Cancel CeeLo Green’s reality show The Good Life immediately.

SIGN, SHARE AND REPOST!