Tag Archives: intersectionality

Revolutionary News Roundup

19 May

A collection of news items that have made us angry, made us sad, astounded us, and/or ignited our revolutionary fire lately [trigger warnings for sexual assault, murder and violence against women, reproductive and police injustice].

  1. Purvi Patel, who says she miscarried, gets 20 years in prison for feticide [Filed under: reproductive injustice, misogyny, patriarchy, intersectionality]
  2. Mary Jane Veloso Spared in 11th Hour in Indonesia [Filed under: poverty, imperialism, Third World women]
  3. Mumia Abu-Jamal medical emergency [Filed under: political imprisonment, silencing, state violence]
  4. 72 killed in Philippines slipper factory fire [Filed under: poverty, Third World Women, inhumane working conditions, unabated capitalism]
  5. Biker gangs have major shootout, murdering 9 – National Guard not called in, no one is killed by the police or called a thug by the media [Filed under: white privilege, violence in America, gangsters, thugs]
  6. Baltimore State’s Attorney charges 6 police officers in murder of Freddie Gray; lawyers file motions to dismiss all charges [Filed under: systemic racism, police unaccountability]
  7. 20 year old gay feminist activist murdered after resistance to on-campus sexism and misogyny led to suspension of rugby team [Filed under: rape culture, misogyny, youth culture, MRAs, LGBT issues, violence in America, violence against women]
  8. Transgender woman London Chanel murdered in Philadelphia and Remembering Us When We’re Gone, Ignoring Us While We’re Here: Trans Women Deserve More (late but highly relevant post) [Filed under: trans women of colour, violence against women, transmisogyny, LGBT issues]
  9. Nicki Minaj and Beyonce release new video for ‘Feelin Myself’  [Filed under: carefree Black girls, flawless, problematic faves]
  10. Global inequality is so bad it’s almost impossible to visualise it [Filed under: poverty, wealth, 1%, globalization, unabated capitalism]
  11. ‘sHell no!’ Seattle kayaktivist fleet protests Arctic drilling [Filed under: activism, protest, ecofeminism, wealth, 1%, globalization, unabated capitalism, resistance]

Intersectionality is Not a Trend

1 Apr

One might hope that the widespread introduction of a concept that is meant to put your experiences and those of others like you at the centre of conversations about social justice and equality might have the positive side effect of actually including you in the conversation. But unfortunately, that has not been the case with intersectionality. 

Over and over again, I have been in nearly all-white spaces where the term I have come to rely upon to help me articulate the experiences of women marginalised by mainstream white feminism has been utilised liberally by said white feminists. They then go on to further marginalise and other those who critique them with such commentary as, “We have received the criticism that our spaces are too white and middle-class. We don’t know what to do about that. So if you want it to change, you do something about it.”

It seems that it is simply too difficult for most white feminists to organise an event with any true awareness of intersectionality. A space where they and their perspectives are sometimes, not even for the whole time, not placed at the forefront and where other women, whose lives and experiences do not resemble theirs, are explicitly invited to sit at the table. To give a keynote speech. To lead a workshop. To sit on a panel as more than a token person of colour. ‘Positive discrimination’ is fine for the organisers if it benefits them personally in terms of hiring or promotion. But when it comes to intentionally changing the demographic of their cis white straight middle-class and able-bodied feminist space, they think it is just one step too far. 

But although it is clear that all these privileges tend to blind our fairweather feminist friends to a homogeneity that is a source of frustration, at best, and pain and trauma, at worst, to intersectional and postcolonial feminists with an analysis rooted in social justice and liberation movements, the salt in the wound is when they co-opt our language (but not our ideas, as they don’t understand those) and use it shamelessly, with no intentions of applying it or putting it into practice. When they pepper their conversation with “intersectionality this” and “gender, race and class that” and continue to centre issues that are important to them, such as how they are represented in the business media, or the continuity of the (white) gender pay gap, while completely ignoring the rallying cries from the lips of true intersectional feminists speaking out about disproportionate numbers of Black and Latina women in low-paid jobs, the thousands of Black women who go missing every year and the ceaseless violence against trans women of colour. When their examples of sexism faced by women in business include the recommendation to “not have curly hair” and they remain silent on the experiences of girls whose Afro-textured hair gets them suspended or expelled from school. When they are invited to speak on intersectionality and they do not pass on the invitation to someone whose life is lived at the intersections, whose expertise and theoretical knowledge is informed by a practice she cannot escape.

Intersectionality is not a trend. Neither is it a tool that can be equally wielded by all. Reading a few articles or listening to a couple of talks doesn’t mean you “get it.” In fact, the more you get it, the more you realise you have left to learn. This is because it is actually more like a frame, a window into a world of experiences different from your own. In order to see through it, you have to step off of the beaten path and peer closely through panes of glass your privilege cannot help but cloud. If you can acknowledge this, then respect those of us who live on the other side of the window, and stop taking up so much room announcing “I get it! I see what you see!” Instead, step back, give us some air, and make space for us to speak. 

Commentary on the Oscars: Diversity in Film 2014

23 Feb

Guest Post by Jonathan Scott Chee

Looking through the nominations for this year’s Oscars, you’d be forgiven for thinking Hollywood had outsourced the entire American film industry to some parallel universe, populated almost entirely by white men.

The Oscars have long been a biting reminder of just how ubiquitously white the film industry truly is, but is the Academy itself purposefully excluding non-white artists, or are they simply taking their pick from an already white-dominated industry?

Analysis of the top grossing films of 2014 paints a troubling picture of exclusion and underrepresentation. People of colour and women make up a woefully small percentage of the principal cast, and behind the cameras white men also make up the vast majority of directors and screenwriters.
diversity_in_film_2014__does_art_Really_imitate_life

As alarming as the statistics in the infographic may be, they fail to tackle an important, yet subtle, element of the structural inequality within the film industry: the kind of roles minority actors and women get. While people of colour may only make up 16% of the total cast of 2014’s biggest blockbusters, they end up playing similar characters time and again: the sassy black sidekick, the tough-yet-warm-hearted convict, the swag drug dealer, the goofy immigrant with a hilariously poor grasp of the English language, the math nerd virgin – these are the roles our minority ethnic actors are relegated to, rarely getting to tackle a role with real depth and therefore rarely getting the opportunity to showcase their talents.

For women, too, the story is much the same – a blockbuster film led by a female protagonist is still very much an anomaly in movie theatres. Worryingly, the industry seems to be becoming even more exclusionary over time, with fewer women than ever involved both in front of, and behind, the camera.

For women of colour, the outlook gets even bleaker as they made up just 3% of all the speaking roles in 2014’s biggest blockbusters. Once again, this statistic doesn’t quite paint the full picture, as that 3% is overwhelmingly made up of black, or mixed race black/white women. If you are an East Asian woman, roles outside of the sultry, accented “dragon lady” or “comedy immigrant” are practically non-existent. South Asian actresses hunting for work in Hollywood may as well be hunting unicorns.

The effects of Hollywood white-washing go far beyond out of work actors, however. As people of colour, our children grow up in an environment where they see no reflection of themselves in mainstream culture. Personally, I don’t want my children to grow up in a society where the only representation of themselves they see on screen are as nerds, sultry objects of white male fetishism or kung-fu geniuses, because as much as art may attempt to represent reality, conversely, it’s clear that it works to shape perceptions of it as well.

Justice for Renisha McBride

8 Nov

From the US comes another sickening case of racist violence and murder. This time it is a young black woman, Renisha McBride, a teenager who was murdered while seeking help after a late-night car crash in a white suburb of Detroit.

From this article by journalist Rania Khalek, who broke the story:

Dearborn Heights police initially told McBride’s family that her body was found dumped near Warren Avenue and Outer Drive, but that story quickly changed. Not only are police refusing to release the identity of the man who shot McBride, they’re now saying she was mistaken for an intruder and shot in self-defense on the homeowner’s front porch. Even if that’s the case, and there’s reason to believe it’s not, the shooter still failed to call 911 after shooting an unarmed woman in the head, instead leaving her there to die. Does that sound like the behavior of a law-abiding gunowner who made a tragic mistake?

Writer and filmmaker Dream Hampton and Detroit hip-hop artist Invincible organised a rally for justice for the slain teenager, whose conduct on the night of the shooting is being questioned in accusations by the police and the media. This Huffington Post article describes the rally, and Hampton’s critique of the blame-the-victim response:

“This is what happens, again and again,” Hampton said, invoking the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin last year. “It’s kind of textbook. We’re able to break it down in the public media, when it came to Trayvon, the criminalization of the victim, of the corpse. Look, he got a C, look, he was a teenager who smoked pot, he had a sugar problem, he liked Skittles. … It becomes the criminalization of the corpse. … The police are supposed to be advocating for victims.”

Black feminists on Twitter have called out mainstream white feminists for not engaging with the Renisha case. Intersectionality, or the interaction of multiple dimensions of oppression, is as important to remember in this case as ever. If Renisha had been a white woman, we suspect there would have been little chance of her being murdered when seeking help on a stranger’s porch.

As of today, Ranisha’s murderer, who first claimed he thought she was an intruder, later changing his story to “the gun discharged accidentally“, has not been arrested, and his identity is being protected. Due to a stand-your-ground law in Michigan, it is possible he will not be charged. The absurdity of her murder, and the official response to it – for her actions to be questioned, not those of the man who killed her – illustrates the continued calamity that is racialized violence in the United States, supported by a legal structure that systematically denies justice for victims whose bodies are black and brown.

A Statement of Trans-Inclusive Feminism and Womanism

24 Sep

Sista Resista:

We’ve signed.

via Black Space Blog

Originally posted on feministsfightingtransphobia:

We are proud to present a collective statement that is, to our knowledge (and we would love to be wrong about this) the first of its kind.  In this post you’ll find a statement of feminist solidarity with trans* rights, signed by feminists/womanists from all over the world.  It is currently signed by 790 individuals and 60 organizations from 41 countries.

The statement can be found here in English. It is also available in French, Hungarian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian and Serbo-Croatian.

The complete list of individual signatories is available here, or alphabetically or by country. The signatory list of organisations and groups is available here. We would love it if you signed it too. You can either use this form, or email us, or post a comment on this post or on the statement.

Our continued thanks to everyone for your support.

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