sister, i am angry
furious at your death
upset with my own foolishness in celebrating him
while you die in the streets
with beatings, with violence left on your beautiful brown skin
with the names, the silence, the mainstream media lies
they refuse to let us ever forget that
guns penetrating our backs, we are always standing at the cliff of our own mortality
sister, i am in mourning
lighting a candle, i read this poem into the glimmering light
my poem is a prayer for you,
for the others i will never have the opportunity of knowing, and for the friends who mourn your death today
we will not forget. we will speak your name.
you said no!, you would not let police brutality and violence against transgender women of color fade into an invisible cloud of silence
you said no…
and now you are gone.
you are gone
but we will not forget.
the anger, the connection, the injustice just cuts too deep.
instead we will carry your name on our tongue
your bravery in our own ribcage
your memory in our work
we will wear red everyday
and countless of others
we will not forget, sister.
“the community is not great for anyone until it is great for everyone.” –WIDU motto
Background: a professor for a women’s studies class wrote about how he assigned Full-Frontal Feminism (FFF), a book that was accompanied with much criticism, to his class and that it was a hit with the students. To sum it up it was basically “HA! you radical women of color (WOC) bloggers, I know woc who LOVED IT so there!!!” BrownFemiPower (BFP) framed the follow-up discussion in her post to not to be around FFF but how women of color are tokenized and ignored in women’s studies departments. This professor attempted to discredit every point BFP made and when Black Amazon (BA) followed up, she was made to be a spokesperson for all women of color. Gotta love it.
One of my favorite words is the term “crip on a stick.” A dear friend and activist was at a planning group for some community festival and when they did not have any Native American people present, a committee member actually suggested creating life-size images of people in ceremonial outfits, putting them on sticks, and dancing around in a circle with the stick images during the event. Ridiculous, huh? Now we use the term Crip on a Stick to describe people in the Disability Rights Movement who are brought in to meetings to be that one token crip, young person, person of color. etc.
And this is where the conversation quickly swerves to a whole different thing… Continue reading
I ran across this article on privilege today, written by Peggy McIntosh, an anti-racist feminist. (Maybe I’m late to the table and you folks have already seen it?) Anyways, here were some of my favorite points that describe aspects of privilege:
- If I should need to move, I can be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area which I can afford and in which I would want to live.
- I can go shopping alone most of the time, fairly well assured that I will not be followed or harassed by store detectives.
- I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely and positively represented.
- When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is.
- I can swear, or dress in secondhand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty, or the illiteracy of my race.
- I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
- I can remain oblivious to the language and customs of persons of color who constitute the world’s majority without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
- I can go home from most meetings of organizations I belong to feeling somewhat tied in, rather than isolated, out of place, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, or feared.
- I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having my coworkers on the job suspect that I got it because of my race.
- I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
While the list she created was specifically on white male privilege, what I found most interesting is how they could have easily been describing abled-bodied (nondisabled) privilege, heterosexual/cissexual privilege, and class privilege. She pointed out while society sometimes does talk about how racism and sexism disadvantages women and people of color, it doesn’t talk about how it gives others advantages (her words: “As a white person, I realized I had been taught about racism as something that puts others at a disadvantage, but had been taught not to see one of its corollary aspects, white privilege, which puts me at an advantage.”)
Although sometimes I think people who identify with an oppressed group of people think they have an automatic free pass from recognizing privilege (i.e. disabled men who are racist, feminists who are ableist, etc….) and it’s wrong to casually say all forms of privilege are the same, it still amazes/bothers/frusterates/surprises me how, as individuals or communities, it is still difficult to recognize that the struggle is one that is shared.
But I guess that’s part of the oppression we face in the first place…
I’ve always credited my “academic success” (not sure you can call it that considering I just failed online P.E.) and parent’s involvement in my life due to my Korean heritage and the pursuit of the “American Dream” that my mother had as an immigrant. It was interesting today to drop my brother off at college— my father (who is not Korean) was very emotional and told me that out of seven children, only one of his siblings went to college and that today was so meaningful to him.
I’ve always felt that I live(d) a life of upper-middle class privilege: I don’t remember a recent time in my life where my father was not a high ranking military official or when we could not have something that we earnestly and reasonably wanted. That said, it was enlightening to hear how my great grandfather was a sharecropper [a person who does all the work on the land but receives almost nothing] and my grandfather, worked in a factory and was very involved with his union to the point where picket lines and protests weren’t out of the norm. My father’s siblings all worked with their hands and my father joined the military straight out of high school.
I’m not sure where things really changed for my family but history is so important. As a non-white person, my mother has always felt left out of the family (my grandparents did not even come to the wedding) and I felt the same. Now I feel like I’ve spent a lifetime devaluing one half of my family. Who knows I guess, still it just proves to me more why teaching young people about disability history, heritage and culture is so important. I viewed them as strangers when we may have had more in common all along.
A good friend and I spent the afternoon chatting about our experiences in the disability community and how they were impacted by white privilege. A lot of people refuse to believe white/heterosexual/male/class/disability privilege exists but it is everywhere because it is subconscious [hidden but there]. If you can’t speak the same language or think like the dominant culture does, it’s going to be much more difficult to squeeze through the door. It’s pathetic that we have to have such an oppressive hierarchy within a movement that is supposed to promote the “nothing about us without us” philosophy.
I saw how alive and active the “good ol’ boys club” was when I was living in DC this summer; especially during this one instance when we were asking an elder for help and the elder addressed my straight white male friend while completely ignoring my Latina friend and I. Or how about the time this summer when other young people and I were asked to speak at a rally (as an afterthought of course,) and wrote a piece about how our community values the opinions of nondisabled “professionals” instead of viewing our own people as experts. Right before we were about to read it, we were kicked off stage so a Congressman could speak. Oh the irony. Continue reading