Archive for the ‘race/anti-racism’ Category
This culture of ours saved my life. This isn’t an exaggeration. If not for Ursula K. Le Guin, Madeline L’Engle, Star Trek, The Wild Wild West, comic books, Isaac Asimov, and Dr. Who, I would probably be dead. I grew up in a neighborhood where the idea of dreaming outside of the concrete, glass, and busted elevators that encroached on my every day was damn near forbidden — it could also get you killed. Dreaming above your station was discouraged as you didn’t want others to think you were better than them. If they were in the shit, so were you. So in secret, I visited fantastic worlds — these worlds kickstarted my dream machinery, inviting me to see beyond what I thought were my limits…
.. This culture of ours should be aspirational. Despite our too-human contemporary failings, SF primes us to think and dream ourselves out of our current circumstances…
.. If we can rally together to save our favorite show, we damn well better use our collective energies and influence to ensure that all women and girls feel safe in our presence and in our shared cultural spaces.
From Shawn Taylor with “Yes, All Geek Men” in The Nerds of Colour.
Posted in 10 feminist motherhood questions, 10 things, body image, fatherhood, feminism, feminist motherhood, motherhood, motherhood bliss, motherhood sux, race/anti-racism, raising sons, work and family (im)balance on May 18, 2014 | 2 Comments »
This is a very interesting reply to my 10 Questions About Your Feminist Parenthood over at Meet Jesus At Uni. It touches on Tamie’s Christianity and her combination of faith with feminism as well as her experience of being a white woman living in Tanzania.
One of the things that stood out for me in reading her response is how culturally-bound some of our experiences of the patriarchy are while others are universal.
8. If you have a partner, how does your partner feel about your feminist motherhood? What is the impact of your feminism on your partner?
My husband is also a feminist, a true partner and advocate for me, just as passionate as I am about feminist parenting! Our situation at the moment is more flexible than it would be if we lived in Australia. The lines between ‘work’, ‘home’ and ‘social’ are much more blurred in Tanzania, and particularly in our role, living on campus at the university where we work. That means we haven’t had to deal with issues surrounding maternity leave and housework in the same way we would in Australia; the structure of society has given us more room to job-share and to parent together.
(You can find all the many other responses in this series here. If you’d like to respond to these questions yourself you can either email me your answers and I’ll put them on blue milk as a guest post or you can post them elsewhere and let me know and I’ll link to them).
This is a lovely piece of writing from my friend, Shawn Taylor in Ebony on fathering as a black man and activist and the difficulty with being in the moment and experiencing joy when you’re so aware of the injustices:
I was with a friend of mine when his wife called to tell him that he was about to be a father a second time—22 years after the birth of their first child. I could hear the pure joy in her voice (hell, even I was joyful), but he had this faraway look on his face. He wasn’t smiling. For the nearly 30 years I’ve known him, I can’t remember a time that I did not see him smile. I was worried and confused, and I told him so. He had shifted gears into a mood I didn’t recognize.
“I can’t do it, bruh. I can’t bring a child, a Black child, into all this,” he whispered to me. For the next five minutes, it was like he was possessed. He went through the recent affronts to Black American existence: Renisha McBride, Troy Davis, Marissa Alexander, infringed voting rights… he started to cry. He said he felt it would be almost irresponsible to bring a Black child into a society primed to hate them, criminalize them, and kill them without a second thought.
Now that the Fairfax strike is over it is safe to link to my latest column (submitted and published pre-strike I want to briefly note):
You yelled but exactly what you called out was lost in our memory of the night. And, you see, there had also been all this shouting we heard from the happy drunken kids who, as it turned out, must have passed by you in the dark. Even I don’t know how long you were there. All I know is that you became disorientated, and realising what was happening you crashed through my neighbour’s fence to fall on your knees, as though praying. With rising panic you shouted out once more with a strong but tight voice.
I was in my house and I assumed you were one of the drunk kids, but I felt uneasy. Thinking a person is drunk when they really need help has happened before. There was this incident I read about involving the celebrated opera singer, Delmae Barton where she had a stroke and lay semi-conscious at a busy bus stop for hours before being rescued. Many people passed by concluding she was drunk and ignored her. The story is even more depressing than that, Barton is Aboriginal and surely racist stereotypes played a part in all the inaction she encountered
Some of you long-term readers of this blog might remember when I talked about this incident here at the time that it happened.
This piece from anthropologist Bree Blakeman, “A fieldnote from home”:
This evening I nearly saw a man drown. I run the same route most afternoons, over the bridge and along the foreshore. This evening I was about to cross over the bridge when I saw something or someone splashing in the water. I stopped. It was a man, only a few metres from the banks of the river, and he was drowning. He kept trying to stand up before falling over, his head going under the water for a longer period of time each time he fell.
Bree writes some beautiful, beautiful pieces about Aboriginal languages on that blog, too, that are well worth reading.
All through this research, Edin says, she’d never been interested in studying men. “It’s fun to write about people with a strong heroic element to the story,” she says. “Women have that. Men don’t have that. [They're] more complicated; they’re dogged with bad choices.” In addition, she admits, “I felt hostile after writing about the women. I really had their point of view in my head.”
It was Nelson who, after years of working on a book about religious experience in a black church, convinced her otherwise. Together, they spent several years canvassing Camden in search of dads to interview. They stopped men on the street and asked if they’d talk—sometimes right there on the spot. They put up flyers and worked with nonprofit groups and eventually knit together a sample of equal parts black and white men they interviewed at length over the better part of a decade.
Again, what they discovered surprised them. Rather than viewing unplanned fatherhood as a burden, the men almost uniformly saw it as a blessing. “It’s so antithetical to a middle-class perspective,” Edin says. “But it finally dawned on us that these guys thought that by bringing children in the world they were doing something good in the world.” Everything else around them—the violence, the poverty, their economic prospects—was so negative, she explains, a baby was “one little dot of color” on a black-and-white canvas.
Only a small percentage of the men, black or white, said the pregnancy was the result of an accident, and even fewer challenged the paternity. When the babies were born, most of the men reported a desire to be a big part of their lives. Among black men, 9 in 10 reported being deeply involved with their children under the age of two, meaning they had routine, in-person contact with their kids several times a month. But that involvement faded with time. Only a third of black fathers and a quarter of white fathers were still intensively involved with kids older than 10. Among the reasons, Edin identifies unstable relationships with the mothers—the average couple had been together only about six months before conceiving a child. The men also frequently struggled with substance abuse and stints in prison.
From “What if everything you know about poverty was wrong” by Stephanie Mencimer in Mother Jones.
I was very flattered to be interviewed by The Wheeler Centre about writing and among other things I talked about the importance of Kiese Laymon’s essays and also, Rachel Cusk’s memoirs to me.
What’s the book that’s had the most significant impact on your life or work – and why?
Rachel Cusk’s two memoirs, A Life’s Work and Aftermath, were breakthroughs for me with my writing. I was a new parent and she was the first writer I found interested in connecting her personal experiences of motherhood to the broader discussion of feminism and writing. Plus, Cusk has been prepared to go as dark as required with that pursuit. I didn’t find her books all that confronting, to be honest, but some readers did and it’s always very interesting when terribly human moments disturb people to that degree.
The other thing Cusk showed me is that you do not always have to start your conversation with readers at the beginning. Some pieces are written for beginner-level understanding – they’re extremely important − but it is perfectly acceptable to pitch other essays only to readers who are progressed on the issue. It is nice to see what your article provokes with them and to learn from their part in the conversation. (Although reading the comments on those articles where you didn’t start from the beginning and bring everyone with you might be a brutal experience).