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Archive for the ‘race/anti-racism’ Category

Child neglect is filtered through a lens of bias that makes black mothers and poor mothers particularly vulnerable …all the more so when they parent in public space.

“In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets, and steal loaves of bread.” – Anatole France.

For example.

“Mother jailed for letting her daughter run free – at the playground” by Brentin Mock in grist.

For the Harrell family, going to the playground is a luxury. The adults who could afford to be there that day assumed that her mother’s choice was irresponsible. Given the girl is black, they may have assumed worse: Mom’s a crackhead? Prostitute? Whatever the case, the child’s answer, that her mother was at work, was not good enough.

The adult who snitched Harrell out made another assumption: that parenting means around-the-clock supervision of children, and anything less is uncivilized. It’s those kind of gentry values that the creators of city public park systems were trying to avoid. They wanted a safe space accessible to people of all classes and backgrounds to enjoy recreation. Instead, in too many places it’s become a place where black and brown youth are made to feel they don’t belong — and certainly not without supervision.

For example.

“We’re arresting poor mothers for our own failures” by Bryce Covert in The Nation.

You’ve probably heard the name Shanesha Taylor at this point. She’s the Arizona mother who was arrested for leaving her children in the car while she went to a job interview. Her story went viral thanks likely to a truly heart-wrenching, tear-stained mugshot. Taylor, who was homeless, says her babysitter flaked on her and she didn’t know what else to do while she went to a job interview for a position that would have significantly improved her family’s financial situation.

For example.

“My son has been suspended 5 times. He’s 3″ by Tunette Powell in The Washington Post.

For example.

“Stolen Generation survivor had a long journey to love and care” by Martin Hoare in The Age.

 

 

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my mama moved among the days
like a dreamwalker in the field
seemed like what she touched was hers
seemed like what touched her couldn’t hold,
she got us almost through the high grass
then seemed like she turned around and ran
right back in
right back on in

- Lucille Clifton

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More for my collection of photos here of women doing life while also breastfeeding. Love this one. (Thanks Laura for the link).

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Of course the photo caused a stir in some places, of course.

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This article, “On the march” by John Safran for The Sydney Morning Herald is one of the most intriguing things to have ever been written about racism and anti-racism in Australia.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I’ve written a lot about maternal desire here and how poorly understood that motivation is.. but I’ve not considered paternal desire much before.

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.

 

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