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Archive for the ‘race/anti-racism’ Category

Intuitively, the selfie still feels valuable, but the compounded male, white, and colonialist gazes that work so hard to blur Black women and femmes into oblivion have too much force behind them to leave me with enough agency both to politicize a topless mirror selfie and to believe in that politicization one-hundred percent. Since it has been made abundantly clear, of late, that photo or video documentation proves very little and changes even less, simply documenting the Black female body falls short. Maybe a selfie comes close to proving that you exist – that you are at least firmly situated in time and space — but it proves nothing else conclusive about you: this is to say that, self-documentation of Black life still seems unable to contend with the “mass of images” produced by anti-blackness’s aggressive and distributed media campaign.

From Aria Dean’s “Closing the loop” in The New Statesman.

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Baldwin once wrote, “Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time. Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death—ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.”

From Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s quite lovely “The weight of James Arthur Baldwin” in Buzzfeed. 

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Today I was on ABC radio talking about privilege and cultural appropriation on a panel with the wonderful nurse academic, Ruth De Souza, Aboriginal educator, Carol Vale and Aboriginal artist, Tony Albert. They were all so impressive.

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Very interesting analysis here from my friend, Dr Petra Bueskens at Online Opinion.

And because the Left are defined by the most radical or progressive end of liberalism (the political place I too call home), their focus is on social change – there are always more battles to be won: closing the gender pay gap, fighting casualization, ending domestic violence, legalising gay marriage, reducing climate change etc. Because of this it is difficult to take stock of just how good, in historical and cross-cultural terms, things actually are!

Given the epistemic relativism that defines western liberalism, few are willing to celebrate the attributes of their own culture, ironically, because they are so steeped in it. This is the political vacuum that many concerned liberals, including myself, are worried the xenophobic and fundamentalist Right are filling with hate speech. That is, right wing anti-immigration groups in the West and conservative Fundamentalism in the Middle-East, which of course speaks to and potentially recruits disaffected Muslims in the West.

We may conclude, then, that feminists and others on the Left, were and are unusually quiet about Cologne because it invokes both a critique of Muslim fundamentalism (or, in other words, another political culture) and because it involves a defence of liberalism. In this specific case, the rights of women to bodily autonomy and the free and full use of public space.

While being at pains not to point the finger at vulnerable asylum seekers, we fail to address a social problem; we fail to protect women and we engage in a ‘white wash’ in not acknowledging the capacity for the reified victim to also, at times, be a perpetrator.

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We cannot have a meaningful revolution without humor. Every time we see the left or any group trying to move forward politically in a radical way, when they’re humorless, they fail. Humor is essential to the integrative balance that we need to deal with diversity and difference and the building of community. For example, I love to be in conversation with Cornel West. We always go high and we go low, and we always bring the joyful humor in. The last talk he and I gave together, many people were upset because we were silly together. But I consider it a high holy calling that we can be humorous together. How many times do we see an African-American man and an African-American woman talking together, critiquing one another, and yet having delicious, humorous delight? It’s a miracle.

bell hooks

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may I never lose
that terror
that keeps me brave
May I owe nothing
that I cannot repay.

– Audre Lorde

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For Simone, her return to the Montreux Jazz Festival was a grudging reclamation of the stage after a period of tension back home. For Hill, her Unplugged performance was a gentle but unapologetic expression of her new identity as an artist. Chappelle’s performance in Hartford felt consistent with his decision to leave his show eight years prior (his departure was in and of itself perhaps the most profound act of self-definition any black artist has committed in the 21st century).
“I still don’t understand awards shows,” West said. “I don’t understand how they get five people who work their entire life, won, sell records, sell concert tickets, to come, stand on a carpet and for the first time in their life, be judged on the chopping block and have the opportunity to be considered a loser. I don’t understand it, bro! I’ve been conflicted. I just wanted people to like me more. But fuck that, bro! 2015. I will die for the art—for what I believe in—and the art ain’t always gonna be polite.”From Rod Bastanmehr’s “When black artists declare their autonomy” in The Atlantic.

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