K-Y Intense to launch commercial with lesbian couple. This is simply fabulous.
Perhaps a very long delay, but Refuse The Silence and our blog have moved to one happy location: http://www.refusethesilence.com
Please come visit us there for all things relating to academia and women of color.
If you want to read more opinion/personal blog posts, visit our founders site (also on Tumblr) at http://www.morganerichardson.com
See you there!!
When oppression becomes a competition, let me in last;
I’m not fast enough with my words and qualifiers -
I stutter-step on the curb and back away from the chasm,
A back and forth motion from one body to another,
The rupture between adopted-brown-woman and American-accent.
At first, we danced around each others’ assumptions:
“Are you white? You’re Jewish? I see.”
“What about you?”
What about me?
I wasn’t aware we were battling it out for the bottom.
Soul-searching is only for those without recognizable traits;
Those who can name off their battle scars can move to round two,
They’ve one-upped the judges by virtue of hue.
You took me there to slaughter me with abstract terms,
Spear my brown skin:
“Everyone knows racism no longer exists.”
Period, end of sentence.
I feigned ignorance as the judges came around.
Round three weeds out the weak -
Sleek all-stars with hidden stories weave their way towards the end,
Preaching that they, in fact, were suspended inside balls of brown wax,
Put down even by their fellow oppressed.
You painted me in color lines.
Ones you thought no one can mistake,
A forged identity made from pigment and shape;
You thought of me as a colony - one homogeneous unit,
A community without entrance exams.
If I got a free pass, will someone tell me where it is?
My soul froze in a hard little box,
Re-colonized by your fantasy that my people are all the same,
That we claim others have held us down,
While refusing the hand that would lead us up.
I walked away without a backward glance.
The final round was futile; you knew you would win.
Your defense was solid -
I didn’t know your world; I wouldn’t delve in.
I studied my own heart,
Kept careful notes,
And prepared for that moment of final release,
When I’d know the freedom of my opinion set free.
When I arrived at college, I was pleased to see that there were a plethora of cultural clubs that I could join. I was represented by religion, by region, by culture, and by language. Content as I was, the availability of these cultural clubs also created some unfortunate stereotypes amidst our larger school community. A friend of mine at the time believed that racism had little relevance in such an accepting and mixed area, which she told me point blank. When I disagreed, she became upset and claimed that I didn’t know the hardships she had felt as being a white Jewish person who lived in a non-white area of her city. While I don’t discredit that she may have experienced oppression, this produced a rift between us because she assumed that I had lived in a homogeneous and accepting community of South Asians throughout my whole life, which was not the case. Our relationship then became a sort of game of one-upmanship in terms of who was more misunderstood or more put down by external forces; needless to say, this was not the sort of atmosphere I had expected in such a liberal and accepting college as my own.
Choosing the right college can be a very long and strenuous process. Between filling out applications and weighing out the tuition expenses, credit transfers and the proximity factors, there’s a lot to deal with.
How do you know which school is the right choice? Will you even fit in at your selected college? Is the tuition affordable? Is the cost of attendance actually worth it? There are certainly a lot of things to consider before you even step foot on campus.
Students have many decisions to make to say the least, and can often feel like they are in way over their heads. Well… unfortunately I have some bad news… all of this is about to get a lot worse thanks to the work of some colleges.
It was once believed that if you actually took time out to visit the college, and talk to different students and representatives it would give you a good sense of what you’re getting yourself into.
However times have changed, and what’s been discovered is that some of the most persistent for-profit colleges have ampted up their tactics to eradicate the indecisiveness of their prospective students, and to increase the class size of their student body.
Deceptive, swayed and down right misleading data is targeted at potential students upon their slightest recorded interest in the school. Constant phone calls, and emails, and letters meant to be “informative” bombard the curious college attendee and border on the side of harassment.
As mentioned in Rose Garrett’s article “Fraudulent Tactics Lure Students to For-Profit Colleges,” as well as pointed out in a government survey it’s the accreditation, tuition cost, and applicant’s earning potential that seem to be the areas of the most blatant misleading and false data that for-profit colleges have employed.
What’s even more frightening is the loan repayment plan that goes into effect after your graduation. So… you’ve just graduated, and then realize you have to pay back your hefty student loans, particularly high since you went to a “highly-accredited” and “recognized university”.
The problem is your flat broke and haven’t found a job that the all too “famous and accredited university” guaranteed you’d have by now. How are you ever going to pay back these loans if you are jobless, and making no where near the salary that your university promised you’d make?
The Obama administration has proposed a cut off of financial aid to some of these programs that weigh in heavily on expense but aren’t likely to follow through on the job market’s potential earning power as once nearly guaranteed.
There’s a valuable lesson to be taken away from all of this. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is…If you’re certain some of the figures and promised quirks that come along with your degree seem a little off, always question it.
Speak to alumni not associated with promoting the college. Figure out facts about your school of interest from various sources, and notice when your prospective school’s recruitment team has become a bit burdensome and intrusive.
These may all too well be serious warning signs and indicators that there is a potential problem. The institution of higher learning may be all too interested in what’s in your pockets rather than the quality of your education.
President Obama fully addressed the issues behind the new educational reform plan a few weeks ago. In his speech Obama tackled some of the most important and controversial issues of the new educational plan.
Obama stressed the importance of competition, accountability, mentors, and testing. His goals are to see improvement in the most troubled schools in the nation. It’s not going to be a change that we’ll see immediately, however Obama stresses that inevitably in the next decade or so it will make a significant difference.
Higher education was another hot topic in Obama’s speech. The burden of student loans has become unbearable for graduates. Adding more revenue for scholarships and investing more in community colleges and universities will help expand options for students.
It should come as no surprise that educational reform should be one of our country’s top concerns. Speaking as a college student who’s current tuition now exceeds fifty-one thousand dollars, I think it’s fair to say that the cost of education should definitely be a priority. All too often college costs seem to be the reason why some of our nation’s top brightest students in particular those of color, get left behind.
So what’s really our plan of action?
A statewide race for grants, through challenging the schools to improve their standards and student’s performance more educational reform is able to be made.
Teachers will be held more responsible for the performance of her students. Through a greater educator initiative, it is seen that there will be more interaction between students and teachers to overcome learning barriers.
Refining the testing process, and altering the tests slightly so that it’s a better measurement of what students are learning, rather than a strictly feared and time consuming preparation process.
Parents, role models, and more educators need to be involved in the process, not only to help speed up the transformation but to inspire.
It seems like quite a list of priorities that need to take center stage in these upcoming years but so far it seems to have spurred more progression than any of the proposals of previous years.
Though it may sound a little cliché, education is the key to our future. I don’t know about you, but when I’m older I actually want to see people who have fully reached their educational potential.
Kat Stacks is a woman but most probably don’t see her as a that at all. Most people would probably more readily call her a “hoe,” relegating her to a less valuable, sub human status. Such is the fate of Kat Stacks and many other women who fall outside of the realm of acceptability with respect to sexuality. They are marginalized to be outcasts, especially among other females.
Kat Stacks recently made a wave in the realm of black news and entertainment by “exposing” famous men, such as rappers Bow Wow and Fabolous, with whom she engaged in sexual activities. She exposed men about their lack of sizeable manhood, their lack of income, how long the sex with them lasted and what it entailed. She has been called everything from a groupie to a ho to a goldigger, and was even physically attacked by supposed friends of Bow Wow and Fabolous. Not a day goes by where I don’t see someone tweet a sexist joke in regards to Ms. Stacks in regards to her sexual behavior. Its important for everyone to join in making Kat Stacks a spectacle to keep their status in tact as a lady or reputable person with sexual morals.
Women and men alike must make it a point to differentiate themselves from the “ho’s” in the world so they won’t face the same fate as Kat Stacks, to be humiliated for their sexual choices. Respect is bartered for Kat Stacks; others lack respect for her because she doesn’t fit society’s definition of a lady. Those who are intimidated by Kat Stacks’ sexuality and sexual prowess make it a point to make her the brunt of their jokes. She is a human being that deserves as much respect as anyone else. She is a young woman of 21 and is also the mother of two children. It is important to look critically at this situation with Kat Stacks but also others like it where society is quick to label someone a “ho.” In the Kat Stacks phenomena we see society calling yet again for the sexual repression of another woman; a complete sexual and vocal silence. As much as we might hate to admit it, Kat Stacks is one of us. Maybe with just more sexual experience. What woman hasn’t been called a ho; especially those not afraid of their sexuality? Isn’t that reason enough to stop using the word? It has no real meaning. Essentially, Kat Stacks is another woman, whose marginalization is a product of the sexism and misogyny in society. I don’t think I need to point out that none of the men she “exposed” had any of the same names thrown at them as she did. Its important to look at what we choose to say about the women involved in situations like these.
I can, however, agree that Kat Stacks has brought this attention upon herself. Her assumed goal for talking to the media to expose these men is to catapult a career from it. Kat Stacks has crossed the threshold of what society deems to be private acts, making sex public and combining that with consumerism. Twitter and Youtube are her main avenues of communication, both those who hate and love her consume her messages and ideals about sexuality. She is definitely using capitalism, consumerism and “sex sales” model to make a name for herself. What does this mean for the sexual exploitation for women? What does this say to girls about ideas of how to be successful? Kat Stacks has also been compared a lot to Karrine Steffans, who wrote a infamous book about her sexscapades with Hollywood’s stars and made a career out of it. Part of me believes that both Kat Stacks and Karrine Steffans think that they are debunking stereotypes about women by being just as sexual as men. However, in order to combat sexism it is counter-productive to behave hypersexually as men do because that also marginalizes womyn. We must, instead develop new ways of managing public sexuality without marginalizing and without furthering the initial problem.
So today, while on my beloved Twiitta (read: Twitter) I started to have a conversation about the relationship between womyn and queer men. Often times, womyn get harassed by gay men; not all gay men of course. However, womyn get a constant barrage of touches, feels, lingering looks, luring eyes, foul gestures, and snide comments from gay men. It’s as if gay men feel that they can touch and grope any part of a woman’s body with a openness and confidence that I just don’t see from heterosexual men; touching of the breasts, touching of the hair, giving naughty comments, etc. It’s as if they feel they have a type of access that heterosexual men don’t have to womyn’s bodies, as if, because they are not sexually attracted to womyn, then grabbing her breasts and commenting on how sexy they are is harmless.
Of course, heterosexual men also feel that they have an entitlement to womyn’s bodies which is evidenced in sexual violence, telling womyn what they should wear, trying to limit the sexual sovereignty of womyn, etc. However, I find it interesting that there is a different type of false ownership taking place between gay and heterosexual men and womyn’s bodies. Most often, gay men are more open and friendly with their touching and inappropriate comments, while heterosexual men might save the same actions for a sexual scene or mean it in the disrespectful way. Gay men usually do not have the intentions of harming or disrespecting the woman in any way when they touch, unwelcomingly. It’s usually a way that they show they like the woman, in a unsexual way, albeit.
The black gay male culture is one that I have a supreme respect and interest in. In black males, we see a culture that is totally different from a lot of cultures that we see in American society. However, womyn get a constant barrage of yelling, passes, unwanted touches, etc. from random men. From years of being subjected to the ‘male gaze’, womyn see their bodies as a man sees them, on display, as sexual objects. A quick trip outside turns into a fashion show because womyn are aware that they are being watched by the supreme spectators, men. Sadly, it seems, gay men also fall into this category. When a gay man feels that they can touch or make sexual-esque comments towards a woman, it makes womyn even more aware of how her body appears to men, even someone who may not be attracted to her sexually.
Many womyn feel safe with gay men because they are seen as the one type of man who is not interested in her sexually, but when gay men cross the limit and invite themselves into the personal space of a woman that safety is abandoned. Womyn constantly have to deal with being sexual objects for men, anyone from friends to family members probably have shown a sexual interest or gesture towards any given woman… its tiring to always been seen as a sexual object. It doesn’t matter whether a gay man is sexually interested in the opposite gender or not, crossing the line is crossing the line.
I recently learned about the Tribal Law and Order Act being passed in Congress. I wonder what this really means for Native communities. The effects of colonists and early US government agents disturbing the harmony of Native communal justice are still felt today. Instead of helping to restore these original systems, activists are relying on the oppressive US judicial institution. The Tribal Law and Order Act is supposed to do a better job of “protecting” Native women against sexual violence. Native communities have had a history of favoring restorative and communal justice rather than the punitive style of justice that the US likes to inflict and since colonization, forms of Native justice have been slowly dying.
Restorative and communal justice seek to rehabilitate the perpetuator and use the community, not outside forces, to institute real forms of justice. What the Tribal Law and Order Acts essentially says is that instead of really trying to figure out why sexual violence is rampant in Native communities, we’re going to ignore the problem and just lock up anyone who commits this crime. No one is unredeembale and having a bill like this that favors prosecution and imprisonment instead of therapy or getting to the root of the issue, ignores this fact. It ignores the perpetrator and the problem. Surely, sexual violence in Native communities will not be solved by this bill. It says nothing of rape culture and those that are complicit in it.
This bill also protects and emphasizes the police state. This reminds me of the colonial period where sexual violence was committed against Native women and white men blamed it on Native men; this way the white men were seen as saviors of Native women, which instilled fear of Native men as well as false appreciation of the colonizers. It also skewed the importance of the community. This method helped to implement patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, and eurocentricity. To allow and advocate for more encroaching of the police institution onto Native land is both oppressive as well as counter-active. With the police history of discriminating, being violent against and criminalizing communities of color can we really trust the police institution to so-called “protect” Native women?
Protecting Native women would mean an ending to misogyny, sexism, and queerphobia. If you want to stop sexual violence, focus on education and therapy as deterrents not just as a response. As activists, the solution is to focus more on developing strategies to do just that instead of relying on and organizing around the US justice system, an institution that perpetuates the sexism that we should be trying to get rid of. Do we really need more police to practice surveillance on another community perfectly capable of protecting itself? Yes, we know that Native women deserve equal protection under the law and do deserve that protection, but can this really be protection if it is also oppressive? Can we develop strategies that don’t rely on a marginalizing police and prison state?
The Tribal Law and Order Act also relies on the oppressive Prison Industrial Complex system. The PIC is racist, classist, and sexist. Should advocates against sexual violence be relying on this system where sexual violence is state sponsored within prison walls? “Conditions within the institution continually reinvoke memories of violence and oppression.” Do they only care about sexual violence when it happens in the free world?
When I first learned about the Prison Industrial Complex, I was confused about what anti-prison activists saw as a viable alternative to prisons. I believe anti-prison activism to be one of the most powerful and important, yet, ignored liberation movements. When I read Angela Y. Davis’ book, “Are Prisons Obsolete?,” which is obviously pivotal within this movement, my eyes opened to how oppressive the Prison Industrial Complex is. I cannot go into complete detail of all the ills of the prison system here because of length constraints but if you would like to read about the way sexual violence is embedded into the Prison Industrial Complex, read Davis’ book. Here is just a limited overview; the Prison Industrial Complex includes all forms of prison and policing that do not take up the form of restorative or communal justice, here in America and abroad.
First we must realize, illegal acts are committed, number one, because of poverty and racism. The other reason why crimes are committed is because, as the name permits, the Prison Industrial Complex is a business that promotes corporate greed. The more people who go to prison, the more money the government and other corporations make. The government capitalizes off prisoners suffering especially when it comes to the sexual violence that they face and endure. The government therefore also capitalizes off illegal acts committed against victims. Prions are a form of population control, and if you’re going to limit population growth, go ahead and send the poor people and the people of color away too. Native people are disproportionately incarcerated in the PIC. “‘Prisons, as employed by the Euro-American system, operate to keep Native Americans in a colonial situation. She points out that Native people are vastly overrepresented in the country’s federal and state prisons.” This is the attitude that the government has and yes, people have a personal choice in what they do, however, laws and governments should not make it easier for certain people to commit illegal acts.
Recently, I’ve been noticing the refusal of other liberation movements, such as the feminist movement, to organize around the abolition of the Prison Industrial Complex. Using the practice of intersectionality feminists and other like-minded movements should realize that anti-prison work is also feminist work, is also anti-racist work, is also anti-queerphobia work, etc. The Prison Industrial Complex was designed to be invisible to the free population, so I cannot be angry with anyone who is uneducated about it, but if we want to be holistic activists we cannot ignore this institution in our activism.
I don’t want to seem ignorant of the facts that illegal acts are being committed everyday and that we need immediate solutions to deter these acts and those who continuously commit them. However, prison is not the answer. As activists our solution should be in educating people about societal ills and finding solutions to those ills, not aiding the government in carrying out marginalization against minorities and other crimes committing within the PIC structure. Prisons are not for rehabilitation, as they were originally created, but for punishment. We cannot be comfortable with living in a society that would rather get even than to improve the perpetrator. “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” -Mahatma Gandhi We have all committed criminal acts that, if pursued vehemently enough may have sent us to prison. The life and well being of a person should not mean less because they are deemed a criminal by our “criminal justice” system. We cannot forget to infuse compassion and love into our activism.
Can we develop strategies to advocate for the abolition of prisons and also seek justice for those who commit illegal acts? People of color, when victims of illegal acts advocate strongly for the perpetrator/s to go to prison. How can people of color advocate so strongly for a system that unfairly targets and oppresses them? The pain and loss involved in losing someone can be detrimental to the psyche, however, minorities should be advocating the most for the abolition of this system not helping to perpetuate it. Making new laws criminalizing acts of violence against women will not see a decrease in this type of violence, however they will fill up more of our prisons, cost us more money, while doing absolutely nothing to solve the real issue. Laws don’t protect us, as we have been brainwashed to believe, they criminalize actions that should be treated with therapy or love.
Pursued and punished for words that were taken out of context. A video clip edited to persuade the public that former department of agriculture official, Shirley Sherrod, is a cold cut racist. But what the clip really showed was a perfect example of poor journalism.
At first glance Sherrod’s words seem to suggest that she didn’t want to completely help poor white farmers. It’s only after you listen to her speech further that you realize she was actually emphasizing the importance of progressing beyond race.
Sherrod’s speech pointed out that race should not stand in the way of you helping others who are in need. The incident Sherrod referred to in her speech occurred over 20 years ago, before she even worked for the federal government, and according to her it assisted in positively shaping and altering her views on race and poverty.
But BigGovernment.com, the website where it was posted, seemed to strive for people to think it was a recent incident and one that negatively affects the way Sherrod performs her job.
Sherrod was condemned by the NAACP, Secretary Vilsack, and publicly attacked on media outlets such as Fox News. It was an incident that never would’ve occurred if many weren’t so quick to jump the gun… And if more Americans were inquisitive about accuracy of the information they receive from various news sources.
It seems like a terrible game of telephone. No one really bothered to check up on the information being heard or further question the primary source including Sherrod herself, to find out the truth.
Counter racism was the assumed crime on everyone’s minds. It was a desperate cry for justification perhaps. And a possible strained attempt to show a black woman being racist against whites as well.
It certainly was not one of the latest tricks in the book, a plight to portray the assumed victimized as the victimizer. But what it did become was a circus act that ignited a heated discussion centered on the issues of race, politics and ethical journalism.
When Sherrod’s side of the story was finally released there was no doubt that her accusers were completely out of line. Their highly critical statements about her career and character not only jeopardized her career, but also her reputation.
Sherrod’s side of the story, as well as the farmer’s who she helped, eventually weighed in on CNN to uncover the truth. It was only then that Sherrod finally got offered another position working for the government.
However, why did it take all this to finally see the truth behind Sherrod’s speech. How did her message of reconciling race relations and moving past skin color, end up getting twisted to the point where she had to lose her job and face the embarrassment of being rejected by the White House and NAACP?
The Sherrod scandal does make us wonder… Can a Black woman really be a racist? After facing a society that reveals it’s ugly side of racism to you nearly everyday in either subtle or obvious ways… can you really turn your head on all the feelings of hate felt toward your race, and adequately justify them in entirety and abundance toward another?
Refuse The Silence, Intern
For so long feminism has been the place where an old debate exists: liberation versus exploitation. Sexism & misogyny tells us that a woman should be modest, reserved & quiet. In this society, showing off a little skin can get a woman labeled anything from a hooker to slut. In this post, I want to discover the former label and what its implications include. Parlour also featured an insightful piece about prostitution not too long ago.
First of all, modern feminists, generally, have taken a stance of favoring liberation in the liberation versus exploitation debate. Meaning they seem more readily convinced that prostitution, in its many facets, is a form of liberation for a woman’s body instead of exploitation in and of itself. Feminism sees prostitution as bodily autonomy. However, I also think that feminism has done a good job of leaving out the implications of capitalism and racism on prostitution and those who participate in prostitution.
Let’s get this out the way now: sex is the most profitable industry, in the universe, ever. Sex is used to sell everything from music to cologne. Sex is capitalisms biggest export and import. In her book, Black Sexual Politics, Patricia Hill Collins discusses the connection between capitalism and sexual commodity, “making sex highly visible in marketplace commodity relations becomes important to maintaining profitability within the U.S. capitalist economy. The goal is neither to stimulate debate nor to educate, but to sell products.” Therefore, when women’s bodies are used in advertisement as a sales tactic, how can this be liberation?
Prostitution is the most extended and serious form of exploitation of women’s bodies. Being that capitalism is contingent on exploiting the labor of underprivileged communities and race, it makes sense that poor women of color are most affected by this system of sexual oppression. Prostitution is essentially the intersection of race and capitalism.
Prostitution is capitalism’s most visible and hated form of all sexual exploitations. Among other things, prostitutes are seen as dirty, dumb, and unworthy of protection under the law. When capitalism exploits sex, it also exploits those who are most affected by the system of capitalism, non-men of color. However, most of the sex workers we see are black women and transgendered. Both of these groups are stereotyped in society as the only face of prostitution. Then there are those white women who prostitute but they are called “escorts” instead.
Oppressed people are forced into this type of work by poverty and lack of education and then are exploited even further by an abusive “pimp.” This is where the distinction between liberation and exploitation needs to be made. When a “pimp” is marginalizing someone’s bodily autonomy, this person lacks agency and choice of actions because they are being forced to work by an abusive figure in their lives. A sex worker often sees a “pimp” as a father figure or a provider, which is also evidence of the intersection of race as a lot black fathers are absent due to targeting by the “justice” system as well as early death. A “pimp” is a father for many women of color involved in sex work. This is the struggle that more people need to hear about, not just prostitution as liberation. Feminism, as the traditional white ideal that it sometimes is, paints prostitution as liberation for white women, but we never hear of the poor women and people of color who are held captive by this form of exploitation of the body.
It’s important to make the distinction between supporting sex workers and supporting sex work. We need to stop the criminalization of sex workers because these people are victims of brutal beatings by the capitalism, racism, and sexism found in society and sometimes even untreated mental illness. However, prostitution needs to be a system that activists fight against because it is another product of what is wrong in this society. Essentially, feminism and other liberation movements need to support sex workers while fighting against the institution that keeps them oppressed. We need to stop trying to look down on sex workers and start trying to help understand their marginalization and their struggle.
Side note: I never understood why people in popular culture liken themselves to pimps. Pimps are real people who abuse and take advantage of sex workers, why equate yourself to that? Why is Pimp a label of status and glamorization?
People’s hate of prostitutes also extends to people’s hate of those who participate in the sex-sells industry. By this, I mean, video dancers, models who pose for men’s magazines, and womyn who act or model for pornography. This is just a high-class, safer version of prostitution. This is problematic because it furthers this sex-for-sale model, which promotes women’s exploitation, especially women of color, and the idea that in order to be successful you must sacrifice your body. We must educate everyone of their participation in the marginalization and perpetuation of a negative stigma of sex workers. As a society, if we want to end prostitution we must assess poverty, capitalism, racism and sexism and I believe we can do it!