transnational feminism

July 8, 2008 at 11:04 pm (anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism, women of color)

tanglad writes about the womens desk….

The book Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational Feminist Practices by Inderpal Grewal and Caren Kaplan has helped me tremendously in focusing my feminism. I don’t worry about what the authors term as “a theory of hegemonic oppression under a unified category of gender.” Instead, as an activist interested in the gendered and racialized foundations of globalization, I’ve adopted the framework of transnational feminism, which:

must also find intersections and common ground; but they will not be utopian or necessarily comfortable alliances. New terms are needed to express the possibilities for links and affiliations, as well as differences among women who inhabit different locations. Transnational feminist activism is one possibility. (Kaplan, page 116, emphasis mine)’

i am really glad to have found this term: transnational feminism.  because this is part of the vision revolution of the lilies.  the theoretical part.  how exciting…i love relevant theory.

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why we must support cynthia mc kinney

June 25, 2008 at 6:37 pm (anti-oppression, anti-racism, middle east, women of color)

The Organizer Newspaper
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The Obama Nomination and Why We Must Support
Cynthia McKinney’s Power to the People Campaign
Ten days ago, Sister Cynthia McKinney, presidential candidate of the Power to the People campaign, issued a statement on the imminent nomination of Barack Obama as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.
In this statement, Sister McKinney noted that the Obama nomination was not business-as-usual in the United States, nor was it the result expected by the ruling class and its pundits. Hillary Clinton believed that she was the anointed candidate, and everything indicated she would be the party’s standard-bearer in November 2008. She had the corporate funding, the “leadership experience,” and the full backing of the central leaders of the Democratic Party.
Obama was being groomed by the Democratic Party elders for the future, perhaps for a 2012 or 2016 presidential nomination. For now, the best he could hope for would be a prominent spot in a Clinton cabinet — to help put out some of the political fires at home and abroad resulting from the rapacious policies of U.S. imperialism.
But Clinton’s “leadership” message faltered, and Obama’s message of “change” caught on like wildfire, especially among young voters and African Americans of all ages. After Super Tuesday, when Clinton expected that the nomination would be pretty much in the bag, her campaign was in shock. They did not anticipate the Obama-mania that was sweeping parts of the country.
The Obama phenomenon, of course, was not a mass movement with a conscious understanding of its aims; rather it was (and remains) a strictly electoral phenomenon with an amorphous concept that things cannot remain as they are. Obama was viewed as the best possible champion of “change” among the bunch of candidates put forward by the twin parties of the bosses. But the Obama phenomenon shook the Democratic Party and forced the commanding heights of that party to adjust their strategy.
Provocation and Containment
The first reaction by the central party leaders, with the help of a compliant media, was a staged provocation aimed at putting Clinton back in the saddle. (The biggest staging, of course, was the ABC TV candidates’ “debate,” where both TV anchors did their absolute best to “nail” Obama.) This involved featuring — and distorting — the declarations of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and forcing Obama either to back his pastor or reject him, with the hope that in either case there would be a “white backlash” against Obama.
This provocation did not produce the desired results, however. Clinton was not able to get enough of the backlash to give her a resounding lead in Indiana, or a draw in South Carolina. Her campaign had one bite at that apple and failed. The momentum for Obama — reflecting the deep aspiration for change in this country — was too great to stop.
The next reaction by the party hierarchy (and by the summits of the white ruling class in this country) was to accept Obama while ensuring that he would be totally pliable — that is, totally willing and able to carry out, unencumbered, the policy imperatives of U.S. imperialism in the aftermath of the reckless, cowboy politics of the Bush-Cheney cabal, politics that have undermined the image of U.S. imperialism worldwide and shaken the stability of the world capitalist system as a whole.
This tactical shift by the leading circles of U.S. finance capital requires, for example, pressing for a Hamilton-Baker Pan “solution” in the Middle East (diplomatic overtures to share more widely the load of occupation and containment, plus permanent U.S. bases and threats of military attacks, including nuclear attacks) and “neo-corporatist” solutions to co-opt the unions and movements of resistance into accepting the bitter pills of “free trade” and privatization in the name of a “New World Governance.” (A separate article is required to explain this orientation in greater depth.)
This meant pressing Obama to distance himself more and more from his Black base and to repudiate — perhaps not so much in his rhetoric but in the formulation of his concrete policy planks — anything that could lead to real change, anything that could put into question global capital’s quest to resolve its growing economic and financial crisis on the backs of working people and all the oppressed worldwide.
Hence, in the two weeks since Clinton stepped down as a presidential candidate, Obama has willingly and faithfully made a marked shift to the right, to assure the corporate paymasters of the Democratic and Republican parties that he will be a loyal servant of their interests.
The list is getting longer by the day. Here are a few examples:
* Obama “out-Bushed” John McCain in his speech at the national gathering of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), going so far as to claim that Jerusalem must remain an Israel city. His endorsement of the Israeli state and its Zionist-expansionist policies was unabashed … and unqualified.
* Speaking to right-wing Cuban exiles in Miami, Obama pledged to maintain the criminal embargo against Cuba. He also backed the illegal incursion of Colombian troops into Ecuador (troops sent in at the behest of the Bush administration), in violation of that country’s sovereignty, in the name of the “war on terrorism,” thereby sending a signal throughout the region that U.S. interventionism would remain alive and well under an Obama administration.
* Speaking at a conservative Black church in Chicago (thereby consummating his break with the Rev. Wright and his former church), Obama echoed all the rightwing’s racist attacks against Black men, to the point of referring to them as “boys,” without even bothering to provide any policy alternatives to the growing plight of Black America that has resulted in the increased criminalization/incarceration of Black men.
* Speaking to a panel of economists quoted in the June 17 Wall Street Journal, Obama said that he was “seriously considering backing a reduction in corporate tax rates.” (Obama has called on top pro-corporate advisers, beginning with Robert E. Rubin, to head up his economics team, which alarmed John Sweeney of the AFL-CIO.)
* Speaking to military officials in Washington, Obama did not rule out a military running mate and noted that “perhaps it may not be possible to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq in the time frame I had initially envisioned.” (Washington Post, June 12)
An Independent Campaign Addressed to the Working Class Majority, to All the Oppressed
In her June 7 statement on the Obama nomination and in subsequent articles, Cynthia McKinney has sought to open a dialogue with the millions of people who still have illusions in Barack Obama and who will likely vote for him.
McKinney noted that the deep aspiration for change among the American people is what accounted for Obama’s surge in the primaries, and she went on to outline the platform planks that need to be implemented by the next president of the United States so that this long-awaited change can become a reality, and not remain an illusion. These are planks culled from the Draft Manifesto of the National Organizing Committee of the Reconstruction Party, a platform to which she contributed significantly. [See the June 7 statement on her website,, for the full list of platform planks highlighted in this dialogue.]
McKinney did not say to the millions of Black people who celebrated Obama’s victory in the primaries as their own victory, despite his rotten political positions: “Take my word for it, Barack Obama is a sell-out and will only betray your interests.” There would be no dialogue possible on this basis, no way to help them shed their illusions in Obama and take steps toward breaking with the Democratic Party to support her Power to the People campaign.
Rather, she enjoined both Obama and his supporters nationwide to embrace the policy initiatives proposed in the Draft Manifesto because this is what millions of Americans expect — and need — from any candidate, especially a Black candidate, who aspires to the presidency and claims to represent “change.” But McKinney also made it clear that she was not forfeiting her own independent campaign in order to become an “advisor” of sorts to Obama. Quite the contrary. “Our platform,” McKinney stated in her latest fund appeal, “is the only one that genuinely addresses the needs and aspirations for real change that have been expressed by voters nationwide.”
Her challenge to Obama was unequivocal: If Obama were to support publicly some of the most important platform planks for change contained in this Draft Manifesto — and if he were to pledge publicly to take steps toward putting these planks into practice once elected — he would obtain, without a doubt, the overwhelming support of the American people.
But if Obama were not to support these specific platform planks, if he were not to pledge to begin implementing them once in office, Sister McKinney could not accept a situation where these vital policy issues were removed from the discussion table in the months leading up to the November 2008 presidential election.

“The message of our campaign is necessary now, more than ever,” McKinney insisted in her fund appeal. “Congress is on the verge of caving in on more funding for the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan; our country bombs Somalia and Pakistan with impunity and none of the major party contenders mentions it; the American people are losing their homes at a record pace, Congress is yet to offer a solution; and our country is even more mired in debt.”
This is the language of a genuinely independent campaign addressed to the millions of people in this country who are longing for a change and who are hoping against hope that Obama can be the vehicle for that change. It is the language of an independent campaign aimed at winning the working class majority and all the oppressed, beginning with the masses of Black people in this country, away from the Democratic Party to the banner of independent politics and Power to the People — to the banner of the Reconstruction Party.
Help Sister McKinney Qualify for Federal Matching Funds!

As a socialist and advocate of a clean break with the Democratic Party, it is clear to me — just as it is clear to a growing wing of the Black Liberation Movement — that Obama is not about to embrace any of the platform planks contained in the Draft Manifesto for a Reconstruction Party. In fact, Obama is moving at an astounding speed in the opposite direction in his quest to be the best possible representative of U.S. corporate interests. This is the name of the game in the Democratic Party.

This is why the Power of the People presidential campaign of Cynthia McKinney is so crucial today, why it must be supported by all politically conscious activists across the country.

Glen Ford, executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, put it best when he wrote in an article posted earlier today that, “There is a presidential candidate who is Black, a proven progressive, a person of courage and unchallenged integrity. Cynthia McKinney, running on a Power to the People platform for the Green Party nomination, wants to rebuild a real movement. Peace and racial and social justice cannot be achieved absent a popular movement, which in the United States must be led by African Americans.”
But support for Sister McKinney’s Power to the People cannot remain passive. Her campaign needs funds urgently. In her latest fund appeal she wrote:
“My campaign is not funded by the military-industrial-financial-media complex, nor the energy, pharmaceutical or other corporate interests that bankroll the parties of war: the Democrats and Republicans. I can only count on you, the people who produce the wealth in this country, to finance my campaign.
“I need your support to get out the political message of our Power to the People campaign to voters all across the country. …
“With your help, we can achieve our goal of raising the $100,000 in 20 states needed to obtain the federal matching funds. Please go to our website today ( and make as generous a donation as you can. Then send all your friends, coworkers, and neighbors to this site, asking that they match or exceed your donation.  I do believe in the power of the people.
“Please help me put this first campaign milestone behind us, so we can get the Power to the People campaign on every ballot possible nationwide — so that we can provide a genuine alternative to the No Impeachment, War Parties and their candidates. Our communities deserve so much more and the Power to the People campaign is ready to deliver.  Your donation now will help us deliver with an impact.  Thank you in advance for your contribution to this effort.”
Can you make a contribution today to this fund?

— San Francisco, June 18, 2008


Alan Benjamin is the Editor of The Organizer newspaper. To obtain a sample copy of The Organizer, please send a note to the email address listed above.

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Special Weapons’ Have a Fallout on Babies in Fallujah

June 16, 2008 at 5:01 pm (middle east, women of color)

today i feel like anyone who supports this war is heartless.  ii realize this a sweeping statement.

here is the problem: it is not just this generation of children being born (when they survive) with conginental deformities.  but that (i bet) we are going to see generations of children born still suffering.  imagine a woman who has not been born yetgiving birth to a child with illnesses and deformities because we bombed their country 50 years ago.

what are we doing.

there is a place a moment when ignorance is no longer an excuse.

this is our moment.

Babies born in Fallujah are showing illnesses and deformities on a scale never seen before, doctors and residents say.

The new cases, and the number of deaths among children, have risen after “special weaponry” was used in the two massive bombing campaigns in Fallujah in 2004.

After denying it at first, the Pentagon admitted in November 2005 that white phosphorous, a restricted incendiary weapon, was used a year earlier in Fallujah.

In addition, depleted uranium (DU) munitions, which contain low-level radioactive waste, were used heavily in Fallujah. The Pentagon admits to having used 1,200 tons of DU in Iraq thus far.

“Maternal exposure to toxins and radioactive material can lead to miscarriage and frequent abortions, still birth, and congenital malformation,” the doctor told IPS. There have been many such cases, and the government “did not move to contain the damage, or present any assistance to the hospital whatsoever.

A senior Iraqi health ministry official was quoted as saying Feb. 26 that the health sector is under “great pressure”, with scores of doctors killed, an exodus of medical personnel, poor medical infrastructure, and shortage of medicines.

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unbought and unbossed

June 9, 2008 at 4:24 pm (anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism, women of color)

ode to shirley chisholm

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so iguess the democratic nomination is over and i feel…sad

May 25, 2008 at 2:09 am (anti-classism, anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism, prisons, women of color)

here’s the thing.  i will be so happy ot have the first black president.  i think that is awesome.  and i would have been happy to have the first woman president.  (but i have to say that i became quite disenchanted with the clinton campaign after south carolina…really, bill, barack won sc, jesse j won sc, and so did you win sc, pres clinton…but you didnt bother to mention that…) and there have been moments when watching barack (ok i admit it) i tear up.   i mean i think he is…well…sincere.

but this latest kerfuffle that hillary want barack dead is just ridiculous.  of course she wants barack dead.  if i were her i would want barack to die.  whateva the path to nomination is, she has no doubt, and i have no doubt that she would beat mccain and frankly if barack died it would be easier to beat mccain.  i mean acually barack dying is one of the surest ways to the white house.  we blacks (and yes i am speaking for all of us) would flock to her campaign and to the polls with a level of unmitigated grief and love that would be unprecedented in general elections (this is my theoretical secret to dems winning the whtie house…not that i am a democratic…people underestimate the black vote to their peril.  we may not be many but we come to the polls in incredibly low number…and when we come to the polls in high numbers we turn an election…and we will come out for barack…that is what barack is betting on…a couple of percentage points in a couple of key states with afr-am pop’s that normally cant be counted on…white working class is one thing…but the black working class remembers revolution…heard it on the laps of their parents and grandparents…and we had a dream…and that dream is about to come true…if we vote…the first black president…i will address the idea of the first woman pres in a second)

and she the clinton, who yes insulted us, but we liked the nineties better than the aughts (or atleast financially i did) and we should be angry about our great black hope covered in the morass of assassinations blood and we would be energized to change the election…

so of course she wants barack to be killed in a hail of bullets.  it is romantic.  violent.  beautiful. i mean when bobby kennedy died that was a ‘moment’ in the course of history.  it changed people’s lives.

and of course it cropped her mind.  when the msm calls barack the next kennedy.  well, we know what happens to kennedys.

so ted kennedy is in the hospital.  or just out of it.  and she thought bobby.  barry. barack.  evolution?  im not sure.  a path to the white. house.  god damn suree boy!

i aint hating.  i am a writer.  and as for violent. beatiful. romantic. nothing beats the assasination of a dream.  the murder of hope.  and another hope blooming in its place.

and it would rock if we had a woman represented as president.  even more exciting if i felt a kinship with her.

which brings me to a tiny side point.  the racism and the sexism has been awful in this campaign.  but honestly as a black woman it was hard for me to feel as empathetic about the sexism that hillary endured as opposed to the racism.  and i have been wondering why.

here is the closest i got:  because the sexism that i saw in reference to hillary was so different from the sexism i have encountered as a black woman.  because white folks and black folks (okay all folks) view black women as diametrically opposed to white women.  a white woman when she is seen as not following the gender script is seen as angry, masculine, aggressive, hypersexual, which is the normalized version of black woman identity.   the darker you are the more aggressive (especially sexually) and angry you are seen.  you are masculinized.  not seen as vulnerable, feminine, soft, reserved.  i tried to ask macon d over at stuff white people do why this was….i have seen the phenomena but i dont understand the underlying causes.

so hillary crying and that being sympathetic… i wonder if a black woman had done that if she would have been seen as sympathetic (ok hillary got slightly chocked up she didnt cry…but damn msm had a field day with it)  or would she have been seen as deficient, ‘as not being strong’.  and who would have been the women who would have flocked to the polls to support her.  would white women have flocked to the polls to support her?  yes, oprah cries and ‘gets emotional’ but oprah aint running for president.

and i feel like what white women want from black women is for black women to represent and inspire them to ‘strength’ towards a ‘manliness’ and a ‘go gett-m-ness’ that white women feel like they lack. attitude.  a sort of diva self-appreciation.

how easy is it to empathize with someone who is from a different social group with you and still see her weakeness as strength? then speak out for michelle obama.

so racism/sexism that i experience is different than the sexism that white women experience.  because you know that dichotomy that says that women can only be a virgin or a whore?  yeah, black women for the most part get to experience the ‘whore’ part.  so aggressive.  so hypersexual.  so experienced.

and i feel sad.  because the idea that hillary wants obama to die.  is to be expected.  but the fact that t he only good black leader is a dead black leader.  that has me sad.  and the fact that ‘oppression olympics stands in the way of: when we advance we can all advance–is sad.

i guess the question i should have asked was: why is it that no one notices that black women vote overwhelmingly for obama and not hillary.  and our votes ( and the majority of black folks voting for obama are black women.  too many black men are not allowed to vote.  that is the effect of the prison industrial complex) are not counted by msm.  when folks say that women overwhelmingly vote for hillary.  well, black women do not overwhelmingly vote for hillary.  and even though ‘working class white men’ vote for hillary and that is the sort of statistic that accounts for too much of msm’s analysis.  the fact that working class black women vote barack…means what?  not worthy of comment.

if i thought that hillary would make my life as a working class black female easier.  i would vote for her.  no really i would.

but the idea that she wants him dead.  well, i mean, that is just obvious.  you dont run for president without having entertained the thoughts of ordering an assasination or two.

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first writing since

May 17, 2008 at 12:29 am (anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism, middle east, palestine, women of color)

this poem inspired me to go to palestine.  It gave me a specific sense of where I beloned in the world.  Stretched across the world.  She wrote it after 9/11.  And told a story of her discovering the bombings in her home city.  For the first year I had a limewire edition of her reading it for Def Poetry.  I would cry.  And promise myself to write something that held the world as honestly.

suheir hamad:

today is a week, and seven is of heavens, gods, science.
evident out my kitchen window is an abstract reality.
sky where once was steel.
smoke where once was flesh.

fire in the city air and i feared for my sister’s life in a way never
before. and then, and now, i fear for the rest of us.

first, please god, let it be a mistake, the pilot’s heart failed, the
plane’s engine died.
then please god, let it be a nightmare, wake me now.
please god, after the second plane, please, don’t let it be anyone
who looks like my brothers.

we did not vilify all white men when mcveigh bombed oklahoma.
america did not give out his family’s addresses or where he went to
church. or blame the bible or pat robertson.

and when we talk about holy books and hooded men and death, why do we
never mention the kkk?

but i know for sure who will pay.

f there are any people on earth who understand how new york is
feeling right now, they are in the west bank and the gaza strip.

6. today it is ten days. last night bush waged war on a man once
openly funded by the
cia. i do not know who is responsible. read too many books, know
too many people to believe what i am told. i don’t give a fuck about
bin laden. his vision of the world does not include me or those i
love. and petittions have been going around for years trying to get
the u.s. sponsored taliban out of power. shit is complicated, and i
don’t know what to think.

but i know for sure who will pay.

in the world, it will be women, mostly colored and poor. women will
have to bury children, and support themselves through grief. “either
you are with us, or with the terrorists” – meaning keep your people
under control and your resistance censored. meaning we got the loot
and the nukes.

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black women, islam, and hiphop

May 7, 2008 at 4:43 pm (anti-sexism, islam, middle east, palestine, women of color)

there is a great article at racialicious

on black muslim women and hiphop.  Okay actually the article originates on Muslimah Media Watch. Gorgeous pictures of Erykah Badu and Eve. And a discussion as to what consitutues Islam. It reminded me of my first visit to the West Bank and haing a discussion with a teeenager muslim woman named yasmmina about he connection between Black Muslims and Islam. Malcolm X and Sunni. Yasmina who considered herself an Islamist thought of Islam as both a policial as well as a spiritual idenity. And while we did not have a discussion about the dogma or beliefs of the Nation of Islam and 5 percenters, there was a definite connection and appreciation that people would be willing to take on the label of ‘Muslim’ especially in a post-9/11 world.

What struck me was how much variety and diversity Yasmina assumed to be a part of the Islamic world. And the variety of wary that Muslim women have interpreted the Koran and present themselves to the world.

I appreciate that Eve gives gratitude to Allah but says that she cannot follow Islam properly. I think that in the Black community, women identifying as Muslim in many ways gives them a hiphop cred that is difficult for women to achieve. In that Muslims in hiphop culture are considered to be ‘deep’, ‘strong’, and ‘dedicated soldiers’ that allows for Black women to be able to move through many of the sexist assumptions about women mc’s. There is also a sense within the Black community that Muslim women are somehow moe socially protected and respectable than other women. (ya know there are ho’s and then there are queens).

One of my inspirations to live in the Middle East was the respect I had for Muslimwomen in hiphop. So that political connection that Yasmina and I talked about matters.

I am going to try to get the original article by McMurray.

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New Orleans Women of Color Resource & Organizing Center

May 5, 2008 at 6:48 pm (anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism, women of color)

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence New Orleans Chapter and

the New Orleans Women’s Health & Justice Initiative

Seeks Books by Women of Color authors
for a Radical Women of Color Lending Library Project

The New Orleans Women of Color Resource & Organizing Center (a joint project of the WHJI and INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence – New Orleans ) will serve as a resource and organizing hub to nurture grassroots organizing and activism to end violence against women of color, linking struggles against the violence of poverty, incarceration, environmental racism, housing discrimination, economic exploitation, and medical experimentation and forced sterilization.  The Center will provide a host of movement building and leadership development programs, activities, and resources to end violence against women of color; the Center will also house a radical women of color lending library, a cluster of computers for community use, meeting space, and a comfortable environment for women and girls to hangout. 

We are currently in the process of establishing a radical women of color lending library.  We are seeking donations of books by women of color authors across genres, topics, interests, and subjects including but not limited to:

African Social Movements/Activism-Organizing/ Anti-Oppression/ Arab Feminist Organizing/ Arab Social Movements/ Art & Culture/ Asian Feminist Organizing/ Asian Social Movements / Autonomous Movements/ Black/African Feminist Organizing/ Caribbean Social Movements/ Chicana Feminist Organizing/ Civil/Human Rights/ Colonization/ Community Accountability/ Re-Constructing Masculinity/ Disability Organizing/Rights/ Disasters  and Vulnerabilities/ Diaspora Organizing/Identity/Domestic Workers Organizing/ Economic Justice/ Education/Radical Teaching/ Environment/Ecological Justice/ Erotic Autonomy/Feminism/ Gender Theory & Identity/ Gender Justice/ Gender-based Violence/ Genocide/ Globalization/ Healthcare (Access & Disparities)/ Health Justice/ Health & Alternative Therapies/ HIV/AIDS Organizing/Prevention Justice/ Housing & Community Development/ Human Rights/ Human Trafficking/ Immigrant & Refugee Rights/ Imperialism/ Intersex Identity and Organizing/ Just Sustainabilities and Development/ Juvenile Justice/ Labor Organizing/ Latina Feminist Organizing/ Latin American Social Movements/ Media Justice/ Mental Health and Wellness/ Middle East Organizing/Solidarity/Justice/ Militarism/ Music/ Native American Feminist Organizing/ Native American Social Movements/ Neoliberalism/ Palestine Organizing/Right of Return/ Pan-Asian Organizing/ Policing/ Law Enforcement Violence/ Population & Development/Poverty/Welfare Rights/ Prison Industrial Complex/ Prison Abolition & Prisoners Rights/ Queer Theory/Identity/ Racial Justice/ Radical Parenting/ Radical Women of Color Organizing/ Refugee/Internally Displaced Persons/ Reproductive Health & Justice/ Sex Work Organizing/Street Economies/ Sexual Health/ Slavery/ Sovereignty & Self Determination/ Spirituality/Healing/ Spoken Word/Performance Poetry/ Trans Justice/ Transnational Organizing/ U.S. Black Social Movements/ War/ War on Drugs/Racial Profiling/ Welfare Reform/Policies/ Women and War/ Women’s Health & Healing/ Worker’s Rights/ Youth Organizing

All books are welcome—fiction, non-fiction, poetry, zines, articles, resource books, anthologies, photodocumentaries, etc.  Videos, documentaries, and music are also welcomed.   We are specifically interested in books by African, Arab, Asian, Black, Caribbean, Chicana, Indigenous, Native, and Latina authors.    Donations should be mailed to the:

New Orleans Women’s Health Clinic
c/o WHJI
1406 Esplanade Ave.
New Orleans , LA 70116

For more information, please contact us at or by phone at 504-524-8626.

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rape and race

April 28, 2008 at 5:09 am (anti-racism, anti-sexism, women of color)


Rape and Race: We Have to Talk About It
April 10, 2008 — Remixing the racial rule of silence.
By Melissa Harris-Lacewell
Updated: 12:29 PM ET Apr 9, 2008

I witnessed something truly astonishing on Monday night: a public discussion of black women’s experiences of sexual violence at the hands of black men.  It was an intergenerational group of black men and women, gay and straight, survivors and perpetrators, all grappling with the legacy of rape and race.

The experience was unusual because black people rarely talk about sisters being raped. We talk about all kinds of things: trivial, critical, humorous, serious, political, painful and frivolous. But as we observe Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, I am reminded that there are things we don’t talk about.

We are silent about black women as victims and survivors of sexual assault by black men.

In African American communities rape narratives are not women’s stories.  They are men’s stories.  Rape is tied to the historical legacy of white terror.  Strange fruit hanging from Southern trees has led to a legacy of disbelieving women who report sexual violence and intimidation.

Black women raped by black male perpetrators often remain silent because they are alone. They don’t want to confirm white racial stereotypes; their own families and communities tell them to shut up; they have little reason to think that authorities will take their cases seriously; they fear the devastating ramifications of a manhunt in black communities if they are believed; and in the history of lynching, white women have been adversaries, not allies, on the question of rape.

Recovering from rape is burden enough without having to shoulder this vicious legacy.

I do not want to diminish or deny the pain, agony, recovery and triumph of survivors who are not black women.  I do not want to claim that all black women survivors have parallel experiences or that all black women experience the same traumas in the aftermath of rape. I only want to claim there is often a different dynamic that operates for black women who have been violated by black men.As a sexual assault survivor and advocate I know the debilitating effects of silence.

That is why I was so moved by Monday night’s gathering in Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn , NY .  Together we watched Aishah Shahidah Simmons’ NO! The Rape Documentary. Then Simmons, who is herself a rape and incest survivor, talked with us and answered questions to help us process the grief, anger and confusion that her exquisite film provoked.

But here was the most surprising part of all: the gathering was organized by a community group called Black and Male in America. Under the leadership of writer, activist and Congressional candidate Kevin Powell, this group of men arranged a screening of Simmons’ powerful film.  Let me say this again.  A group of black men arranged for an honest, difficult, intense, public discussion of intra-racial rape.

Filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons revealed that it has been difficult to find wide distribution for her film because so few people want to grapple with black women’s sexual victimization.  Simmons was joined on the panel by Kevin Powell and Quentin Walcott from ConnectNYC.  Sitting next to these men, Simmons acknowledged that brothers from the hip-hop generation, a generation that has been critiqued as universally commercial and misogynist, have been among her strongest supporters.

Simmons said, “It’s also very important for me to note that this and many other community-based screenings that have been organized by Black men are men from the hip-hop generation. I share this because there are many justifiable critiques of hip-hop. However, hands down, the overwhelming majority of the men who have supported NO! and spread the word about NO! are from the hip-hop generation.”

Organizer Kevin Powell is certainly a central figure of the hip-hop generation.  As a first season Real World cast member, Powell helped usher in the age of reality TV. As a writer and poet he has reflected on and critiqued hip-hop. Powell also has his own difficult past as a perpetrator of domestic violence.  But rather than being silent and demanding silence from others, Powell has written movingly about his own awakening from violence.  On Monday night he and other men of this Brooklyn organization helped provide space for sexual assault survivors to speak and be heard.We are right to focus on and criticize the elements of hip-hop that are complicit in the violence, abuse and degradation of black women.  But we are also compelled to acknowledge the possibility that some men of the hip-hop generation just might have something to teach their elders about passing the mic and being quiet while sisters share their stories. Maybe, just maybe, this generation of men will create a different path.

Reflecting on what this new path might look like Powell said,

“What we’ve found in our work with black males is that many of us brothers are completely clueless about what manhood should be. So we swallow whole what society, our communities, our families, our fathers, and, yes, our mothers, tell us it is, even if that definition leads us to hurt or destroy black females or other black males. Or ourselves. There is a growing recognition, now, among many hip-hop generation black women thinkers, leaders, and artists, and a growing number of us black male counterparts, that if we do not deal with the multiple insanities we as a community have internalized, then we are doomed as a community. It is really that serious.

“Monday night’s event helped us to remember that rape is complicated by race.  For many black women there is a sense of betrayal that exists alongside the personal humiliation, pain and fear. Intra-racial rape can feel like a rift between a woman and her people. The survivor is cast into silence not so much a by a desire to protect those men who perpetrated, but to protect the black men in her life who she loves, respects and trusts. As Simmons’ NO! reminds us, survivors often feel that by fingering the attacker we might somehow accuse our own fathers, husbands, friends and sons of possessing this same capacity for violence.

So it makes a huge difference for black men to stand with us and encourage us to tell.  The Brooklyn gathering was a model of how black men can help create safe spaces for us.  It was a reminder that men can exert power and reclaim manhood by standing with black women, bearing witness to our stories and holding one another accountable. It was a testament to the reality that men can stop rape by saying NO!

Melissa Harris-Lacewell is associate professor of politics and African American studies at Princeton University .


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oprah: black women and politics and gratitude

April 21, 2008 at 10:13 pm (anti-oppression, anti-racism, anti-sexism, women of color)

So it turns out that Michelle Obama has an edge, something like a chip on her shoulder.  She has that Black woman problem.  In the way that she expresses herself…it is something.  Cause black women need to be careful how they express themselves or else they might appear to have an ‘attitude’ or be ‘angry’.  It is something in her personality, she is not as relatable as she could be.

My contention is that any Black woman who enters politics is going to have this stereotype attached to her.  Especially if she is dark skin and successful.  Name a Black American woman who is a face in politics who does not have this ‘personality’ problem…

Not even Oprah can pull it off.  Not even Oprah can back Obama without losing favor with white folks.

Mainstream white folks love us black folks as long as we are grateful for how much they love us.  They will support us, praise our intelligence, our generous hearts, our insight, our talents but we must always make sure that we are as grateful as they want us to be.  In other words, when white folks feel that their self-interests are being threatened by Blacks, they call in all that support they have given to their Black friends, because it is time for Blacks to step up, support whites and act grateful.

And Black women carry all the stereotypes of women plus all the stereotypes of blacks.  so they are angry, irrational,  uneducated, bitter, resentful, lazy, hypersexual, etc.  And even if the woman presents herself as educated, calm, rational, hard-working, sexually responsible…most whites are constantly looking for the ‘real’ black woman to reveal herself.  And the second that she smirks, rolls her eyes, stumbles while talking, expresses anger, presses her lips together, misspeaks, makes a mistake, etc.  most white people nod their heads in recognition that the ‘real black woman’ is finally coming out.  In other words white folks are looking for, waiting for the stereotype to become real and see the overwhelming evidence that denies the veracity of the stereotype as window-dressing.

I mean just look at what happened to McKinney.  Thank god for the Green Party.

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