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Monday
Aug112014

I'm Sick of This

 

I’ve been crying all day. I don’t typically cry unless someone close to me has died, and I didn’t know Michael Brown. If I had to guess, I’d say the last time I cried over something not connected to me personally was in April of 1992, watching the LA riots on TV and smelling the smoke coming through my windows from vacant buildings that had been set on fire in Welston.

I’m tempted to write something about Michael Brown, but I doubt I know anything about this case that anyone who would bother to read it doesn’t know already, and my tendency when I don’t have something unique to add is to sit back, listen and learn before just adding to the noise.

Besides, every time I try to write something, I’m overwhelmed by déjà vu. Hasn’t it been written before? Could I just take something about Kenneth Chamberlain, or Trayvon Martin or Sean Bell and do a “find” “replace” with Michael Brown’s name in MicroftWord? Maybe I should just create a boiler plate document that I can fill in the next time this happens: Murdered Black Man Mad Libs.

Whenever someone (almost always straight, white and male) accuses me of not being patriotic, I inform him that I am in fact more patriot than he is. It’s easy to love a country designed by and for people who look like you. The trick is loving your country, even when your country doesn’t love you back. And I do. But it’s hard.

That said…

I’M SICK OF THIS SHIT.

I’m sick of being reminded, time and time again that my life has less value. That as long as my assailant is not black, and especially if he has a badge, that I can be killed with impunity.

I’m sick of having to unfollow white people on social media who I thought were cool 48 hours ago.

I’m sick of reading the comments.

I’m sick of not reading the comments.

I’m sick of having to blaxplain that just because the Post-Dispatch points a camera at someone and posts the video on their website, it doesn’t make him anymore representative of the black community than Geraldo Rivera’s televised interview with Charles Manson makes Manson a representative of the white community.

I’m sick of hearing people that don’t care fuck all about black kids on the south side of Chicago using them as a bait and switch tactic to pull the focus away another murdered black kid they also don’t care about. “Why are you so concerned with Trayvon Martin?” “Why are you so concerned with Michael Brown?” “How many black kids were killed in Chicago this weekend?” The answer is, I don’t know how many black kids were killed in Chicago this weekend and neither do you, and you can’t tell me a single one of their names because before they became a political talking point, you had no use for them.  

I’m sick having to re-answer the same questions that I answered the last time some shit like this happened.

How come there’s no protest when a black person kills a white person?

Well, because when a black person kills a white person, no one questions whether a crime has been committed. It usually doesn’t take any public outcry or outside pressure for the police to do their jobs.

How come there’s no protests about black on black crime?

Well, there are, you just don’t know about them because they’re not in your neighborhood and you don’t read the St. Louis American (or, fill in your local black owned newspaper).

And the truth is, these people could probably come up with these answers themselves if they thought about racism more often than when a black kid gets murdered and the rally causes them to get stuck in traffic or not be able to find parking downtown.  

I’ll close with this: I don’t follow sports, so when a sports related story occasionally piques my interest (say, Michael Sams becoming the first openly gay player in the NFL) of course, I’ll have an opinion, but I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on football, since I know nothing about it. I don’t closely follow the conflict in Israel, so even in times like these, I don’t say much about it as my opinion is an uninformed one.

So, if you move through the world on a daily basis, blissfully ignorant of your own privilege and the reality of racism faced by people of color, don’t pretend to be an expert on race all of a sudden, just because that QuikTrip on West Florissant was a really convenient place to fill up on your morning commute. 

Thursday
Aug072014

From The Web: It’s Time to Rethink Monogamy

Screw the Fairy Tale, It’s Time to Rethink Monogamy

The current model of lifelong, cohabiting monogamous partnership has never been such an outdated ideal.

By Helen Croydon April 24th, 2014

Friday
Jun132014

We've Never Redefined Marriage... Except When We Did

Yo' dawg, I heard you like marriage equality... Photo by Adam Bouska - www.noh8campaign.com

“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”

Justice Leon M. Bazile, Virginia, 1959

Forty-seven years ago this week, in a unanimous decision, the US Supreme Court made it legal for interracial couples to marry in all of the fifty states.

Forty-seven years ago, or seven years before I was born.

Apollo 11 launched in the summer of 1969, so to put it another way, in 1967, in a country that was just two years away from putting a man on the moon, you could still be sent to prison for being in an interracial relationship.

Unlike the current state of same-sex marriage, where states that have not legalized it simply ignore marriages between gay couples that took place in other states, prior to the Loving v. Virginia decision, states where interracial marriage was illegal most definitely recognized interracial marriages that took place elesewhere. The Lovings’ marriage certificate was the smoking gun in the state’s criminal case against them.

I’m black and my girlfriend is white. It blows my mind that seven years before I was born, we could have been sent to prison for the crime of falling in love with each other.

Next week I’ll be officiating my first wedding. It will be a marriage between two men. If you’re reading this, you probably agree with me, but there is simply no credible argument against gay marriage. None. I’ve been listening intently for one my entire adult life and I haven’t heard it yet. Anyone who says that opposing marriage equality is about not redefining traditional marriage is either a liar or ignorant of history. And being ignorant of history that’s younger (or not much older) than you are is a special kind of ignorant.

Perhaps an institution with a fifty percent failure rate should be redefined, as it has been several times over the years (from its roots in this country as a transfer of female property from a white father to his white son-in-law) to accommodate the expansion of freedom to slaves, women and ethnic minorities.  

In a non-legal sense, I hope that everyone who gets married “redefines” marriage on their own terms. Why should anyone outside of the relationship dictate what the relationship should be? Have the relationship you want. Marry the person you want. Fuck the haters. Fuck ‘em in the ear. 

Tuesday
May272014

Single-Breasted Swimsuits, Topless Equality & Body Image

 

[Author’s Note: This blog started out as a quick shout-out to the folks behind Monokini, a line of single-breasted swimsuits, but has since morphed into a rant about topless equality, gender identity and body image. Just watch my feet for a minute, I promise there’s a point to all this.]

Monokini is social art project that designs swimwear collections for single mastectomy survivors who have elected to forego breast augmentation surgery. It’s also the thing that currently restores my faith in humanity.

I love this for two reasons. I have several friends who are breast cancer survivors, some have had mastectomies, some haven’t. Of those who have, some have elected to get breast implants, some haven’t. I think it’s pretty awesome that this project highlights the fact that there is a choice and it’s really the decision of the survivor (and, I suppose, her doctor, I know nothing about the medical ramications of these things).

The second, somewhat stranger, reason is that mastectomy survivors who forego implants call attention to how ridiculous it is that in so many parts of the country, it’s illegal for women to be topless in public. It begs the question, what part of the female breast is so offensive? The nipple? Men have nipples, but we can be topless in public. Is it the amount breast tissue? What about flat chested women and amply breasted men? And, if that were the case, why is it legal for women to be basically topless if their nipples are covered? It makes no sense. I think what the powers-that-be find offensive about the female breast is that they are attached to women.

To see how silly this can get, contrast the cases of Jodi Jaecks and Andrea Jones. In 2012 Jodi Jaecks was temporarily banned from swimming topless in a public pool in Seattle, despite having had a double mastectomy and electing not to get breast implants.

Jodi Jaecks photo by Kelly O./The Stranger

In 2011, Andrea Jones, a transgender woman living in Tennessee, was arrested for indecent exposure after walking out of the Department of Motor Vehicles topless. She was protesting the fact that the DMV refused to change the gender on her driver’s license from male to female. Her argument being that the state couldn’t treat her as both a man and a woman, and if she was legally male, she should be able to walk outside without a shirt on.    

Two women, one with neither breasts nor nipples, the other born biologically male and still treated as such by her state, both sanctioned for doing what cisgender men do all the time: being topless in public. It makes no sense to me.

Andrea Jones - Photo from WATE-TV

 

On a brighter note, photo below comes from bodybuilder turned body image activist, Taryn Brumfitt at bodyimagemovement.com.au. It’s part of a blog titled “The best reason to get naked in front of a thousand people!” and it tells the story of two total strangers, both mastectomy survivors, who met  and bonded at the world’s largest naked swimming event.

 From bodyimagemovement.com.au

Taryn is also running a Kickstarter campaign to fund a body positive documentary called “Embrace” and you should definitely support it by going here


Friday
May232014

HuffPo Falls for Naked CrossFit Hoax

This year as an April Fools’ Day prank, Spartan Mentality Gym in Denmark announced it was offering Nude CrossFit sessions. They even provided photos showing some rather bicepsual gentlemen working out at the gym completely naked.

Well, almost two months later, and outside the context of April Fools’ when our bullshit detectors are highly active, a website called the Gaily Grind re-ran the photos and presented the nude CrossFit gym as a real thing. That was enough for the titans of fact checking at the Huffington Post to pick up the story. Now the internet is buzzing as the nude CrossFit gym story makes the rounds on the blogs and even YouTube, with almost everyone presenting it as a real thing.

Thankfully, the Copenhagen Post actually contacted the gym to confirm that it was in fact just an April Fools’ joke and no one from their staff had been contacted by the Gaily Grind.

I think the moral to the story is that a great opportunity is going to waste. I don’t do CrossFit myself (I prefer my workouts with a lower risk of inducing nausea, incontinence and kidney failure), but it seems someone should step up and fill this void in the market place.

Until then, there’s always Ami Amore’s Clothing Optional Yoga class