Marriage Equality

Yes, I am thrilled that marriage equality is now the law of the land (well, except for the numb nuts in Texas, apparently).
Marriage (patriarchal, property-oriented institution that it is) affords access to a realm of benefits (that shouldn't be associated only with marriage! - but I digress) and is recognized by society in very specific ways that are important to many.
BUT I wish for a day in which the least among us is given the most consideration. So no, I am not a curmudgeon for tempering my joy at this small step toward equality by acknowledging that there is ‪#‎MoreThanMarriage. Marriage equality doesn't meet the needs of queer homeless youth, for example (who are overrepresented in the homeless population). Workplace protections are lacking, the sheer amount of violence faced by trans women of color is daunting, the sexual abuse endured by trans women in detention is frightening. The whiteness and homonormativity of the movement for marriage equality steps on the backs of and silences those who are fighting to survive and be heard. There is more than the rainbow currently permits or promotes.
 
‪#‎BlackLivesMatter ‪#‎TransLivesMatter

TITLE HERE: Excuse of Protecting Religious Beliefs

Using the excuse of protecting religious beliefs and co-opting the language of anti-discrimination, state legislatures in South Dakota, Tennessee, and Kansas have introduced or passed bills that allow for businesses and public and private employees to deny services to gay folks and queer families. So a paramedic could deny services. A cop could decline to intervene in a domestic violence situation. This is akin to pharmacists being allowed to not fill prescriptions for contraceptives or supply Plan B because of their "sincerely held religious beliefs." Using religion as a shield to hide hate or to trump peoples' rights to safety, health, and control over their own bodies is a sickening, savvy tool of the right.

TITLE HERE: Parliament

The world's largest democracy delivered a stunning setback for millions of its own citizens. Just a few years ago, it was a proud day when the Delhi High Court overturned the holdover of British imperialism that was the law that criminalized homosexuality. Now, India's Supreme Court has decided to uphold the original law, and has recriminalized queer sexual relationships. A very sad day for queer folk in India and their allies around the world. So much of our identities are our romantic attractions, our loving relationships, and the partners we spend our lives with. Imagine the core of your very existence being considered unnatural and against the law.
 
It's up to parliament to fight this now. Here's hoping Indian legislators will do the right thing.

TITLE HERE: May Day

 

Happy May Day/International Workers Day to friends, family, and comrades around the world!

 

Interested in the history of today? It's comes out of protest and revolt -- part of a larger shared story that links movements that push against patriarchy, capitalism, systemic racism, and other forms of dominance and control. Check out this useful resource:  http://www.iww.org/history/library/misc/origins_of_mayday

TITLE HERE: Collaboration and Coalition Building

Collaboration and coalition building -- 2 keys to fighting back against structures of oppression! Communities of color often get pitted against one another, in a race to the bottom. But our histories are richer than the narrative we are fed.

http://hyphenmagazine.com/blog/2014/11/4/brief-history-political-collaborations-between-latinos-and-asians-america

TITLE HERE: Halloween Costumes Gone Wrong

Two of the most hateful Halloween costume ideas this year - White people mocking the shooting death of Trayvon Martin (in blackface) and dressing up like dead Asiana flight attendants. You deliberately chose to mock the tragic loss of life while simultaneously calling on the f'ed up history of blackface and yellowface?

Every year, people make bad decisions (racist, sexist, and classist) at Halloween. It's potentially easy to say these are isolated incidents, just stupid people making stupid choices. But they are actually not "isolated" or "outliers." They are indicative of a larger culture of systemic violence - physical, mental, and emotional - that continues to be perpetuated against marginalized populations every day. These incidents are the barometers of a culture in which rampant racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia guide decision-making and policy-making. Real impact on real people.

TITLE HERE: Casting

I am all about color blind casting in film and TV. UNLESS it was a real, live person that you are casting for - in which case, CAST SOMEONE FROM THAT RACE OR ETHNICITY (or at least something close). No, Mickey Rourke should not play Genghis Khan, the Mongol warrior and conqueror. Can you imagine anyone casting George Takei as Napoleon? NO. And hell no, White dude Ben Whishaw should not play Freddie Mercury, who was an Indian Parsi! Whiteness is not the prerequisite for universality. Whiteness is not a blank slate on which to write the experiences of others. Directors/producers, etc. would never cast an Asian American or African American to play real life White characters or historical figures. I know this has been written about before, but I just read about the casting of the Queen movie, and I am ranting. Particularly as I am married to a fair skinned, ethnically ambiguous desi man who happens to be a wonderful actor! smile emoticon

 

P.S. Not mad at the actors, who are just doing their jobs. Mad at the industry, mad at the decision-makers, and mad at White privilege.

TITLE HERE: Black Lives Matter - Intersectionality?

Police violence, use of excessive force, and profiling against Asian communities, particularly Southeast Asian and South Asian communities is well-documented. For so many communities, this is an intersectional issue around a variety of factors, including class, language, mental illness, community trauma, race, religion, and so much more.

Yet again, NO INDICTMENT from a grand jury. So we can't even question the decisions that led to throwing a flash bang grenade into a residence and permanently maiming a baby?

 

‪#‎BlackLivesMatter ‪#‎SolidarityMatters ‪#‎POCLivesMatter

TITLE HERE: Affirmative Action

 

In this season of graduation and celebration, the fight for access to higher education continues on many fronts. Asian Americans have been used a number of times as wedge tools in the debate on affirmative action. We are not wedges, we are not the "good minority," we should not be playing into the hands of white supremacy, and we should not be selling out our brothers and sisters in this struggle. In the face of some Chinese American groups who are trying to dismantle affirmative action, over 135 Asian American organizations have visibly and vocally come together to take a stand and say that we have a vested interest in supporting affirmative action, equal opportunity, and any and all tools to level the incredibly unequal playing field.

 

If you have questions about affirmative action or don't understand what it is or how it works, check out this fantastic resource:

http://asianamericancivilrights.org/letter-equal-opportunity-higher-educatio


 

TITLE HERE: Day of Remembrance, 2015

Today is Day of Remembrance, marking President Roosevelt's signing of Executive Order 9066. The internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans into US concentration camps is a stain on the collective memory of this country. The aftermath - trauma, racism, loss of jobs/homes, and more - after the JAs were released from the camps is still being dealt with, by multiple generations. Let us continue to fight battles against racism, prejudice, and hatred, here and abroad.

TITLE HERE: Whites More Supportive of Voter ID Laws When...

Whites are more supportive of voter ID laws when shown photos of black people voting

 

Absolutely fascinating research that shows clear evidence of bias and discrimination when it comes to support for voter ID laws (aka disenfranchising voter laws). Voter ID laws hurt SO many people -- and there is a clear agenda behind them. Many people know about the impact on minorities. But many don't know about the impact on women. If you changed your name when you got married and show up at the polls with an unaltered ID, you could be denied your right to vote. Elderly and don't have the types of ID required? Young and poor? Transgendered, with a name change that's not reflected on your ID? These are just some examples of communities affected by voter ID laws. Don't buy the hype -- if you really care about election fraud, work to get corporate interests out of campaign funding!

TITLE HERE: #BlackLivesMatter

There was video evidence. The police officer used a banned chokehold. The asthmatic murder victim repeatedly said, "I can't breathe." Police and paramedics apparently made no attempt to revive the victim. But NO INDICTMENT. This is the same city, years ago, that had the Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo cases. But this isn't about NYC. This is about the fact that this is a disease, this is endemic. That the police officer will never stand trial to face charges. That another life (a Black life, to be specific) is lost to the U.S. injustice system.

 

"A video shot by an onlooker and widely viewed on the Internet showed the 43-year-old Garner telling a group of police officers to leave him alone as they tried to arrest him.

 

Officer Pantaleo responded by wrapping his arm around Garner's neck in an apparent chokehold, which is banned under NYPD policy. The heavyset Garner, who had asthma, was heard repeatedly gasping, "I can't breathe!" A second video surfaced that showed police and paramedics appearing to make no effort to revive Garner while he lay motionless on the ground. He later died at a hospital." - Associated Press

 

And not that I should have to say it, but this is NOT about individual police officers. This is about the institution of law enforcement and the judicial system. Just like critiquing White supremacy (patriarchy; heteronormativity) is not about individual White people (men; heterosexuals), but rather, an oppressive system that some are subjugated to and others benefit from.

 

‪#‎BlackLivesMatter

TITLE HERE: #TortureReport

Senate report: We tortured prisoners, it didn't work, and we lied about it

The only thing I take exception to in this report is this sentence: "The torture was far more brutal than we thought." NO -- if you were paying attention, reading alternative media sources or first person accounts from torture survivors, or just listening at all, you knew that the U.S. government and its contractors were engaging in the most heinous forms of torture. And while this went to a new height during the Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld era, we cannot absolve President Obama. There are still black sites, Guantanamo is still open, there are still prisoners who have NEVER been charged with a crime, and torture is still happening. This is a stain on our collective conscience, as are the other injustices our system is perpetuating.

‪#‎TortureReport ‪#‎AccountabilityNow

TITLE HERE: Two words about Selma: MUST WATCH.

Two words about Selma: MUST WATCH.

More words: It is simply damn good. Over the course of the film, Sunil and I were gripped, in tears, laughing, fearful, and incredibly moved. This is a history that many of us have studied to varying degrees, but Ava DuVernay has done a TREMENDOUS job in creating a film that everybody should see. Unlike many biopics, the film focuses not only on a particular moment in MLK's life, but also a particular moment in a movement's progress. And that is fantastic for the viewer. Movements are never just one person -- and this film elegantly shows how many leaders, from the ground up, with different tactics and priorities, it takes to move a nation forward on the most fundamental rights. An important lesson then and now. We particularly appreciated the exploration of MLK's doubts and vulnerabilities -- and the scenes with Coretta Scott King were powerful. I was thrilled at the number of Black women leaders included in the story -- given that so many stories of movements and leaders excise the numerous contributions of women. Everything from the cinematography to the music to the acting were absolutely top-notch. If you can, see the film in the theater, as the visual impact is deep. Last thought -- for anyone who doesn't understand why the current gutting of the Voting Rights Act is an absolute moral travesty, get your movie tickets right now. The scene in which the SCLC leaders try to strategize about what angle of the voting rights fight to tackle lays bare the utter corruption and lies of post-Reconstruction America and the failures of enforcement of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

TITLE HERE: Caitlyn Jenner

I have always been for people being/becoming their true selves, so I am happy for Caitlyn Jenner as an individual, especially given the enormous amount of transphobia in the world. There will be a certain amount of visibility raised, as well as conversations about access, language, terminology, etc.. BUT there has been non-stop posting about the Vanity Fair cover in my feed since yesterday, and it raises a number of questions for me:

 

1) How have access to a huge amount of financial wealth, White privilege, and media reach shaped the Caitlyn Jenner story (whereas it is the lack of access to those three items that renders, for example, murdered trans* women of color as invisible)? Caitlyn Jenner's

choice to conform to traditional norms of cis-femininity in her look also play a part in this discussion.

 

2) How there is no discussion in any of the celebratory posts of Caitlyn's politics, which are shaped by access to those three items above, and how those same politics hurt many other marginalized communities. Grover Norquist praised Caitlyn, which sets off a 3 alarm fire in my mind! Neoliberals can be "comfortable" with Caitlyn - because even though she is a transwoman, she is a White, conservative Republican, wealthy woman -- whose stances and beliefs are antithetical to the causes of social justice.

 

Much of this celebration strikes me as similar to when people of color make it "big" or are a first. I get the desire, it's human. As a woman of color, I'm pumped when someone who looks like me or is from my community(ies) makes it big on TV or in politics. But, for example, folks like Clarence Thomas and Bobby Jindal hurt so many communities with their power and decisions. It's identity politics (and identity celebration) over a structural/systemic analysis. So my discomfort with much of the celebration is not about Caitlyn per se, but rather the nature of WHO gets to be the face of a community to the mainstream -- and how that plays into much larger issues of invisibility, class and race privilege, pandering to power, etc.

TITLE HERE: #IStandWithAhmed

1) #IStandwithAhmed for multiple reasons. The prolonged and illegal wars the US has waged (with the accompanying, fear-mongering rhetoric) creates the context for a skinny, Brown, 14 year old boy (who looks so similar to my brother in his first year of high school) to be betrayed by his teachers and his principal, and then handcuffed and arrested by police, because he was creative and built a CLOCK. Any other kid would have been praised. He was in a robotics club in middle school, like so many of my Mudders. He was excited about science. #SchoolingWhileBrownandMuslim

 

2) 12 jury members deliberate about whether or not a police officer used excessive force against a skinny, Brown, 57 year old Indian grandfather. The cop said he felt threatened enough to leg sweep and body slam this older man, leaving his partially and permanently paralyzed. If you haven't seen the video, it will make you sick. He could be anybody's thatha or dadaji or nanaji. He didn't speak English. Why did he get treated like this? Because a neighbor called in a complaint about a suspicious man walking through the neighborhood. Yes, because HE WAS TAKING A WALK. It's something people do. Seems straightforward that the cop would be found guilty, right? Nope. Mistrial. Apparently, the jury split along racial and gendered lines. The 10 White, male jurors wanted to acquit and the 2 Black, female jurors did not. I don't know any other way to interpret this, except that a jury of one's peers doesn't work -- if they don't consider you a peer. If you are the Other. #WalkingWhileBrown

 

3) On a more positive note, the internet wins sometimes: http://uproxx.com/webculture/2015/09/ahmed-mohmed-internet-reactions/5/

 

Always good to see people from all walks of life pushing back at the sheer idiocy, violence, and dehumanization perpetrated against so many communities.

TITLE HERE: Tamir

Sunil told me how the cops threw Tamir's 14 year old sister into the back of a police car, when she tried to run to her baby brother's aid, as he lay bleeding out on the ground. Nobody gave this little boy succor as he lay dying, after being shot in the stomach. An entire family traumatized, a little boy lost, and, yet again, no justice. I look at my little brown boy, with his curls and mischievous eyes, and my heart weeps for Tamir's mother -- and the countless other mothers and fathers who grieve for a child that will never return.

TITLE HERE: SOME FUQ'ed Up Micro-Aggressions

Stunning set of interactions at India Sweets and Spices just now. I don't normally post about the microaggressions that Sunil and I experience, but I got double the dose in a 15 minute shopping trip. So here we go.

I'm lookin' good and feeling fly today. Got on my skinny jeans, motorcycle jacket, calf length black boots, with my fire engine red Coach crossbody purse. Picking up pani puris and other goodies for New Year's Eve. A white lady in her late 30s or so looks at me, and says, "Do you work here?" To which I want to say, "What part of me looks like I'm at work in the Indian grocery store right now?" But instead, I simply answer, "No."

Normally I would just keep walking, but she didn't even have the grace to apologize. She just said, "Oh." So 5 minutes later, I find her in another part of the store (buying incense), and say, "I'm sure you didn't intend to, but your words were insulting to me. I just wanted to let you know." You would think that at this point she would look abashed and profusely say sorry. Nope. She says, "If you only knew me…". I didn't let her continue, because I saw red at that point. I said, "I don't know you, so I am simply sharing how your question to me landed." She sputtered. Then I wished her happy new year and walked on.

I moved onto the prepared foods area, to buy some samosas and pakoras. I'm just about to make my purchase, when a white man in his 50s walks in and comes up next to me at the counter. The first words out of his mouth to me are, "What a holy moment. Don't you feel more spiritual just being here?" No, dude, I'm at an Indian grocery and fast food store – not the temple or outside in nature. At that point, I didn't say anything, just smiled with a glazed look in my eyes, and walked out.

TITLE HERE: SB

I was watching the coverage of the San Bernardino mass shooting last night and my gut was churning. I'm thinking about the people who were murdered, and all those that are left behind. I'm thinking about gun violence and how this country is in the grip of an irrational fever, heavily funded by the NRA and fueled by xenophobia, politicians (and wannabe politicians), and hatred. And I'm thinking of the murders of the people at Planned Parenthood just last week, by a Christian extremist, but how no major Christian organization had to get on live TV to apologize for "one of their own" or to say that they "unequivocally condemn the act of violence," the way that the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) got on tv last night and felt forced to do that. I get it -- that's the power of Christonormativity and White privilege, in that they get to be judged as individuals, and brown people/Muslim people/Black people's actions represent all their people. And I am also terrified and furious at the backlash that's coming against Muslim people (that is fueled by the unending wars waged by the US and the nature of imperialism). That's a backlash that White people, in general, don't have to worry about -- the secondary wave of violence after the initial act. All this to say, I, like many of you, am grieving, angry, hurting, and afraid.