As a survivor of campus sexual assault, and as someone who became a feminist and an activist after my own experience of institutional apathy towards my attacks, I feel conflicted. I am so glad that this serious issue is getting more attention, but I am increasingly frustrated and almost scared by the lack of diversity that I see in the survivors receiving national media attention. As I look at photos and watch the media appearances of these resilient, brave survivors I can’t help to feel invisible. I browse a network of campus rape survivors who are working to combat institutional apathy towards rape victims and struggle to find other women of color who are like me.
Why does the representation of survivors in the media matter? Validation of black women of survivors would go against the jezebel stereotype that, in fact, black women are not all sexually insatiable creatures and can be raped. It would challenge attitudes that black women are more to blame for being survivors of sexual and domestic violence and that being raped is just as serious as if they were any other color. An important message that media attention on rape survivors means that “you matter.” Do not other survivors — whether they are men, of color, poor, LGBTQ, gender non-conforming matter, too?
What has contributed to young white women being the face of rape survivors in media? I do not know. It may be a reflection of our culture to be more sympathetic to white female survivors as talking about rape and rape culture in mainstream media becomes more prevalent (a sort of extension of “missing white woman syndrome”). It could be general distrust or fear of the mainstream media to properly tell our stories. Or maybe no one wants to listen. When I first was trying to get attention to my story, I remember reporters, producers, and magazines alike asking me to rehash the painful details of my story only to pick to feature other survivors: all of them pretty, female, and white.
[The top photo is of Cassie Robinson. She is wearing earrings and her hair is loose around her face. There is a speech bubble by her mouth that says ‘I’m an attractive, interesting character and I’m the first woman in the series Dean admitted he loved. What do you mean I won’t come back?
The bottom photo is of Missouri Mosely. She’s giving Cassie a look. She is wearing a green sweater and a pink top. The speech bubble next to her mouth reads ‘Girl, they put you in an episode with a racist truck. The never once mentioned Jim Crow, despite the episode being about that. It doesn’t take a psychic to tell you you ain’t coming back.]
Missouri has a distinctive voice, which I intended to render here. Hopefully I did a good job. Was anyone else disappointed these two lovely ladies never came back?
I want to start off by saying thank you. I appreciate the time you took to reach out to me, because I know you’re incredibly busy. I know there are much more important people in this world than myself, so I appreciate you engaging in dialogue with me and my colleague Kelleigh Driscoll.
This all started because on Twitter, I addressed some issues that I had with V-Day, your organization, and the way it treated Indigenous women in Canada. I said that you are racist and dismissive of Indigenous people. You wrote to me that you were upset that I would suggest this, and not even 24 hours later you were on the Joy Behar Show referring to your chemotherapy treatment as a “Shamanistic experience.”
Your organization took a photo of Ashley Callingbull, and used it to promote V-Day Canada and One Billion Rising, without her consent. You then wrote the word “vanishing” on the photo, and implied that Indigenous women are disappearing, and inherently suggested that we are in some type of dire need of your saving. You then said that Indigenous women were V-Day Canada’s “spotlight”. V-Day completely ignored the fact that February 14th is an iconic day for Indigenous women in Canada, and marches, vigils, and rallies had already been happening for decades to honor the missing and murdered Indigenous women. You repeatedly in our conversation insisted that you had absolutely no idea that these events were already taking place. So then, what were you spotlighting? When Kelleigh brought up that it was problematic for you to be completely unaware that this date is important to the women you’re spotlighting, your managing director Cecile Lipworth became extremely defensive and responded with “Well, every date on the Calendar has importance.” This is not an acceptable response.
When women in Canada brought up these exact issues, V-Day responded to them by deleting the comment threads that were on Facebook. For a person and organization who works to end violence against women, this is certainly the opposite of that. Although I’m specifically addressing V-Day, this is not an isolated incident. This is something that Indigenous women constantly face. This erasure of identity and white, colonial, feminism is in fact, a form of violence against us. The exploitation and cultural appropriation creates and excuses the violence done to us.
When I told you that your white, colonial, feminism is hurting us, you started crying. Eve, you are not the victim here. This is also part of the pattern which is a problem: Indigenous women are constantly trying to explain all of these issues, and are constantly met with “Why are you attacking me?!” This is not being a good ally.
You asked me what would it mean to be a good ally. It would have meant stepping back, giving up the V-Day platform, and attending the marches and vigils. It would have meant putting aside the One Billion Rising privilege and participating in what the Indigenous women felt was important.
At the end of our conversation you offered me the opportunity to join V-Day. Offered me money. Offered me to become a spokesperson for Native American women. These are things I am not interested in. I do not want to be part of the white savior industrial complex, and I never want to duplicate saviorism and colonialism within my own organization, Save Wiyabi Project, and I’m surely not interested in selling my soul and integrity for a bit of cash and perceived prestige.
I’m not here to speak for Ashley and how she felt about her photo being used, and I’m not here to speak for the Indigenous women in Canada. Indigenous women in the United States and Canada have agency, self determination, and are quite capable of telling their own stories, and have been doing so for thousands of years. We are aware of the violence we face, and are also aware this just isn’t about individual acts of violence. We expect not only our bodies, but our agency, work, and contributions to be respected. None of this is new, and we do not need a white person to legitimize our history and existence.
I entered this conversation with uneasy feelings about V-Day and your work, and left feeling completely dismissed – much like the Indigenous women in Canada. You might have been listening to what I was saying, but you definitely didn’t hear me. You dumped all of my concerns onto someone else and did not take personal responsibility for anything. Eve, this is YOUR organization. My hope is that you do some self examination about what’s happening here. You have to see this before you continue doing this work because this is epistemic and imperial violence. Your actions are assisting violence, not ending it.
Screenshot of an image that Middle Tennessee Commissioner Barry West posted on Facebook.
He responded in an email to The Tennessean: “No I did not Twitter this… no I did not create this picture … yes I shared it … so why am I being singled out?”
How come every politician in this state is such a fucking asshole? Is there something in the water?
You’ve GOT TO BE SHITTING ME
I love how these motherfucking bigots always jump straight to playing victim when called out on their bullshit, “WHY AM I BEING SINGLED OUT???”
Maybe because you’re a public official and you’re making a joke about shooting someone because of their religion? Just maybe?
I’m always confused when someone’s defense is “I didn’t make it/say it, I just posted/reblogged/quoted it!” So you tacitly endorsed its message but you don’t get why people are mad at you for it? And then throw in that you’re a congressman and under a bit more scrutiny than your average ignorant Islamophobe? Take some fucking responsibility.
The first thing you really need to understand is that the definition of racism that you probably have (which is the colloquial definition: “racism is prejudice against someone based on their skin color or ethnicity”) is NOT the definition that’s commonly used in anti-racist circles.
The definition used in anti-racist circles is the accepted sociological definition (which is commonly used in academic research, and has been used for more than a decade now): “racism is prejudice plus power”. What this means, in easy language:
A. Anyone can hold “racial prejudice” — that is, they can carry positive or negative stereotypes of others based on racial characteristics. For example, a white person thinking all Asians are smart, or all black people are criminals; or a Chinese person thinking Japanese people are untrustworthy; or what-have-you. ANYONE, of any race, can have racial prejudices.
B. People of any race can commit acts of violence, mistreatment, ostracizing, etc., based on their racial prejudices. A black kid can beat up a white kid because he doesn’t like white kids. An Indian person can refuse to associate with Asians. Whatever, you get the idea.
C. However, to be racist(rather than simply prejudiced) requires havinginstitutional power. In North America, white people have the institutional power. In large part we head the corporations; we make up the largest proportion of lawmakers and judges; we have the money; we make the decisions. In short, we control the systems that matter. “White” is presented as normal, the default. Because we have institutional power, when we think differently about people based on their race or act on our racial prejudices, we are being racist. Only white people can be racist, because only white people have institutional power.
D. People of color can be prejudiced, but they cannot be racist, because they don’t have the institutional power. (However, some people refer to intra-PoC prejudice as “lateral racism”. You may also hear the term “colorism”, which refers to lighter-skinned PoC being prejudiced toward darker-skinned PoC.) However, that situation can be different in other countries; for example, a Japanese person in Japan can be racist against others, because the Japanese have the institutional power there. But in North America, Japanese peoplecan’t be racist because they don’t hold the institutional power.
E. If you’re in an area of your city/state/province that is predominantly populated by PoC and, as a white person, you get harassed because of your skin color, it’s still not racism, even though you’re in a PoC-dominated area. The fact is, even though they’re the majority population in that area, they still lack the institutional power. They don’t have their own special PoC-dominated police force for that area. They don’t have their own special PoC-dominated courts in that area. The state/province and national media are still not dominated by PoC. Even though they have a large population in that particular area, they still lack the institutional power overall.
F. So that’s the definition of racism that you’re likely to encounter. If you start talking about “reverse racism” you’re going to either get insulted or laughed at, because it isn’t possible under that definition; PoC don’t have the power in North America, so by definition, they can’t be racist. Crying “reverse racism!” is like waving a Clueless White Person Badge around.
If you subscribe to the idea that Katniss is a woman of color then that means Gale is a man of color. And that means that the way this fandom at large deals with him is gross. He’s a man of color who’s fighting for the rights and freedom of his people, for fuck’s sake. To hear some people talk, you’d think he was the villain of the text.
If you don’t like him, then don’t like him, that’s fine. But being a person of color goes both ways. Maybe no one else in fandom cares about men of color who want the revolution to begin but I do.
In 2009, two doctors, Sharon Hayes and Stacey Tantleff-Dunn, did a study on animated characters and young girls’ self-image. After watching clips of cartoon characters who were princesses, the participants were asked what made a “real princess.” The results might be different from what you would expect: these girls, around the ages of six and seven, generally did not report having a desire to be thinner after studying and watching the narrow-waisted princesses. Instead, when asked how they could become a princess, many of the girls reported that they would need to change their skin color. They responded with things like “I’d paint myself white” and “I would change from brown skin to white skin.
Kathryn Joyce tells Dave Davies about the different understandings of the word “adoption” in different cultures:
The U.S. — the American — understanding of what adoption means is not universal. This is not the same idea or tradition that people have in other countries. There is a sort of adoption tradition in Ethiopia, but it’s more like a guardianship: Your children are going somewhere for a time for a better opportunity and they will probably return, but there is never a severing of family ties which, in American adoption, that is kind of the cornerstone of the entire process is that this is a complete transferal of parental rights from one family to another and that does not exist in other countries.
Don’t Know Much About Asian American History? Books for Children
In 1992, Congress proclaimed the month of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. And what better time to teach your kids about the history of Asians in the United States? Perhaps you’ve shared with your children how you or your family members came to America, but this is also a great opportunity to learn about the experiences of other Asians in the United States.
I’ve reviewed plenty of Asian children’s books before, but I’m especially excited about this list, because these are all titles that focus on the rich and varied history of Asians in America. Here are some picture books that feature experiences of immigration, forging an identity, and key points in history. Because these subjects are rarely taught in class. Think of it as Asian American Studies for the elementary school set.
Kai’s Journey to Gold Mountain: An Angel Island Story by Katrina Saltonstall Currier is a book I first saw while visiting Angel Island. In case you’re not familiar with it, Angel Island, in the San Francisco Bay, was the Ellis Island of the West. During the 19th and early 20th century, immigrants from China, Japan, Korea and the Phillippines were detained in barracks, often for long and unpredictable lengths of time. Twelve-year old Kai is one of those new arrivals, who must wait to be released so he can join his father on “Gold Mountain”.
Coolies by Yin and illustrated by Chris Sontpiet tells the story of Shek and Little Wong, who arrive in California to build the transcontinental railroad. Inspired by actual events, this story reveals the harsh truth about life for the Chinese railroad workers in 1865, while celebrating their perseverance and bravery. The author and illustrator also teamed up to create Brothers, a story about a friendship between Ming, a boy in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and his Irish neighbor, Patrick.
Where the Sunflowers Grow by Amy Lee-Tai and illustrated by Felicia Hoshino is a recommendation from my friend Elisa Koff-Ginsborg. The book tells the story of Mari, who — along with thousands of other Japanese Americans– has been forced to move to the Topaz internment camp during World War II. An art class and a kindly teacher offer a ray of hope amidst these unjust circumstances.
Baseball Saved Us by Ken Mochizuki and illustrated by Dom Lee is another title about the Japanese American internment experience. The main character is a small Japanese American boy who dislikes baseball because he is often teased as he plays with his white peers. Life is even harsher at the camp, with tempers flaring in the tight quarters. However, a makeshift baseball game at Whether your kids are sports nuts or benchwarmers, they will probably find the baseball aspect of this story something they can relate to.
Going Home, Coming Home by Truong Tran, illustrated by Ann Phong is described by Terry Hong of Smithsonian BookDragon as “A poignant, lovely bilingual tale about a little girl who visits her ancestral home in Vietnam and realizes that she can be both Vietnamese and American, with a home here and a home there.”
Chachaji’s Cup by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Soumya Sitaraman is also a BookDragon pick. “A young boy’s special relationship with Chachaji, his father’s old uncle, teaches him important lessons about family bonds and his rich Indian heritage,” writes Hong. This book was also made into a stage performance in 2010 that featured Bollywood and sitar music and a multicultural cast.
Apple Pie Fourth of July by Janet S. Wong and illustrated by Margaret Chodos-Irvine is a more contemporary story that deals with an issue that many children of immigrants can relate to: food shame. The main character is embarrassed that her family is cooking Chinese food to serve in their shop, even though it is Independence Day. Of course, there is a delicious twist to the story.
The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi portrays a dilemma all too familiar to immigrant youth — whether or not to trade in a foreign sounding name for an American one. Unhei must make this decision after she moves from Korea to New York, and her new classmates attempt to help her by filling a jar full of potential monikers.
Do you have any recommendations?
For more recommendations, including chapter books and Young Adult literature, my favorite Taiwanese American author Grace Lin has a Asian-Pacific Heritage Month Booklist on PBS Parents.
A Jar of Dreams by Yoshiko Uchida- Rinko is an eleven-year-old Japanese American girl growing up in Oakland during the Depression. Her family deals with blatant racism from their white neighbors and Rinko herself struggles with a lot of internalized hatred, but a visit from her Aunt Wada helps her come to terms and make peace with her cultural identity.
Journey Home, also by Yoshiko Uchida, chronicles the story of twelve-year-old Yuki and her family after they leave Topaz, an internment camp in the middle of the Utah desert, towards the end of WWII. Yuki is a daydreamer who often writes letters in her head to her friends still in the camp as well as her brother Ken, who is off fighting in Europe. Despite terrible acts of racism against them, the family still manages to find hope in their friends and neighbors.
I also really like Good Luck Ivy!. Historical only in that it takes place during the 70’s, but it’s a fun and lighthearted story. From Amazon: Ivy Ling feels unlucky. Her best friend, Julie Albright, has moved away, her mom is super busy with law school, and Ivy has to go to Chinese school every Saturday. Worst of all, Ivy learns that the annual Ling family reunion is scheduled for the same day as the All-City gymnastics tournament, for which Ivy has been practicing for months. When Ivy’s parents tell her she has to decide which event to attend, she despairs—how can she please both her gymnastics coach and her family? Gradually Ivy realizes that she can make her own luck—and make a decision that’s right for her.
♥ Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials;
♥ Margaret Atwood (especially the Mad Adam series & The Handmaid's Tale);
♥ The Hunger Games;
♥ The X-Files;
♥ (Mostly) everything Joss Whedon; and
♥ Unicorns, narwhals, time travel & zombies (not necessarily in that order).
Also, I'd rather pretend that season 6 of Lost never happened, and that Alias ended with the 2003 Superbowl episode.