Black Women: Black or Female?

January 21, 2008

CNN.com has an article by reporter Randi Kaye about the difficult choices facing African American female voters in South Carolina. The premise is who will black women vote for? Will they vote their race or their gender. Read the Article Here.

I think that is a degrading oversimplification about a group of people.  While I highly doubt Randi Kaye is a sexist (Randi is a women) or a racist (she has had wonderful coverage of Katrina and other potential race issues).  The article smacks of racism and sexism.  I expected to read the name of some 65 year old white man on the by line.

Black women are both black and female.  It is not trading on either to vote for the candidate of one’s choice.  The article does not acknowledge until 3/4 of the way through, and only then with one sentence, that black women are capable of voting on the issues.

The tone of the article just didn’t sit right with me.  It takes a serious topic (and a serious portion of the voters in South Carolina) and trivializes it into black and female stereotypes.

At Anjay’s Salon in Charleston, the only thing louder than the hair dryer is the chorus of political opinions.

Salons are a target for the campaigns — across the state they have turned into caucuses of sorts. They’re where women gather and gossip.

Why is it when women are gathered talking about politics a reporter has the nerve to call it gossip.

For these women, a unique, and most unexpected dilemma, presents itself: Should they vote their race, or should they vote their gender?  No other voting bloc in the country faces this choice.

Race and gender are not the two separate halves that compose black women.  I think if a black women is torn between the two candidates over race or gender, it is about race and gender issues.  There is a difference between voting for Clinton, as a woman, because you believe she will more vehemently right for reproductive rights, and voting for her because she is a woman and you think it is neat to have female president.

It could just be me reading too much into the article.  But I think a few revisions, better selection of quotes, and a little more caution in using stereotypes and this could have been  an actual piece of journalism.

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Apparently civil rights don’t include gays or women

October 24, 2007

Homosexuality is a sickness, just as are baby-rape or wanting to become head of General Motors. ~Eldridge Cleaver, “Notes on a Native Son,” Soul on Ice, 1968

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I recently came across this gem of a quote by Eldridge Cleaver and have begun to read Soul on Ice. I have not finished by any means, and as such will reserve final judgment until the end. But so far it has been possibly the oddest read of all times. It has insane range. It varies from brutally honest introspective analysis to preachy ivory tower judgments of others. It varies from oblivious and cocky to self aware and humble. It may be the most offensive thing I’ve ever read (that was not intended as hate speech) towards both women and gays. But at the same time he is very aware of his misogyny and understands his hatred is misdirected. He admits to raping multiple women and practice on girls from the ghetto. There are no direct references really, but it is well known he killed several people over the course of his life.

The book was extremely popular in the 60s, he was a revolutionary (literally and figuratively) and was considered a significant civil rights figure. But his idea of civil rights was extremely limited. He notoriously switched religions at his convenience and after each conversion was a fierce proponent of that religion and its accompanying doctrine. I think if he came forward in our politically correct world and tried to step up as a civil rights leader, he would be a laughing stock. An angry, violent ex con with a disposition towards sexism and homophobia telling us how the world should be equal. Equal for black men at least, all the while flip flopping on religion and trying to assist international revolutions.

As it is with all the crazies, I admire his passion. I am looking forward to finishing his book, and to researching him further. Maybe there is a movie!


Eugenics is apparently making a comeback

October 19, 2007

I love me some DNA, but I am not loving James Watson right now. The Nobel winning biologist most famous for his part in the discovery of DNA structure has hit some nerves across the country with his racist remarks.

LONDON, England (CNN) — Nobel laureate biologist James Watson was suspended Friday from his longtime post at a research laboratory and canceled his planned British book tour after controversial comments that black people are not as intelligent as white people. Watson, 79, an American who won the 1962 Nobel prize for his role in discovering the double-helix structure of DNA, apologized Thursday for his remarks — but not before London’s Science Museum canceled his talk there, planned for Friday evening.

The controversy began with an October 14 interview Watson gave to the Sunday Times, which quoted him saying he was “inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa” because “all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours, whereas all the testing says not really.” Watson also asserted there was no reason to believe different races separated by geography should have evolved identically, and he said that while he hoped everyone was equal, “people who have to deal with black employees find this is not true.” The biologist apologized “unreservedly” Thursday for his comments and said he was “mortified” by the words attributed to him.

Watson is no stranger to controversy; he has a history of saying offensive and often scientifically inaccurate statements:

In 1997, Britain’s Sunday Telegraph quoted Watson as saying that if a gene for homosexuality were isolated, women who find that their unborn child has the gene should be allowed to have an abortion. During a lecture tour in 2000, he suggested there might be links between skin color and sexual prowess and between a person’s weight and their level of ambition. And in a British TV documentary that aired in 2003, Watson suggested that stupidity was a genetic disease that should be treated.

I have a theory about his statements. My theory is that the old man in a racist homophobe who feels superior to most people and is now senile enough to say what he thinks in public. I mean theory in the scientific way, like the theory of evolution.


Disturbing Racial Statistics

September 27, 2007


A new government census report indicates that black and Latino people are more likely to live in a prison cell than a college dormitory. I think early education is the source of the problem. It is statistics like these, which contribute to racism.  People who fail to understand that some of this crime is the result of historical discrimination and lack of education assume there is an inherently criminal nature of minorities.  Here is the basics of the article:

More than three times as many black people live in prison cells as in college dorms, the government said in a report to be released Thursday. The ratio is only slightly better for Hispanics, at 2.7 inmates for every Latino in college housing. Among non-Hispanic whites, more than twice as many live in college housing as in prison or jail. The numbers, driven by men (men are 90% of the prison population), do not include college students who live off campus.

Black students are more likely to attend segregated schools with high concentrations of poverty, less qualified teachers, lower expectations and a less demanding curriculum, she said. Nearly 40 percent of inmates lack a high school diploma or the equivalent, according to the census data.

Blacks made up 41 percent of the nation’s 2 million prison and jail inmates in 2006. Non-Hispanic whites made up 37 percent and Hispanics made up 19 percent. About 9 percent of prison inmates were immigrants last year, up from about 4 percent in 1980. Immigrants made up about 13 percent of the total population in 2006. Non-Hispanic whites made up about 73 percent of the 2.3 million people living in college housing in 2006. Blacks made up about 12 percent, Asians about 7 percent and Hispanics about 6 percent.

Article


The Integral Immigrants

September 26, 2007

They’ve lived among us. Sold us goods, provided us with services, patronized our business, and boosted the economy in the process. While there is a negative association with immigrants in a lot of communities, some are finding out just how important immigrant populations can be. Although people are outwardly only talking about illegal immigrants (that way xenophobia can be justified since it is “not their foreignness, but rather that they are criminals”) a lot of the same resentments are echoed privately about legal immigrants.

I’ve never understood the reasoning. I believe that they should try to find more legal ways into the country, but I also think the US should provide more legal ways into the country. I agree there needs to be some way for them to contribute more in taxes to support the services they use like the schools and hospitals. But I also understand how important to our economy they have become. Many of the salons, restaurants, and other places I go, employ illegal immigrants in some way. Whether they are pumping my gas, planting flowers outside an apartment building, cleaning the movie theatre at night, or taking my dishes away at a restaurant, they are doing something. They are working, and working hard. And in my book that is what should make an American. Strong desires to work hard and get ahead in life are or should be core American values. But there are millions of Americans citizens in the United States who don’t work and don’t see a problem with that. In fact some of them probably are against immigrants who are willing to come here under dangerous circumstances and work in terrible conditions just to have the opportunity to see some American money. People will argue they steal jobs, long after sociologist proved for the millionth time that they aren’t taking the jobs you or I would work. And so what if they get educated and move up in the world or their children do? Isn’t that what America is about.

According to a NY Times article, people in a New Jersey town are finding out just how integral the immigrants have become. A little more than a year ago Riverside, NJ because the first town in Jersey to enact laws to penalize anyone who rents to or employs illegal immigrants. Hundreds of immigrants left the small town. People were initially happy as the noise, crowding and traffic decreased. But then the real consequences of such legislation began. The businesses that had large immigrant customer bases were destroyed. Hair salons, restaurants, and local shops started losing business so fast, many had to close. The economy is shriveling, and now the already strained budget needs to accommodate multiple lawsuits that arose in response the ordinance. Seeing what the ordinance was doing to the town, they were forced to rescind it. They were the first town in New Jersey to enact such legislation, but they are not the first whose economy forced them to rescind it.

I’ll leave you with a quote from their Mayor, “I don’t think people knew there would be such an economic burden. A lot of people did not look three years out.”

Article: Think Twice Xenaphobes


The Black Vote

September 26, 2007

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The Black Vote” is always an interesting campaign conversation piece. It gets brought up but nothing is ever really said. I think that is because truth be told politicians don’t care. The Democrats know they are going to get the black vote, or at least most of it. Republicans know they are not going to get the black vote, or at least not much of it. But maybe if the Republicans had stronger responses to national news stories involving discrimination, or feigned interest in struggle black communities in times of disaster, a history of backing civil rights, a tradition of trying to equalize laws not just throw young black men in jail, more people of color in political positions, more outward support of minority programs, family assistance programs, and affordable healthcare programs. But I guess if they had those things then they would be Democrats. All Republican bashing aside, one thing they do have that they should be able to pull more votes with is religion. Strong Christian leanings bode well with black voters. Republicans have no shame of mixing religion and government and using it to their advantage, so why not use it to court more minority votes.  Not that I want African Americans to vote for Republicans or anything like that, I want Republicans to respect minorities enough to at least court them. Most of the major Republican candidates opted out of the debates sponsored by Univision, NAACP, and the Urban League. What would one night have cost out of their campaigns?

Roland S. Martin a contributing writer for CNN had the following to say:

The GOP as a whole is completely scared of black voters, and the actions by the front-runners for the party’s 2008 nomination show they are continuing the same silly political games the party has played for years. Oh, don’t bother tossing out the appointments of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state by Bush. Yes, they are African-American. But I’m speaking of the party. Ever since Richard Nixon ran for the White House, the GOP has run on a “Southern Strategy,” meant to alienate blacks in an effort to garner white voters. They’ve worked the strategy to perfection. (Read the Rest)

I just figured it was something to think about. Obviously most minorities are not going to support a party who clearly doesn’t support them, but what I think the Republicans are missing is that there are a lot of white voters who wouldn’t support a party that ignores entire segments of the population based on their race.


So what is new in the gay world?

September 26, 2007

The I heart Brooklyn girls queer femme calendar is out (you can be femme and from brooklyn)

The gay world cup (that is soccer for you sissy non athletic boys) took place. (when the gays play)

A new study says gays have less visibility on TV in the last year, which to me seems super obvious. If you take will and grace off the air, which had enough gay for a life time, there will be a void. (where are the gays?)

There is serious scientific evidence that the Iranian president was wrong when he claimed Iran had no homosexuals, when in reality there was an Iranian in the International Mr. Gay Competition. (E! news can be serious)

This isn’t exactly new but I suggest you check it out. QueerSighted. It is my favorite gay interest blog. It alternates between need to know gay news, political arguments, the latest celebrity trash, gay history, and funny articles/videos. This week, the things that struck my interest included:

-A new online community for nerdy/techy gays, called DoorQ.com, is launching on Halloween. The gay nerd is a truly underserved community. It is somewhat assumed, that gay men are going to be sex obsessed disco boys who care about fashion, sex, and more sex. But in reality I know lots of down to earth nerdy gay boys. (Article)

-There is an interesting debate going back and forth between two contributors over the Hillary Clinton Advocate article. (One of the articles)

-And an article, that I find to be one of the most intelligent and relevant ever to be posted on a gay blog. The article praises the way the African American community approaches civil rights, and in particular the organization of protest over the Jena 6 events. It calls for the gay community to stop wasting its networking abilities on the next circuit party and focus on equality. Jena 6 Example