Hate Mail Targets Inwood Restaurants

July 31, 2009 § 4 Comments

I heard a story on NPR this morning about several Latino-owned businesses in Inwood — many that my friends and I frequent — receiving hateful letters, to the tune of “vermin pigeons,” “speak English,” “stop wrecking my U.S.A.,” and “step down Sotomayor.”

Fernando Mateo, of Hispanics Across America, claims the restaurants have been receiving the letters every couple of months, and he believes owners fear the hateful words might soon turn into violence.

“That somebody may come with a machine gun and shoot-up the area, shoot-up the patrons, you know?” Mateo said. “We don’t want to wait until it escalates into gunfire.”

Jesus Hernandez also owns a restaurant in the area – Mama Sushi. He came to the US from the Dominican Republic at age 14, and worked hard to be able to open his own business seven years later.

Mama Sushi opened eight months ago, and Hernandez said he cannot understand who is targeting his store and the other businesses on the block.

“I don’t have just Latin people coming here,” Hernandez said. “I have black, I have white I have all kinds of people as customers so I can’t point out anybody who would do such a thing.”

Mateo said he will be turning some of the letters over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation Thursday for analysis. He has also been in contact with the Department of Justice for Human Rights about the threats.

Obviously I know on an intellectual level that this shit happens all the time, but it’s something completely new to think of hate-motivated violence happening on streets where I walk. Altogether terrible, especially on a community level.

Labels

July 13, 2009 § 6 Comments

I’m interested in language, as you might have noticed from my last post on pro-life/anti-choice semantics. You may remember that I have a little series called Language Matters, where I discuss the significance of language in culture, politics, and progress. (Keep in mind that the word “series” is used loosely here, since I’ve only written two posts.) Anyway, this here post can be filed under that category: I want to talk about womanism and feminism.

When I first discovered feminism and came out of the feminist closet, I was amazed and excited by what I naively thought was a perfect, completely inclusive movement. This is probably because I’m very privileged, as women go — cis, currently able, thin, middle-class, white — and my first introductions to contemporary feminism were authored by women within similar demographics. I thought, “Wow! A place where I can totally be myself, and be accepted and respected for my identity!” — and took for granted that all people would feel as comfortable as I did.

So yeah, I’m a bit older and wiser now, have read a bit (though not as much as I need to) about trans people and people with disabilities and people of color’s views on today’s feminism: that it is actually pretty darn exclusive a lot of the time.

I want your insight on how we can acknowledge the ways The Feminist Movement has and continues to fuck up, while still identifying with its goals. Specifically, I’m wondering how I, a white woman, can acknowledge the dire need for womanism without stepping on the toes of women activists of color.

From a Womanist Musings interview with Loryn of Black Girl Blogging:

What is your definition of womanism and do you feel that this applies to all across the board?

To me, womanism brings together the importance of men and family to the struggle for gender equality and the experience of women of color that cuts across class, race and gender lines. While I believe that womanism speaks particularly to the black female experience, it is important for men and women of all races to embrace the principles of womanism.

How would you say that womanism differs from feminism and why is it important to you to identify as a womanist rather than a feminist?

Womanism differs from feminism in that it takes account for the experience of women of color. Feminism has been painted as the movement of white middle class women and has excluded women of color and poor women for a long time. It is important to me to identify as a womanist because it means a greater devotion to causes that effect women of color like myself.

In my bio, I identify as a pro-womanist feminist, but I’m shaky on this. I think that it would be inappropriate, as a white woman, to call myself a womanist as one step towards acknowledging the experiences of WOC, and towards acknowledging feminism’s wrongdoings, as such identification infringes upon the right of WOC to have your own label (Melissa McEwan brings this up in the interview comment thread, followed by insight from Renee and Loryn — not sure how to link directly to the comment, but it’s about the fifth one down).

One question, for commenters of all demographics, with particular emphasis on WOC/self-identified womanists: is it fair to call myself a pro-womanist feminist, as a move towards accomplishing these goals? If not, how else can I humbly and respectfully identify myself?

(Sorry if this post is winding and seems to lack purpose. This is a tricky issue, one that’s been marinating in my mind for a while, but I really think dialogue is needed.)

Cross-posted at Feministe.

Quotes That Are Deeply Disturbing: Nixon on Abortion

June 24, 2009 § 1 Comment

“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white. Or a rape.

– President Richard M. Nixon on January 23, 1973

Facebook Racism

June 3, 2009 § 4 Comments

This just popped up on my Facebook news feed:

Your friend —– took the What kind of ethnicity should you be dating? quiz and the result is Asian. Chicken Chow Yummy, you just can’t resist those cute little eyes and adorable personalities, can you? =)

Yikes. Chicken chow yummy, for real? Serious racial insensitivity, playing on the stereotype that all Asians have small eyes and are shy and submissive. But there’s also the larger problem of perpetuating the idea that taking a five-question multiple choice online quiz will tell you anything of substance about your sexual, romantic, and interpersonal attractions — and that all people of a certain race are essentially the same.

I guess I shouldn’t be shocked, unfortunately. Facebook has a lot of jackass gaffes — the “breastfeeding is obscene” trash comes to mind, as well as obnoxious ads.

Celebrity Disappointment: Matthew Perry Edition

April 17, 2009 § 2 Comments

SKM at Shakesville tips us off to what she aptly calls Perry’s “entitled white dude humor.” In this particular instance – an appearance on Letterman – it comes in two flavors: joking about stalking Lisa Kudrow, and joking that he can’t tell M. Night Shyamalan apart from all other Indian men. HAHAHA!

I worshipped every cast member of Friends throughout my childhood; I own all ten seasons and have been known to quote on command. I’m now aware that the rosy, whitewashed lives of the Central Perk crew are saturated with privilege, and that breaks young Miranda’s heart. Perry’s jokes only disappoint me further.

Previously in Celebrity Disappointment: Amy Sedaris; Kenan Thompson.

My new favorite thing

April 3, 2009 § Leave a comment

Is the hilarious (and heartbreakingly realistic) Derailing For Dummies website.

Just follow this step-by-step guide to Conversing with Marginalised People™ and in no time at all you will have a fool-proof method of derailing every challenging conversation you may get into, thus reaping the full benefits of every privilege that you have.

JUST what I’ve been looking for. Amen. My personal favorite piece of advice is You’re Being Overemotional, a derailing method that’s been used on me just seven trillion too many times. Angry about that rape joke I just made? You must be on your period, Miranda. Lighten up.

The author touches on a particular point that’s been dominating my thoughts recently…

The best part is, you don’t even have to be a white, heterosexual, cisgendered, cissexual, upper-class male to enjoy the full benefits of derailing conversation! Nope, you can utilise the lesser-recognised tactic of Horizontal Hostility to make sure that, despite being a member of a Marginalised Group™ yourself, you can exercise a privilege another Marginalised Group™ doesn’t have in order not to heed their experience!

We’ve been talking about this issue in my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance for a few weeks; big post on that in the works. I’m continually fascinated by the shortcomings of progressive movements – like the historical failure of the mainstream feminist movement to include anyone but elite white women and what the queer justice crowd is willing to get loud about (hint: yes to Prop 8, no to the horrifyingly commonplace murders of trans women of color).  It is profoundly disappointing when marginalized groups act oppressively towards other groups. Call me idealistic – I am idealistic.

Dressed in White: The Media’s Assault on Black Women’s Humanity

March 28, 2009 § 2 Comments

I wrote this thesis paper on the media’s sexist and racist objectification of Black women for my Junior Inquiry research class last semester. It’s 12 pages of what I hope is feminist and anti-racist empowerment so please continue reading below the fold if you’re interested. Enjoy!

« Read the rest of this entry »

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