Yet another massacre has occurred in the historically war-torn region of the Southern United States – and so soon after the religious festival of Easter.
Brian McConkey, 27, a Christian fundamentalist militiaman living in the formerly occupied territory of Alabama, gunned down three men from an opposing tribe in the village square near Montgomery, the capitol, over a discussion that may have involved the rituals of the local football cult. In this region full of heavily-armed local warlords and radical Christian clerics, gun violence is part of the life of many.
Many of the militiamen here are ethnic Scots-Irish tribesmen, a famously indomitable mountain people who have killed civilized men – and each other – for centuries. It appears that the wars that started on the fields of Bannockburn and Stirling have come to America.
As the sun sets over the former Confederate States of America, one wonders – can peace ever come to this land?
Real shit tho
This is why I fight so hard on the issue of representation, and science is on my side. Not only does reading fiction increase general empathy and make study participants more likely to be helpful, it makes them more likely to identify with the characters depicted in the story, EVEN IF THEY ARE WIZARDS, WEREWOLVES, OR VAMPIRES.
Even if they are gigantic assholes. **cough *Loki* cough**
THIS is why the lack of representation of People of Color in Epic Fantasy is such a disturbing and important issue. THIS is why white people, fed on a steady diet of racism from every other fucking source, then turn to Twilight, and Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings, and comic books and resultant movies and fandoms, and can THEN IDENTIFY WITH FUCKING VOLDEMORT, OR LOKI, OR AN ABUSIVE VAMPIRE BOYFRIEND BETTER THAN THEY CAN WITH A PERSON OF COLOR.
Representation in media can help positively transform the lives of REAL people who live under REAL oppression in so many ways, and the lack of representation is yet another area in which the privileged have tools that generate empathy for them in the general population, and the vehicle through which marginalized people, especially people of color, are denied these tools.
Remember how so many of us don’t have this option because there IS NO POSITIVE REPRESENTATION OF US IN POPULAR CULTURE OR EASILY ACCESSIBLE MEDIA?
THIS ISN’T QUIBBLING.
THIS IS SO FUCKING IMPORTANT.
Fiction, especially the fantasy genre, is a means to fight the dehumanization of people who face relentless oppression every day.
For those not familiar with Joe Arpaio, he is the county sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. He keeps getting re-elected over and over again. These are some of the reasons why:
- Sheriff Joe Arpaio created the “tent city jail” to save Arizona from spending tens of millions of dollars on another expensive prison complex; inmates sleep in tents!
- He has jail meals down to 20 cents a serving and charges the inmates for them.
- He banned smoking and pornographic magazines in the jails, took away their weightlifting equipment and cut off all but “G” movies. He says, “They’re in jail to pay a debt to society, not to build muscles so they can assault innocent people when they leave.”
- He started chain gangs to use the inmates to do free work on county and city projects and save taxpayer’s money. Men work in pink “Clean(ing) and Sober” shirts. Their underwear is also pink!
- Then he started chain gangs for women so he wouldn’t get sued for discrimination.
- He took away cable TV until he found out there was a federal court order that required cable TV for jails. So he hooked up the cable TV again but only allows the Disney Channel and The Weather Channel. When asked why the weather channel, he replied, “So these morons will know how hot it’s gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs.”
- He cut off coffee because it has zero nutritional value and is therefore a waste of taxpayer money. When the inmates complained, he told them, “This isn’t the Ritz. If you don’t like it, don’t come back.”
- He also bought the Newt Gingrich lecture series on US history that he pipes into the jails. When asked by a reporter if he had any lecture series by a Democrat, he replied that a democratic lecture series that actually tells the truth for a change would be welcome and that it might even explain why 95% of the inmates were in his jails in the first place.
- With temperatures being even hotter than usual in Phoenix (116° F set a new record for June 2, 2009), the Associated Press reported that about 2,000 inmates living in a tent encampment surrounded by barbed wire at the Maricopa County Jail have been given permission to strip down to their government-issued pink boxer shorts. On that Wednesday, hundreds of men wearing pink boxer shorts were overheard chatting in the tents, where temperatures reached 128 degrees. “This is hell. It feels like we live in a furnace,” said Ernesto Gonzales, an inmate for 2 years with 10 more to go. “It’s inhumane.”
- Joe Arpaio, who makes his prisoners wear pink and eat bologna sandwiches, is not one bit sympathetic. “Criminals should be punished for their crimes, not live in luxury until it’s time for parole, only to go out and commit more crimes so they can come back in to live on taxpayers money and enjoy things many taxpayers can’t afford to have for themselves.”
- The same day he told all the inmates who were complaining of the heat in the tents: “It’s between 120 to 130 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents there too, and they have to walk all day in that sun, wearing full battle gear and getting shot at, and THEY have not committed any crimes, so shut your damned mouths!”
Sheriff Joe was just re-elected for the fourteenth time as Sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona.
God bless that man.
I voted for him and will gladly do it until he retires.
Wow we need more tough Americans like this!
This man is truly awesome! Why? Because he’s right! Prison is a punishment and should be treated as such. Honestly it’s common sense, if you don’t want to go to prison then don’t commit a crime! If all American prisons were like this, imagine how much lower our crime rate would be in this country. Nobody would want to live like this. All the more reason to walk the straight-and-narrow. Seriously, this guy gets my vote 100%. Makes me wish I lived in Arizona.
wait those are reasons people LIKE joe arpaio? what the fuck is wrong with each and every one of you disgusting human beings, like for real. seriously my mind is blown right now that people think any of these things are POSITIVE things.
Just for fun I googled “Arizona recidivism rate,” and oh look it has the sixth highest incarceration rate in the country and 83.8% of inmates have priors on their record.
One study came up that said it’s comparatively low, but A) it only counted people who were back in jail within three years, and B) it was only based on statistics from inmates released in 1999, even though Arizona’s prison population grew by 52% between 1995 and 2004 (Arpaio was first elected in 1992).
I… what? I don’t understand people.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way: Yes he was. By today’s standards, based on descriptions from people who met him, if you were shown a photograph of the real Beethoven and then asked to guess his race, I guarantee you 99% would say “black.” It’s a shame photography wasn’t really a thing back then. From a privilege standpoint, even if his ancestors had never set foot in Africa from the second the first humans branched out into other continents, his contemporaries often mistook him for being a member of the Moor society (anyone who tells you the Moors “weren’t black, they were more like Arabs” probably makes the same false assumption of the Ancient Egyptians). In all likelihood, he had a fair amount of African ancestry based not only on his general description, but because of the fact that his family came from Spanish-occupied Belgium when a large number of Spain’s occupying forces in that area were descended from the Moors. But yes, if Beethoven were alive today, ancestry aside, he would be treated as a black man by society.
However, this post isn’t intended to convince you he definitely had African ancestry. Short of going back in time, swiping a DNA sample, and testing it against other people from the region, there’s no way of actually proving that, especially given how badly-kept, apocryphal, and easily-revised ancestral records were at that time.
This post is meant to ask the question “Why not?” The only arguments that I’ve seen in favor of him not being black are either flimsy alternate explanations to the evidence in favor of him being black (usually called “rebuttals” even though they’re no more provable than the arguments they’re meant to refute), or “Prove to me he was.”
“You prove to me he wasn’t!” is my automatic response to this.
Here’s the thing about history: It can’t be trusted. It’s written by the people with power, and people with power, believe it or not, generally do not care about lying if it means keeping that power. The contributions of People of Color in history are almost always marginalized when a white man can be given credit for them. This is why the ancient Egyptians are shown as being incredibly light-skinned and the Moors are barely mentioned in many academic historical discussions.
Which brings me back to my oft-visited, favorite form of horrible sneaky racism: Thinking of white as a “default race.” The only evidence that Beethoven was white comes from paintings and busts, most of which were painted either after he died by people who’d never met him (destroying their credibility as historical evidence) or in a society where black people would often “present as” white (which, if someone were attempting such a presentation, it would make sense for them to commission portraits where they look as white as possible, also casting doubt onto their credibility). There’s the word of almost everyone who ever met the man describing him as black (in more detail than Rue and Thresh were described as being black in “The Hunger Games,” although of course, some people assumed they were white as well), and this portrait of Beethoven, which was his favorite, and he considered so accurate that he gave copies to his friends and family who wanted a picture of him:
The point here is that even though the evidence in favor of him being black is overwhelming and the evidence against is insignificant at best, people are eager to overlook the descriptions of people who met him face-to-face and the portrait he regarded as most accurate in favor of the assumption that he was a white man.
It’s fair to say that many white Americans assume everyone is white until given direct indication otherwise. I’ve met many people to whom it had never occurred that Jesus might not be white until his birthplace was directly brought to their attention. Hell, I’ve met people who (having only heard his voice) were surprised to find out James Earl Jones was black.
So to assume Beethoven was white based on nothing but people coming up with possible other explanations for everything else is a little problematic, because at a certain point, it’s like you’re trying to look for reasons he can’t be black that aren’t there.
If he has no African ancestry, then all of the following must be true:
- His skin was so dark that, despite not being black, was often mistaken for being black.
- The rhetoric used to describe him matched up perfectly to then-contemporary description matched that used to describe the Moors completely by coincidence.
- Despite the following two things, his family came from Spanish-occupied Flanders (now Belgium) during the Moors’ reign over Spain without including any African genetics.
Or, the following one answer to all points of evidence:
- He was black.
So basically, my problem here is that people are more willing to accept multiple coordinating outlandish explanations that reassure them Beethoven might not have been black (and, in their minds, the fact that we can’t empirically prove it means we should stop talking about it completely) than they are to accept one simple explanation that wraps everything up in a nice bow and changes nothing other than reveal historical whitewashing and increase awareness that yes, Africa was a major player in World history rather than (as it’s so often erroneously cast) a secondary character in a Eurocentric version of World history. The fact that people need empirical proof he was black but don’t even need a logical argument to convince them he was white is all kinds of problematic. I could write a book on how racist that is.
Challenging Eurocentrism in history is going to uncover a lot of times when whitewashing has occurred (see: How just about everything good Abraham Lincoln did for black people was something Frederick Douglass told him to do). While yes, there is a chance Beethoven was completely white, that answer is less likely than “historians intentionally left out certain details to keep people from challenging the stereotypes about black people they were spreading to ensure their continued ability to oppress them,” or, as it’s more commonly known, a “dominant narrative.”
So maybe Beethoven wasn’t black. Maybe he was. The evidence presented wasn’t an attempt to convince you one way or another. It was intended to show you that while someone who says “I believe Beethoven may have been black, and not, as previously assumed, white” can answer the follow-up question of “why do you believe that,” a person who says “I don’t believe Beethoven was black” can’t. There’s nothing to suggest he couldn’t have been black. They could argue “I believe Beethoven might not have been black” and present alternate lines of reasoning, but since that’s the dominant narrative already, you’re not challenging a well-established assumption, and you’re not going to get any disputes because “might not” is implied in the “might” argument.
Is your latte too hot? Mine was this morning. I was at the bustling Oasis shopping center in Kampala, Uganda, and I took one sip and then spilt it all over me. You know who else has these problems? The local Ugandans that frequent this shop, and make up the majority of it’s clientele.
As Africa stabilizes across the continent, Westerners forget that average daily problems in Europe or North America are not that far off from that of the African middle class. Our smart phones sometimes freeze up. That’s annoying. The DJ is playing shit, so we leave the club.
Which is not to say that there aren’t problems. It’s not to pretend that all of Kampala or Nairobi or Kigali is a paradise of African wealth where the biggest problem is a warm beer. There is real, stark, damaging poverty here. But there is similar poverty in Clichy Sous Bois in Paris. There is similar poverty in Brooklyn. In Chicago. The outskirts of Amsterdam.
The idea that an African can’t have similar issues to those living in London is a mistake. It is a mistake rooted in the idea that Europe is somehow superior or has vast amounts of wealth. In reality, the East African GDP has been steadily on the rise for years, whereas the economic outlook in both North America and Europe have been steadily declining. Angola just gave a loan to their former colonialists, Portugal. Our cities now have thumping clubs, eclectic cuisine and most of these places are owned and invested in by locals.
Stop feeling bad for Africa. It doesn’t need your pity.
If you want to do something to help those who survive on very little, try investing in it. Instead of buying Tom’s shoes which give away free shoes (and therefore remove jobs from hardworking Africans making shoes) invest in Sole Rebels. A woman-owned Ethiopian based shoe company that pays their workers a livable wage.
Tonight I am going with Ugandan friends and some expats to watch the Poland vs. England match, live on DSTV at my local pub. I will eat grilled tilapia and drink some beer. This is not an extraordinary life here. This is the new Kampala average. This continent is far from perfect. Uganda is far from perfect. But it is getting there, and if you think for one minute Africans do not experience massages, cupcake shops, foam on our coffee, car trouble, banking woes and hangovers after too much fun, you are dead wrong.
It’s not all flies on babies. Welcome to the real Africa.
When you hear someone go in on that whole “POCs (especially Black people) are more homophobic” thing, I’d like you to show them the first picture (and this article).
Then show them the 2nd picture (and this article)
Then show them the 1st picture again.
Then show them the 2nd picture.
Don’t say shit else. Just go back and forth.
Picture #1. Picture #2.
I’ve voiced many a dissenting opinion at NBTSC [Not Back to School Camp], and heard them voiced, without much backlash. People asked me why I thought what I thought, but I didn’t feel attacked or condemned for my opinion. The only really bad thing was when I was cuddling with two people, then indicated a girl across the room, mentioning that I was in love with her. It was during a discussion of relationships and love, etc, and I was trying to explain how I could have feelings for multiple people, and I got called a slut for my trouble.
But that was one instance, by one girl, and I don’t think it’s very representative.
As for different races at camp…. yes, we’re mostly of the lighter-skinned variety, but that’s not our faults. Being a mostly white group does not make us racist. Saying we’re racist implies that we are against other races.
Unschooling/homeschooling definitely tend to be a LOT more accessible to white people and middle/upperclass people than to the poor and POC, but that says less about NBTSC or campers than it does about the systems we all exist in and are influenced by.
HOWEVER (and this is kind of a big however), mostly due to how white NBTSC and the unschooling community as a whole is, there is casual perpetration of racism that often does go unchecked simply because unless a white person actively works at educating themselves and being actively anti-racist, it doesn’t seem like a big deal to them. I can’t give specific examples, but I know I’ve seen racism perpetuated by individuals, from the clueless white liberal fauxgressive variety to ”ironic”, “post-racist” hipster racism to people saying things like, “Well, I just kind of hate everything about Mexican culture,” without checking their privilege.
Nigerian author and artist Teju Cole (via xkimberlyx)
YOU JUST GOT KNOWLEDGE’D
|—||bell hooks, “Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism” (via bookmarrow)|
I’d also like to know who is “we” in this scenario. Because it’s definitely not white women as a whole, and you’re definitely not speaking on behalf of all SlutWalk organizers, nor even all the SlutWalk organizers from NYC.
The issue here isn’t simply ONE woman holding a sign. It is the repeated dismissal of Women of Color’s concerns throughout the organizing process, from the beginning of the Toronto SlutWalk until now. It is the pat excuses given for the sign holder’s actions. It is the refusal to acknowledge error, take responsibility, and apologize without undercutting sincerity with defensiveness. It’s the ignorant and racist comments/responses to the pain that sign (and the dismissal of other concerns) caused MANY people for VARIOUS reasons — all of which should have been and should be taken seriously and given adequate value and respect in a timely fashion. But they weren’t. (Still aren’t, as this newly established Page demonstrates *SlutWalk USA*.)
I find it enormously ironic that SlutWalk claims to want to hold perpetrators of rape culture accountable for their actions, yet many of the organizers and attendees can’t seem to understand that they, too, need to demonstrate the same level of accountability to Women of Color (and other excluded/de-centered groups) for the work to undo white supremacy and racism (and other ignored -isms).
As the organizers of a march where a White woman felt entitled to hold a racist sign, YES, they are responsible to some degree for not ensuring the safety of Black women (particularly after having JUST received an Open Letter telling them that many Black women did not feel safe there). To that end, (to echo Aishah), the use of the “N” word doesn’t make it safe for ALL OF US. (!)
On that note, the use of that word was NOT appropriate in this context and should NOT have been accepted. It should have been recognized as a problem by more people than a WOC ally of the SlutWalk organizers. But it wasn’t — at least not enough of a problem to tell the woman to ditch the sign. Using the N-word is not simply about making some people uncomfortable. It is a threat that comes laden with a history of rape, lynching, slavery, and the dehumanization of Black people in this country. It is a reminder of the reality that People of Color have been and continue to be brutalized by white people, individually and systemically.
Just ONE week before SlutWalk, a Black man (Troy Davis) was effectively lynched in Georgia. The Supreme Court of the US and the citizens of this country allowed this to happen — despite widespread protest and media coverage. THAT is what the N-word means IN THIS CONTEXT. It means not fully human. It means expendable. It means the erasure of Black women from the category of “woman.” THAT is totally unacceptable and inappropriate, and it’s disturbing that a white person would defend it so vehemently.
If SlutWalk’s goal is to end rape, then it damn well better figure out how to speak to everyone. Otherwise, it’s not only counterintuitive (seeing as Black women are raped, Latinas are raped, Native American women are raped, Asian women are raped, Middle Eastern women are raped) but it’s also just as broken and problematic as the rape culture it claims to be resisting, which is a culture that is fed by racism (e.g. the myth of the Black rapist, the fact that WOC are more frequent victims of rape, etc).
So, who exactly does SlutWalk think is valuable enough to gain the prize of NOT being raped?” ~ Mandy Van Deven ~