Archive for the ‘activism’ Category

fyah links- books, Grenada & class politics

Growing up I read a lot of Sweet Valley and Goosebumps. not a childblack girl reading 01 of colour in site. I managed to come out all right, but I certainly wouldn’t want generations to be further inundated with whiteness and token racialised persons. So for the children in your life- biological and non-biological, 25 books featuring strong black girls.

revolutionLast month marked 30 years of the killing of Maurice Bishop, leader of the NJM in Grenada. Groundation Grenada shares two reflections from two generations on the revolution now and then. Watching an documentary on the revolution I was moved by how excited and hopeful people were. I’ve found maintaing hopefulness for meaningful political change pretty difficult in my adult life time…

I’m likely not to understand the full shopping bagsdynamics of this story surrounding young black men buying extravagantly priced items at a high end store NY and getting profiled. But one of my favourite commentators of higher education and its complications especially for poc in the US has a wonderfully personal reflection on the how and why of spending money when working clas. She highlights how people make judgements on our appearance all the time, and those judgements can close and open doors of opportunity.

Fyah Friday links

malala

1. October 2013 marks one year since Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen – her “crime”, to have spoken up for the right of girls to be educated in a blog that she was managing anonymously for a few years.  This is the first in depth interview she has given since the attack and she has some very interesting views on how she believes peace can be attained with the Taliban through discussions.

Two things stood out to me:

  • The treatment of women and girls by the Taliban was used as a reason for intervention and military action. I took some time to look for what has been done to attempt to learn about some of the plans to achieve this objective and was unsuccessful. I certainly found out a lot about military engagement though.
  • Malala believes that the US (hmmm) and ambiguous governments are the ones responsible for brokering peace with the Taliban. She hopes to take an active role in this in the future as she aspires to hold political office.  I hope that she can continue to bring a voice to girls in her region but her sources of that hope give me pause.

2. Since the tragic shooting in Newton CT. late last year, the public discussions around dealing with people living with mental illness has been really difficult to sit through. Laws that significantly compromise confidentiality in mental health care and stigmatize those in treatment or who may have been treated in the past have been rolled out in a frenzy to appease some unfounded urge to save ‘us’ from them ‘them’

This Atlantic article shows are ill-prepared police officers are to deal with mental illness in times of crisis, relating the the recent shooting death by the police of a woman at Capitol Hill

I was reminded about attempts to facilitate gender training sessions with police and immigration officers . I left those sessions knowing that most officers were only there because they had be and were less than concerned about the subject matter. Additionally, the  fact that these sessions were being as one-off sessions and not part of comprehensive mandatory training , made me even less hopeful that the change I was hoping for would be realized.

images3.  Sigh. Why does the Dominican Republic want to manufacture more hardship for people of Haitian descent? The Constitutional Court in Santo Domingo has ruled in favor of stripping citizenship from children of Haitian migrants. The decision applies to those born after 1929. Really? Really now?  Here, PJ Patterson, former Jamaican PM is asking that CARICOM take a stand to strongly condemn this ruling.  What does strongly condemn really mean? I don’t know. But hopefully enough negative attention on this matter will force the D.R to pull this foolishness back.

Conversations – Repost

A few years ago, I heard about a man who had been stuck in an elevator in Manhattan for five days because he refused to call for help. He was an undocumented worker who chose to stay in a dark, dangling and dangerous elevator rather than use the emergency call button. It he very well could have died in that elevator, and it appeared that he was willing to die before being sent back. That story has stayed with me over the years.

It was on my mind recently when I spent a much longer time than I wanted to discussing cases of human trafficking that have been in the local media in the past year with a dear cousin who is chronically concerned about my feminist ways.

She rolled her eyes as I shared the stories of young women and girls lured with promises, flattery, gifts and glamorous lifestyles. I explained that these women are fed fantasies of the extreme and non-stop partying that they can be a part of if they come to Antigua to dance at a bar or restaurant.

What do they expect?”

“I would never leave my country under those circumstances.”

“They are already whores where they come from.”

When they get here, these women are in instant debt. The plane ticket that was once free, now costs $3,000. Rent must be paid for meagre shared accommodations at $500/week. Food must be bought from the club at $80/day. Clothing and shoes too, at $350/outfit. All owed to the club that brought them here.

The parties are indeed non-stop but you are the entertainment, you need to make money to pay your debts and of course you want to have some money for yourself. The going rate of $50 for a dance and $300-$500 for sex can only go so far. Additionally, your passport is confiscated by your no-longer-gracious host, so even if one of these women wanted to leave, where can you go in this strange new country?

”Well, I would never give anyone my passport.”

”I told you they are whores; they are accustomed to that.”

”How could anyone be that stupid?”

My mind goes back to the man in the elevator. Like him, these women often live in horrendous situations that lead them to make desperate and risky choices. Add someone who is able and willing to exploit that desperation and you have the perfect scenario for human trafficking- modern day slavery.

Are you still trying to convince me that they don’t know what they really come here for?”

Quite honestly, I don’t care.Whether or not she anticipates that she will be a sex worker when she gets here is of little consequence to the greater issue: that she is being deprived of choice, denied of freedom of movement, and criminally exploited in general. Like I said,modern day slavery. To over look this because we’re uneasy about sex work is pretty ridiculous to me.

I left that conversation feeling misunderstood and judged. I shudder to think about what is must be like to be a woman trying to escape a trafficking situation, who can she speak to that will understand? How long will she remain dangling dangerously in her own proverbial elevator?

fyah fridays- occupying space

one billion risingAre you rising on the 14th February? I will be. So will many around the world. Much of my writing, reading and some of my working has been around raising awareness around sexual violence. 1 Billion is a large number, find a rising near you…. learn the dance (debbie allen’s teaching) or create your own but make that day and the days to come one/ones in which you rise against sexual violence. Big up to igds at Cave Hill in Barbados.

Speaking of taking over spaces. Qui Dorian says take over yoga studios this year! I’m all for it… well I would be if it
yoga matdidn’t cost so much. That’s why I’m uber thankful for Brown Girl’s yoga for making a space that feels comfortable and accessible for people who look like me to practice.  I can’t do headstands, I’m not dreaming that far ahead… and the thought of one day being able to do the crow pose makes me simultaneously giddy and frustrated… but I do believe the practice helps me. I pay attention to my body, and for 20-60 minutes there’s nothing else to do but be with me. It for me has been a gift.


I was raped t shirtNnzinga Job’s TEDx Port of Spain talk on Love, rape and sex
.  She talks as a survivor, a believer and a dreamer. What stood out to me most was her sharing that her realisation that we create the meaning of sex has in our lives, once we do this it is so much easier to say no. Journal people, our, all our journeys are worth documenting. Towards the end she shares tips for a healthy sex life. I was going to list my favourite but I actually love them all: 

#2 take the time to know what you like and dislike sexually and why

#3 have sex only to celebrate and commemorate never to forget

#4 get physically fit and flexible and practice sexual expressiveness through dance

#5 save money into a sex fund

Completely off topic but had my cracking up. Artists who need to stop making crappy music. I disagree with Erykah making the list. I loved New microphoneAmerkyah Volume 2. But everyone else, so feeling their place on the list plus I think it’s hilarious that Alicia Keys isn’t on the list b/c we have to accept her albums have never really cut it to start with. lol

black power booksClosing off, 100 books by black women everyone should read. I’ve read about a third of them; and it’s not nearly as straight and African-American as I thought it would be. Shout out to all the queer, African and Caribbean (and their intersections) authors on the list. Check it out- Nalo Hopkinson, audre lorde, Jamaica Kincaid, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Stacey Ann Chinn, Octavia Butler, Shirley Chisolm…. come one, you know you’re intrigued.

fyah links- self care, feminism and vulnerability (all the same thing really)

audre lorde- self careMy self-care was going well up until the end of November.  I was exercising, cooking, eating right, wining while flossing, and the usual,  following a schedule… life was good. pieces2peace came to visit and I used that blip in the routine to introduce mayhem to my life. I came across this wonderful list of things one blogger does to take care of herself. One I already do: go to dinner alone. One I need to do: think/ speak positively about myself. One that’s fun: dance fights! 🙂

I got into a facebook conversation about this article. My comments are plentiful, but as a self-This is what a feminist looks likeidentified feminist who I think in many ways could be read a black hipster feminist I took plenty issue with this article. These comments will the most sense of you read the article: Her concerns re: the appropriation of African culture through fashion with Solange and others are pretty complicated. Definitely it’s a little uncomfortable getting kente clothes from American Apparel, not necessarily a route I’d take… but I struggle with the use of the term appropriation for people who are descendents of enslaved and displaced African people. As a light-skinned woman I definitely understand the privilege around the choice of this fashion being more likely read as a statement vs. an identity but it’s complicated.

A Caribbean man talking about feminist issues without derailing them… actually as an ally without a million caveats. Impossible you say? Shout out to groundation grenada. 🙂

I’m not sure if I’ve shared this here b4 but a great friend of mine posted this on my wall awhile back and it resonated with me so deeply. It’s a little on the long side at 20 mins but the speaker highlights her research findings around what makes people feel worthy and why we hold on to shame. I have another friend who says we often do things we shouldn’t b/c we lime with shame and pride too much and “them fockers could talk”. That still making me laugh. Anyway, she speaks about the power of being vulnerable and what we do to avoid it- we numb it, we make that which is uncertain, certain, we pretend… give it watch. It’s about a year old but she came out with a part two that’s also pretty good, not as good as the 1st but still pretty good.

Conversations

human rightsA few years ago, I heard about a man who had been stuck in an elevator in Manhattan for five days because he refused to call for help. He was an undocumented worker who chose to stay in a dark, dangling and dangerous elevator rather than use the emergency call button. It he very well could have died in that elevator, and it appeared that he was willing to die before being sent back. That story has stayed with me over the years.

It was on my mind recently when I spent a much longer time than I wanted to discussing cases of human trafficking that have been in the local media in the past year with a dear cousin who is chronically concerned about my feminist ways.

She rolled her eyes as I shared the stories of young women and girls lured with promises, flattery, gifts and glamorous lifestyles. I explained that these women are fed fantasies of the extreme and non-stop partying that they can be a part of if they come to Antigua to dance at a bar or restaurant.

What do they expect?”

“I would never leave my country under those circumstances.”

“They are already whores where they come from.”

When they get here, these women are in instant debt. The plane ticket that was once free, now costs $3,000. Rent must be paid for meagre shared accommodations at $500/week. Food must be bought from the club at $80/day. Clothing and shoes too, at $350/outfit. All owed to the club that brought them here.

The parties are indeed non-stop but you are the entertainment, you need to make money to pay your debts and of course you want to have some money for yourself. The going rate of $50 for a dance and $300-$500 for sex can only go so far. Additionally, your passport is confiscated by your no-longer-gracious host, so even if one of these women wanted to leave, where can you go in this strange new country?

”Well, I would never give anyone my passport.”

”I told you they are whores; they are accustomed to that.”

”How could anyone be that stupid?”

My mind goes back to the man in the elevator. Like him, these women often live in horrendous situations that lead them to make desperate and risky choices. Add someone who is able and willing to exploit that desperation and you have the perfect scenario for human trafficking- modern day slavery.

Are you still trying to convince me that they don’t know what they really come here for?”

Quite honestly, I don’t care.Whether or not she anticipates that she will be a sex worker when she gets here is of little consequence to the greater issue: that she is being deprived of choice, denied of freedom of movement, and criminally exploited in general. Like I said,modern day slavery. To over look this because we’re uneasy about sex work is pretty ridiculous to me.

I left that conversation feeling misunderstood and judged. I shudder to think about what is must be like to be a woman trying to escape a trafficking situation, who can she speak to that will understand? How long will she remain dangling dangerously in her own proverbial elevator?

Fyah Links – 16 Days

WHAT IS THE 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM CAMPAIGN?

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute, coordinated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991. Participants chose the dates November 25- International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women- and December 10- International Human Rights Day in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasise that such violence is a violation of human rights. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including December 1, World AIDS Day, December 3, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organising strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by:

  • raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels
  • strengthening local work around violence against women
  • establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women
  • providing a forum in which organizers can develop and share new and effective strategies
  • demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against omen
  • creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women

Over 4,100 organizations in approximately 172 countries have participated in the 16 Days Campaign since 1991.

Here are some resources from around the region highlighting work being done during 16 Days and year-round to end GBV.

Any other pages you know about? Please share in the comments.

In Sol.

Fyah Links

Quick Friday round-up.

1. It’s election time in the US so that means that it is election coverage time all over. I really have fundamental issues with the existing political system and feel that it is inherently rotten. This pure fyah article by black girl dangerous  totally underscores how I feel about elections and politics and voting and our so called democratic choice. When elections happen in my neck of the woods, I fear that I will have to really convince myself to vote and I don’t want to have to do that. I would really rather not be around.

2. Lupe Fiasco recently tweeted that he is going to retire from rap due to feedback he has gotten for his newest video for ‘ Bitch Bad’. I have never gotten into Lupe’s music but I heard good things from friends and knew him to be among the more conscious few artists that got noticed. I personally didn’t really like the song or the video, but it is a conversation starter and a welcome addition to the video rotation for what it is trying to do. I kind of thought that some bloggers went in pretty hard on him and his representations in the video/song and I can understand that he would take it personally. Is he too thin-skinned? Are social commentators too hard on those that are trying to make an impact? Do we dissect the obviously problematic music as much?

3.  The region was represented today at the 2012 Paralympian Jamol Pilgrim from Antigua. The runner took part in the 100m heats this morning. Even though he didn’t place, this is a fantastic feat for the region and Addfyah wishes him all the best in the future.

my struggle with violence

A month ago a parent of a preteen asked me if The Dark Knight is excessively violent. I emphatically responded, “not at all”. I rewatched the movie a few days later, a movie I’ve watched many times  I was near dumbfounded by how violent the first 10 minutes were- the gun violence, the criminal activity, the language, the betrayal… I have pretty much accepted how desensitised I to violence I had become but I didn’t realise it no longer registered. I thought I was of the “oh that’s not scary, I’m not jumping out of my seat, or covering my eyes” garden variety instead that garden variet had a side effect, instead of being unimpressed by the violence, I just no longer think of it as violent. Looking at it with the eyes  of a parent made me much more sensitive to the level and amount of violence throughout the movie.*

I struggle with violence. It’s not that I’m inclined to violence… at least I don’t think so. I had the compulsory and thankfully short-lived physical altercations with you my younger sister until she got taller and stronger than I was. In primary school, I may or may not have had instigated a few tussles with boys in my class that got them into more trouble, since I ran in tears to teachers. Following pre-adolescence, I cringe in real life when I see people get violent, but I almost crave it in my entertainment. Sports, or soap-opera esque sports do not count, those are presented as real. I mean for the cinema experience I tend to enjoy violence. I can’t handle the romantic comedies, or anything too real which leaves out drama, so give me the action and I’ll take it in most forms- straight up, with comedy, thriller or maybe even some suspense.

But this is a problem. Why? B/c clearly I am allowing myself to be co-opted by the glorification of violence in media that makes us less likely to notice, be affected by, and respond to violence that we experience. witness, participate in and practice in our every day lives.

One of the few Independence celebrations I attended in Trinidad, was the Military Tattoo Exhibition. This may have been my first mistake, but was baffled me was how many children there were. It was clearly a family, and child friendly event. The marching displays, the bands… those were fine. However, the tactical displays- the reenactment of the “jokey bad boys” in the hills or on the block who had to be “dealt with”. Who were advanced upon with such care and precision. The dramatic portrayal of the “jokey badman” being tear gassed, shot, hurt and killed was met with delightful screams by the thousands of children present. This is a problem.

As far as I am concerned it’s not enough that the “good” guys won. We know enough about police corruption, policing of the poor and working class worldwide to know that often it is never quite as clear cut as the good and bad. But far more troubling than that is the fact that those same screams of delight come when adolescents watch movies where the “bad guys” win and outsmart whatever the law enforcement may be. We may think we’re glorifying law and order, but in fact the true focus, the true glow is around the violence and winning, regardless of what side you’re on… and I’d argue, what methods you use.

Whether our boys and girls look at officers jumping out of helicopters and think, “that bad!”, or they play Call of Duty and boast about their body count or beg their parents, older siblings and cousins to carry them to a movie they should be seeing, or stay up past everyone in the house to watch it even though they are not supposed to, imitate mobster characters they see on tv, or real-life dons they see on the block they are becoming more and more desensitised to the violence every day.

We/they are more likely to:

  • look at a song like this and say it’s just a song as opposed to recognise the violence both implicit and explicit in it
  • not be alarmed when we see a man assaulting a woman on the street**, or we might be taken back but never think to call the police
  • ignore our neighbour excessively beating their children on a continuous basis, b/c that’s private business
  • hear about police violence in our region and turn the dial without a second thought
  • watch the wreckage and debris in other parts of the world as the results of violence and dismiss it as life in “those parts”
  • be quiet.

I am not advocating censorship,  I’m not saying ban the music, ban the video games, ban the movies etc. I am however advocating critical engagement. We need to encourage ourselves and our children not just to recognise that it’s make beleive, but were it to be believed, it would have real effects on people’s lives. We need to talk about the fact that it is violent, what the messages are behind the violence, why we think they are so, and why we are so complicit with them. These are not easy conversations that I propose but they are certainly necessary and continuous ones. We can no longer afford to see violence and dismiss it so quickly.

Shout out to all the people taking action out there:

* Reason #452 not to have children: Too much hard work

** Please don’t tell me they were fighting, he was hitting, she was cowering.

fyah links- jumping through the islands

Going regional this round.

The Caribbean athletes did phenomenon-ally in the Olympics. Special shout-outs to Kirani James and Lalonde. This the first time in a long time I’ve been unable to watch the games without getting worked up. I worry that my jadedness may ruin the simple things that I enjoy, but professional sports as a metaphor for capitalism is far too much at the forefront of my mind to enjoy it the way I used to.

Antigua, this is wholly unacceptable. I understand that there is a fine line to dance here surrounding censorship but I do think lines need to be drawn when it comes to endorsing violence. I spent a lot of time being excited about the various carnivals, but this song and the defence of it really soured my mood.

Guyana, I do not know how the protestors in Linden make it out every day.  300% rise in electricity in areas with such high unemployment. It makes me wonder if I would be on the line. What would stop me? What would put me there? I do think seeing Andaiye there may have shamed me into action. In this part of the region, especially with my class privilege there  are so many things I take for granted. Knowing that things are expensive and complaining about it while still being able to pull out the cash or swipe the card. When/ if they day comes I can no longer do that will it then seem to me more likely that I too would join that march?

Grenada, make your sole aerial and support this incredible campaign to support goat farmers!

Make a nice salad for yourself Nevis style, or some nice breadfruit cake* (never heard of this one).

Not regional but I’m pretty excited about this book. Maybe we should start a regional one, or a woc one. Black when used in an American context always seems a tad myopic.

The Ground Glass Collective has just put out a wonderfully, new beautiful set of pictures.

*So happy to see Caribbean Vegan back on the scene.

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