Archive for the ‘focus’ Category

Fyah links Friday

indexHey Fyah Family, this week has been full of stuff. Good stuff, bad stuff and all that lies in between. For the bad and in-between I found some internet inspiration. I hope you enjoy it as well.

1) My younger sister is a boss. Caring, funny and smart, she is the true super-star and heart of my family. She also happens to have special needs. When I read about Aaron Philip in the NY Times it automatically thought of her and her bravery and strength navigating this world that sadly does not appreciate her skills and contributions.  Read this story about Aaron and check and follow his tumblr.

2) I came across this listing of photographs depicting  love/love stories and even my jaded icebox of a heart went all warm and mushy. Awwww 🙂

3) So, life as a grad student is  something I think you have to experience to believe. Readings, grades, assignments, schedules, a shit load more readings and assignments, working as a TA, working on a thesis, looking for a job that pays cus this tuition is expensive, more readings and assignments, weight gain, and then it all seems worth it  for the times when I am reminded that it is pretty great to be a grad student. Yes, it actually is that frenetic. I was sitting at my desk staring at about 6 student emails about something or the other  and during one of my Facebook breaks , I came across this hilariously revealing post.  Fellow grad schoolers or recent grads, let me know if this resonates.

Have a great weekend!

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.

Music Wednesdays – Mighty Mos Def

One of my favorite artists. Hope you enjoy these as well.

1. Umi Says

2. U r the One

3. The Panties

Have a great Hump Day!

Fyah Friday

Fantastic

 

Here are a few randoms that caught my eye this week.

  1. This was an interesting article about the far-reaching fallout of the recent Lance Armstrong developments. I do not have any tattoos although I have come close a few times. Apart from a family member’s name, I don’t think I have found is a symbol/word/picture that I can commit to.  I found it interesting how these people viewed their body art when the LiveStrong association became tainted by association.
  2. I came across this one on a sisteren’s facebook page. While the Harlem Shake viral video phenomenon has been rather interesting, I was struck that there were so many people that don’t know the original Harlem Shake dance. Apparently someone else felt this way and went to the streets of Harlem to ask Harlem natives what they think about the videos baring their neighbourhood’s name. It is funny to watch but it provides current proof that appropriation is so very real.
  3. Any Fire Stirrers in Philly should go check out this exhibit of costumes worn by the Supreme’s. I would argue them to be one of the most significant music groups in US music history and I would like to personally thank them for influencing some of my favourite songs and groups. The costumes are awesome. Can you tell that I like glitter J?
  4. Last but surely not least is this new Amnesty International petition to put sexual and reproductive health and rights on the global agenda. Sign on! Take part! My Body! My Rights

Have a great weekend!

Fyah Link Fridays- Randoms

Family, I hope you had a great week. I had a pretty exceptional week (if I should say so myself) because on Monday I started grad school. Classes are interesting and demanding and my free time has been left in the dust.  However I wanted to make sure I shared with you all some of the interesting things that I read this week between all the scholarly articles. I promise to not post any of those here lol

  1. Catfishing and such.  Over the past month or so I got into the MTV show Catfish and it iscatfish entertaining to no end. Only one situation that I saw ended well and that was because both parties were being dishonest about themselves and by chance they happened to connect in the end. In all other episodes it has been anger, tears and major disappointment. It is really easy to say that you would never get caught up in an online dating lie, and there are some pretty simple ways to mitigate at least some of the foolishness early out, but if we really think about it is this really that uncommon and new-age? This NYT article fleshes it out really well and gave me some new perspective on how we really go about knowing someone.
  2. Faith and Spirituality. I don’t talk about God and faith much, but I think about it quite often. Growinfaithg up very very catholic is a significant part of how I got here and I am still negotiating a lot of how I feel about Christianity on a whole. I came across this article from Esquire and read it about three times because I sometimes feel this is where I want to be, other times not so much.

3. NKOTB. nkotbWhen I was about 9 or 10 I was in love with Donnie and Jordan from New Kids on the Block. I was obsessed. I had all their music on tap, nighties, notebooks, stationary, videos of their performances and I am pretty sure I wrote them about 46 letters (I was that kid) and waited with baited breath for the responses that never came. I wasn’t big on the other boy bands but NKOTB brought me great joy. Can you imagine how excited I was to hear that New Kids on the Block is teaming up with Boyz II Men and 98 Degrees for a 2013 stadium-sweeping super-tour called THE PACKAGE. Sigh. I could go on and on but me sister from another mister Lindy over at Jezebel lays it out in hilarious plain language for those of you who may not know. Best believe that I have already scoped out the NYC dates, best believe.

Enough of my randomness, have a great weekend yall.

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 Fridays

I know I said I’d say nothing about the election in the States other than my post a few months ago. But over at blackgirldangerous she’s killing me softly all over again. Were I American I don’t know if I would have voted or who I would have voted for; what I do know however is that if I did vote for Obama I’m pretty sure I would not be celebrating. And celebration is what I see a lot of. Our memories are far too short… this has been a complicated presidency, and seeing someone who looks like it us should not make us cease to question the very ludicrousness of the process, or even the position. In the Caribbean, many of us small islanders especially have had the benefit leaders that look like most of population… a face, familiarity is not enough, so let us be cautious as we change our facebook profile pictures, hoop and holler. When we celebrate what we perceive to be lesser evils we tend to forget the evil part…

So carnival in Trinidad is coming up* and I’m filled with joy** and sorrow***. DJ Rawkus brought me great joy this week with his 2013 Soca I Heart T&T selection. It’s positively frightening that there’s so much soca so early in the season but it’s certainly warming my heart in the mornings. Tillahwillah breaks down the importance of win’ing as an act that links diasporic African Caribbean people to the continent. It’s a pretty compelling argument/ realisation. She goes further to say that the instruction-oriented soca is actually a way of controlling women’s bodies. I *fully* get this point, I must say however that feting/ parting/ dancing in carnival is one time when I don’t mind the instructions… it’s the one time I embrace and enact large pieces of heteronormativity just because when I fete, the last thing I want to do is think.

By now you know me and talk about books. I went to a reading by Nalo Hopkinson which
was followed by her being interviewed by two young writers who also shared their work. Nalo is incredibly personable. If you ever have the chance to see her, get on that. She read from her young adult novel Chaos and spoke about power and privilege in the literary world and the importance of writing what we know to be true even if it conflicts with the mainstream messages we get. She raised the point that when we write our characters that are other- queer, people of colour, with disabilities etc. we are writing real people’s lives. We’re not playing it up for playing it up’s sake, real people live life as other. I think Junot Diaz’s quote sums it up nicely. The presence of other is not a threat, it is difficult for many of us to accept this but other is not a threat, we are often a threat to other.

Fyah!

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.

#3 f’d up people you admire- personal, regional & iconic

Our 3rd installation of the f’d up series features our sensational 6

sharing 3 people they think are pretty f’d up:

who they are + how/where we met + how they’re f’d up + links to the original video + links to their works around

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