Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Know Your Herstory: Malinda Lo

Malinda Lo was born in China and moved to the United States as a child. Ash, her first novel, was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award, the Andre Norton Award for YA Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Lambda Literary Award for Children’s/Young Adult, and was a Kirkus 2009 Best Book for Children and Teens. Her second novel, Huntress, is a companion novel to Ash and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Formerly, she was an entertainment reporter, and was awarded the 2006 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Journalism by the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and has master’s degrees from Harvard and Stanford Universities. She now lives in Northern California with her partner and their dog.

Bio from http://www.malindalo.com/

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ugandan Lesbian Kasha Nabagesera Honored [Autostraddle]

Last week Ugandan lesbian activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera was awarded the 2011 Martin Ennals Human Rights Defenders Award, second only to the Nobel Peace Prize in prestige and the premiere award in human rights work.

Nabagesera runs the organization Freedom and Roam Uganda established in 2003 to “lobby and press for the recognition of same sex relationships, especially lesbians in Uganda and thereby attain full equal rights and freedom in all aspects of life.” Working for gay rights and acceptance in a country where homosexuality is illegal and  on a continent where this is the case in nearly 40 countries is clearly commendable.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Violent Attacks On Transgender People Raise Alarm [NPR]

"We have become the target, and someone has to be responsible for it,"
Ruby Corado says. "In my opinion, it really starts with the accountability of
those that are out there to protect us."
A series of shootings and violent attacks put Washington, D.C.'s transgender community on edge this summer. Police hesitate to call the attacks hate crimes, but they've stepped up their patrols. Still, the transgender community is demanding more action.

It's 2 o'clock in the afternoon on Dix Street in northeast Washington. The neighborhood is a popular gathering place for transgender women, but tensions arose when Lashai Mclean, 23, was murdered here in late July.

Days after the shooting, transgender activists Earline Budd and Ruby Corado held a vigil for Mclean. Today marks the first time they've returned to the site since then — and they are shocked by what they see.

The singed and severed legs of a teddy bear are strewn across the street, and floral bouquets are charred black. Corado and Budd find that the makeshift memorial they had left behind has been torched.

Budd sees the vandalism as an omen.

"It was a clear message to us that we're not welcome, and that what happened to Lashai could happen to any of us," she says.

Days after Mclean's murder, another transgender woman was shot, just one block away.

And on Aug. 26, an off-duty police officer stood on the hood of a car and shot through its windshield, hitting two transgender women and a male friend, wounding one critically. The officer is a 20-year veteran of the city's police force and is currently in jail, awaiting trial.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Last ‘Pink Triangle’ Dies, Gay-Bashers Alive and Well [Southern Poverty Law Center]

In a moment of disturbing irony, the death [earlier this month] of the last known gay survivor of Hitler’s concentration camps coincided with a cultural event that highlighted the fragility of LGBT people’s foothold on civil rights in modern society.

Rudolf Brazda, who, according to the Los Angeles Times, spent three years in Buchenwald wearing prison garb marked with a pink triangle to indicate he was gay, died [August 3rd] at 98.

On [the following] Saturday – just one day after the Times published Brazda’s obituary – Texas Gov. Rick Perry led a prayer rally sponsored by American Family Association, an anti-gay hate group whose most prominent public face last year said that gays were responsible for the Holocaust.

“Homosexuality gave us Adolf Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews,” Bryan Fischer, the AFA’s director of issue analysis for government and public policy, said in May 2010.


Second-largest U.S. Indian tribe expels slave descendants [Reuters]

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - The nation's second-largest Indian tribe formally booted from membership thousands of descendants of black slaves who were brought to Oklahoma more than 170 years ago by Native American owners.

The Cherokee nation voted after the Civil War to admit the slave descendants to the tribe.

But on Monday, the Cherokee nation Supreme Court ruled that a 2007 tribal decision to kick the so-called "Freedmen" out of the tribe was proper.

The controversy stems from a footnote in the brutal history of U.S. treatment of Native Americans. When many Indians were forced to move to what later became Oklahoma from the eastern U.S. in 1838, some who had owned plantations in the South brought along their slaves.

Some 4,000 Indians died during the forced march, which became known as the "Trail of Tears."

"And our ancestors carried the baggage," said Marilyn Vann, the Freedman leader who is a plaintiff in the legal battle.

This hurts. So much. I heard of the Cherokee Nation expelling it's black members years ago. Apparently the battle wages on. This article leaves a lot to be desired in knowing the Cherokee Nation's reasoning. I'm personally of various Native decent, particularly Shoshone, from my great great grandmother, whom my mother knew. There's definitely touchy politics about claiming one's Native heritage, and I get why. There's something to be said about experience; claiming heritage for the benefits without ever experiencing the struggle is, in my opinion, despicable. And so is turning your back on long standing members of your tribe who've been nothing but faithful....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Speaking of Girls and Zines...

To all my London same-gender-loving ladies, an art show is underway: Girls+Zines at Tatty Devine.

Wednesday 3rd August - Saturday 3rd September

Spanning a wide range of publications featuring anything from offbeat illustrations and collage to heartfelt musings and humorous revelations, Girls + Zines celebrates the originality of female zinesters. Browse our pop-up zine library while sitting on beanbags, and bring your own publications to display or swap at the in-store zine exchange!

Girl Crush

Girl Crush is a brand-new zine (literally, it drops this week) that celebrates the complex world of platonic girl-on-girl crushing. Helmed by two ladies rather worthy of girl-crushes themselves (Jenna Wortham is a reporter for The New York Times, Thessaly La Force is fresh off a plum gig at The Paris Review), its M.O. is the type of universal fascination that all women and girls feel about at least one other member of their gender. The zine was born from a discussion about these crushes on rad ladies like Joan Didion and Anna Karina via essays and even suggested recipes and playlists. Featuring work from the likes of Jennifer Egan, Leanne Shapton, and Mary H.K. Choi—among so many others—Girl Crush is instantly relatable and just a straight-up good read. The zine is available online for $10. 

So worth the $10... Follow them on Tumblr.

For a list of other cool, new zines to drop, check out this article from Refinery29.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why Prop 8's Days are Numbered [Examiner]

One year ago Thursday, a federal court in California ruled that Proposition 8, a 2008 voter approved initiative which denies gay and lesbian couples the right to marry in California, is unconstitutional. Although the case is now up against the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, there are a few reasons to believe that the days of this discriminatory law are numbered.

Issa Rae is the homie.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Misadventures of AWKWARD Black Girl - New Episode Out

One of my favorite web series at it again. Support them on Kickstarter!

The Misadventures of AWKWARD Black Girl

Episode 7: The Date: J embarks on her first "White Date" with Jay. 

Mean What You Say

This is one of the few lessons I haven't been able to learn. I try to make it a point to speak as honestly as possible.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Israeli and Palestinian Women Take a Trip to the Beach [NYTimes]

TEL AVIV — Skittish at first, then wide-eyed with delight, the women and girls entered the sea, smiling, splashing and then joining hands, getting knocked over by the waves, throwing back their heads and ultimately laughing with joy. 

Most had never seen the sea before. 

The women were Palestinians from the southern part of the West Bank, which is landlocked, and Israel does not allow them in. They risked criminal prosecution, along with the dozen Israeli women who took them to the beach. And that, in fact, was part of the point: to protest what they and their hosts consider unjust laws. 

In the grinding rut of Israeli-Palestinian relations — no negotiations, mutual recriminations, growing distance and dehumanization — the illicit trip was a rare event that joined the simplest of pleasures with the most complex of politics. It showed why coexistence here is hard, but also why there are, on both sides, people who refuse to give up on it.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Anti-Gay Protesters Turn Out In Florida [The Onion]

Protesters in Florida waved signs decrying gay adoption for subjecting the children of same-sex parents to horrible, bigoted protesters like themselves.

Anti-Gay Protesters Turn Out In Florida

Sunday, July 31, 2011

For Gay Christian Musicians, Work Balances Faith, Art, Love [NPR]

Jeniffer Knapp
Many Christian denominations denounce homosexuality as a sin. As a result, gay Christian singers, songwriters and musicians face a challenge in balancing their art, their sexuality and their faith. For those few who have decided to come out, it has meant giving up successful careers.

Singer-songwriter Jennifer Knapp has sold more than a million albums and earned Dove Awards on the strength of songs like her 1998 hit, "Undo Me." But in 2002, at the height of her career as a contemporary Christian artist, Knapp suddenly stopped making music.

"Knowing that I was going to have to publicly deal with my sexuality — it really made me consider how much I wanted to participate in music," Knapp says.

Seven years later, Knapp reemerged, no longer self-identified as a Christian artist — instead, she was a folk-rock musician, a person of faith and a lesbian. Knapp says that even after all that time, she still had doubts about coming forward.

"It made me very hesitant to get back up into the public level, knowing that there would be discussion about my sexuality on the whole," she says.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Without Men

It came out yesterday... I see myself being offended repeatedly...

SLDN Releases Post-DADT Service Guide [Care2]

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) this week released a legal guide for LGBTs to help them navigate the landscape of the post-DADT repeal environment.

The guide, “Freedom to Serve: The Definitive Guide to LGBT Military Service,” is designed to offer a comprehensive overview of laws and policies relating to military service that may be of interest to LGBT servicemembers, as well as their friends and family.

“The information contained in this legal guide will help service members, prospective service members, their families, and friends make informed decisions about how to serve successfully as we move beyond ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ It will also assist them in understanding how to protect themselves when necessary and how to respond if they are targeted in any way for their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” said SLDN Legal Director David McKean.


And I have to ask, what is going to be done to acclimate heterosexual service members into a DATD-repealed environment to further protect LGBTQ service members?

Prop 8 Arguments [Cherry Grrl]

The California Supreme Court will hear arguments on September 6th as to whether proponents of Proposition 8 have the legal standing to appeal Judge Vaughn Walker’s decision striking down the ballot measure. The court will hear oral arguments on a question of whether under state law proponents of initiatives have standing to defend their initiatives when they are challenged in court. The question was certified to them by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit earlier this year. In response to the court’s scheduling order, Chad Griffin, American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) Co-Founder and Board President, had the following to say: “I am very pleased that the Supreme Court of California calendared our case for the first day of their fall session. The governor and attorney general of California – and the United States District Court – all have found Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Brownie Points: DC Comics [Autostraddle]

Batwoman is a Lesbian: DC Comics' Gay Superheroes Stepping Out of the Subtext and Into the Light

Last June, DC Comics announced that they were starting over. Starting over at number 1. 52 all-new #1 issues will be released in September, complete with updated characters, costumes, and origins. An entire new universe, with old icons and a new concept.

And the new DC Comics universe, they promised, would be hella gay.

Angel Haze

Friday, July 15, 2011

No Look Pass

No Look Pass is an identity quest film that follows Emily Tay’s transition into adulthood between her senior year at Harvard (where she ranks 23rd nationally for assists thanks to her signature move, the no look pass) into her first year playing professionally in Europe. Emily’s Buddhist parents risked everything to emigrate from Burma in 1980 to Los Angeles’ Chinatown and expect Emily to return home after graduation and comply with an arranged marriage. But Emily must follow her own American Dream, which means moving to Germany and falling in love with a U.S. servicewoman living under Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. After feeling like an outsider her entire life, Emily struggles to become a leader, not just a star and faces the terror of telling her parents who she really is.

Check out No Look Pass at Outfest in West Hollywood on July 17th.

And on a sidenote: Sheryl Swoopes is engaged to a man.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Gender Ambiguity of Lisbeth Salander: Third-Wave Feminist Hero? [Dissent Magazine]

by Judith Lorber

STIEG LARSSON’S Millennium trilogy describes a series of crimes that involve the violent abuse of women, and it also exposes not-so-fictional Swedish corporate and state crimes. But the novels are named, in English, for Lisbeth Salander, the “girl who,” and the second and third books in the trilogy in particular, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, are her story. Salander seems to be the source of the trilogy’s popularity. But why is she so interesting? I think that it’s her gender ambiguity that pulls in different readers, women and men, young and old. I don’t mean an androgyny of masculine and feminine traits, but a mix of attributes within her identity as a woman. She is both victim and avenger, abused child and iconoclastic rebel, punky teen in appearance and competent woman in behavior. 

Feminists might best describe Salander as a third-waver. She often decides how she will look for shock value—punk clothes, piercings, tattoos, bizarrely cut and dyed hair. She has bisexual relationships, sex with friends in non-exclusive relationships, recreational sex. As in third-wave “girlie culture,” she revels in sexual openness, outrageous gender self-presentations, and emotional coolness. But Salander never identifies as a feminist, nor does she use her (criminally acquired) wealth or her computer skills for any institutionalized activism. Third-wave feminists fight against restrictions on procreative choice and against racism, homophobia, and economic inequalities. By contrast, Salander’s personal, physical battle is against violent, sadistic men; her political battles, where she uses her investigative and hacking abilities, are against sex trafficking and international crime. She fights alone, mostly to defend herself or to get revenge on those who have harmed her. Once or twice, she fights for others (Erika Berger, when she is being cyber-stalked, and Mikael Blomkvist, to restore his journalistic reputation). But she belongs to no movement.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blue Crush 2

Nope. Neither Michelle Rodriguez nor Sanoe Lake is in it... Sigh.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Marimacho BK

Marimacho is a masculine clothing line for female and transgender bodies. They are the first fashion house to offer a full seasonal line of masculine clothes tailored for women and transmen. At first, I was mad upset cause it's been my dream to start a fashion line just like this for years now. But then I got over it. A gap in the market that I've been dying to see filled is finally being filled. Pretty dope!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Grind And Shine: Shabazz Palaces And THEESatisfaction [NPR]

ARTISTS: In Seattle, Ishmael Butler — aka Palaceer Lazaro — has fans monitoring his every move, treating his future-rap project Shabazz Palaces like a religion. Younger hip-hop artists imitate his style. He invariably sells out his infrequent, conceptual concerts. He also has skeptics who find his free-form music irritating. Butler's star rose and fell in the 1990s as part of jazz-rap group Digable Planets — the group was popular in Seattle, but the fact that he was from the city was never widely known. At present, he is Seattle's biggest rock star. To many local residents, he seems to have emerged from nowhere. His masterful new album Black Up is Sub Pop Records' first major rap release — a ghostly document that moves at roughly one billion styles per hour. 

The women of THEESatisfaction are a generation younger than Butler, and ride a similarly spaced-out wavelength. Catherine Harris-White and Stasia Irons sing and rap on Black Up. Word on the street is they have already signed a record label contract, with an announcement forthcoming.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Youth Say Race Still Matters—So What Are They Doing About It? [COLORLINES]


Earlier this month, our publisher released a report, “Don’t Call Them Post-Racial,” which surveyed attitudes about race in key systems in U.S. society among young adults 18-25. Dom Apollon’s research team conducted focus groups with dozens of young people in the Los Angeles area, and learned that their thoughts on race are far more nuanced than most polling and commentary has suggested. Theirs is the most diverse generation in U.S. history, but that doesn’t make them post-race. Rather, the young people in the focus groups made clear that they believed race still matters today

The young people struggled for language to define racism and they differed across racial groups in how they saw race impacting society. But they identified race as a “significant problem” in a few key areas, with all racial groups agreeing that race remained a problem for both criminal justice and employment. Young people of color identified education as a particular trouble spot as well. 

They also differed in what they thought should be done about these problems—while white Millennials, as this generation has been dubbed, largely identified racism as driven by individuals and demanding individual solutions, young people of color were more likely to identify racism as a collective problem that demands political action to resolve. As Apollon wrote, “All of these ideas are crucial to understand because they also shape how this generation will choose to act upon racism and racial injustice.”

So to make these ideas more concrete, we talked to five organizations and campaigns that are working with Millennials to tackle racism as a collective, systemic problem rather than an individualized, personal one. Here’s what they had to say about their work.

Queer Latinas Have Specific Healthcare Needs, This Billboard Isn’t One of Them [Autostraddle]

There could be a lot of effective ways to say this, but I’m just going to go the quick route: my name is Carmen Rios, I’m Latina, and I’m a lesbian. 

As a feminist, I’ve become aware of how my unique identity impacts my experiences. It’s pretty much a no-brainer that Latina women face challenges unique to the intersection of race and gender that they live at, or at least it should be by now. But what happens when you throw in the ‘LBT?’ Or, really, what happens when it comes to sex at all?

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) recently released an issue brief on sexual health and LGBTQ Latinas. The outlook was not too bright: the conclusion of the brief was, pretty much, that more research on the unique needs of Latina women on a whole is needed to address their unique sexual health needs. But what the brief also reveals is a handful of problems that LBT Latinas are facing: provider bias and limited access to quality health care, a lack of accommodations for queer women and non-English speakers in health care, higher rates of cervical cancer, and lower rates of regular care for lesbian Latinas related to sexual health. 

The report, LGBTQ Latin@s and Reproductive Justice, can be found in full on the NLIRH website. It also explored how trans women face problems related to the gendering of health services and employment discrimination, both having an ugly impact on the opportunity to receive quality health care.

Puerto Rico: 3 LGBT Murders This Week, 18 In 18 Months [The New Civil Rights Movement]

At least three gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender Americans have been murdered in the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico this week, bringing the tragic total to 18 in the past year and a half. While there are both local and federal hate crimes laws that would assist authorities in investigating and potentially stemming the rapid rise of these anti-​gay hate crimes, the Republican Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis G. Fortuño, has often refused to implement or access these statutes. 

 Luis G. Fortuño, whose term began in January, 2009, refused to classify as a hate crime the infamous decapitation murder of 19-​year old Jorge Steven López Mercado, perhaps the most-​publicized of the 18 murders. Only under threat from the federal government, was Mercado’s murder investigated as a possible hate crime. Last year, Fortuño attempted to ban same-​sex marriage in Puerto Rico permanently via a constitutional amendment. 

 In addition to the murder of Jorge Steven López Mercado on November 14, 2009, the following have also been classified as LGBT murders:
  • Michaell Galindo
  • Ashley Santiago
  • Angie González Oquendo
  • Fernando López de Victoria
  • Humberto Bonilla Rodríguez
  • Michelle González García
  • La Flaca Soto Fernández
  • Benjamín Acevedo Román
  • Charlotte Crespo
  • Frank Di Giovani
  • Ivan McDonald
  • Edwin Rodríguez Grajales
  • Ezequiel Crespo
  • Eugenio Alberto Rivera Ortiz
  • Karlota Brown
  • Alejandro Torres Torres
  • Ramón ‘Moncho’ Salgado
Tuesday, Edge On The Net National News Editor Michael K. Lavers was the first to recognize that in addition to the deaths this week of Karlota Gómez Sánchez and Alejandro Torres Torres, “Salgado is the 18th LGBT Puerto Rican who has been murdered on the island over the last year and a half.” Lavers added, “This is simply unacceptable. And people really need to begin to pay attention to this appalling situation in Puerto Rico that continues to grow worse by the day.”

Monday, June 27, 2011

Forming A New Family, Emotionally And Legally [NPR]

My nickname is Joli. I am 38 years old (no longer a "girl" strictly speaking, but still an occasional wearer of pigtails). I live with my partner in Los Angeles. We are expecting our first child — a son — to be born in mid-August. I am the birth mother.

We learned that under California law A.B. 205, domestic partners (straight or gay) have the same rights with respect to a child born to either partner. Regardless, it is still a good idea for the non-birth mother to file for adoption to ensure all legal rights as the birth mother. We also learned from Amanda that although most of the local L.A. hospitals acknowledge A.B. 205 in their policies, we should still take a copy of our domestic partnership certificate with us to the hospital when the time comes to deliver, just in case we have to deal with any homophobic health care providers. Our domestic partnership ensures us that both of our names will appear on the baby's birth certificate. This helpful information has eased my sense of vulnerability surrounding our legal rights as parents.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

NY Senate Backs Same Sex Marriage [Reuters]

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Waves of gay couples rushed on Saturday to make wedding plans that had been dreams for decades, as euphoria over New York's legalization of same-sex marriage promised to turn a traditional pride parade into an enormous roving engagement party.

In the minutes and hours after the law was passed and signed by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo late on Friday, sparkling rings were offered and accepted and champagne corks flew to kick off wedding plans likely to add an estimated $284 million to the state's economy, according to a report by the Independent Democratic Conference.

Friday, June 24, 2011

In African Women’s Soccer, Homophobia Remains an Obstacle [NYTimes]

Shortly before she was hired in 2009 as the first female coach of Nigeria’s powerful women’s national soccer team, Eucharia Uche said at a seminar that she was troubled by the presence of lesbians on the squad, calling it a "worrisome experience."

Over the past two years, as Nigeria progressed toward the Women’s World Cup, which begins Sunday in Germany, Uche said that she has used religion in an attempt to rid her team of homosexual behavior, which she termed a "dirty issue," and "spiritually, morally very wrong."

FIFA, soccer’s world governing body, states as part of its mission a desire to use the game in "overcoming social and cultural obstacles for women with the ultimate aim of improving women’s standing in society." But the story of Nigeria’s Super Falcons illustrates the cultural obstacles that remain for many African women who play soccer decades after more assertive efforts at inclusivity occurred in places like the United States, Germany, Norway, Sweden and more recently in Brazil.

Uche said she had never witnessed her own players participating in homosexual activity. Instead, she said that she had relied on rumors, speculation and news media accounts to form her belief that lesbian behavior had been common in the Nigerian team.

"When rumors are strong, you are bound to believe it is happening," Uche, 38, said in a telephone interview from Nigeria’s World Cup training camp in Saalfelden, Austria.

In March, Uche made similar remarks to The Daily Sun newspaper of Nigeria. The newspaper also quoted a former technical assistant for the country’s soccer federation, James Peters, saying that he had removed some players from Nigeria’s women’s team last year, "not because they were not good players, but because they were lesbians."

"Hidden" Gay Pride Google Doodle sparks controversy [zdnet]

By Matt Weinberger | June 24, 2011, 11:01am PDT

One of Google’s most beloved quirks is its tendency to celebrate special occasions by replacing its home page logo with clever Google Doodles. But to commemorate Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, Google tried something a little different, and now it seems to have stirred up its share of controversy.

Search for terms like "gay," "lesbian," "transgender," "LGBT," and other pride-related words in June, and a little rainbow appears next to the search bar. The problem is that there’s nothing even mentioning this easter egg of a Google Doodle on the search engine’s front page - leading many in the gay community to wonder why Pride, of all events, is forced "into the closet."

Compounding the problem, according to critics, is the fact that Google’s frontpage logo has changed for relatively trivial events like the 76th Birthday of Roger Hargreaves, the 122nd birthday of Charlie Chaplin, and even the 119th anniversary of the first documented ice cream sundae. So why not Gay and Lesbian Pride?
The controversy has been brewing all week long, but here’s the only public statement released by Google at this time, as reported by several outlets:
"As you may imagine, it’s difficult for us to choose which events to celebrate on our site, and have a long list of those we’d like to celebrate in the future."
It seems unlikely that Google was actively trying to alienate their LGBT user base with these rainbows, given the search giant’s widely-circulated contributions to the It Gets Better project. But it’s surprising - and a little disappointing - that Google didn’t seem to think through how this “hidden” doodle would go over.

Alice Walker: Why I'm sailing to Gaza [CNN]

Editor's note: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker will join an international flotilla of boats sailing to Gaza to challenge Israel's blockade of the territory. Here, Walker, best known for her 1983 novel "The Color Purple," explains why she will be taking part. 

By Alice Walker 

Why am I going on the Freedom Flotilla II to Gaza? I ask myself this, even though the answer is: What else would I do? I am in my sixty-seventh year, having lived already a long and fruitful life, one with which I am content. 

It seems to me that during this period of eldering it is good to reap the harvest of one's understanding of what is important, and to share this, especially with the young. How are they to learn, otherwise? 

Our boat, The Audacity of Hope, will be carrying letters to the people of Gaza. Letters expressing solidarity and love. That is all its cargo will consist of. If the Israeli military attacks us, it will be as if they attacked the mailman. This should go down hilariously in the annals of history. But if they insist on attacking us, wounding us, even murdering us, as they did some of the activists in the last flotilla, Freedom Flotilla I, what is to be done? 

There is a scene in the movie "Gandhi" that is very moving to me: it is when the unarmed Indian protesters line up to confront the armed forces of the British Empire. The soldiers beat them unmercifully, but the Indians, their broken and dead lifted tenderly out of the fray, keep coming. 

Alongside this image of brave followers of Gandhi there is for me an awareness of paying off a debt to the Jewish civil rights activists who faced death to come to the side of black people in the South in our time of need. I am especially indebted to Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman who heard our calls for help - our government then as now glacially slow in providing protection to non-violent protestors-and came to stand with us. 


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Zuna Institute Publications: Black Lesbians Matter

Black Lesbian Matters,” report is a quantitative study on the Black lesbian community. The creation of this report was a year long process of developing the survey, conducting focus groups, and finally writing the report. This  report, “Black Lesbians Matter,”  is an examination of the unique experiences, perspectives, and priorities for the Black Lesbian Community. The report focuses on five key priorities: Aging, Health, Identity, Family, and Invisibility. 

Francine Ramsey, Executive Director of Zuna Institute says, "This report is the result of year long process, and will lay the foundation for constructive dialog and the creation of an effective collection of strategies that will address the needs of the Black Lesbian community."


And can I just say, I want so badly to meet and speak with the women of Zuna Institute. I've been looking for older lesbians of color as mentors for ages. Ages! Maybe I should just move to Sacramento...

Provincetown's not safe for black lesbians

Note: It's always hard for me to publicly acknowledge violence committed by black men. It's hard because the actions of the few always reflect on the many. It's hard because people all too often take the actions of one black man and project it onto all of them. Their faces are constantly associated with violence and sexual aggression. At the same time, it's a transgression not to loudly acknowledge the experiences of my sisters and to confront problems and injustices on their behalf. Rev. Irene Monroe talks of this in her article "Provincetown's not safe for black lesbians." See below:

by Rev. Irene Monroe

At the tip of Cape Cod is the LGBTQ-friendly haven Provincetown, fondly called P-town, and known as the best LGBTQ summer resort on the East Coast.

Of late, more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people of color (POC) have not only begun vacationing in P-town, but we have also begun holding POC events.

For the past several years now, the "Women of Color Weekend" brings hundreds of us LBT sisters of color to P-town from all across the country.

And it is the one time of the year many of us make the journey to P-town, anticipating that we will feel safe enough, for a few days, to let down our guard.

But the sexual and homophobic harassment many of us LBT sisters endure from many of our heterosexual brothers of African descent back home in our communities, or imported from one of the Caribbean Islands has, too, become an inescapably reality at P-town.

"A few years back I sent a letter about this very subject...and I received an email from the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce, instructing me to get in touch with them and the police if this happens again...well, it has happened again and again," Ife Franklin of Roxbury, MA wrote me.

Franklin and her wife were at "Women of Color Weekend 2011," and she and several sisters of color were continually harassed.

"Now I will take ownership...I have not called the police or contacted the town Chamber.Why? Well, here is where this gets a little sticky for me...So, if I call and say 'there are some Black men harassing me' will they round up ALL of the Black men? Even the ones that have done nothing wrong?"

Issues of race, gender identity, and sexual orientation trigger a particular type of violence against people of color that cannot afford to go unreported. Not reporting what is going on with LGBTQ people of color not only subjects us to constant violence that goes unchecked, but it also puts the larger queer culture at risk.

In the now defunct Boston LGBTQ newspaper In Newsweekly Will Coons in 2007 expressed in his "Letter to the Editor" his distress with the harassment. "I'm well aware of the white man's burden and the need to be open and sensitive to historical injustices, but the flip side works as well: are these Jamaican men sensitive to, aware of, and respectful of the gay men who vacation here? My impression over the past ten years is that most of them are not and I distinctly feel uncomfortable in their presence."

The lack of reporting about these types of harassment and assaults from LGBTQ people of color is for two reasons -- both dealing with race.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Announcing Another Blog!

I'd like to announce that I've started yet another blog (in addition to Kandeke and Creoloto)! The Hustler is officially up and running. It's about my failures, successes and thoughts on supporting myself willingly unemployed (or trying). Advice, resources and inspiration included. Join me on my journey to sustainable unemployment!

I also have more projects underway. I'll update you on those as they take off. In the meantime, if you have some ideas on how to generate revenue for yourself, The Hustler is here to help motivate you to make those ideas a reality. You have to start somewhere to get where you're headed!

Video Interview with Tom MacMaster [Colorlines]

He even apologizes in a privileged way. Ugh! GREAT article by Akiba Solomon on Colorlines. Have a read.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Nepalese Tea Garden Empowering Women [Rishi Tea]

As a tea lover/drinker, I love reading stories from various U.S. based tea vendors. For a list of my favorite online vendors, see post "Chai Season." But in even more exciting news, Rishi Tea is now offering a Nepalese black tea from a tea garden that employs and supports women equally to men. Read on:

"We at Rishi Tea have always had a strong connection with our partners at origin. Nurturing that connection is important to us which is why we have worked hard to produce and purchase Fair Trade Certified™ teas. This passion is always with us as we look for new and exciting teas.

That being said, we would like to introduce a new tea and partner to you. Himalayan First Flush, Black Tea from the Jun Chayabari Tea Garden boutique estate is a tasty way for us to introduce you to Nepalese teas and bring you other ways to connect with and help tea growers around the world. The Jun Chiyabari Tea Garden is very unique in that it empowers women in an underdeveloped country. The women that work for this tea garden have the same opportunity and equal pay as the men that work there not only in the fields but also in the factory and management.

One success story is of Kalpana Rai. She is the record keeper, a supervisory position at the tea garden, and is currently enrolled in school to earn her masters degree. This speaks volumes of the Jun Chayabari Tea Garden and their breaking of the patriarchal mold. You can read more about this inspiring empowerment by going to the Nepal First Flush Himalayan Orange product page and following the link to an article by the Nepal Times.

We not only have chosen Jun Chiyabari for their superb quality, but also because they are socially conscious. Whether you are a fan of great quality teas, social consciousness, or both, we encourage you to try this tea.

Himalayan First Flush, Black Tea has a beautiful, light golden-orange liquor and flavors of apricot, peach, honeysuckle and wildflower honey with a lingering aftertaste and full aroma."

Hoozah! Happy Drinking!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

"Gay Girl in Damascus" Actually a Man from Georgia [NPR]

Over the last several months, Amina Arraf, a blogger who said she was Syrian-American and went by the name Gay Girl In Damascus, captured the world's attention. Her blog caught on just as the protests against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria became widespread and the crackdowns more violent.

On June 6, it all came to a screeching halt when Amina's cousin declared on the blog that Amina had met the fate of many bloggers in authoritarian regimes: Assad's police had taken her into custody. Whether she was alive or dead, no one knew.

As soon as "Free Amina" groups popped up on Facebook and the State Department began looking for her, the story began to seem a lot like fiction. No one had ever talked to Amina. The Guardian published a profile of her June 7 that included a picture they soon found out wasn't Amina but of a Londoner called Jelena Lecic. The biographical details in her blog posts did not check out. Amina Arraf couldn't be found in any public records in Georgia or Virginia and the names of her father and mother also turned up nothing.

Today, the Gay Girl In Damascus blog ended the mystery, posting an apology that revealed Amina was in fact the work of Tom MacMaster, an American from Georgia whose university records show is in a medieval studies graduate program at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.


Also, two Syrian activists speak out. But first, read MacMaster's half-hearted, entitled "apology" here

And read what these two activists have to say here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Men Are Not Hardwired for Infidelity: Why Does Pop Culture Insist on Biological Differences Between the Sexes? [AlterNet]

Grasping after certainty about gender roles has fostered some bad science and stereotyping that harms both sexes.

Type "men" and "hardwired" into Google and you tap into a wonderfully absurd catalogue of assertions about male behaviour. Men are "hardwired" to cheat, ignore their wives, suspect infidelity, overspend, fail, love money, pursue women and achieve supremacy in the workplace. Meanwhile, women are "hardwired" to worry about their weight and dump cheaters. All include the magic phrase "scientific studies show". It's a snapshot of how science is being used and abused to legitimise gender stereotypes. It would be laughable if it didn't signify how a form of biological determinism -- the claim that differences between men and women have a basis in innate biological characteristics -- has re-emerged and acquired an astonishing popular currency.


A tiny number of tests show sex differences. One of these (famously used to argue that men are better at engineering and other sciences) is a test comparing two shapes. Men are slightly more likely to use a method known as mental rotation, despite it being rather less efficient. Overall, in 45 items in the test, only three show sex difference, two of them favour girls and only this aspect of mental rotation favours boys. Spelke is astonished as to why this slight difference favouring boys has attracted such disproportionate attention.


Our Spirits Don't Speak English: Indian Boarding School [indigenous revelations]

via indigenous revelations

"For the government, it was a possible solution to the so-called Indian problem. For the tens of thousands of Indians who went to boarding schools, it’s largely remembered as a time of abuse and desecration of culture.

This clip and anecdote always brings tears to my eyes. The boarding school experience still haunts Native peoples to this day and contributes to the many social ills plaguing Native populations. I encourage all Native peoples to learn your Native tongue and culture. Do it for your elders that were robbed of their spirit. You have the opportunity to embrace your Native identity. It can only make you stronger!

The entire documentary is powerful. Click here for further info."

When China Met Africa

Must see. This looks quite interesting.

“When China Met Africa”

Starting on the 13th of June in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa,  The Encounters Documentary Film Festival will feature a series of African and other international documentaries including the likes of this one.

On the front line of China’s foray into Africa, the lives of a farmer, a road builder, and a trade minister reveal the expanding footprint of a rising global power.

‘When China Met Africa’ is a film produced by Marc Francis & Nick Francis and Miriana Bojic Walter.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Online Exhibition of Women Who Have Run for President [NPR]

With all the commotion about Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin potentially running for president, perhaps it's time to take a look at some female presidential candidates of the past. The National History Museum and the Shana Alexander Charitable Foundation are featuring a dozen subjects in an online exhibit titled: "First But Not The Last: Women Who Ran For President." -NPR

NPR posted a few of these women on their site. There are a noticeable number of women of color. Visibility is a beautiful thing... even if it's years later. Here are a few:

Courtesy of U.S. Government
Patsy Takemoto Mink
Patsy Takemoto Mink, 1972

"In 1972, a group of liberal Democrats in Oregon asked Mink to be their presidential candidate, and she was on the ballot in Oregon's May primary. She received 2 percent of the vote, coming in eighth out of nine candidates. Nevertheless, Mink achieved her objective of getting Americans to find a female president thinkable."

Lenora Branch Fulani
Lenora Branch Fulani, 1988 and 1992

"Lenora Branch Fulani has spent almost three decades fighting to end the two-party system and create a 'viable, national, pro-socialist' party for those who feel ignored by the Democratic and Republican parties."

John Duricka/AP
Shirley Chisholm

Shirley Chisholm, 1972

"Overall, people in 14 states voted for Chisholm for president. After six months of campaigning, she had 28 delegates committed to vote for her at the Democratic Convention. The 1972 Democratic Convention was in July in Miami, and it was the first major convention in which an African American woman was considered for the presidential nomination. Although she did not win the nomination, she received 151 of the delegates' votes."