Today, Guernica Magazine published a great, insightful and inciting interview with South Asian trans performance duo DarkMatter. For instance, this is how they expand upon the above statement that Alok never met a man:
Janani Balasubramanian: I think what Alok was saying with the idea of how we’ve never met a man in our lives, is that manhood is not just an ideal of gender; it also becomes a set of ideals around race, class, respectability, purchasing power, whatever. I’ve never met a single person in their lives who’s rich, has no feelings, goes to the gym every hour, drinks protein shakes all day. This person doesn’t exist.
Alok Vaid-Menon: They’re a fairy tale. What’s difficult is that gender has become only the domain of trans people and women. But we all have gender, and we all have a stake in ending gender.
In a conversation led by Guernica’s Kevin St. James, they discuss gender, performance, colonialism, capitalism, disappointing your parents and the importance of cracking jokes. It really is a must-read, whether you agree with their stances or not.
As Bookseller Elizabeth Bluemle points out in “True or False? Multicultural Books Don’t Sell: We Are the Problem, We Are the Solution”:
“Time and time again, at the bookstore and at children’s book festivals, I have observed white children picking up books with kids of color on the cover, and heard adults express surprise at the choice. “Are you sure you want that one?” they’ll ask. Or, “Wouldn’t you like this book instead?” It’s not the kids who are the problem. Kids really, really, really only care about a great story. In twenty years of connecting children with books they love, I have only seen one child—ONE!—balk at a book cover because the main character was a different race from her own. It’s the adults who underestimate a child’s ability or desire to see beyond race.”
So many times the left would rather be pure than win battles. We would rather be self-assured that we are right, that we always use the appropriate language, that we have read the right theorists and the right histories and our friends are refreshingly diverse and we recycle and buy long-lasting lightbulbs.
But right now, Occupy Wall Street is getting in people’s heads. It’s doing it by being there, day after day, week after week (now Week 3). It’s creating a space, a church of dissent, as Matt Stoller called it, where you can go and make friends, where you can be fed—ANYONE can grab a free meal, which is absolutely a draw for unemployed people struggling to make ends meet—and where you can borrow books from an ever-growing library, where you can join a teach-in—Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz was there yesterday explaining economics to people—and where you can learn.
It’s not perfect. Of course it’s not perfect. The incident on the bridge was a clusterfuck and 700+ people spent a night kettled in the rain and then in jail because of it.
But it’s attracting people beyond the usual suspects, and it’s creating a space where you can learn. Because most people? They get radicalized when something happens to them. They get angry when they can’t pay the rent but they hear that Bank of America got bailed out—and then turned around and charged them $5 to use their debit card.
That’s not pure or perfect or theory or nice. It’s true, though.
Champagne Candy: the class implications of “know your history”