“I don’t believe in men. I’ve never met a man in my life.”

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.

It is one thing to be a brave, precarious little boat when you are surrounded by the Coast Guard. It is quite another when you are surrounded by boats sinking faster than you are, looking to you for help.

“Hi, I’m right here”: An open letter to Paul Ryan about poverty and empathy – Salon.com

Great article by Karen Weese on the (working) poor, and how people in middle/upper class positions often fundamentally misunderstand the reality of poverty. Must read.

Multicultural Books, Children, and the Social Construction of Identity

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.”

(via lowoncliches)

Currently, we are witnessing a resurgence of white supremacist thinking among disenfranchised classes of white people. These extremist groups respond to misinformation circulated by privileged whites that suggests that black people are getting ahead financially because of government policies like affirmative action, and they are taught to blame black folks for their plight.

bell hooks. Where We Stand: Class Matters. New York: Routledge (2000) 115

In combination with Gramscian hegemony and other intersectional concepts, this might be the most accurate explanation of why so many ‘tea party’ rightwingers in the US are campaigning for programs  that would hurt them.

Ending welfare will mean that more white women than ever before in our nation s history will enter the ranks of the underclass. Like their black counterparts, many of them will be young. Workfare programs, which pay subsistence wages without the backdrop of free housing, will not enhance their lives. As the future “poorest of the poor” they are far less likely to be duped into believing their enemies are other economically disadvantaged groups than their predecessors. Since they are
the products of a consumer-oriented culture of narcissism, they are also more inclined to be indifferent to their neighbors’ plight. Constant deprivation creates stress, anxiety, along with
material woes. But their desire to ease their pain can change indifference into awareness and awareness into resistance.

bell hooks. Where We Stand: Class Matters. New York: Routledge (2000) 118

A passage of hooks’ insightful book that is especially relevant in an election cycle that may lead to a President Romney and a Vice-President Ryan, both stark opponents of the affordable health care act and other vital programs.

For the struggling dancers, students, and laid-off marketing flacks who worked alongside me at the club, pouring ourselves into dresses was just the most accessible means to an end. Each of us had ambitions outside of inspiring lewd gestures from intoxicated men. Service work is rarely fun, but I couldn’t shake the idea that according to many of the customers I served, my position was right where women belonged. When Steinem suited up in the Playboy Club, even her journalist friends didn’t recognize her. A woman is expected to be in a magazine or write for one, but not both.

My Job as Eye Candy: What Has (and Hasn’t) Changed for Women in the Recession – Lifestyle – GOOD

Good text about working as “eye candy” to make ends meet and the economic instances surrounding women taking up jobs like that.

First: actually, everyone is talking about gender and race and class, even if they do not choose to mention it explicitly. If you do not include any aspect of the latter into your work, you are making a conscious decision and chose a very specific positioning in terms of race and class, namely that of male white privilege. You are talking about race and gender: you are talking about white men. Surprise! They have a “race” and a gender too, despite being marketed as universal, and you chose to put the focus on them yet again.

Cut The Crap. « stop! talking.

Good, challenging text on (the lack of) intersectionality, especially in academics and activism. Do read it in full, it’s well worth it. 

Champagne Candy: the class implications of “know your history”



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”