Saturday, April 29, 2006

Spring '06

The weather in Oakland is nice. Summer keeps wanting to peep through and the clouds tend to give way by midday, sun beamin in through my apartment windows, the apartment I have been so grateful for.

Its been a tug of war lately though between this creative drive that keeps wanting to peep through and my will to end this semester successfully. I knew I had it comming.. 21 units in one semester leaves you with at least 60 pages to write at the end of the semester. I have to remind myself though that this is good training. I'm building a muscle here, trying to balance academia with my teaching and creativity. Although so far I've been just keeping my head above water, I'm aiming for the day where I can juggle all this work with no sweat. Sometimes I have to wonder if I'm neglecting aspects of my own humanity. The world expects so much of me these days, and I think it has always been in my nature to live up to higher expectations than the world expects.

Once I am through with this semester though, its gonna be all about spendin hours in the darkroom with some new exciting projects I have in mind and non-stop writing.... Incentive....

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Guess What I Heard...

Ok.. so I only recently started getting into X-Men.. and even then I was not all stoked about them until today... They have a new mutant named Callisto... and guess where she's from... Dominican Republic! Hella random! Check her stats out here... May 26th yall...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Blog Against Heteronormativity Day

Other bloggers participating in Blogging Against Normativity today.

In my American Indian Women class we discussed the topic of Two-Spirited people in American Indian tradition. We also talked about it in contrast to the more western/contemporary Third Gender term (not that existing outside of the gender binary is anything new of course).

What I found intersting about the discussion was the ways in which American Indian and non-American Indian folx who identify outside of the western gender binary assert themselves within society. The argument was that American Indians tend to reestablish already existing traditional roles within their historical communities. Two-Spirited folx tend to seek those roles that continue to keep traditional identities alive. In some AI communities your work and/or spiritual essence for example determine your gender. There are also more than just two genders in many AI traditional communities. So there are not just a variance of gender possibilities within these communities but there are also already prescribed roles for each of these genders, not just validating their identities but also incorporating them as functioning members of society (in many instances as medicine people and mediators between genders in community and marriage disputes for example). So their identities include more than just sexual desire (don't you hate it when people assume or think that your sexual identity is EVERYTHING you are?). So today American Indians many times choose to reassert themselves into their communities as opposed to negating themselves from it.

The Third Gender idea tends to separate the experience of gender variance away from one's community. I understand too that communities that have internalized oppressive western notions of heteronormativity perpetuate this by marginalizing those who do not fall into those assumed norms. Also many American Indian communities have interalized these norms themselves and marginalize their own community members, so this is not to say that all Two-Spirited folx have it that easy (sometimes they leave the rez in fear of physical attacks). But the reason this topic interests me is two things:

One: Finding solutions by encouraging our communities to understand how heteronormativity is a tool of oppression that we have internalized among all the other stuff, which in turn usually corelate to heteronormativity itself (sexism, patriarchy, sexual assault and its assertion of power, ect). We should understand that discarding heteronormative ideals is a healing process, not just for those who exist outside of the western gender binary and those who feel sexual desire for not just/other than those of the opposite gender, but for the whole community. Perhaps if heteronormative values and messages were non-existent our youth would grow up with more options of self-identity and less emotional/psychological complexes.

Two: (Not that "one" doesn't apply to this group because it does.) The tendency for white Third Gender folx to pretend that because they don't identify within the gender binary that they qualify for exemption from white privilege. I don't see many Third Gender white folx doing much work around understanding and eradicating white supremacy/racism and white privilege. Instead of taking the idea of reasserting themselves into their communities and initiating healing processes, I see the tendency to disown and deny any historical access to white privilege and create a separate "race" of people they consider to be right alongside the historical exprience of people of color. Of course this does not apply to ALL Third Gender white folx (because I know some myself that are doing anti-white supremacy work) but I would like to see those numbers grow.

Well here is a link to one of the articles we read on Two-Spirit folx in American Indian communities.. Hope this topic gets folx thinking as well..


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Integration vs Cultural Autonomy

So I'm really annoyed lately with the way this conversation is going between my Urban Poverty teacher (white female) and I both outside of and during class. We are talking about the concentration of poverty and racial segragation. To her, the only two solutions is to either move people with higher income into the low income neighborhoods and/or move poor folx into the high income suburbs. The whole conversation seems to be centered around the fact that brown and black folx living in their own communities is a bad idea. Of course she uses numbers to show that places that have been integrated have had higher employment rates and better academic achievement than when they were in racially segregated neighborhoods. What's my beef?

This issue as I see it is that communities of color are constantly targeted for budget cuts and cutbacks in services, historically. It is the LACK OF RESOURCES and economic marginalization that causes concentrated poverty, not "too many black/brown folx in one neighborhood." I make the argument that integration produces cultural genocide as the assimilation and removal acts did for American Indians. Same shit. I see it happen, comming from Harlem. Gentrification: move the white yuppies in and the character of the community changes, the grocery store that had collard greens closed down, platanoes cost more and you have to go further to do grocery shoppin, you get looks for kickin it on your own stoop on hot summer days, all the mom and pop spots that have been trying to survive are wiped out ect. ect.. So of course if you live in a "white" neighborhood and go to a "white" school and become assimilated to speaking "white" and thinking "white" you're gonna become successful in a white-value dominated society...(of course though they wont let too many non-white whites get too many crumbs). What the numbers DON'T tell you is the cultural affect of moving into a white suburb or having your neighborhood gentrified... Who's perspective are we looking at when we say that integration has been "successful"? My nephews who relocated into Orlando don't speak a lick of spanish and eat microwaved macaroni and cheese more often than rice and beans. I don't get to see them often and I haven't had a chance to be a part of their lives. How can moving people away from their homes be a good thing if it separates families and weakens community ties? Why should we buy into the american-way individualistic way of living? Should we not have the choice to live in healthy communities of our own? Call me a separatist, sure, but there's nothing about being a separatist that means we can't work in solidarity with other groups who share a common history, so there ain't nothing wrong with being one. My point though is that our cultural autonomy is being challenged with conversations about "culture of poverty" or more like victim blaming instead of looking at the structural flaws.

So what do other folx think? Integration or Cultural Autonomy/Separatism
Should we not decide within our own communities how economics should function, what kind of schooling our youngsters recieve, what kinds of employment will be available to us (meaningful shit, like entreprenuerial work, culturally appropriate and mind stimulating work, not factory or copymachine housekeeping corporate work), how the physical structure of our communities should fit our lifestyles, and what kinds of policies will benefit us most?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Posted Pix..

Exciting! I've finally found the tightest spot to post my pix at.. Click on "My Photography" to your right.. These are my color pix in Dominican Republic... Black and Whites commin out in due time...