It’s difficult for me to think of Nelson Mandela as anything but a universally-respected, wise, kind, and thoughtful asset to humanity. But he also organized attacks that would today be unconditionally condemned as terrorism. His government fought peaceful demonstrations with violence, and so he brought violence to his government. He was a fighter…once the fight got started. And he never stopped fighting, and the world is so much better because of that escalation to violence. That is the rarest sort of change, and it is a testament to his care as a diplomat, a politician, a human, and a warrior that it did not merely end in perpetual turmoil and bloodshed. To go from terrorist to president in only thirty years, with most of those thirty years spent in a cell, is an achievement I would never accept if I read it in fiction.
My video tomorrow is about inequality, and it doesn’t mention Mandela because I finished it yesterday and I had to fight the urge to remake it. But he is in my thoughts tonight, I hope he is in yours as well. If you’d like to learn a little more about his life, this short documentary is lovely.
I was a kid, and obviously very far removed from South Africa, and I want to be clear that I’m certainly no expert. But I overheard a lot of discussions about Apartheid in my childhood, because my parents and their church were involved with organizations linked to Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s anti-Apartheid work. And at the time, it was very controversial. As a kid, I remember hearing that my parents were naive, that Mandela was a terrorist, that one-person-one-vote could never work in South Africa, that it would immediately become a communist dictatorship, that all the white people would be massacred, etc. And had things gone differently in South Africa—had Mandela been a less brilliant leader—the transition could indeed have been catastrophic. To me, the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is one of the great human accomplishments of the past hundred years.
The world is now mourning the loss of a great man, as well it should. But let’s not forget that Mandela (and South Africa) might’ve been free decades earlier had it not been for the fear and discomfort of white people not just in South Africa but around the world.
The ACA provided states with federal funds to institute a Medicaid expansion. The states chose to expand the program also were able to set up their own state exchanges, which were relatively free from the problems the federal site had. Vermont decided to take it a step further by setting up their very own single payer system.
The slogan of the program: Everybody in, nobody out.
The program will be fully operational by 2017, and will be funded through Medicare, Medicaid, federal money for the ACA given to Vermont, and a slight increase in taxes. In exchange, there will be no more premiums, deductibles, copay’s, hospital bills or anything else aimed at making insurance companies a profit. Further, all hospitals and healthcare providers will now be nonprofit.
They estimate this will end up saving Vermont 25% per capita over the current system, in addition to preventing some proportion of the 45,000 preventable deaths that occur annually in the US due to the inability to afford treatment.
“While Ms. McKenna “did not ‘abduct’ the child,” the court said, “her appropriation of the child while in utero was irresponsible, reprehensible.”—Sara McKenna, a former Marine, became pregnant during a brief relationship with Bode Miller, an Olympic skier. While seven months pregnant, she moved from California to New York to go to school, leading a judge to scold her for “virtually absconding with her fetus.” Now, the fight for custody of their son has become “a closely watched legal battle over the rights of pregnant women to travel and make life choices.” (via bebinn)
“A man who assisted in autopsies in a big urban hospital, starting in the mid-1950s, describes the many deaths from botched abortions that he saw. “The deaths stopped overnight in 1973.” He never saw another in the 18 years before he retired. “That,” he says, “ought to tell people something about keeping abortion legal.”—“The Way It Was” — Mother Jones Magazine — Abortion before Roe v. Wade. (via edcunningham)
“Look at the difference: In 1977 I bought a small house in Portland Oregon for $24,000. At the time I was earning $5 per hour working at a large auto parts store. I owned a 4 year old Chevy Nova that cost $1,500. Now, 36 years later that same job pays $8 an hour, that same house costs $185,000 and a 4 year old Chevy costs $10,000. Wages haven’t kept up with expenses at all. And, I should point out that that $5 an hour job in 1977 was union and included heath benefits.”—an anonymous online commenter on the current economy. (via han-nara)
“[I]magine what would happen if, instead of centering our beliefs about heterosexual sex around the idea that the man “penetrates” the woman, we were to say that the woman’s vagina “consumes” the man’s penis. This would create a very different set of connotations, as the woman would become the active initiator and the man would be the passive and receptive party. One can easily see how this could lead to men and masculinity being seen as dependent on, and existing for the benefit of, femaleness and femininity. Similarly, if we thought about the feminine traits of being verbally effusive and emotive not as signs of insecurity or dependence, but as bold acts of self-expression, then the masculine ideal of the “strong and silent” type might suddenly seem timid and insecure by comparison.”—Julia Serano, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity (“Putting the Feminine Back into Feminism,” pg 329)
It started when I was in kindergarten, and I was so proud I did not have to go to Bingo class, unlike my friends, because I could speak good English -
although I had no idea what a yellow dog that could spell had anything to do with Chinese.
(I figure out now that it was probably called Bilingual class)
I am lucky. I speak the fluent, accentless English of newscasters, the dialect spoken by the children of immigrants, that we learned not from our parents but rather from watching Sesame Street and other things on tv.
Last year, a white facebook friend of mine posted, “In order to celebrate Chinese New Year, me talk rike chinese man arr day.”
And then told me that she was “sorry I was offended” and “she didn’t mean anything by it” when I (nicely, sweetly) told her that that shit was not okay. She said that she saw it the same as doing an accent, like Irish. Or British. Or Italian. (for bonus points, she even said that she has lots of Asian co-workers and friends, and LOVES Asian people, and so is not a racist.)
And when one of my white friends gets drunk, he thinks his “Asian accent” is hilarious.
And I was told by a coworker about the time my Asian coworker mispronounced “Barroway” as “Bwawwoway” and how hilarious it was.
Here’s the thing - can you guess how many Asian people I know who actually say
me from _____
me so solly
(or, if you like, the fetishized versions: me so horny, me love you long time)
if you said ZERO, then ding ding ding! Congratulations, you have working brain cells.
No, my misguided fb friend, the “Asian accent” is not an actual imitation of an accent, comparable to your bad British/Irish/Italian - but rather a mockery of Asian people and their supposed inability to speak English. It is the perpetuation of the image of Asian people as perpetual foreigners in America.
Like that time when my family was at an Italian restaurant, and we were speaking to my father in Cantonese, and a drunken white lady said very loudly, “GOD when you come to this country at least learn the language!”
Or when my father was pulled over for speeding, and although he said “what’s the problem, officer?” the first thing the state trooper said was, “Do you speak English?”
Your fake “Asian accents” are not harmless and silly, because at the root of the joke, it says - you, you are stupid. You cannot speak English. You are Other. You do not belong.
my parents have been in this country for 30 years. They have been American citizens for 30 years.
And they are very self-conscious of their imperfect English, afraid that it makes them look ignorant, knowing that it marks them as immigrants. That, after 30 years, you can still be told (in not so many words) that you do not belong.
The Cultural Revolution started in China when my father was 13. He was pulled out of school and, later, sent to work in the fields. (He escaped to Hong Kong when he was 18, but that is another story for another time.)
When my father came to this country, he had a middle school education and did not speak a lick of English. He worked as a busboy at a Chinese restaurant, the evening shift that ran until 3 or 4 in the morning, and went to school during the day.
It took my father ten years to earn his bachelor’s degree. He is now an engineer.
Is this not your “American Dream?”
When my mother came to this country, she spoke very little English. She got a job as an entry level clerk. Over the years she earned one promotion after another. She is now management at a large federal agency, and manages funds for the whole state.
Is this not your “American Dream?”
And my father didn’t understand why his coworkers said, “flied lice, flied lice!” to him over and over and laughed.
And my father is still afraid to speak in a professional setting, even when he has ideas.
And my mother still checks and double checks her professional e-mails with me, for fear of mockery from the same people she manages.
And people don’t understand why I can’t take a harmless joke. Why I don’t think that shit is funny.
No, I don’t “rikey.”
No, I won’t “love you long time.”
And no, I’m not sorry.
So, please, kindly - FUCK OFF.
Reblogging this for, like, the fiftieth time because it has never stopped being relevant to my life and it always, always breaks my heart.
It’s not funny. It’s not okay. It’s not harmless. It’s alienating and hurtful.
Two dudes rang our doorbell this one time, and my mom answered. They were basically asking her to buy candy bars in bulk to donate to some cause, but the way they were going at it was terrible. They talked very quickly despite realizing that my mom’s English was slow in comparison, and when she said she didn’t understand something and didn’t want to buy any of their stuff, they started leaning forward and talking about how she should take English classes or just not answer the door at all. I went to the door and told them to very politely fuck off, and they slouched away muttering about how rude we were. Not completely off-topic, but it’s another annoying thing people do to people who’ve learned English as their second language.
“Since it’s been estimated that about 3% of the US population will end up “losers” under Obamacare, I thought I’d write in and give you my perspective as a 3-percenter. However, I suspect that I belong to a smaller subset of the 3%, that being people who find it appallingly self-indulgent and shamefully self-pitying to think of ourselves as losers.
Having insurance, even crappy insurance, in the individual market means we are almost by definition, healthy and relatively young. If we were not, we wouldn’t be able to get coverage of any kind in the non-group market. If our ACA-compliant replacement policy costs us more, it’s likely because we’re too affluent to qualify for subsidies.
It takes a remarkable degree of self-absorption and sense of self-entitlement to be healthy, young(ish) and affluent—and yet consider oneself a “loser.” It’s a label I reject out of shame (no matter how much the lazy, superficial MSM want to fixate on me and my “plight”) NOT because there’s anything shameful about being a loser; the shame is in thinking oneself a loser when one is actually fortunate.”—An Obamacare “Loser” Speaks Out … About Not Being an Entitled Douche
“The rape joke is that you were eight.
The rape joke is that at the time,
you didn’t know people had sex to express love.
The rape joke is that the only other person
who’d seen you naked was your mom.
The rape joke is that he called you ‘beautiful’ first.
The rape joke is that he held your hands together
and told you to ‘try harder’ when you struggled.
The rape joke is that you believed him
when he told you were overreacting.
The rape joke is that your grandma
called him a nice boy and asked him to stay for dinner.
The rape joke is that he winked at you
when you apologized to your parents for not coming
downstairs the first time you were called.
The rape joke is that his friends
high-fived him for “getting some.”
The rape joke is that you still don’t feel like
you’ve regrown the pieces he stole.
The rape joke is that he was conceived when his
dad slapped himself into his snoring mother.
The rape joke is that her friends told her
she was lucky someone wanted her.
The rape joke is that each year in the United States,
32,000 other women’s bellies
ripen with life against their will.
The rape joke is that he never learned
to touch without scarring.
The rape joke is that your classmate thinks
‘have you seen what asses look like in yoga pants?’
is an argument.
The rape joke is your new boyfriend kissing
you and telling you he ‘raped’ his math test.
The rape joke is that ‘Why are girls so scared of rape? Y’all should feel pride that a guy risked his life in jail just to fuck you’
is a popular Tweet right now.
The rape joke is that you wake up to
the memory of him laughing,
“now that wasn’t so bad, was it?”
The rape joke is that it’s been twelve years and
you still quiver when someone touches you.
The rape joke is that he hasn’t stopped laughing.
The rape joke is that you forgot how to.”—The Rape Joke | Lora Mathis Inspired by this. (via soggypoetry)
For at least some newly thin people, there’s a meta-dissatisfaction in feeling that significant weight loss has made life anything other than perfect: Any discomfort you may feel with your body is compounded by a sense of shame at not feeling unmitigated pride at a moment you expected to be triumphant.
You are in everything. 99 percent of Hollywood movies feature your faces. 99 percent of magazine covers are covered in you. The Emmy Awards and Oscars are almost entirely you. If you Google “beautiful people” the screen is covered in white faces. Black girls (and boys) are taught from birth that there is one version of beauty, and it is you. Many black girls go their entire lives thinking they are ugly, thinking they need to be lighter, straighter, whiter in order to have value. Everything that you see every day that reaffirms your whiteness; every commercial that has a nice white lady embodying the perfect “mom;” every magazine that has blue eyes and bone-straight hair; every Hollywood blockbuster that has a leading lady with skin never darker than Halle Berry… all of these things are reinforcements of your identity that you take for granted.
You may be fat. You may have hair that curls up at the ends. You may even have acne. But your face is everywhere. Your people are everywhere. What in your heart recoils when you see Black Girls Rock? What bone in your body sees empowerment for black girls and thinks “that’s not fair”? Where is your bitterness rooted? What do you think has been taken from you when women of color are uplifted?
All of the things you take for granted are what you’re protecting when you shout down Black Girls Rock: your whiteness, the system that upholds your face as the supreme standard of beauty, your place in the center of a culture that demands people of color remain hidden in the margins, present but only barely and never overshadowing the white hero/heroine. Your discomfort with black girls who rock tells me that you prefer the status quo: you prefer for black faces to remain hidden, you prefer for America’s heroes to have white faces, you prefer for black actresses to wear aprons and chains.
WOULD ANY SANE PERSON think dumpster diving would have stopped Hitler, or that composting would have ended slavery or brought about the eight-hour workday, or that chopping wood and carrying water would have gotten people out of Tsarist prisons, or that dancing naked around a fire would have helped put in place the Voting Rights Act of 1957 or the Civil Rights Act of 1964? Then why now, with all the world at stake, do so many people retreat into these entirely personal “solutions”?
Part of the problem is that we’ve been victims of a campaign of systematic misdirection. Consumer culture and the capitalist mindset have taught us to substitute acts of personal consumption (or enlightenment) for organized political resistance. An Inconvenient Truth helped raise consciousness about global warming. But did you notice that all of the solutions presented had to do with personal consumption—changing light bulbs, inflating tires, driving half as much—and had nothing to do with shifting power away from corporations, or stopping the growth economy that is destroying the planet? Even if every person in the United States did everything the movie suggested, U.S. carbon emissions would fall by only 22 percent. Scientific consensus is that emissions must be reduced by at least 75 percent worldwide.
Or let’s talk water. We so often hear that the world is running out of water. People are dying from lack of water. Rivers are dewatered from lack of water. Because of this we need to take shorter showers. See the disconnect? Because I take showers, I’m responsible for drawing down aquifers? Well, no. More than 90 percent of the water used by humans is used by agriculture and industry. The remaining 10 percent is split between municipalities and actual living breathing individual humans. Collectively, municipal golf courses use as much water as municipal human beings. People (both human people and fish people) aren’t dying because the world is running out of water. They’re dying because the water is being stolen.
It was open season on black women on Twitter Sunday night. The tweets in the ugly trending topic compared black women’s bodies w/ animals, furniture & food. Black women’s existence was a joke. The topic trended for hours & reached the #2 trending topic spot. Post-racial Amercia? Um, OK.
this is a thing that happened. I actually cried, then I cried more. Someone wrote about it much more eloquently than I could. YT feminists had nothing to say ofc. Here is another article, its got some great comments.
This one is my fave and perhaps the most astute.
I probably would not have even pulled myself together to make this post if hadn’t gone looking for something to read to make myself feel better and found this quote from Baha’u’llah:
“O SON OF MAN! Write all that We have revealed unto thee with the ink of light upon the tablet of thy spirit. Should this not be in thy power, then make thine ink of the essence of thy heart. If this thou canst not do, then write with that crimson ink that hath been shed in My path. Sweeter indeed is this to Me than all else, that its light may endure for ever.”
So write the truth that I know. This is a terrible sad thing that happened, it is both racist and misogynist, and anyone who knows of this and tries to deny the existence of racism, or tries to say that black women don’t need “black girls rock” or The Abbie Mills Defense Brigade, or any of the other spaces that we create for ourselves is a racist fool whom for whom I have neither mercy nor kindness.
so few notes. if the trending topic had been #stopthelesbians tumblr would be all over this shit. stop talking a good game about intersectionality in your feminism if you can’t even be bothered to reblog.
Sometimes shit is so fucked up that you need a whole new category of trigger warnings for this shit.
All above bold mine.
This made me cry and cry. I’m so sad, and so disgusted with EVERYONE.
When a person goes “I’m just making a harmless little joke and besides, there aren’t even any black people around to hear it,” I always imagine how many other people in the world are doing the same at once. It looks like this. And that’s why racism, even “little harmless” racism is always unacceptable.
When I was a teenager, I was very critical of feminism too. I was a white girl, about to grow up into a world of white privilege, and I didn’t see the point. Then, the workplace discrimination started happening, then the sexual harassment, then the assaults, then the catcalls, then the condescension from men who weren’t as smart or accomplished as me, the sports coach who was too friendly, the male mentor with other intentions, the drunk male friend who won’t leave the room after the party so you can sleep, the car horns blaring, the groping: it all started happening at about the age of fifteen. I started realising that there was a large portion of the population to whom I was as good as chattel: I was an object to be acted upon.
I also started realising that I’ve been a female misogynist my whole life, and had a lot of unlearning to do too. Change starts with eliminating the noxious parts of yourself you have internalised during socialisation in a misogynistic culture. Feminism isn’t just about stopping the abuse of women by men, it’s about stopping the abuse we do to ourselves and others by genuinely beginning to believe we deserve to be treated as less than human.
“When I was in prison I worked 3 shifts a day, 5 days a week, starting at 5 AM and ending at 8 PM. I was paid $5.25 a month. Pay for the inmates who facilitate UNICOR workers (by making their food, washing their laundry, etc,) is even lower than the wages cited in the above graphics. The prison industry is also a slave industry, and it isn’t just corporations who benefit. All the furniture you see in federal buildings, post offices, DMVs, etc, where do you think it comes from? Prison labor. I think a lot of people know about states that use prison labor for license plates, but fewer people know that the plaques on doors at city halls, and sometimes the doors themselves, come from prison labor. The incarcerated are a hyper-exploited class unto themselves, and almost no one seems to be helping them to organize.”—
Given the fact that the majority of prisoners are poor people and/or people of color, and that the majority of prisoners are convicted of non-violent crimes such as drug use/sales and/or theft, etc., this is a crime against humanity.
Moreover, the for-profit private prison industry is one of the fastest growing in America. That means that already-super-rich investors and owners make millions of dollars off of super-exploited slave labor in the prisons. This is an outrage. It is the intersection of racism, capitalism, and repression and it is a blight on the U.S. and the human species.
“These days, before we talk about misogyny, women are increasingly being asked to modify our language so we don’t hurt men’s feelings. Don’t say, “Men oppress women” – that’s sexism, as bad as any sexism women ever have to handle, possibly worse. Instead, say, “Some men oppress women.” Whatever you do, don’t generalise. That’s something men do. Not all men – just some men.
This type of semantic squabbling is a very effective way of getting women to shut up. After all, most of us grew up learning that being a good girl was all about putting other people’s feelings ahead of our own. We aren’t supposed to say what we think if there’s a chance it might upset somebody else or, worse, make them angry. So we stifle our speech with apologies, caveats and soothing sounds. We reassure our friends and loved ones that “you’re not one of those men who hate women”.
What we don’t say is: of course not all men hate women. But culture hates women, so men who grow up in a sexist culture have a tendency to do and say sexist things, often without meaning to. We aren’t judging you for who you are but that doesn’t mean we’re not asking you to change your behaviour. What you feel about women in your heart is of less immediate importance than how you treat them on a daily basis.
“I confront [white guilt] every year, about a month into my course on racism, among [white] students who come to me in tears because they cannot deal with the racism that goes on in their families or their home towns or their student residences. Their tears are the result of genuine anguish, care, and a desire to learn and to change. I confront similar attitudes among my colleagues, and I am similarly gratified by their concern. But those who experience white guilt need to learn three things:
1) People of colour are generally not moved by their tears, and may even see those tears as a self-indulgent expression of white privilege. It is after all a great privilege to be able to express one’s emotion openly and to be confident that one is in a cultural context where one’s feelings will be understood.
2) Guilt is paralysing. It serves no purposes; it does no good. It is not a substitute for activism.
3) White guilt is often patronizing if it leads to pity for those of colour. Pity gets in the way of sincere and meaningful human relationships, and it forestalls the frankness that meaningful relationships demand. White guilt will not change the racialized environment; it will only make the guilty feel better.”—"Women of Colour in Canadian Academia," Audrey Kobayashi (via lamaracuya) (via hagereseb)
Since there are some people who might be unfamiliar with what I mean when I say that the way works of art are lit and photographed are often racist, I’m going to take some pieces from this article in order to sort of illustrate more clearly what I mean.
For a bit of context: when I’m talking about “racism”, I am not talking about individual feelings or directed hate. I’m talking about racist structures divorced from intent; I’m talking about systematic and automatic devaluation in terms of aesthetics and the presentation of art.
In one of the first scenes of early Oscar favorite “12 Years a Slave,” the film’s protagonist, Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor , is seen at night, sleeping alongside a fellow enslaved servant. Their faces are barely illuminated against the velvety black background, but the subtle differences in their complexions — his a burnished mahogany, hers bearing a lighter, more yellow cast — are clearly defined.
The diversity of these films isn’t reflected just in their stories and characters, but in the wide range of skin tones they represent, from the deepest ebonies to the creamiest caramels.
The fact that audiences are seeing such a varied, nuanced spectrum of black faces isn’t just a matter of poetics, but politics — and the advent of digital filmmaking. For the first hundred years of cinema, when images were captured on celluloid and processed photochemically, disregard for black skin and its subtle shadings was inscribed in the technology itself, from how film-stock emulsions and light meters were calibrated, to the models used as standards for adjusting color and tone.
That embedded racism extended into the aesthetics of the medium itself, which from its very beginnings was predicated on the denigration and erasure of the black body. As far back as “The Birth of a Nation” — in which white actors wearing blackface depicted Reconstruction-era blacks as wild-eyed rapists and corrupt politicians — the technology and grammar of cinema and photography have been centered on the unspoken assumption that their rightful subjects would be white.
The result was that, if black people were visible at all, their images would often be painfully caricatured (see Hattie McDaniel in “Gone With the Wind”) or otherwise distorted, either ashy and washed-out or featureless points of contrast within the frame. As “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen said in Toronto after the film’s premiere there, “I remember growing up and seeing Sidney Poitier sweating next to Rod Steiger in ‘In the Heat of the Night,’ and obviously [that was because] it’s very hot in the South. But also he was sweating because he had tons of light thrown on him, because the film stock wasn’t sensitive enough for black skin.”
This is what I’m talking about when I discuss the way that these photographs of artworks are lit, and the way the photos are processed.
In the digital age, there is no reason that a photograph should look like this:
To try and show how deep this goes and how racism is built into the entire structure of too many mediums of artistic expression:
Montré Aza Missouri, an assistant professor in film at Howard University, recalls being told by one of her instructors in London that “if you found yourself in the ‘unfortunate situation’ of shooting on the ‘Dark Continent,’ and if you’re shooting dark-skinned people, then you should rub Vaseline on their skin in order to reflect light. It was never an issue of questioning the technology.” In her classes at Howard, Missouri says, “I talk to my students about the idea that the tools used to make film, the science of it, are not racially neutral.”
Missouri reminds her students that the sensors used in light meters have been calibrated for white skin; rather than resorting to the offensive Vaseline solution, they need to manage the built-in bias of their instruments, in this case opening their cameras’ apertures one or two stops to allow more light through the lens. Filmmakers working with celluloid also need to take into account that most American film stocks weren’t manufactured with a sensitive enough dynamic range to capture a variety of dark skin tones. Even the female models whose images are used as reference points for color balance and tonal density during film processing — commonly called “China Girls” — were, until the mid-1990s, historically white.
In the face of such technological chauvinism, filmmakers have been forced to come up with workarounds, including those lights thrown on Poitier and a variety of gels, scrims and filters. But today, such workarounds have been rendered virtually obsolete by the advent of digital cinematography, which allows filmmakers much more flexibility both in capturing images and manipulating them during post-production.
These biases are built into the very technology we’ve been using for a century or more. That’s why actively fighting the structures that are in place are necessary in order for changes to occur.
At Howard, Young says, “the question of representation was always first and foremost. . . . When bias is built into the negative, how does that affect the way we see people of color on screen? People like Ernest, Malik and A.J. [found] a sweet spot. There’s always an inherent bias sitting over us. We’ve just got to climb through it and survive, and that’s what’s embodied in the cinematography.”
I wonder how much “crime” is just people wanting food, healthcare and a place to sleep
Remember back when Katrina hit, and the news was showing pictures of “looters” wading through waist-deep water with their “loot” consisting of diapers and bottled water? Yeah, I think you’re on to something.
“For years, I opened my 11th-grade U.S. history classes by asking students, “What’s the name of that guy they say discovered America?” A few students might object to the word “discover,” but they all knew the fellow I was talking about. “Christopher Columbus!” several called out in unison.
“Right. So who did he find when he came here?” I asked. Usually, a few students would say, “Indians,” but I asked them to be specific: “Which nationality? What are their names?”
In more than 30 years of teaching U.S. history and guest-teaching in others’ classes, I’ve never had a single student say, “Taínos.” How do we explain that? We all know the name of the man who came here from Europe, but none of us knows the name of the people who were here first—and there were hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of them. Why haven’t you heard of them?
This ignorance is an artifact of historical silencing—rendering invisible the lives and stories of entire peoples.
[…] In an interview with Barbara Miner, included in Rethinking Columbus, Suzan Shown Harjo of the Morning Star Institute, who is Creek and Cheyenne, said: “As Native American peoples in this red quarter of Mother Earth, we have no reason to celebrate an invasion that caused the demise of so many of our people, and is still causing destruction today.” After all, Columbus did not merely “discover,” he took over. He kidnapped Taínos, enslaved them—“Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold,” Columbus wrote—and “punished” them by ordering that their hands be cut off or that they be chased down by vicious attack dogs, if they failed to deliver the quota of gold that Columbus demanded. One eyewitness accompanying Columbus wrote that it “did them great damage, for a dog is the equal of 10 men against the Indians.”
Corporate textbooks and children’s biographies of Columbus included none of this and were filled with misinformation and distortion. But the deeper problem was the subtext of the Columbus story: it’s OK for big nations to bully small nations, for white people to dominate people of color, to celebrate the colonialists with no attention paid to the perspectives of the colonized, to view history solely from the standpoint of the winners.”—
This past January, almost exactly 20 years after its publication, Tucson schools banned the book I co-edited with Bob Peterson, Rethinking Columbus. It was one of a number of books adopted by Tucson’s celebrated Mexican American Studies program—a program long targeted by conservative Arizona politicians.Textbook depictions of Columbus are often filled with misinformation and distortion or are justified with references to manifest destiny. The bottom image is a woodcut by Theodor De Bry, in the 16th century, based on the writings of Bartolome de las Casas. (Photo collage: Zinn Education Project)
The school district sought to crush the Mexican American Studies program; our book itself was not the target, it just got caught in the crushing. Nonetheless, Tucson’s—and Arizona’s—attack on Mexican American Studies and Rethinking Columbus shares a common root: the attempt to silence stories that unsettle today’s unequal power arrangements.
the attempt to silence stories that unsettle today’s unequal power arrangements. the attempt to silence stories that unsettle today’s unequal power arrangements. the attempt to silence stories that unsettle today’s unequal power arrangements.
The US House of Representatives applauded the death of Miriam Carey before they knew who she was. They didn’t know about her postpartum depression, or that she talked about “wack men” on Facebook, or that she had been fired from a job last year, or that she lived in Connecticut or that she had been called a great mother. They simply applauded the unpaid work of the DC police in shooting and killing her.
Carey caused a panic last Thursday when she allegedly attempted to ram her vehicle through the White House barricades. Early reports were that a shooter was on the loose, giving everyone paying attention flashbacks to just a few weeks ago and the Navy Yard shooting. But early reports are almost always unreliable, and we eventually learned that Carey was not a shooter, did not have a gun, had her 1-year-old child in the car with her and was shot as she stepped out of the vehicle. This is what our Congress stood up for and clapped.
People who try to use household debt as a metaphor for national debt make me angry because unless the household has a credit score of 850 and is also lending money to their neighbors and other banks and is also running about 40 small businesses at once out of the garage it isn’t complicated enough to be a useful metaphor