Wednesday, November 25, 2009

International Day For The Elimination Of Violence Towards Women And Girls

This statement was released today by Ms. Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the executive director of the United Nations Population Fund:

Every day, women and girls are subject to domestic violence, exploitation, sexual violence, trafficking, honour crimes, harmful traditional practices, such as bride burning and early marriages, and other forms of violence against their bodies, minds and human dignity.

As many as one in three women has been beaten, coerced into sex, or abused in some other way.

In the 16 days leading up to Human Rights Day and every day, let us come together to demand an end to the most pervasive yet least reported human rights abuse in the world.

Let us all take a stand and say loud and clear ‘No to violence against women’.

In this demand, we are joined by a new network of men leaders led by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as part of the United Nations UNite Campaign to end violence against girls and women. I welcome their leadership and commitment to actively engage men and boys in the cause to end impunity, promote justice and human rights, and end widespread violence against girls and women.

Whether they are policy makers, community or religious leaders, fathers or husbands, uncles, brothers or young boys, they can all do their part to eliminate all forms of violence against women.

Real talk. What I want to know is... how can i be down with the mens at the UN?!? So great to see male responsibility and alliance happening at this level. I found this to be very hope inspiring. And UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon himself is quoted to say:
I call on men and boys everywhere to join us. Break the silence. When you witness violence against women and girls, do not sit back. Act. Advocate. Unite to change the practices and attitudes that incite, perpetrate and condone this violence. Violence against women and girls will not be eradicated until all of us – men and boys - refuse to tolerate it.
I. Am. Loving. This. 

Real talk, real manhood going on here. 

Also click here to follow how 16 days of "artivism" will be transpiring in the Bay Area, starting today (sorry i didn't post this earlier, grad school is needin much attention!)

I'm excited about this news. THIS is something I am giving thanks for this holiday. Very appropriate considering this holiday is founded on violence and genocide... so its fitting for a movement to now form to actively work to undo "the most pervasive yet least reported human rights abuse in the world". Sometimes I think we actually are evolving...  


Thursday, November 19, 2009

10 Year-Old Boy Won't Stand For The Pledge Of Allegiance Until No More Discrimination Against Gays.

ok, this kid is officially the hero of the month. 

I find this to be so relevant to my more recent posts about the recent sexual assault in Richmond, because so many boys watched a gang rape occur, and some have reported being scared to have done anything about it, because of peer pressure (One did also try to help her as well, and is now dealing with being labelled a "snitch"). Here, Will Phillips, a 10 year-old 5th grader boy who is taking on tons of homophobic teasing, but remaining firm in his stance. You have to check this kid out too, he's pretty serious and "adult intellectual", to a point where its kinda cute and funny (hope this kid actually finds time to play and be a kid too!!). But he broke it down, he doesn't want to stand to honor the pledge of allegiance until there is really "liberty and justice for all." He even states that there "really isn't liberty and justice for all, gays and lesbians can't marry, and there's still a lot of racism and sexism in the world. yeah." WHATTT?!? I hope that this catches on, wanna see whole classrooms refusing to stand. I'm personally glad I went to high school in Jamaica and never had to be stand to honor "liberty and justice for all" in a country rife with various institutionalized oppressions. 

I wonder if Universal Studios is just waiting for Will to grow up and become a lawyer so that they can jump on the movie rights. And i don't think Will will have to worry about getting into a law school either. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Photo Essay On The Richmond Peace Rally For Rape Survivors

Oakland photographer Bethanie Hines did a powerful, moving and beautiful capture of the rally Saturday. It really vividly depicts the passion, unity, hope, strength and power of community. I will post some pictures here, but for the full glory, please click here for the complete gallery. 


Monday, November 9, 2009

Be A Part Of The Movement Towards A Rape Free Future: Catalyst For Change Tonite @ 6:30pm

This is the only picture i took with my cellphone at the Richmond Peace Rally that happened on Saturday. These boys are carrying signs that say "No Rape" and are also promoting Love. And they recieved soooo much love for being there, and indeed this should be positively reinforced. 

This is the kind of future we need to invest in. 

It was good to see over 200 folks show up to say no to rape and help strategize and build. The press was there too. The mayor of Richmond came and said some for real real stuff about institutionalized sexism, racism and poverty, and that this is larger than Richmond. The organizers Elecia & Kiki also held it down, two sistas representing as strong and vocal survivors, and affirming that it only takes a couple of willful individuals to make rallies like this happen. One youngblood highschool brotha got on the mic and spat a rhyme smashin on the boys who just watched the gang rape. I was also proud to represent on the mic alongside other men speaking out against violence against women and girls. And we need to see still more men out here, Male Responsibility is at the core of this. Our granddaughters will ask where we were when the movement to end the Longest War was going on. Time to step up, time to redefine Man Up. Like the man who brought his sons to the rally.  

Tonight, there is another chance to build and strategize with community. A Community Forum called Catalyst For Change is happening at the Women Of Color Resource Center, 1611 Telegraph Street in Oakland. Its free (donations happily accepted), and children friendly. 6:30. Click here for details.

Please forward this permalink to folks, especially men. 

Prayers continue for the evolution of humanity...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Will Be Speaking Today On KPFA 94.1 FM With Byron Hurt & Weyland Southon About The Richmond Gang Rape, Male Responsibility, And More. 4pm.

(***please see link for archived KPFA recording. Our segment starts at the 26 min mark. Available until Nov. 17th. 

Most people who live in the bay are reeling from a very recent heartbreaking and horrendous case where a 15 year old girl was gang raped after a school dance at Richmond High. 10 boys assaulted this young woman while another 10 boys watched, laughed and took pictures. So far, 7 boys have been arrested, but that offers me little consolation. 

This event has broken so many of our hearts. And many of us are not content to just be sad about it and then go on with our day. Something is happening. I have always been trying to galvanize men of color around these issues, and all of a sudden, quality men are responding to the call, knowing that something has to be done, and that it is time to step up. At a meeting I had yesterday, one brotha said that even though events like this happen all the time, for some reason this hit like "The 9/11 for people of color". 

I invite you to tune in today at 4pm to Weyland Southon's show Hard Knock Radio on KPFA 94.1 FM where an ongoing conversation has been going on with the brothas about rape, male responsibility, sexism and more. I was on with Byron Hurt, an incredible anti-sexist activist / film maker brotha who made "Hip Hop: Beyond Beats And Rhymes" which is an iconic documentary about masculinity, misogyny and homophobia in hip hop. Since the inception of this blog, i have featured video clips of this and other works of his in the right hand margin. It was an honor to be on the same show with him, and to build alliance with people like this. 

If you miss the show, it will be archived online. And there are great shows that have already passed that have dealt with this subject.

I am glad to see men stepping up, and that I am not the only one who sees that it is imperative for us to Man Up in this way, right now. This should not be the inheritance of our daughters. We must be able to say that we did SOMETHING about it. We should want to do this. For the humanity of our sons too. 

There used to be a time when black bodies would swing from trees while white folks sat underneath it and merrily had picnics. Talk about a toxic bystander culture. Well, thanks to the work of white people of conscience and a lot of struggle from black folks, this is no longer a cultural norm. Men need to step up NOW, to do the work required to move towards making rape and violence towards women something that is no longer a cultural norm. We need to connect with men and boys on this. Model compassion, vulnerability, respect as strengths. Model intervening in street harassment, critiquing sexism in everyday life in their presence. And so much more. I also recommend the book "Transforming A Rape Culture", which is a text book i chose for one of my classes. And for sure, i'm waaaaaaay behind in schoolwork cuz i have chosen to actually "do" work on these issues instead of "study" them. It feels like the thing to do. But i still hope i can finish this term!! Wish me luck people....

Giving thanks to the men of conscience who are steppin up. Sending prayers of healing and light to the humanity of everyone involved in this rape case. And their poor parents. 

The brothas gonna work it out....

**March For Peace this Saturday November 7th, 11-2pm. Richmond High School, 1250 23rd St. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

BACK UP! Concrete Diaries: Sistas Speaking On Street Harassment.

BACK UP! concrete diaries from Nijla Mumin on Vimeo.

Here is a clip from a full feature length film in the making, please support this film! Educators... screen this in your classrooms! Click into the vimeo link for more info.

And to men, please take the responsibility to talk to boys and other men. Make interventions on street harassment even when you might not feel safe. Can't we afford a moment of "not feeling so safe" if sistas walk this on the daily?? And you KNOW you wouldn't want to see your sister, momma, auntie or girlfriend treated like this, so where is the disconnect? Really gonna be researching this dynamic so i can move forward with some salient strategies.

This entitlement thing to the space of other girls and women is just wack, wrong, and juvenille. Guys, it is time to Back Up and Man Up.

(For a previous post on street harassment, see: Not So Nice Outside: Street Harassment Is The Rage This Season. )

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Personal Update... From A Human Scientist In The Making

Hey everyone! Wassup. Like my "about me" blurb has been saying for some months, i've been going through some changes. All very much about growth, but it has still been challenging to shed skin. But i'm beginning to see shiny new skin for sure. And i'm thankful. I’m probably going to be posting even less, but for good reasons.

This week I started my new grad school program at a distance learning graduate school called Saybrook. I am pursuing a Masters degree in Human Science. I was really challenged with choosing this field, because although it speaks to me (with courses like Social Systems Transformation Theory, Intervention In Human Services & Community Development, and various other courses that look at race, class, gender, immigration, global issues, and basically figuring out how to create healthier new social constructs to counteract the oppressive ones. After all... social constructs are constructed by people! Ok, long parenthetical statement there)...Although HS really speaks to me, I was continually haunted by the notion that i would not be able to create a living for myself with this degree. Should I just get a Psychology degree, since i have so much experience there? But i want to work with communities, not just the individual. And Human Science has a psychological approach as well as a social justice approach. The social justice approach was really lacking for me in my previous Expressive Arts Therapy MA program, but at Saybrook- there’s even a course called Expressive Arts For Social Change! Perfect.

I also plan to do an independent study on Black Feminist Masculinities while i am at Saybrook, as well as take courses that would help me specialize in doing Expressive Arts centered therapy with couples and polyamorous folks. Excitement!!

I feel great about my choice. Ever since I was young, I had a fascination with the idea of being a “scientist”. The archetype of the eccentric scientist that appears in so many children's books and movies really appealed to me from early on, and i remember playing with a chemistry set and microscope with glee. I only recently realized that i will be able to call myself a scientist after i finish this program! Instead of turning chemicals from green to blue and looking at a butterfly wing under a microscope, i will be breaking down paradigms and social constructs down to their most fundamental elements, scrutinizing them with a critical lens, and reconstituting them into something that can help communities, and honors humanity, healing and justice. The science of what creates a change agent and paradigm shifts. Yes. This is what I want to be doing.

So yessss.... although i am sure that i will be finding amazing stuff through HS research that i can post here once in awhile, I will probably not be as active as i once was (i was posting almost twice a day when i started, almost 2 years ago!). I am considering this to be a move intended to deepen good work around issues of healing and social justice. In the meantime, I encourage folks to scroll down, and also to look through the links right here on the right for some of my fave posts/discussions, and also to peep the links to other really good feminist identified sites.

I am thankful to every single person who has read, skimmed, lurked and commented on this site, and passed it on to others... as well as those bloggers, colleges, women’s interest sites and others who have linked and recommended me as well! I am aware and respect that not every woman necessarily wants or needs a male ally or for a man to identify as feminist, so i definitely appreciate those of you who find what i do to be of worth. This site is for brothers too, I am still looking for y’all man!! We got a lot to ground and talk about. I know hetero brothers who are conflicted, trying to find love... but how can you truly love someone you don’t respect, someone you think is not equal to you? This is only a little piece of the healing I am talking about that men need to do. I am convinced that the path of the male feminist is a path of healing and justice for all.

Aiight? Till soon y’all, bless up!!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Vibe Lounge Closes: Community Organizer Robbie Clark Speaks On The Importance Of Queer Black Spaces

Community Organizer Robbie Clark talks about the importance of queer black space. Clark shares valuable insights on Oakland's Vibe Lounge closing in the historic context of the displacement of queer and poor communities. Also lays ground work for a call to action; toward building queer community with unity and power? Perhaps.

Raw, unedited footage shot by filmmaker Oriana Bolden from the last night at The Vibe Lounge. 8/16/09. Oakland, CA.

Interview: Robbie Clark
D.P./Producer: Oriana Bolden
Executive Producers: Susanne Borman and Lori Dynes

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Feminist Sci-Fi Flick "Born In Flames" Screening Tonight @ The Golden Bridge Lofts, Oakland

A black lesbian forms alliances with Riot Grrls, The Black Power Movement and other women to form the Women's Army, sparking the revolution to topple patriarchy. WHATTT?!?! Lizzie Borden's "Born In Flames" is a must see. Its got raw late 70's early 80's flavor, plus faux-documentary, quasi-psychedelic DIY editing style... and has a conclusion that is jaw dropping. Peep the clip below to catch the vibe....

TONITE! 8pm! The Last Of The Afrofuture Series! 

Third Root Productions (W. Kamau Bell Curve) in collaboration with The Loft Project (New Life, The Diva & the Dj) present

Third Root Art House Film Series:

Black Science Fiction: The Afrofuture is Now!

3rdRoot_4x6_front.jpg picture by ffloodspace

Thursday, Aug 20th. - "Born in Flames" 1984. (directed by Lizzie Borden, starring Honey and Flo Kennedy)

BORNINFLAMES.jpg picture by ffloodspace

seating at 7:30, show is 8-9:30pm (later on double feature nights), $5-$10 admission. Popcorn, munchies, soda, beer and wine available.

Third Root Art House Film Series& Discussion: Black Science Fiction: The Afrofuture is Now!

Golden Bridge Lofts
330 13th Street at Webster
Oakland, CA 94612

Third Thursdays June, 18, July 16th, August 20th. 8-10:30pm

Limited Tickets will also be available at the door.

for more information

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Identify As A Feminist, Hilarity Ensues. (And An Early Review Of "Black Male Outsider")

Last week, while taking a break from unpacking boxes in my new apartment, I walked down to Lake Merritt to read some more of Gary L. Lemons' "Black Male Outsider", a book that i've only read 20 something pages of but has really been blowing my mind. More about that later. I see a colleague running around the lake, and he is running with a woman friend. He recognizes me, and they slow to a stop to take a break, panting through introductions and stretching. My colleague starts talking shop, and the dark glasses wearing woman looks down and asks "what are you reading?" I show her. She reads the title, and then the subtitle: "Teaching As A Pro-Feminist Man." Her eyebrows arch skyward, and she lets out a hearty laugh, repeating the subtitle as if it were punchline from a good joke, with extra enunciation of the word feminist, to accentuate the absurdity of the "joke". I calmly smile and say "yes, i write a feminist blog." She looks back down at the book, her expression partly hidden by her glasses. She reads the back a bit, nodding slowly, saying nothing. What is she thinking? Meanwhile, I don't think my male colleague actually caught any of this, he was ranting about something unfortunate that happened at work. At some point, they decide their break was long enough. We smile and say good byes and good to meet yous. I watch them run away... and I am left with the impression that somehow, the idea of being a black man who identifies as feminist... is funny. Hilarious. Farcical. Something that comes on after Tyler Perry's House Of (Dire) Pain with a laugh track that comes on while the main character does an action for gender equality and justice. 

I think about the reactions I would have had if the woman had been black. If she had been white. She was a mixed race woman, probably in her mid 20's, and I personally don't know if she identifies as a woman of color. I wonder how i could have handled it differently. I wonder if she left still thinking it was funny, or if it left some other impression. I wonder how i could have brought my male colleague into this surprising and short moment. But most of all, I ponder that for this woman, somehow my maleness and/or blackness makes the idea of me being feminist kinda ridiculous. 

Would love to hear thoughts on this! And to be clear, though this left me feeling a little bit shaken, confused and minimized, i don't perceive this action as a mindful attack, or even something that i should judge this woman about. It brings up larger questions for me besides this woman's experience. If anything, I appreciate the opportunity to think about what this incident raised for me. 

SO YES. The book! 

blackmaleoutsider.jpg picture by ffloodspace

It is a memoir and scholarly treatise that is speaking very very deeply to me (yes!! you understand me!! i nod my head so much while reading this) and like i said, i haven't gotten too far. I appreciate that he entitles the book "Black Male Outsider" because he has chosen to mindfully stand outside of the prescribed roles of heterosexism and patriarchal masculinity. Which definitely holds one up to public scrutiny and suspicion. How on point that I receive laughter for identifying with this book! Black Male Outsider indeed. Here are some of my favorite quotes so far:

"...Black Male Outsider functions as a pedagogical autobiography of black male liberation. With unbridled candor, it lays bare my yearning to be free from years of internalized wounds of white supremacist thinking and patriarchal masculinity. At risk of sounding overly dramatic, I am no longer afraid to admit that embracing black feminist thought was a life saving action for me." -xvi

"The more i scraped through the thickly layered, crusted-over pain of past boyhood hurts and heteronormative notions of masculinity attached to feelings of racial inferiority, the clearer I began to see the work in this memoir as spiritually grounded."-xix

 "We promote the belief that all men should be in perpetual process of soul work toward the rejection of white supremacist patriarchy." -xix

And there is much more, with references to bell hooks, Aaronette White, Manning Marable, Patricia Hill Collins, W.EB. Dubois, Alice Walker, Marlon Riggs, Audre Lorde and more. Click to Feminist Review for a full review from someone who has read more than i have! 

I do really love that Lemons speaks of this path as being spiritually grounded. This is spirit work, this is heart work. Love is a large motivational factor for me doing this work, as most of the people in my life are female, people i love. There are also many LGBTQ folks in my life who i love. It has become hard for me to reconcile saying that i love people while turning away when oppression is a daily experience for the people i say i love. It is a path of self-respect as well, when considering that latter notion. And also self-love, as Lemons demonstrates with the willingness to plumb into and heal the tender and exploited parts of himself that were warped by patriarchy. This is work I also continue to lovingly do. Among many other things, this path is a spiritual path of revolutionary love.  

Who do you love? 


Monday, July 27, 2009

How To Continue Supporting The Richmond Lesbian Survivor

Hey people, its been a minute. Going thru many many changes (like so many others right now) and I have not been able to blog as often as i'd like. I'm thankful that the winds of change have been mostly gentle around really significant events, and am holding the intention that it remain so (and also for all y'all going thru it too!)

When we hear about stories like the ordeal that the Richmond Lesbian (aka JD) went through, it also gives us perspective around our own viccisitudes, struggles, and quest for healing. JD was sexually assaulted and beaten by 4 young men on her way home from work on December 13, 2008. An outpouring of support resulted, which i blogged about. And the truth is, JD is still in need of multiple forms of support. This should not be a surprise. Her friend has a blog that is a call for continued support, and i hope that people will be moved to help out someone else in need.

Some powerful words from the blog entiled "We're Here For You" (**trigger warning, paints picture of JD's violent ordeal)

Close your eyes, imagine being on a street, in what many people would consider a dangerous neighborhood, at ten o'clock at night, imagine that you are there in the middle of December, and that you are naked. Imagine how vulnerable and frightening it would be. Now imagine that blood oozes from wounds on your head, that you are cut and bruised from head to toe, and you are shaking uncontrollably from much more than the winter cold. Imagine a fear so violent and so overwhelming that it is literally shaking your entire body in it's fury. For JD, imagination isn't required to conjure up this image, she has her memories, because she lived it. I try not to think about the half hour which came before this, when coming home from one of her two jobs, JD came upon four men breaking into a car on her street. Before she even knew what was happening they attacked her, striking her with such force on the back of her head that her skull was split. They thought she was a man, and they intended to rob her, but when they realized that she was a woman, a lesbian, the assault took an entirely different turn. They began beating and sexually assaulting her in the back of her own car, taunting her when she pleaded for them to stop. When one of the men saw some people walking up the street, they quickly shoved her into the car, and drove to an abandoned apartment building, where they continued to rape, and beat her. The entire time the assault took place they hurled insults about her femaleness, and about her sexuality, they were clearly offended by her being a lesbian, and it was their intention to make her pay for that offense.
No one deserves having their humanity assaulted in this way. I imagine that the path of survivorship and healing for this woman is just beginning. It is good to see that she obviously has a dedicated support system around her. I encourage people to visit the blog to see how they can help, there is a drive to just help her make this month's rent at this point.

Wishing her and all survivors of sexual violence healing and light, and also wishing healing, light and an evolving sense of empathy to the fractured people who perpetrate these acts. May the winds of change also blow gently on JD as she moves through this.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

India Decriminalizes Gay Sex

YES! An archaic and oppressive law leftover from British colonial rule finally falls in India. I can only hope and pray that this indicates a domino effect for other former British colonies! If you grew up with Ovaltine, Enid Blyton, tea, marmalade, and your parents remember when money was shillings, you mus know is you mi chattin to! Heh. This is great news people, this will be a huge step for human rights. In places where old colonial "buggery" laws still exist (like Jamaica), violence towards LGBTQ folks are not only "justified" by interpretations of religious text (religious text that usually also recommends stoning adulterers to death. Not seeing that so much.), but also are given more cultural legitimacy when the law says same-sex sexual activity is illegal. At some point, it becomes forgotten that these were not our laws, and it becomes ingested along with other toxic, community fracturing and disenfranchizing elements of colonialism. I blogged more about Jamaica and historical factors that contribute to our brand of homophobia here.

This is amazing news, it gives me hope for more change on a global level! The Huffington Post reports:

In what many are calling "India's Stonewall", the New Delhi High Court on Thursday decriminalized homosexual intercourse between consenting adults, by striking down section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. This law labels gay sex to be an "unnatural offense", punishable with up to ten years in prison.

Drafted in 1860, this Colonial-era law was brought into effect by the British, and was in line with similar anti-homosexuality legislation passed in England at the time. In the past decade, gay rights activists and lawyers have strived hard to abrogate Section 377, calling it "inhuman", and as the Naz Foundation, which filed the petition to abolition 377 in 2001 argued, a violation of constitutional rights to privacy and equality.
Amazing. May the decolonization process continue for all former colonies, more power, more power! And may other straight allies also step up to these useless and hateful laws, so our LGBTQ brothers and sisters don'thave to do this alone!

Heh... I suspect that some of my more recently reconnected Jamaican friends via facebook must be like "Woy... Richard really serious bout dis ting!"

Sweet. I leave you with a suggestion. I highly recommend watching Deepa Mehta's "Fire" with friends to celebrate this victory, and stimulate discussion. Peep the trailer! Bless up

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Last Post For Pride Month: Young Lesbian Of Color Teaches School District A Lesson In Human Rights.

This was one of my fave stories from last month! I thought it would be a good post to close out Pride month. Rochelle Hamilton, like so many LGBTQ folks (or anyone who doesn't fit prescribed notions of gender whatever their sexuality) was going thru a living hell at school. Her TEACHERS were perpetrators of hate against her. Ugh. The ACLU reports:

For Rochelle Hamilton, starting high school was the beginning of relentless harassment from teachers and school staff because she’s openly gay. One teacher told her, "You're going to hell. This is a sin." Another said, "What's wrong with you? What are you, a man or a woman?" After months of asking the school and the district to intervene—to no avail—Rochelle and her mom reached out to the ACLU for help. Together, we took on the school district—and won.

YES! Love it. Triumph of the human spirit. I'm waiting for the made for tv movie to come out. Alicia Keys could play the main role :)

Be sure to read the rest of the article, and there is also a video clip that has interviews with Rochelle Hamilton and her mom. By the way, they what they won was 1) new anti-discrimination laws in the district 2) mandatory anti-harrassment training around sexuality and gender identity for ALL students and teachers in the district... and 3) Rochelle got 25K.

Reaffirms my faith in justice and humanity!

First and foremost, Happy Pride to my LGBTQ peoples! And to everyone else i say... whoever you love, if this story makes you proud that we can work together to uplift each other and respect the humanity of our children and community members... Happy Pride.

Monday, June 29, 2009

San Francisco Pride: Party Or Police State?

Wow. Check out the Nobody Passes blog an expose on how SF Pride has been getting more steadily corporate and militarized by an aggressive hetero presence. Its very well written, and you can practically see the eye-rolls in the colorfully frank piece. I heard glowing reports from people who went to the Dyke March in Dolores Park (a lot of whom are still glowing from the hot sun), but who went to Pink Saturday?

here's a quote from the blog:

Get this: the security staff yells at us that we need to form separate lines for “men” and “women”-- I kid you not! Binary gender lines at a queer event in San Francisco, organized by a bunch of queens who dress as nuns. The security staff is frisking people and making people throw away water bottles, asking us if we have any drugs or sharp objects -- wait, I thought this was a public street, I didn’t realize we were visiting our friends in the tank at 850 Bryant.

this other example of over-policing is of note:

But there’s more -- just as Hilary and I are trying to make our way through the crowds to get to one of the exit checkpoints, we spot a few friends, and guess what? This year, the Dyke March got stopped at 17th and Sanchez, stopped by the line of straight male security guards who demanded that all the dykes walk single-file through the frisking station. That’s right -- on the one day of the year when dykes actually flood the Castro, it’s important to make sure there’s extra security! Outsourced security, no doubt.



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Melissa Roxas' Abduction & Torture Only Makes Her A Stronger Ally To Freedom.

Several posts back I blogged about the abduction and surface of Fil-Am activist Melissa Roxas who was doing work in the Philippines. After missing for 6 days, she was returned to her family. She now reports that she was tortured, and that although torture is a mechanism used to break spirit and silence dissension, more than ever, she values the fight for human rights and freedom. In her own words:
When my own experience of abduction and torture ended and I was reunited with my family it was not a second birth for me, I realized that it is a continuing journey for the search for truth and justice. Repressive governments and military use torture as a form of control, to instill fear in people in debilitating ways, so they stay quiet and lose their light inside. But I realized no amount of pain or suffering or fear can stop that earth in me to keep rising. Instead it gave birth to new births. My experience has convinced me even more of the value of freedom and justice and the importance of fighting for and upholding the principles of human rights and human dignity.
This woman has such a strong fire blazing in her heart. I'm glad she is on our side. Welcome home Melissa.

You can read more of her inspiring words here.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reportback From the 2009 SFWAR Walk Against Rape.

_DeviceMemory_home_user_pictures-7.jpg picture by ffloodspace

don’t be scared, don’t be quiet

affected by rape? join the riot!

That was one of the many chants we shouted as we walked through the streets of San Francisco on April 25th. The vibe is becoming familiar, and I continue to be re-inspired to do this important walk, do fundraising, and be visible as a male ally and a brotha around these issues.

I am really so thankful for the people who supported my efforts by giving to the San Francisco Women Against Rape. Because of y’all, I suspect i must have been at least one of the top ten fundraisers for the event. Friends, family and people of conscience altogether donated $1312.00 (and counting, my fundraising page is open until September), nearly double what i raised last year. And this is during a recession too! Hats off to folks, for real. And it is good to know that all of that will be going towards helping women in crisis get the services they need.

Being a male ally of color went to a new level this time (finally). Last year, I put out the call to men of color to walk with me. Long story short, i walked alone. I put out the call again this year-- a friend nearly flew up from Jamaica!! But funds were not really flowing, so instead we are starting convos around creating something similar in Jamaica. But one man did respond to my call, Ramesh. I had never met Ramesh in person before, but we had been emailing each other and other men around forming men’s groups. Among other things, Ramesh does work with Narika, an organization that is a resource for South Asian women dealing with domestic violence and abuse.

The walk itself was powerful and beautiful, but the piece around connecting with other men of color in this context was the crux of this for me.

The Walk Against Rape was scheduled to meet at Justin Herman Plaza at 10am. I had anticipated a chilly San Francisco day, but it was sunny and beautiful, and i found myself stripping off layers within minutes of arriving at the check-in point. Ramesh and I didn’t have much trouble identifying each other that Saturday morning, two brown guys in their 30’s amongst mostly younger women. I was pleased to see a large Asian /Pacific Islander presence. The largest male presence was definitely East Asian youth. I saw several black men, and some of us smiled and did the brotha nod of acknowledgement. I found myself taking pictures of them later, wanting to document their presence. I saw various photographer lenses sway my direction as well.

IMG00358.jpg picture by ffloodspace

Ramesh and I hit it off really well. I found myself smiling more and more as i realized i was looking into another brown male face and speaking about our lives, our passions, and feminist activism. Yay!!

Our first interesting exchange (one that challenged me) was when Ramesh suggested we talk to women of color to see what they wanted from male allies of color. I found myself hesitating, and some of it was shyness... but there was something else. I brought it up. One of my concerns around building a male ally presence at this rally, was about us even unconsciously taking up too much space. Ramesh nodded. He rehashed the approach and question for me, and though i forget how it was all modified, I felt more comfortable with it. It didn’t feel as much like it could be taken as “hi, educate us now!”, and definitely left the option for people not to respond if they weren’t feelin it.

I am glad we made that compromise.

We approached some young sistas wearing USF hoodies, politely introduced ourselves, and asked briefly if they had any thoughts they would like to share around what they would like to see male allies of color doing. The conversation started slowly, then built momentum. The young women said that they want men to be visible and present at events like this, like how we are. They also said that they want us to talk to other men about these issues. And we learned that there had recently been 4 rapes at USF by one man, and that the whole school was going through shock and trauma because of that. We talked about there needing to be more education around sexual assault, because college campuses have such horrible track records with rape, something that definitely isn’t advertised in the admissions office. One young woman said that since its a Jesuit school, there is more of a moralist approach to these issues, and not so much breaking it down into a need for education around these issues, or framing it as a violent manifestation of patriarchy. After maybe 10 minutes, we thanked them for their time and conversation, wished them a good day, and went on our way.

I started to think more about what being active meant, and how to find out what being a good ally meant without exhausting people... how to actually do the opposite, and give energy through active listening and acknowledgement. I’m still thinking about that.

4 other South Asian men from Narika, friends of Ramesh soon joined us. 5 brown dudes reppin at the SFWAR walk! Woo hoo! It felt good to finally be at this walk, talking to other men of color about anti-sexism work. We shook hands, and our eyes met in recognition of this reality.

Lisa Thomas-Odeyemo, the Director of Counseling of SFWAR stepped up to address the walkers with a bullhorn (pictured at the top). This has become a ritual that i look forward to. Not only does she facilitate us in grounding & stretching, to get in our bodies and feel powerful in our purpose, but she evokes the long lines of ancestors that are behind us all, leading us here to this space at this time. Grounding this in the spirit of ancestors is an important piece for me. Soooo many ancestors were dehumanized and raped during slavery, and so many others were raped in older patriarchal systems. By husbands. Fellow schoolmates. Policemen. Soldiers. Prison Guards. Gay Bashers. Relatives. Long legacies of sexual assault as a mechanism of control that are not only from older patriarchal systems, but are more than alive today. We acknowledge. And we make our bodies walking shrines of remembrance and resistance.

_DeviceMemory_home_user_pictures-6.jpg picture by ffloodspace

We take to the streets, with purposeful fire in our eyes, and chants in our throats. A truck drives with us, playing live samba drums, layers of polyrhythms bounce of the alleys made by the tall buildings of Downtown San Francisco. The sun is high, and people are smiling and chanting. It’s a gorgeous walk, and we stretch for maybe two blocks, easily fillling up one side of the street. Cars drive by on the other side, honking horns in support, which always raises a big roaring cheer from the crowd. Me and Ramesh joke that if you are having a bad day, you can just drive past the rally and beep, and then hundreds of people will cheer at you! But on the real, the love was in the air, and it was a revolutionary love to be shared.

IMG00366-1-1.jpg picture by ffloodspace

Ramesh continued to engage other walkers on their thoughts around the rally. They were mostly male youth, and even a police officer. I took the opportunity to connect with the other Narika men.

IMG00365.jpg picture by ffloodspace

When we reach Dolores Park, the finish line was apparent, an arch of balloons blowing in the wind. The energy of the walkers picked up, and the cheers got louder in call and response style for the final stretch:

Tell Me What Community Looks Like?!

Tell Me What An Activist Looks Like?!


Tell Me What A Survivor Looks Like?!
Tell Me What An Ally Looks Like?!


Tell Me What Community Looks Like?!

IMG00369.jpg picture by ffloodspace

We are received by a smiling, standing ovation of park goers, supporters and organizers. The sense of arrival and triumph is buzzing in the air. Some walkers are received with hugs and kisses. Me and the Narika men go to sit in a circle on the grass to brainstorm over ideas for future meetings.

IMG00370.jpg picture by ffloodspace

Afterwards, we go looking for some food, and then i see my honey! Yay. I’m glad we can sit together and watch the upcoming performances. At some point, a female emcee steps up to the mic, and she shares heartbreaking stories of her own sexual abuse, and stories from her community. She also shared that a law was being introduced in Afghanistan that would legalize raping one’s wife under the law (which has since met much internal resistance, and will not pass). She went on to inform us about being in mutual alliance and support with Denim Day in Italy, a day that was created when a judge ruled that a woman could not have been raped because her jeans were too tight to come off without consent. Vomit. Also evoked was the disgusting case in the Philippines where US military officer Daniel Smith was arrested for raping a 22 year old Filipina, but then was whisked away by a US Embassy and acquitted. Outrageous. My pal Kiwi reports and blogs. Having illustrated the global impact of a rape culture, the emcee brought it back home and acknowledged the USF community for what they were going through, which inspired thankful cheers from the USF camp.

The featured acts were all very powerful, but a few really stood out to me. Imani’s Dream, a youth dance troupe from Oakland kicked it off, and brought magic. It was so good to see little black boys and girls in this space, dancing and embodying resistance to predatory masculinity and sexual assault- as well as have a real good time! They were beautiful. Oakland Represent!!

_DeviceMemory_home_user_pictures-4.jpg picture by ffloodspace

Staceyann Chin also read from her memoirs, her new book “The Other Side Of Paradise”. Wow. Staceyann is a powerful Jamaican lesbian spoken word artist, i blogged a great clip of her performing “Feminist Or Womanist” here around a year ago. It was great to see her again on the SFWAR stage. After some funny and facetious questioning of what’s up with the cold weather (she didn’t have a jacket! ahh! It was sunny but breezy for sure) she went into her fierce spoken word. And... she rocked it.

staceyannchin006.jpg picture by ffloodspace

And on the real... her book is amazing. As a Jamaican, it consider it to be one of the most important works of literature to come from our own. It is well written, at times funny and shining with unmistakable Jamaican wit, but mostly just taking you on the challenging journey of a little girl from country who strove assert her humanity. It is a perspective that is important for all to read, dealing with gender, class, sexuality, and religion in ways that are rarely discussed in the larger Jamaican community. I wish it were prescribed reading in school. But I was more than pleased to see that it got good reviews in The Gleaner, Jamaica’s premiere newspaper! I don’t think I can really explain just how amazing that is.

paradiselost.jpg picture by ffloodspace

So that is the reportback. Sorry it took so long to write it! And thank you again to everyone who supported in cash, words or spirit. And if you know some men of color who REALLY should be walking with me next year, well, let me know :) Bless up


Thursday, June 4, 2009

No Ass At All

Love it. Aisha Tyler does what can be considered a response to Sir Mix A Lot's "Baby Got Back", but instead, Tyler creates a hilarious anthem for women who have smaller booties, while weaving in interesting themes of identity, race and body image.

Ahh, you didn't want Sir Mix A Lot's anaconda anyway.


Monday, May 25, 2009

I'm SOOO Happy To Have Some Good News... Melissa Roxas Has Been Returned To Her Family.

Whew. Giving much thanks for real. Still waiting for her comrades to come home as well, but this is amazing, faith renewing news.

Details at the Bulatlat site.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Surface Filipino-American Activist Melissa Roxas And Comrades Now!

Bloggers, activists, people of conscience (and influence) please repost far and wide! My friend Kiwi has posted on his blog about his missing friend, Melissa Roxas. May the doors open to her safe return, as well as the other FilAm activists.

BAYAN-USA, an alliance of 14 Filipino American organizations and chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan Philippines), is calling on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Department of National Defense, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to immediately surface Melissa Roxas, an American citizen of Filipino descent who was abducted in the Philippines on May 19. BAYAN-USA also urgently calls on our representatives in the U.S. Congress to act quickly to ensure the safe return of Roxas.

Roxas is a well-known Filipino American activist, who served as the first Regional Coordinator of BAYAN-USA in Los Angeles and co-founded the cultural organization Habi Arts. Roxas is an active human rights advocate and was instrumental in organizing a BAYAN-USA contingent that participated in the International Solidarity Mission in 2005, an international fact finding mission that called attention to the escalating human rights violations in the Philippines. Roxas went to the Philippines in 2007 to pursue human rights work, where she became a full time volunteer health worker. She was abducted on May 19, 2009 at approximately 1:30 PM in Sitio Bagong Sikat, Barangay kapanikian, La Paz, Tarlac. She was with two other volunteers, Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Handoc.

Based on reports filed by the human rights group KARAPATAN and the La Paz police, Roxas and her companions were taken by at least 8 armed, hooded men riding two motorcycles and a Besta van without any license plate numbers. There has been no word on the whereabouts and condition of Roxas and her companions since the abduction. The circumstances of Roxas’ abduction typify the abductions and enforced disappearances of over 200 innocent civilians, allegedly last seen in the hands of suspected state security forces.

To report leads, or to connect for action contact:

Kuusela Hilo
BAYAN-USA Vice Chair

Rhonda Ramiro
BAYAN-USA Secretary General

Also please take a moment to sign this petiton.

and Kiwi, if you need a dj for a consciousness raising / action / event, holla.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

YES MEANS YES! Readings on Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape, This Saturday 7:30pm @ Pegasus Books Berkeley

Please support your local indie bookstore, and a revolutionary new anthology that is being read this Saturday at Pegasus in Berkeley! The book is called Yes Means Yes! Visions Of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape. A group of feminist writers came together to update the 1970's anti-rape slogan "No Means No" into a new paradigm that affirms female sexuality and power, while creating space for new visions of ending a rape culture. The Pegasus site has a great synopsis:

In this groundbreaking new look at rape edited by writers and activists Jaclyn Freidman and Jessica Valenti, the way we view rape in our culture is finally dismantled and replaced with a genuine understanding and respect for female sexual pleasure. Feminist, political, and activist writers alike present their ideas for a paradigm shift from the “No Means No” model—an approach that while necessary for where we were in 1974, needs an overhaul today. Yes Means Yes brings to the table a dazzling variety of perspectives and experiences focused on the theory that educating all people to value female sexuality and pleasure leads to viewing women differently, and ending rape. Yes Means Yes aims to have radical and far-reaching effects: from teaching men to treat women as collaborators and not conquests, encouraging men and women that women can enjoy sex instead of being shamed for it, and ultimately, that our children can inherit a world where rape is rare and swiftly punished. With commentary on public sex education, pornography, and mass media, Yes Means Yes is a powerful and revolutionary anthology.

I just bought this book yesterday, I am looking forward to getting schooled. For a peek into some of the writing, click to "The Not Rape Epidemic" written by blogger Latoya Peterson and shared on Racialiscious. They have trigger warnings there, and i would repeat them. This really is probably not something to read at work. It goes through some really graphic experiences before mapping out some of the visions for ending rape. Whew. I got work to do with my mens!!

Also coming soon is my reportback on the SFWAR Walk Against Rape, i'm still writing that one. And i love that people are still donating even though the walk is done for this year. I set my donations page so that people can keep donating until September sometime.

I won't be able to go to the reading because of work, but if you go, let us know what you thought! And you can buy the book through the Pegasus link, and here is a Powell's link. Forget Amazon, they are officially wack.


Time: Saturday, May 9, 2009 7:30 p.m.
Location: Pegasus Books Downtown,
2349 Shattuck Avenue
Title of Event: Feminist writers read from Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kenyan Women Join Forces To Ban Sex With Husbands In The Name Of Peace And National Unity.

Awesome. In a modern day, real life Lysistrata re-enactment, Kenyan women are coming together with a plan to withhold sex from husbands for a higher political cause. Ida Odinga and Lucy Kibaki (pictured here) are being urged to join the campaign, they are respectively the wives of the PM and the President. President Kibaki and PM Odinga have been in a political squabble for sometime now, and the nation fears violent political unrest. The movement hopes to get the two leaders to make up and prioritize unity. According to CNN, Ida Odinga supports the campaign "100%"

BBC goes on to report:

Women's activist groups in Kenya have slapped their partners with a week-long sex ban in protest over the infighting plaguing the national unity government.

The Women's Development Organisation coalition said they would also pay prostitutes to join their strike.

Patricia Nyaundi, executive director of the Federation of Women Lawyers (Fida), one of the organisations in the campaign, said they hoped the seven-day sex ban would force the squabbling rivals to make up.

She said the campaign would start from her bedroom and that emissaries had been sent to the two leaders' wives, Ida Odinga and Lucy Kibaki, urging them to join in and lead from the front.

"Great decisions are made during pillow talk, so we are asking the two ladies at that intimate moment to ask their husbands: 'Darling can you do something for Kenya?'"


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Angie Zapata's Killer Convicted On All Charges, Making Him The 1st Person Convicted For Hate Crime Against TG.

Angie Zapata

18 year old Angie Zapata was found beaten to death in her Colorado apartment in July 2008. People have been rallying for justice since.

This news just came in today, i quote from 9news Colorado:

The jury found 32-year-old Allen Andrade guilty of both first-degree murder and of a bias motivated crime or hate crime. It is believed to be the first conviction in state history for a hate crime against a transgender person.
I'm not sure if this sets a nationwide precedent, but i wouldn't be surprised.

As always, I have complex feelings around the failings of our (in)justice system, a system that does not rehabilitate, a system where big wigs make bank from imprisoning humans, a system rife with oppression... but i do hope that the friends and family of Angie Zapata find some redemption in this historical ruling, and i hope that this sends a message to people inclined to violence that you can't get away with hurting transgendered folks.

Rest In Peace Angie Zapata.

(click for tribute page, hear from her family, get educated on TG issues)


Monday, April 20, 2009

San Francisco Walk Against Rape This Saturday- and i'm $78 away from my fundraising goal of $1000!

Thank you everyone who has been sooooo generous to this cause. I also wanna give thanks and props to those who are doing the work with offenders, and those who mentor young men around non-violent ways to embody masculinity.

And I can't front, I am EXCITED!! I am just $78 away from my goal of $1000- AND my annual call for men of color to walk with me has been answered. Yay! Together, we plan to model that men of color ARE visible, active, caring allies to women, and not just people to be profiled as perpetrators.

I invite you to even contribute $5... every little bit helps a woman get crucial services at SF's only community run rape crisis center. If 8 people give $10, that's it, we are GOOD! Though if you click into the link and see that we busted the 1K, don't let that stop you either! :)

you can also just click the widget at the right.

Again, thanks for your support and readership, and thank you SFWAR. lets do this!!

have a great weekend :)



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Men's Story Project: Building Strength, Creating Peace. April 25-26.

Bay Area! These are different"his-stories" being told here, these stories model ways men should be talking, issues we should be examining. Don't miss the newest edition of:

The Men's Story Project

Building Strength, Creating Peace

UCB Multicultural Center
Sat. April 25, Sun April 26
Doors 7 PM; performance 7:30
$10-12 @ door only

The Men's Story Project is a new performance and dialogue project exploring social ideas about masculinity. Described by audiences as "groundbreaking" and "something that needs to keep on happening," the April UCB presentations will highlight 15 Bay Area artists, activists, and first-time presenters, ages 20-60, sharing true stories about their lives through slam poetry, monologues, music and dance.

The stories address subjects including: platonic love between men; disability and sexuality; men's restroom rituals; machismo in Latino culture; images of African American masculinity; an Oakland activist's refusal to continue intergenerational patterns of violence; challenging racism; being African American and gay; intergenerational support between men; responding to domestic violence; cancer and wholeness; gender identity; family relationships; personal strength; and gratitude to lifelong mentors.

Presenters: L. Abdul-Kenyatta; Michael Katz; Jeff Pollett; Amir Rabiyah; Joshua Safran; Jake Tobias; Aqeela Sherrills (Community Self-Determination Institute, Reverence Movement); Clover Mathis (formerly of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater); Leroy F. Moore, Jr. (Sins Invalid); Galen Peterson (Art in Action & Silence the Violence); Folawole Oyinlola (San Francisco Ballet); Abe Becker, Matt Blesse, Charles Ekabhumi Ellik, Stephen Meads & Terry Taplin (Berkeley, SF and Youth Speaks slam poetry championship teams).