Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Reprise: Haiku Tribute To Ancestral Queens Of Liberation

i posted this in September, but wanted to repost in honor of Women's History Month and ancestors.

Though of course the master plan is to keep bringin' it no matter what month it is... like these women did. Nuff respect.


Nanny of Maroons
Jamaica’s warrior queen
spirit of the hills

Harriet Tubman
forged freedom in the crossroads
mystic eyes guide souls

Harriet Tubman

Monday, March 30, 2009

Please Sponsor Me In The SFWAR Walk Against Rape.

Hey everyone!

Wassup, hope that spring is waking you up in good ways. On Saturday, April 25th, I am participating in the San Francisco Walk Against Rape, and would love your help in supporting San Francisco's only community based rape crisis center, SFWAR (San Francisco Women Against Rape).

As some of you know, i did this walk last year with the goal to raise $250 (i blogged the reportback here). Because of y'all, i raised $700!! So this year, i'm raising the bar accordingly- my new goal is $1000.

If 40 people on this list donate $25 each, or if you ask your workplace to collectively donate, i will definitely be able to reach my goal, and you would be helping women get crucial services. Of course, ANY donation is so appreciated. I have a fundraising website up, and it is really fast, easy and secure to donate through. It is also the most efficient way to support my fundraising efforts. You can also track the progress of my fundraising there.

I am also putting a call out to men of color who will walk with me, and model that we are visible, actively caring men who care about women's lives. So many of us are profiled as being the perpetrators, not allies. I invite men of color to walk with me and defy this image together.

Please forward this to those who you think would want to help out. Thank you for your time and support! Bless up

(to donate, click here.)

ps for more details: http://www.sfwar.org/walk/theevent.html

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Active Spirit: End Violence Towards Women! A Community Healing Circle, This Sunday.

Active Spirit: End Violence Towards Women! Community Healing Circle

The legacy of abuse and oppression against girls and women worldwide is staggering. Come join with us as we stand in circle sending collective healing, justice, light, love and positive change to those who have been victims and survivors of violence and abuse.

This is a call to be active not only in our day to day lives, but on the level of spirit.

Let us be and create the change we want to see in the world! Come together and send transformative healing energy to those in need.

All Are Welcome. Instruments Are Welcome And Encouraged.

Sunday, March 29th, 3:30pm
Lake Merritt Gazebo, Oakland
(Take the Bellevue park entrance off of Grand to the Garden Center,
also accessed lakeside after Fairyland, by lake fountain)

Facilitated by

Rashidah (Spirits Of Our Ancestors)

Richard Omo Esu (Active Spirit)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Black Women In Obama Administration Form Tight Sistahood

A good article from The Washington Post. Not only are Black women filling important positions in the Obama Administration, but these women are also coming together to form close personal and professional relationships. Sistahood on Capitol Hill! Krissah Thompson reports:

Like two old girlfriends catching up, they ignored onlookers, hugged and laughed.

Donna Brazile, the political strategist and Washington veteran, peppered Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson with questions.

"How are the kids?" "Have you contacted the church? I don't go every Sunday but they know me."

Before she left, Jackson had an open invitation to Brazile's place for home-cooked red beans and rice, served up every Monday night.

"The sisterhood in this town, there's deep history here," Jackson said.

The "Obama women" -- as African American women who've taken big jobs in his administration have been nicknamed -- mark another step in the long journey of black women from outsiders to gatekeepers in political Washington. They have quietly entered their jobs with little attention paid to the fact that they are the largest contingent of high-ranking black women to work for a president.

Many are firsts -- as in the first black woman to run the Domestic Policy Council, the first black EPA chief and the first black woman to be deputy chief of staff. Last week, Obama tapped Margaret (Peggy) Hamburg to lead the Food and Drug Administration. If confirmed, Hamburg -- who is biracial (her mother is African American, her father Jewish) -- will also be a first.

Seven of about three dozen senior positions on President Obama's team are filled by African American women. Veterans in town see them as part of the steady evolution of power for black women, not only in the White House but also across the country -- in the business world, in academia, in policy circles.

So this is what a post-Condi era starts to look like. So far, I think I like.

Monday, March 23, 2009

FLY GIRLS! B-Boys Beware: Revenge Of The Super Female Rappers

Soul Jazz Records must have collectively done something really right in a past lifetime. They ALWAYS come out with the most amazing compilations, whether its Studio One dub, rocksteady, dancehall, soul, electro, new wave, Nuyorican classics, dubstep, post-punk, Brazilian music, jazz, hip hop, Osunlade or something else... its always quality. And now, they drop the FLY GIRLS! comp. wow.

This compilation really takes it back to the beginning, anthologizing important names and songs that are usually understated in a male dominated field. It includes Nikki Giovanni's original "Ego Trippin'" as a prototype of female pre-rap/spoken word. Well deserved, insightful props. Props that Blackalicious had the vision to acknowledge when they brought this track back full circle on their album "Nia", where Nikki Giovanni recites "Ego Trippin'" over proper hip hop beats (peep the sweet YouTube tribute!). Also included are popular tracks from Queen Latifah ("Ladies First") and Missy Elliot ("The Rain"), as well as solid tracks from MC Lyte and Bahamadia. JJ Fad represents too, with a cool track that is NOT "Supersonic"! Sweet Tee is on the bill too, and i was and am definitely a fan. She was riding the James Brown and Funkadelic sampled beats like nobody's business. There is even a tip of the hat to the "Roxanne Wars" of the 80's, with a Roxanne Shanté track up in there too.

It is my hope that this is a beginning of a series... I suspect it has to be, since there are glaring omissions on this album (no Lauren Hill, Salt and Pepa or Ladybug Mecca). But in true Soul Jazz Records stylee, what is lacking is made up for with gems that maybe you never heard of, or some you forgot. I'm just recognizing Camille Yarbrough's "Take Yo' Praise" as the original sample from Fatboy Slim's "Praise You (Like I Should)". I'm also feeling Lady B's "To The Beat", which i don't remember, but it takes me straight back to the funky "Rapper's Delight" era... just listening to it transports me back to the 70's riding a banana seat bicycle in purple cordoroys. Sweet! Mad props to all the fly girls for sure. Peep the link for a listen, enjoy!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Iceland Breaks Global Barrier By Electing Openly Lesbian Prime Minister.

Ok Iceland, you got some fierce examples of womanhood reppin you on an international stage! First Bjork, now Johanna Sigurdardottir. This appointment apparently went down in February, i'm just catching up now. BBC reports:

Johanna Sigurdardottir, named as Iceland's prime minister on Sunday, is the first openly lesbian head of government in Europe, if not the world - at least in modern times.

The 66-year-old's appointment as an interim leader, until elections in May, is seen by many as a milestone for the gay and lesbian movement.

Up until now, if a gay man or woman has been prime minister, they have done their best to conceal the fact.

In Iceland itself, however, the new prime minister's sexual orientation appears to be causing less excitement than it is abroad.

I like the fact that its not really a big deal in Iceland itself. And i'm feelin this trend where world leaders are beginning to look like and represent those who are usually oppressed in those countries. Though I really have no idea how oppressed LGBTQ folks are in Iceland. Seems to be pretty chill there... no pun intended...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

USA To Finally Sign UN Gay Rights Declaration

I can't wait to see the run down of Obama's first 100 days, and how it compares to other US Presidents. AP reports:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will endorse a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that then-President George W. Bush had refused to sign, The Associated Press has learned.

U.S. officials said Tuesday they had notified the declaration's French sponsors that the administration wants to be added as a supporter. The Bush administration was criticized in December when it was the only western government that refused to sign on.

The move was made after an interagency review of the Bush administration's position on the nonbinding document, which was signed by all 27 European Union members as well as Japan, Australia, Mexico and three dozen other countries, the officials said.

This is exactly the kind of strategy I was hoping Obama was going for. Handing meaningless symbols to the homophobe Christian fundamentalist right (Rick Warren speaking at the Inauguration) while planning to make REAL change for the people. Ever so slowly, this country is evolving out of a medieval state of being. From closing Guantanamo Bay, to affirming the human rights of LGTBTQ fam... Its been getting sunnier up in here. Giving Thanks. May the positive momentum continue.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Obama Establishes White House Council On Women And Girls. And a Word To The "Left".

Thank you, yet AGAIN Feministing! Obama has created a council to address issues of women and girls, and signed an act to deal with the economic disparities between men and women (i've never heard a president admit that women make 78 cents to every dollar men make). Peep the great speech above.

As with most of Obama's announcements and signed acts, I am jazzed to hear the news, and incredulous that a president of this country is saying and doing these things. Simultaneously I am remaining grounded, hopeful, and waiting to see what develops. I have to say, i know the man isn't perfect, isn't a savior, isn't very pro-Palestine, and definitely isn't an anti-capitalist revolutionary. But so far, considering the state of things that was left for Obama- i DO wish that some of us on the disgruntled left could take a moment to take in the good that is being attempted, and help rally behind it instead of grumbling and predicting doom and failure. At the same time we definitely should keep a critical lens intact, and keep working on the grassroots level, building from the people up. AND if dude is trying to break down one of the oldest manifestations of institutionalized sexism... lets get on board!!

Linda Burnham
puts it even better, in what may become the quintessential article on the Obama era, and how it relates to the responsibility/orientation of the left. It also addressed my frustration around the nihilism of the (understandably) anti-capitalist left, in comparison with the starry-eyed Obama-as-infallible-savior heads, and other subgroups inbetween. It also puts out a solid game plan of what we gotta do. Please read.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

5 Myths About Domestic Violence: Rihanna and Chris Brown

Thanks for the heads up Feministing. A couple weeks ago, R&B pop star Chris Brown choked, bit and beat his girlfriend, R&B pop star Rihanna to the point of filling her mouth with her own blood. Shocking photos of her battered face have circulated the world. (i figure you don't need to see it here).Well intentioned people are stepping up to rightfully denounce this behavior. And Newsweek just floored me with a really insightful article about the myths that a lot of us are perpetuating while trying to "use this case as something the educate kids with". Chris Brown carries/carried a lot of cool cred with kids, so it is definitely important to be clear to them that this is a toxic, unacceptable expression of masculinity. Also being clear about our inherent sexism while discussing this is also very important.

Here is an excerpt of myth number 1:
Myth No. 1: It was a domestic argument, and she provoked him
We need to remember that any discussion of domestic violence should not revolve around what the couple may have been arguing about, or as one CNN anchor put it: "the incident that sparked the fight." Nor should we be using the word "provoked" when describing this case, as in the Associated Press account that said the "argument" was "provoked" by Rihanna's "discovery of a text message from another woman." Domestic violence has to do with, well, physical violence, not arguments. There isn't a verbal argument that should "spark" or "provoke" an attack of the kind that leaves one person with wounds that require medical attention.
And an excerpt of myth number 3:
Myth No. 3: People make mistakes. Give the guy a break
When singer Kanye West talked about the Rihanna-Brown case with his VH1 audience recently, he asked: "Can't we give Chris a break? ... I know I make mistakes in life." Kanye's not the only one saying this kind of thing, so let's get something straight: People leave the oven on or fry turkeys in the garage and burn their house down. One may even accidentally step on the gas instead of the brake and run over the family cat. Mistakes resulting in tragic consequences happen all the time. But one cannot mistakenly beat someone up. You do not accidentally give someone black eyes, a broken nose and a split lip.
Kanye?!? C'mon now. I'm almost more disappointed in him than Chris Brown.

Newsweek however, stealthly extorts kudos from my unsuspecting person. Props.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Obama Creates New Foriegn Policy Position To Address International Women's Issues.

Unprecedented! I'm feelin this a lot. I don't know much about Melanne Verveer, the woman he picked for this new position, but if she is as wise a choice as Obama picking Van Jones for the White House Council On Green Jobs, then.... the possibilities for positive change just got a bit more awesome. Just gotta get this through the Senate now.

Nice unveiling for Women's History Month, Bams. Hope we can talk about the women in DRC soon. More details about the appointment here.

Happy Women's History Month y'all!

Monday, March 9, 2009

International Women's Day: End Violence Against Women. And Please Sign Petition To President Obama.

(picture courtesy of http://www.unicefusa.org/hidden/women-of-drc.html Roger LeMoyne. Photo of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo awaiting emergency medical treatment at the overwhelmed Panzi Hospital)

A week ago, a female friend shared an experience that left me unable to sleep that night. My friend (who I’ll refer to as K) was awoken in her hotel room by the weight of a man on top of her, and a hand covering her mouth. K survived this rape attempt by screaming and alerting people, and by kicking him off. This happened a couple months ago, and K is thankful that the assault did not progress into an even more invasive nightmare. Understandably, K is still actively recovering from this trauma, the trauma of being assaulted when safety was assumed and she was most vulnerable. She has only recently gotten to place where the wind blowing a curtain in her house does not send somatic alerts through her body. And she is clear that she kicked ass. When she shares this story with women, she is usually met with empathy and support. And everytime... K receives another story of survival.

I too am thankful that the assault was not worse. As a part of my spiritual practice, I always ask for protection of my loved ones, family and community, and also more specifically for protection of female bodied people who i am connected to. I will never know the fear that is a part of growing up female around possibly being raped. I know that boys and men can be raped too, and that many male bodied people are carrying scars of sexual abuse. I also know that the numbers of boys and men who are survivors are significantly smaller than survivors who are girls and women- and for the most part, we don’t go through life with the ever looming spectre of possibly being sexually assaulted.

Yesterday was International Women’s Day. The main theme for this year is “Women and and men united to end violence against women and girls.” What can men do? We can model for other boys and men what a mature, non-oppressive man is like. We can support institutions and support healthy, feminist masculinities, and not support institutions that support more oppressive masculinities. There are also organizations like Men Can Stop Rape and Men Against Sexual Violence that do good work. Supporting organizations like San Francisco Women Against Rape, and other support services for rape survivors is another thing that anyone can do.

Those are some ideas for the local level (please add more!). As for the global level, that is something we are all going to have to brainstorm and pool resources over.

My sleepless night replaying K’s experience over and over again sent me into a downwards spiral, agonizing over the larger picture of the global reality of violence against women. Recently another female friend of mine sent me the link for a New York Times article entitled The Invisible War. I thought it was an aptly named phrase for the violence against women here at home, where the battlefields are usually secluded away from the public eye, and court systems do not make things easy for survivors. But this article was referring to the shockingly underreported state of women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (yet another elucidating article labels the relative media and activist silence a “Grotesque Indifference”). In the DRC, rape has become the main weapon of war. Rape of hundreds of thousands of girls and women. Hundreds of thousands. Hundreds daily. Control over the mining of tin, coltan, and other materials fuel this war, as the DRC is the largest producer of most of these materials. These ores are responsible for making our cellphones, laptops, and other electronic gadgets, which no one needs to be informed has an incredible global demand. Militias fight to gain control of the mines, and use rape as a way to psychologically, spiritually, culturally- violently traumatize and dysfunctionalize whole communities. It is staggering to the soul to read the accounts.

I am going to place a boundary for protocol here regarding discussion of this painful subject. Understandably, this is horrific and enraging. However, i must emphasize that any comment which uses the words “savage” “animal” or “barbarian” to describe the marauding soldiers will be deleted. This is not in defense of the soldiers. These words are steeped in a historically racist lens. Yes, the acts are monstrous, horrible, sick, unspeakable, effed up, wrong, hateful, a sin, crimes against humanity and tons of other descriptors. If we could stick to this type of languaging, I would appreciate it. Because the news does not report the Israel army as being savage barbaric animals for burning civilians with phosphorous, or even the soldiers who were in the Serbian rape camps as such. But most articles around the crisis in the DRC use the word “savage” in the first paragraph. Including NPR.

In Aaronette M. White’s book “Ain’t I A Feminist” (reviewed on my blog here), White refers to Sojourner Truth as a pioneer of Black Feminism (and a role model for Black Feminist men), because she was able to have an “intersectional outlook on race and gender” (pg. 13) and she refused to prioritize the advancement of Black men at the exclusion of Black women. I am hoping that the readers of this blog can also hold an intersectional perspective where we can speak of the rights of women without devolving into racist dialogue. I am hoping we can all move together, and not make one form of oppression more acceptable than the other.

So what can we do about women in the Congo? As we all know, President Barack Obama has a full plate, but a part of his platform is to Fight Gender Violence Abroad. Let us remind him of this pledge, and SIGN THIS PETITION. We can also do our part by not caving in to buy every single new permutation of the cell phone. We live in a time where new models of phones are showcased and given names like new models of cars. Me, i have a BlackBerry. I think that’s fancy enough. Adopting a green stance and a culture of re-use also helps. Some of us have a couple of cell phones lying around. Those can be recycled, and materials can go back into the industry without depending on “blood ores”. Click here for electronic recycle depots near you. And click the link for Green For All clips, focusing on green job initiatives that are creating new opportunities for fighting poverty, environmental racism, and by association, the very issues being discussed here. It becomes clearer to me that Green Jobs can be anti-oppression.

These are all strategies within the context of living under capitalism. Clearly, the horrible crisis in the DRC is one of the ugliest symptoms of capitalism. I contribute to capitalism and I am in it, but i am also aware that capitalism is rooted in causing harm to oppressed people. In the case of DRC, war, patriarchy and capitalism come together to create a living hell for women.

I pray for human evolution, humanity and healing. It is my hope that whoever you are, whatever faith you belong to, you can still send prayers, light and love to the DRC. And also send some to women and girls that you know, if only in the spirit of International Women’s Day. Much gratitude, respect and love to all the women and girls in my life who contributed to me being the man i am today.

Revolutionary Love,

Monday, March 2, 2009

random fem.men.isms

Lately, the hits on my blog have been going off the map again. Hits from all over the world. And when i track a good portion of them, its a lot of folks doing a google image search for the iconic picture above, which is featured in my post Nostalgia For The Gender Fluid 80's. It turns out that my blog comes up in the top 4 google image search options from simply typing "Grace Jones."

I must confess, Grace Jones is probably the only entertainer whose boots i would kiss if she asked me to. I believe that she is one of the most important women to come out of Jamaica, whilst being a fierce culture onto herself. The diva of divas.

And if you DON'T know, she has a new album out. Its called Hurricane, and it has collaborations with Sly and Robbie, Tony Allen (Fela's drummer), Brian Eno and Tricky. Miss Jones reports loving Massive Attack, and you can hear it. Rootsy Sly and Robbie riddims move through cryptic neo-dubby sounds, rock, soulful ballads, moody electronica and dancehall referencing tunes like "This Is" which kicks off the album with her declaration "This is my voice, my weapon of choice."

If you are looking for something new and interesting, i would highly recommend the latest works of the 60 year old (fabulous looking!) Jamaican preacher's daughter. I love the pics in the album too!


While we are paying homage to and supporting strong Jamaican women- please support my amazing sister! She is making moves to cause much needed change in Florida (and you KNOW we need more progressives in office in FL!), and also stands to be the only non-white person to ever be on the Sunrise Commission. Elections are March 10th, its the home stretch. Please forward info about her to anyone you know in Florida, and contribute if you can! Thank you! More about her: http://www.votewrightmuir.com/


Prop 8 reaches the Supreme Court AGAIN. The verdict will be given March 5th, this Thursday. Luckily, Gov. Shwarzenegger can't vote to disenfranchize folks this time cuz of some legal loophole (Its a "resolution". Why its being voted on at all tho..) The National Center Of Lesbian Rights has an ongoing online rally that everyone can join. Support the overturning of Prop 8!

Also of note in this struggle for equality is that the NAACP has issued statements in support of overturning Prop 8. Yay! Maybe its just me, but i get really happy when big black organizations endorse gay rights. Lets smash stereotypes together, shall we?? Ain't nobody free till we are all free, and NAACP is talking the talk. If you are so inclined, you can thank the NAACP on their Facebook fan page. Looks like they have been getting a lot of love :)


Following that, i thought i'd close out this posting potpourri with the acceptance speech from Sean Penn for Best Actor in "Milk". To date, this is the only bit of the Grammy's i've seen, which i am pretty fine with :) I hope all the Grace Jones fans stumbling onto this blog appreciate these other fem.men.isms!