“Playing the Victim”: Oppression and a Catch-22

“Seems you’re making a catch-22: if people talk about it, they’re trying to be victims, but if people don’t talk about it, it doesn’t happen.”

In the recent comment thread here on Examples of Racism in Atheist/ Skeptical Communities?, ischemgeek made this comment. It was so perfect, and so succinct, that naturally I have to muck it up by expanding on it and gassing on about it.

When people talk about oppression and marginalization and bigotry — racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, xenophobia, classism, ableism, etc. — we often get caught in a particularly nasty Catch-22, beautifully summarized above. If we don’t talk about oppression and marginalization and bigotry… nobody will know about it, and it can and will be ignored. In fact, many people will assume that this particular form of oppression and marginalization and bigotry is now a thing of the past, and doesn’t even exist. If a certain amount of progress has been made in a certain area — sexism, for instance — many people will act as if the problem is entirely behind us, and we don’t have to worry about it, or think about it or, Loki forbid, change our behavior.

But if we do talk about this oppression and marginalization and bigotry? We get accused of “playing the victim card.” We get accused of making up the marginalization, or exaggerating it, or going out of our way to look for it, or twisting innocent events to frame them in this narrative of victimhood, or trying to manipulate people into giving us our way by scoring sympathy points we haven’t earned. And not at all coincidentally, this once again results in the marginalization being made invisible: ignored, treated as if it either flat-out doesn’t exist or is too trivial to worry about. [Read more...]

Knee Update

Regular readers know that I injured my knee a couple of weeks ago, badly enough to send me to the emergency room. Many of you have been asking about it, so I wanted to give you a quick update.

My knee is doing much, much better. With most of my regular day-to-day activities, I’m close to normal. I can’t yet walk as far as I normally can without taking a break to rest; and I’m holding off on doing any sort of heavy lifting, including heavy bags of groceries and such. But I’m totally off the crutches and the cane and the pain meds (except for ibuprofen), and I’m walking longish distances, and I can do pretty much all of my regular day-to-day activities without much trouble. I even went to the gym today (don’t worry, I wasn’t stupid — upper body work on machines, plus some abs work).

I’m still somewhat backed up on work that I missed when I was out. So I probably won’t be back to my usual blogging schedule for another week or so. But I wanted to reassure you all: I’m getting back to normal fairly quickly. Or what passes for normal for me. Thanks to everyone for your kind words — it’s meant a lot.

Runway Recap: Did The Wrong Awesome Designers Make the Top Three?

Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers about last Thursday’s episode of Project Runway: Season 10, Episode 2, “Candy Couture.” If you’re a fan of the show and you haven’t seen it yet — you stand warned.

So did the wrong awesome designers in the “make clothing out of candy” challenge make the top three this week?

In last week’s Project Runway recap, I was definitely on the snarky and bitchy side. For which I won’t apologize: being bitchy and snarky about laughably bad designs is part of the fun of being a Project Runway fan, and in any case, bitchy snark is my birthright as a queer American. I could easily go there again this week: wondering rhetorically if anyone in the known universe had even a microsecond of doubt about who was going home this week, or declaiming with horror and dismay about why Andrea’s shapeless paper smock thing irrelevantly slapped over the nightmare bustle didn’t catapult her to the bottom three.

But I don’t want to go there this week. Like Mr. Darcy, this week my mind was more agreeably engaged. I’ve been meditating on the very great pleasure which an unconventional materials challenge in a group of talented designers can bestow. The guessing game this week wasn’t, “Given what should be the easiest challenge of the whole damn season — make any design you want, inspired by a piece you made at home on which you had no time or money constraints — which crappy designer is going home?” The guessing game this week was, “Given what is typically one of the more difficult challenges of the season — make an outfit out of unconventional materials, in this case candy — which delightful, imaginative, surprising, freakishly beautiful design is going into the top three?” [Read more...]

Fashion Friday: Gaultier, and the Blend of Discipline and Frivolity

Gaultier striped hooded capeIngrid and I were at the Gaultier exhibit at the de Young a couple of weeks ago — many pics at the end of the piece — and I’ve been wanting to write about it ever since. The exhibit had my brain spinning with dozens of ideas: about the intersection of fashion and fine art, about the influence of street and fetish wear on high fashion, about the complex and screwed-up relationship between fashion and money. But the idea that’s really stuck with me from the show has to do with the blend of discipline and frivolity. [Read more...]

Examples of Racism in Atheist/ Skeptical Communities?

The conversation here in my blog about racism in the atheist community has been largely civil and productive.

The conversation on Twitter… not so much.

One theme in particular keeps cropping up — the theme that this isn’t really a problem, coupled with a hyper-skeptical demand for evidence and examples of this racism. (As if we needed more freaking evidence that racism is a real thing.)

So I want to collect examples. If you have seen or experienced examples of racism in the atheist and/ or skeptical communities — can you please comment here? Thanks.

BTW: My Twitter handle is @GretaChristina .

Race and Inclusivity — A To-Do List

Atheist A scarlet letter black backgroundIf we want the atheist/ skeptical communities to be more inclusive and more welcoming to people of color — what, specifically, can we do about it?

IMPORTANT NOTE: This post has a different comment policy than my standard one. It’s at the end of the post. Please read it and respect it. Thanks.

At the Secular Student Alliance conference earlier this month, the organizers did something really smart, something I’ve never seen before. At the lunch on Saturday, they had cards on the tables with discussion topics, topics that had been announced ahead of time in the conference packet — so you could pick which table to sit on, based on what you wanted to talk about. Not all the tables stuck to their topic… but ours did, and I’m really glad we did, and I want to report on the conversation.

I sat at the “Diversity — Minorities” table. And we had an excellent conversation. We talked about how, as difficult and painful as our community’s conversations about gender and sexism have been, at least we’ve been having them — in a way that we haven’t been, nearly as much, about race. The community has done a lot more work on gender diversity than we have on racial diversity, and we’re a lot further along in making practical progress. We talked at this lunch about some of the reasons this might be. (Some ideas floated: Our society is often racially segregated, and white people can ignore race in a way that men can’t ignore gender. Also, liberals and progressives often see race as a minefield, and are often scared to even talk about it for fear of starting a fight, opening old wounds, or saying something stupid.)

We talked about some of the obstacles to increasing racial diversity and making people of color feel more welcomed in the atheist movement. And we talked about what specific, practical action items people could take — individuals, local groups, national organizations, thought leaders, etc. — to improve this situation. I wanted to share that list, and talk about it, and solicit other ideas.

Here’s the list of action items we came up with:

* Speakers — invite more people of color as speakers, at conferences and for individual speaking events. (Here’s a list of prominent atheists of color, many of whom do public speaking. The list also includes organizations of atheists of color, some of whom have speaker’s bureaus or can put you in touch with speakers.)
* Don’t be afraid to talk about race. (This one is HUGE.)
* Do joint events with groups/ organizations of people of color. (Examples: speakers or discussions groups on the history of freethought among African-Americans, or the golden age of science in the Arab world.)
* Support appropriate events hosted by groups of people of color, such as service projects. Don’t just ask them to co-sponsor your events — ask them what events of theirs they’d like your support for.
* Don’t glom onto people of color when they show up at your group or event. (People of color sometimes say that, when they show up at all- or mostly-white atheist groups or events, they’re swarmed by overly friendly people who are SO DELIGHTED that a non-white person has shown up, in a way that’s overwhelming, and that’s clearly directed at their race. Don’t do this.)
* Don’t expect individual people of color to speak for their entire race.
* Listen to people of color — actively.
* Get your “Race and Racism 101″ on Google or at the library. Don’t expect people of color who come to your group or event to bring you up to speed.
* If someone calls you on your stuff — apologize.
* If someone calls you on your stuff, and you don’t agree — don’t immediately get defensive. Think about it, ask questions, take some time before you respond. “I’m not sure I agree, but I thank you for bringing it up, I need to think about this” can be your best friend.
* Don’t assume people of color are religious.
* Co-protesting – show up at protests about racism, and about issues that are strongly affected by race, such as economic justice or the drug war.

Thoughts?

COMMENT POLICY FOR THIS THREAD: This conversation is for people who already agree that increasing racial diversity is important to the atheist community and the atheist movement, and who think positive action should be taken to improve the situation, and who want to discuss how to go about that. If you want to debate this core proposition — if, for instance, you think the atheist movement should be entirely race-blind, and that paying any attention at all to race and racism is itself racist — this comment thread is not the place. Read these two pieces first: Getting It Right Early: Why Atheists Need to Act Now on Gender and Race, and Race, Gender, and Atheism, Part 2: What We Need To Do — And Why. Actually read them. If, after reading them, you still think we can and should ignore race and racial diversity, please feel free to debate that question on those posts. This is not the place for that debate. Attempts to derail this conversation, away from what the problems are and we can do about them and into whether this is even a problem and whether we should be doing anything, will be met with warnings, disemvoweling, banning, or any/all of the above. Thank you.

Greta Reading at Perverts Put Out, Saturday July 28!

Hi, all! I’m going to be reading in San Francisco this Saturday, July 28, as one of the readers in the legendary Perverts Put Out reading/ performance series of San Francisco Bay Area sex writers and performers.

Perverts Put Out!, San Francisco’s long-running pansexual performance series, has featured stellar line-ups of truly twisted, mega-talented artistes—even an occasional naked mayoral candidate—since way back in 1998. They’ve even been the subject of a Faux News exposé!

This is the Dore Alley Edition, PPO!’s annual celebration of San Francisco’s sleaziest street fair. It’ll feature a panoply of perverted luminaries including me, Sherilyn Connelly, Jen Cross, Juba Kalamka, Kirk Read, horehound stillpoint, and co-hosted by Carol Queen and Simon Sheppard. If you’re in the Bay Area, I hope to see you there!

Saturday, July 28, 7:30 pm
The Center for Sex and Culture
1349 Mission Street, San Francisco (near the Civic Center BART station)
$10 – $20 sliding scale

Mitt Romney on the death of Sally Ride

“Today, America lost one of its greatest pioneers. The first American woman in space, Sally Ride inspired millions of Americans with her determination to break the mold of her time. She was a profile in courage, and while she will be missed, her accomplishments will never be forgotten.”

Mitt Romney, on the death of Sally Ride.

Note: Ride’s partner of 27 years will be denied any federal benefits she might have gotten if they’d been an opposite-sex married couple.

Memo to Mr. Romney: If you don’t support our most fundamental relationships — if, in fact, you dedicate a significant amount of your political career to undermining those relationships, and make political hash out of marginalizing us and playing on people’s fears and hatred of us — you don’t get to speak about us with sentimental gushing after we’re dead.

Second memo to Mr. Romney: Fuck you.

“Why Are You Atheists So Angry?” Now In Print Edition!

Note: I announced this over the weekend, but the RDF store selling the book was having some tech problems. These have now been resolved — so I’m making the announcement again.

Why Are You Atheists So Angry? coverMy new book, Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless, is finally out in physical print!

Everyone out there who said you wanted physical copies of the book — for yourselves, or to give to your friends and family — now’s the time! It’s currently available through the Richard Dawkins Foundation bookstore. The print edition is published by Pitchstone Publishing: if you prefer, you can order the book directly from them, and they’ll ship in early August.. The price is $14.95. (IMPORTANT NOTE: The tech problems that the RDF site was having have now been resolved. And they will ship books to all countries.)

Important note: The print book will not be available through Amazon, or though most other retailers, until the fall. If you pre-ordered your copy through Amazon, you won’t get it for a couple/few months. If you pre-ordered it through RDF, your copy should be on its way to you now.

Ebook editions are still on sale in several formats: as a Kindle edition at Amazon, a Nook edition at Barnes & Noble, and multiple formats at Smashwords, including iBooks, Sony Reader, Kobo, Kindle (.mobi), Stanza, Aldiko, Adobe Digital Editions, any other reader that takes the Epub format, Palm Doc (PDB), PDF, RTF, Online Reading via HTML, and Plain Text for either downloading or viewing. All ebook editions and formats cost just $7.99.

The audiobook will be available in August.

Here is the description, and some wonderfully flattering blurbs. Watch this blog for future announcements! [Read more...]

Runway Recap: Did The Wrong Crappy Designer Go Home?

Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers about last Thursday’s episode of Project Runway: Season 10, Episode 1, “A Times Square Anniversary Party.” If you’re a fan of the show and you haven’t seen it yet — you stand warned.

So did the wrong crappy designer go home this week?

Ingrid and I have been debating this question at some length. We don’t have any doubt that both Beatrice and Lantie should have been the bottom two designers. (I disagree about the third slot: I actually had a certain amount of respect for Kooan’s original look, especially for its roots in Japanese “fruits” street fashion, and thought Buffi should have been in the bottom. Ingrid disagrees: she has a soft spot for Buffi’s shiny, candy-colored ’80s style.)

But the big question is: Of the two truly appalling sets of work, did the wrong crappy designer go home? [Read more...]