Frequently-Asked Questions

Why That Lenten Hijab Stinks to High Heaven

As per the latest buzz, Hijab for Lent joins fat suits for models, Ramadan for never-Muslims, fake female dating profiles for men, homo hand-holding for heteros, and food budgets for the rich as ways by which the privileged center their voices and experiences instead of believing marginalized people’s accounts of their own lives.

Frankly, I’m not only unimpressed by and sick of these tourists, I’m absolutely done with giving them any credit whatsoever. [Read more…]

I Woke Up Like Dis – The Day I Was Brown

This is a guest post by Marina, an awesome writer, social-media-managing freelancer, podcaster, and overall person that I know. She and I are trading blog posts for today on the topic of Realizing that You’re Brown. You can check out my post for today as well as the rest of her writings at her eponymous site, Marina Rose Martinez.

Glendora, California is where I became a Mexican. It was 1999, the summer before my freshman year in high school, and I was standing at the check-stand in Albertsons still sweaty from the walk over and totally, completely, freakishly alone.

I don’t know how many times before this day I was in a building with only white people in it. It would have never occurred to me that we were different from each other, so it probably happened a lot. My grandmother and her second husband were both white, and they raised me from two to 13. I went to a private school, I took horseback riding lessons, I had a therapist. Whiteness was my entire jam. So, white was normal, I felt normal, therefore I was basically white. It didn’t help that my education, while extensive in most areas, left me with the incorrect impression that the history of racism in American was this: Slavery; Lynching; Dr. Martin Luther King; Racism is over.

So when the middle aged cashier told me a beaner joke, it was basically a scene in a horror movie for me. [Read more…]

Girl Grows Up to Be Not-a-Woman: On Non-Binary Gender

I’ve never had an understanding of my own gender identity within the binary standards of male vs. female. As a child, I said that I was a girl because that’s what they told me to be. Since I had heard that girls grew up to be women, that was what I thought I was going to be. I’d grow breasts and start understanding how to dress myself and get a husband and have sex and have kids. Bam, woman.

Yet, in my self-reflective writings, I talked about how I went from kid to pre-teen to teen to young adult to adult, not girl to woman. Not even in my journal entries about getting my period did I talk about becoming a woman. I talked about giving up on childish things, about puberty, about my sexuality, but never about girlhood or womanhood.

Feeling like a woman was something that simply never happened for me. When I realized that was the case, I did quite a lot to try to feel like a woman without consciously admitting to myself what all was going on. None of it worked. [Read more…]

Top Ten Favorite Books By White Male Authors

A lot of angry people from YouTube are showing up to tell me that the reason I haven’t read many authors besides white male ones is that I wasn’t interested in books about identity politics. In other words, they think that white male authors write about general issues, while non-male and/or non-white authors write about who they are.

They also think that by not reading white male authors for two years, I’m somehow stopping white men from writing. So that says a lot about their ability to properly understand context.

But maybe this is my fault. Maybe I needed to be clear just how much I admire the white male ability to write. Here are, in no particular order, ten of my favorite books written by white male authors as well as what I found to be so compelling about them.
[Read more…]

Coming Out About My Non-Binary Gender

First in a series on my non-binary gender identity.

Late last year, rather abruptly, I came out as non-binary. It was National Coming Out Day and I decided I was going to tell everyone, just like that. I IMed my partner and told him first; he was as unwaveringly and lovingly supportive and understanding as he always is. Ten minutes later, I’d posted it to my Facebook wall. Thankfully, due to the self-selection and curation I’ve cultivated online for years now, I was met with congratulations and love and support. Outside of carefully-created spaces (or at least ones where I can block people), however, I’ve mostly kept my mouth shut about it. I don’t have enough fight in me to deal with yet another Othering aspect to my person.

It wasn’t something that I’d consciously thought a lot about or planned to do. It was more a slow and lurching realization, backburnered to everything else I’ve always thought and talked and written about. In a lot of ways, it resembled the way that I “became” an atheist: I didn’t talk or think too much directly about it, not even with those close to me, and didn’t want it to be true, but stopped fighting it and eventually submitted to the truth.

While the act of coming out was a surrender to what I’d known was true on some level for a while, a building up to a realization of something about me, there were markers along the way.

[Read more…]

Last Night, I Counter-Trolled a Homophobe Offline

Content Notice for homophobia, violence against animals, and explicit sexual content

It happened after I debated two Christians on what I was told was going to be “homosexuality.” Less than 48 hours prior to the debate itself, I was told that the title was going to be “Homosexuality: Innate or Perversion?”

I know, right?

The title ended up actually being the least worst thing about the setup, believe it or not. One of the debaters turned out to be an old-school anti-gay conspiracy theorist. While I don’t think I changed his mind about the gay issue, I did manage to remind him what is fashionable to forget and deny in the name of “civility” and “tolerance” and “acceptance”: That politics have an effect on people’s personal lives and aren’t just abstractions. [Read more…]

Worldwide Violence Against Non- & Ex-Muslims: A News Round-Up

I try to take a nuanced and careful approach to criticism of Islam and ensure that I’m humanizing Muslims in the process, but it’s hard not to be disturbed and angry about the recent news about people who are critical of and/or have left Islam — or even who simply aren’t Muslim but live in a Muslim-majority country

Content Notice for brutal violence. [Read more…]

Diversifying Your Reading: Non-Male & Non-White Author Recommendations

Even if you’re not on board with committing to the exclusion of race-and/or-gender default-positioned writers, you can still commit to more diversity in your reading. I have only included books that I’ve read in this listing. Feel free to add your recommendations as well as weigh in on the ones given below. Please keep in mind that some of these authors may be problematic. Also, I might not be classifying some of them correctly because I don’t have all the racial or sexual identity information for all of them.

Any book marked with an asterisk (*) is one of which I own a physical copy that I’d like to give away. Comment if you want one of them and I will email you to coordinate mailing the book.

[Read more…]

In Defense of Excluding White Male Authors

Update: A recommendation list of non-white and/or non-male authors.

I recently announced something I’d decided on ages ago: That I’d exclusively be reading non-male authors in 2015 and non-white authors in 2016.

The moment of resolution happened when my horrified eyes beheld my reading record on gender. Not only were my percentages far less than 50/50 (favoring male authors) but also most of the female authors on record for me reflected books that I’d read as a child and younger teen. From the time I started university until now, I’d mostly read white male authors.

Furthermore, the works by the relatively few authors of color I’d read were on racial issues and the non-male authors I’d read were writings on feminism.

How did this happen to a voracious reader who graduated with a double degree in the Humanities, an area of study widely reviled as diversity-obsessed? The short answer is that I paid no attention to gender or race in my reading, and not caring is a recipe for bias in a world riddled with inequality. [Read more…]

Patricia Arquette & the Trouble with White Feminism

While I am all for equal pay, I am not here for white women who think that gender inequality is the only inequality left in the world, especially not rich ones. Despite the copious amount of praise I saw last night and this morning for Patricia Arquette’s call for equal pay, she squarely placed herself in those dubious ranks with her follow-up remarks on the matter.

“It’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

A perfunctory glance at the history of social justice reveals that while people of color have always showed their support for women’s rights, white feminists have always been and continue to be exclusionary of non-white women’s concerns.
[Read more…]