NYC Cops Get A YAY!

lead_large

I posted earlier about the great campaign taking place in New York. NYC keeps forging ahead, and when there’s basically nothing except bad news about police and police departments across uStates, it’s really nice to read something positive for a change:

The NYPD recently made its own statement in support of transgender rights with a post at their headquarters noting that bathrooms in all police stations are now gender-neutral, according to the New York Daily News.

Way to go, NYPD! I know not all individual cops are going to be on board with this, but they will have to deal, just as they did when queer cops stopped staying in the closet. The campaign also has a couple of new videos.

Via City Lab.

Indiginerds Unite!

Indigicon

Join us this fall in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the National Hispanic Cultural Center for the very first Indigenous Comic Con!  Featuring Indigenous creators, illustrators, writers, designers, actors, and producers from the worlds of comic books, games, sci-fi, fantasy, film, tv, and graphic novels. The Indigenous Comic Con seeks to highlight the amazing work that brings understanding about the Indigenous experience to the world of popular culture!  The action begins Friday afternoon and continues through Sunday evening!

 Everyone is welcome!

You can buy tickets now.

Red Wolf creator, Award-Winning Native American Comic Artist & Designer from the Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, Jeffrey Veregge will be one of many special guests at this year's Indigenous Comic Con.

Red Wolf creator, Award-Winning Native American Comic Artist & Designer from the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Jeffrey Veregge will be one of many special guests at this year’s Indigenous Comic Con.

With a growing number of Native people making comics and designing videogames as a way to revitalize their languages, one great way to break down stereotypes is a Native-centered event. The inaugural Indigenous Comic Con on November 18-20 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, hopes to do just that.

“There are a lot of Indigenerds out there,” said Indigenous Comic Con artistic director and Laguna Pueblo member, Dr. Lee Francis IV. “We joke about that word, but the idea that Native People, Indigenous People, get to participate in pop culture…We wanted to create a space of celebration and say ‘Hey. We are in these spaces.’ A lot of wonderful creators are doing some incredible work in these areas. It’s time to celebrate that.”

After a year of planning and a joint sponsorship between Francis’s Native Realities Publishing and A Tribe Called Geek, the organizers selected the November 18-20 date and the site of the comic con at Albuquerque’s National Hispanic Cultural Center, 1701 4th St. S.W. Francis said the NHCC has the facility requirements as well as a long history with hosting Native poetry and other indigenous workshops.

At press time, the keynote panelists scheduled are Jeffrey Veregge (Port Gamble S’Klallam), the artist for Marvel Comics’ Red Wolf, and Arigon Starr (Kickapoo), the creator of Super Indian Comics. Other events include an exhibition hall, live music and cosplay contests.

In the FAQ section of their website, there is a disclaimer about the cosplay and costumes that states “no Tontos or other Indigenous stereotypes.” Although this Comic Con will be fun, the panels will not shy away from serious subjects such as stereotypes, marginalization and the issue of Natives being “historicized.”

[…]

“Our approach is to be very positive,” Francis said. “We’re looking for positive images. We’re vetting the folks that we want to come in. We’re not going to be bringing in folks that were in a random Indian movie. We want folks who are going to be thoughtful about the portrayals, whether they’re a comic book creator, an actor, someone doing games or science fiction. Being very thoughtful about the work that they’re putting into the world because of all these stereotypes and historicizations. The sheer number of folks we’re trying to get on panels and the conversations that we want to spark, I think, are going to address those negative representations of Indigenous people in pop culture.”

ICTMN has the full story.

Muhammad Ali has walked on.

It’s a sad day. Growing up, Muhammad Ali was one of my first windows into thinking outside the white, Catholic box I had been stuffed in, and was being raised in. I owe him a great deal of thanks.

Statement from President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama on the Passing of Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he’d tell you. He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d “handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail.”

But what made The Champ the greatest – what truly separated him from everyone else – is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.

Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing. But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time.

In my private study, just off the Oval Office, I keep a pair of his gloves on display, just under that iconic photograph of him – the young champ, just 22 years old, roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston. I was too young when it was taken to understand who he was – still Cassius Clay, already an Olympic Gold Medal winner, yet to set out on a spiritual journey that would lead him to his Muslim faith, exile him at the peak of his power, and set the stage for his return to greatness with a name as familiar to the downtrodden in the slums of Southeast Asia and the villages of Africa as it was to cheering crowds in Madison Square Garden.

“I am America,” he once declared. “I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me – black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.”

That’s the Ali I came to know as I came of age – not just as skilled a poet on the mic as he was a fighter in the ring, but a man who fought for what was right. A man who fought for us. He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t. His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing. It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail. But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today.

He wasn’t perfect, of course. For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved. But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes – maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves. Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world. We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest. We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes.

Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it. We are all better for it. Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family, and we pray that the greatest fighter of them all finally rests in peace.

The Big Gay Hindu Wedding

Rishi Agarwal and Daniel Langdon, right, pictured here with Agarwal's parents, Vijay and Sushma. Agarwal’s parents have come a long way since Rishi came out in 2004 and hope sharing their story can help other South Asian parents who may be struggling with supporting their LGBTQ children.  (Vince Talotta / Toronto Star)

Rishi Agarwal and Daniel Langdon, right, pictured here with Agarwal’s parents, Vijay and Sushma. Agarwal’s parents have come a long way since Rishi came out in 2004 and hope sharing their story can help other South Asian parents who may be struggling with supporting their LGBTQ children. (Vince Talotta / Toronto Star)

Rishi Agarwal’s story is nothing especially new, but his happy ending is one that’s spreading a message of tolerance and acceptance within a community that desperately needs it.

Agarwal was raised in a devout Hindu home in suburban Toronto by his parents Vijay and Sushma, who both emigrated there from India over 30 years ago. When Rishi came out to them in 2004, they were initially shocked and devastated.

But after opening themselves up and doing some research, the parents changed their opinion.

“There is a cultural kind of a stigma,” Vijay told The Toronto Star. “This is strictly our baggage, what we bring from India,” said Rishi’s mother Sushma. When their son asked them if he should move out of the house after coming out of the closet, they told him absolutely not, and that they still loved him.

Even though his parents’ mother country still frowns heavily on homosexuality—it is illegal to be gay in India and the topic is considered shameful in traditional Indian families—Vijay and Sushma not only learned to embrace their gay son, but also threw him a classically opulent Indian wedding when he decided to marry his boyfriend, Daniel.

Vijay told The Star of the struggle they faced in trying to make the wedding happen, in all its traditional pomp and circumstance. He says he was turned down by seven priests before finding one who would perform the ceremony. “They initially said yes,” he says, “and as soon as they found out that it was a gay wedding, they turned away.”

In spite of this, the wedding was a huge and beautiful bash, replete with all the colorful rituals: matching turbans, the grooms circling a sacred fire, exchanging flower garlands, and getting matching henna tattoos of each other’s initials.

[…]

Now, the Agarwal family is publicizing its story. They have spearheaded their chapter of PFLAG outside of Toronto, which specifically targets South Asian parents of gay children, and Sushma has even written a book about her experience, called Loving My Gay Child: A Mother’s Journey to Acceptance.

Agarwal and Langdon are cheered after exchanging flower garlands at their wedding. “The purpose of that is to welcome each other into each other’s lives,” said Agarwal. “The second that garland has been placed, it’s kind of like the point of no return.”  (Photos by Channa Photography)

Agarwal and Langdon are cheered after exchanging flower garlands at their wedding. “The purpose of that is to welcome each other into each other’s lives,” said Agarwal. “The second that garland has been placed, it’s kind of like the point of no return.” (Photos by Channa Photography)

Via Out, The Star, and Metro.

Eliminating Conflict by Design.

Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League shared a potential design for a gender-neutral restroom that the theater chain hopes to build at its new location. (Courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse)

Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League shared a potential design for a gender-neutral restroom that the theater chain hopes to build at its new location. (Courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse)

While activists and officials on both sides of the debate are lawyering up, the founder of a popular Austin movie-theater chain has unveiled plans for his business to sidestep the debate altogether, before it’s had a chance to fully take root in Texas.

The idea, outlined on Facebook by Alamo Drafthouse Cinema founder Tim League, is to design a restroom that is “comfortable for all genders.”

“Instead of taking sides on whether or not sexual predators will be invading the restrooms of our stores or public schools, we’ve been thinking about what an inclusive commercial gender-neutral restroom design might look like so that these challenges are not even part of the dialogue,” League’s post says. “The consensus was that we’d have a room with ‘standing’ toilets (heck, we’re even looking at those all-gender urinals) and individual rooms with sinks, mirrors and trash cans in each room, our ‘seated’ toilet area.”

“I don’t want to have any ‘men’ or ‘women’ signs in the building,” the post adds.

[…]

The restroom would be placed in the next Alamo Drafthouse location, League said, noting that he has been working with an architect.

His Facebook post includes a drawing of the evolving design that he hopes will meet city code.

What exactly a gender-neutral urinal looks like remains an open question, even for those involved in designing one.

“It’s new territory,” Alamo Drafthouse architect Richard Weiss told NBC affiliate KXAN. “It’s something we’re looking into. It’s essentially a urinal that has a throat that comes out, it’s a deeper stall.”

“The ultimate goal,” he added, “is that everybody should be able to do what they want to do where they want to do it.”

[…]

In a subsequent Facebook post, League clarified his position on transgender people and restrooms.

“My intent on the previous post was to discuss architectural design details for the proposed bathroom,” he wrote.

But, he added, he does not consider himself a neutral voice on the issue. Instead, he’s taken a side.

“My side is that bigotry and the associated violence and/or shaming stemming from your choice of stall is unacceptable,” he wrote. “But changing that mindset is likely going to take a long time. My hope is that by changing the design of restrooms we can in the meantime avoid some potential violence.”

He told KXAN that he was moved to take action by stories of young people becoming targets of violence.

“It’s the stories you hear of transgender kids getting beat up in high school bathrooms,” League said. “That’s a real problem and like I say, you can’t necessarily change everybody’s mind immediately on these issues, but you can hopefully by design eliminate conflict.”

Full Story Here. And a Way to Go! to Tim League, for being thoughtful, for listening, for caring, and for seeking a solution.

The religion of fundamental social justice…

Student activists during a nationwide "Hands up, walk out" protest at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Photo: Reuters/Adrees Latif.

Student activists during a nationwide “Hands up, walk out” protest at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
Photo: Reuters/Adrees Latif.

Another day, another screed. This one certainly gave me a good laugh, as it seems I now have a religion. I guess we SJWs are upsetting everyone these days. Tsk. Be sure to put your melodrama meters away, critical levels here, of the “I’m a libertarian, of course I’m right!” kind.

NEW YORK — There’s a new religion exploding on the campuses of American universities and colleges, says Thomas Cooley professor of ethical leadership at New York University, Jonathan Haidt. And if it isn’t stopped, it might just be better to shut them all down in the next 10 or 20 years.

The religion of fundamental social justice sweeping across college campuses is so alarming, intense, and dripping with such extreme liberal fundamentalism, says Haidt, it has created an existential crisis for American academia while punishing heretics with public shame.

“There is an extremely intense, fundamental social justice religion that’s taking over, not all students, but a very strong [space] of it, at all our colleges and universities. They are prosecuting blasphemy and this is where we are,” Haidt warned an audience about the religion at a lecture billed “The American University’s New Assault on Free Speech,” organized by the Manhattan Institute in New York City this week.

[…]

When social issues like racism or sexism are treated as sacred, he says, it becomes difficult to have honest conversations about them.

“So if that’s the basic psychology and as religion itself has been retreating and kids are raised in a more secular environment, then what takes the place of that? There are lots of sacred spaces. Fighting racism, a very, very good thing to do, but when you come to sacred principles, sacred, this means no tradeoffs,” Haidt said.

“There is no nuance, you cannot trade off any other goods with it. So if you organize around fighting racism, fighting homophobia, fighting sexism, again all good things, but when they become sacred, when they become essentially objects of worship, fundamentalist religion, then when someone comes to class, someone comes to your campus, and they say the rape culture is exaggerated, they have committed blasphemy,” he said.

This religion of fundamental social justice is so frightening, even liberals are worried about it. But they aren’t speaking up, says Haidt, who describes himself as a libertarian.

“The great majority of people are really alarmed by what’s happening. There is a small group on campus of illiberal people. The illiberal left against the liberal left. The liberal left is uncomfortable but has so far been silent,” Haidt said. It is this illiberalism on campus that has given rise to groups such as Black Lives Matter where “nobody can say no to them.”

[…]

Haidt, however, doesn’t think life will continue down this road for American academia pointing to a growing counterculture movement involving projects such as the Heterodox Academy. […] So we are doing all these projects to use market forces to swamp the illiberals and basically take advantage of people’s disgust with the current situation.”

The two page screed is here.

Dawkins: I’ve Given Up Twitter.

_89774482_gettyimages-459925796

Richard Dawkins. Getty Images.

Some of the professor’s most heated recent spats have unfolded on social media. He has qualified some of his Twitter remarks and lamented that medium’s lack of nuance, but embraces it nonetheless.

Or at least, he used to.

“I’ve given up Twitter,” Prof Dawkins says quietly but curtly. The tweets that appear in his name, apparently, are the work of the staff at his Foundation for Reason and Science.

“I occasionally ask them to post something, which they do, but I’ve given up doing it myself.”

It’s about time. Source.

Twitter drops photos and videos from 140-character limit.

A man reads tweets on his phone in front of a displayed Twitter logo in Bordeaux, southwestern France, March 10, 2016. (REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/Illustration/File Photo)

A man reads tweets on his phone in front of a displayed Twitter logo in Bordeaux, southwestern France, March 10, 2016. (REUTERS/Regis Duvignau/Illustration/File Photo)

witter Inc said on Tuesday that user names and media attachments such as photos and videos will no longer count toward the length of a tweet but the 140-character limit will remain.

Twitter said the change, part of its efforts to simplify its microblogging service, will happen in the next few months.

“A few simple changes to make conversations on Twitter easier! And no more removing characters for images or videos!” Chief Executive Jack Dorsey said in a 115-character tweet. (http://bit.ly/1s78BmY).

[…]

Additional changes include the ability to retweet and quote-tweet a person’s own posts.

Nice changes for twitterers. Full Story Here.

Offended by the Redskins?: An Indian Country Twitter Poll.

vincent_schilling1_0

As some of you know, The Washington Post recently ran a story on Thursday about a poll of 504 people which indicated that 90% of Native Americans are not offended by the Washington Redskins name.

Shortly after the article, I tweeted the hashtag #IAmNativeIWasNotAsked, which trended on Thursday night.

[…]

It’s true that some Native people say they are not offended by the Redskins name, but in my experience, they are rare. I have also been told on numerous occasions where I was asked to appear on television, online or on national radio to discuss the Redskins, the organizers and producers had an extremely difficult time finding a Native person who approved of the Redskins name.

The Washington Post says they spoke to a random selection of 504 Native American people. In a country with 566 federally recognized reservations (not including the Pamunkey up for Federal and the multitude of State or unrecognized tribes) this roughly equates to less than one person per federally recognized tribe.

According to the Post’s numbers, available here interestingly, the percentages reflected in 2016 are identical to the poll numbers from the National Annenberg Election Survey from 2004.

A Twitter Poll

I know this is not “scientific,” or acceptable standards for a national poll, but a simple Twitter poll I created Thursday evening at 11:59 pm est generated 200 responses in just a few hours. As of Friday afternoon, 83% of those people say they are offended by the Redskins name.

Full Article Here. Vincent Schilling talks about this specific issue in his ‘No I Won’t Just Move On’ Hashtag: Why I Made It, We Need It Column.

A Keurig Machine for Weed

Canna

Will someone invent a goddamned Keurig machine for smoking pot?

Andy Kush at Gawker has something to say about it:

Besides sounding like a pretty boring way to get stoned, a pod-based delivery system for weed would seem to carry all the same problems as a pod-based delivery system for coffee: overpriced product, non-biodegradable materials, tons and tons of extra waste. If the similarities between CannaKorp and Keurig are really all they’re cracked up to be, there will also be the problem of pot that tastes like microwaved cardboard. Stoners’ distrust of corporate powers and embrace of the environment is only matched by our love of convenience. We can only hope the tree-hugger side wins out in the end.

I’ve never thought much of Keurig machines, and I don’t think much of this incarnation, either. I guess you could say I’m old fashioned when it comes to weed. Not that I smoke it or anything, no, not at all. After all, as a pain patient, I’m subjected to drug tests these days.

Second Skin

b340972c21a02025e1ed5668e8e69d96

Second Skin (2015), Esmay Wagemans. All images courtesy to the artist.

Instagram itself is quite clear about it: nudity is in no way allowed. Yet there’s still a lot of discussion going around this policy. A question that often arises, for example, is: Why are male nipples allowed while female ones aren’t?’ Last year, the #freethennipple movement unexpectedly took surface. Woman from all around the globe took to Instagram and Facebook, and shared selfies of their nude bodies. They still got censored, but the motivation was clear. Advocates of the movement accused the Western world in general (and the platform itself) of a sexist double-standard. Instagram subsequently defended their policy by stating they wanted their platform to be suited for all age groups (the app has a 12+ rating in the App Store). And children, so it seems—according to their general opinion—shouldn’t see any female nipples.

If it’s up to Esmay Wagemans, a fourth year at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, this will soon change. For her project Second Skin, she worked out a way to bypass Instagram’s nudity censorship. By using a self-developed special kind of latex, she actually managed to show her nipples without showing any skin.

I spoke to Wagemans about the creation of Second Skin, how people reacted on it, and why she thinks it’s important to revolt against any patronizing platform.

[…]

Why do you think it’s important to put your breasts on Instagram?

To me, Instagram is a very important platform to share my work as an artist. And I’m not going to change the essence of my work just because it would be too shocking for other people, or because it wouldn’t fit the social norms. Sure, I get that pornographic images shouldn’t be on it, but then again Instagram should focus on creating a different, less sexist and more refined nudity and censorship policy. Apart from all of this though, I do think Instagram’s strict nudity policy is sustaining the idea of a woman’s body as a sexual object.

How do you mean, “sustaining the idea of a female body as sexual object?” Don’t you think it’s a good thing children are restricted from seeing naked breasts?

I myself don’t think nudity should be such a taboo, because it feeds objectification. Look, if you’re not portraying breasts in an erotic or pornographic way, I think everyone should be able to see them, even children. By withholding those kinds of “normal” nudes from young teenagers, you’re still presenting the female body as something sexual. That’s simply not beneficial for anyone. Within that abstinence, the idea of the body starts being seen as something separate from the woman. It’s right there, where the objectification starts.

Most Hate-Filled Places by Tweets.

Adobo.

Adobo.

Housing site Abodo has put together a study analyzing tweets to figure out the most- and least-hate-filled places in the country. Between June 2014 to December 2015, they geolocated 154 keywords among 12 million tweets. The keywords included slurs and other prejudiced language against black people, Hispanic/Latino people, women, gays and lesbians, transgender people, people with disabilities, and the overweight.

Here are the results for most hate-filled states:

header3_all-derogatory-state1

And the overall least hate-filled states:

Screen-Shot-2016-03-08-at-8.44.38-AM

There are also breakdowns of Anti-Black tweets by city, Anti-Hispanic by city, Anti-Woman by city, Anti-Gay by city, and Anti-transgender by city. Full Story Here.