BLM Won – Just wait til they win some MORE!

Hey, folks! It’s time to PARRRRR-TAY!

BLM and their supporters have managed a major victory in Portland. Not only did Fed presence almost entirely disappear from Portland (we saw one FPS vehicle – a clearly marked SUV – anywhere downtown last night, Thursday the 30th, and it was parked and empty about 5 blocks from the Hatfield courthouse), but we ourselves did a good job of stopping any antics. One small fire was set, but protesters acted quickly to put it out with bottled water.

Although I don’t think that small fires or launching fireworks can possibly excuse the behavior of the Feds, in the PR war being waged in the media about whom to blame for the Portland catastrophe, making that first night without Feds as peaceful as possible was an important victory. For that PR victory, I’m quite glad.

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Google Doodle: Marsha Johnson

This pride month, Google has been using their doodles to honor QTs of color, and today is Marsha P. Johnson. I’m very happy about the doodle, which is quite attractive, and has a whimsical flair that I imagine is appropriate, though I never did meet her:

A colorful illustration of Marsha P Johnson, Stonewall veteran and co-founder (with Sylvia Rivera) of Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries, the best named and best acronymed group of people in the ever.

There’s also a wonderful effort, reported by CNN, to replace a local statue of Christopher Columbus with one of Johnson in her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey:

In Elizabeth, New Jersey, there’s another push to keep Johnson’s memory alive.
A 19-year-old woman has created a petition — which in less than two weeks has garnered more than 40,000 signatures — to replace a statue of Christopher Columbus in the city with one of Johnson.
The creator, Celine Da Silva, told CNN she thinks an honor for the activist in her hometown is long overdue.
“Being that this is her hometown, I think that we should be celebrating her and honoring her here,” Da Silva told CNN. “And I think that the LGBT and queer community should be able to learn more about historic figures from their own community.”
Da Silva and her boyfriend have plans to bring up their demand to the city council next month. They say they hope a new monument for Johnson will be the first of many steps to create a more inclusive Elizabeth and one that celebrates minorities and LGBT figures like Johnson.
Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender woman, was a central figure in the gay liberation movement
The late activist’s family, who still live in the New Jersey city today, say the movement to honor Johnson in her hometown gives them hope.

What I’m less happy about is the deadnaming by certain articles engendered by this doodle. For Rolling Stone, they feature Johnson’s deadname prominently, at the opening of their second paragraph:

Google has unveiled a new logo illustration (“Google Doodle”) for Marsha P. Johnson, the pioneering LGBTQ rights activist and self-identified drag queen who was a pivotal figure in the original Gay Liberation Front and the Stonewall Riots.
Born [Deadname]., on August 24th, 1945, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Johnson moved to New York City’s Greenwich Village upon graduating from high school, where she adopted her drag queen persona and legally changed her name to Marsha P. Johnson. (The “P.” stood for “pay it no mind,” a phrase she allegedly used to describe her gender.)

I don’t speak for Johnson, but this trend (followed in other articles as well) doesn’t sit well with me. Regardless how Johnson described herself in life, we do know for sure that she legally changed her name (EDIT: it turns out that we don’t know this for sure), and I would think that it’s well known by know that this is disrespectful where legal name changes have happened and even in cases where a legal change hasn’t happened but the expressed wish of the individual is clear and/or context makes it clear that using a former name is no longer appropriate.

So I’m glad for Google, but I’m disappointed in how this is being covered in the press today.

Do better, writers. Do better.


ETA: In a comment by a casual reader (yes, that’s the name of the commenter, not my description) down below, there’s a link to the wikipedia talk page for the article about Marsha P Johnson. The people engaged in that discussion know a fuck of a lot more than I do about Johnson and claim that Johnson did not legally change names. Though they don’t cite sources for good information on some of their claims there, they aren’t hesitant to single out a couple of sources of bad information. They also sound quite certain about the no-legal-name-change thing, although I noted that there seems to be some equivocation going on between some people saying that there was no legal name change and others stating that Johnson’s birth certificate was not changed.

As someone who knows exactly how hard that is to do, especially when you no longer live in the state where you were born (although anywhere in New Jersey was at least physically closer to NYC than Sacramento or really any California court was to me when I was changing my ID), I’m not as worried about BirthCert gender/name as I am about something like a driver’s license or state ID card which would have been in Johnson’s power to change in the 90s, and I am even more concerned about the name actually used with the friends that Johnson most trusted and loved. From those best friends, from those most supportive family members, did Johnson want to be called only Marsha P Johnson? Did it change day to day? Month to month? For me that matters.

However, it also makes Rolling Stone’s choice more understandable. I still wish that they wouldn’t have done it. I simply don’t see the benefit unless this was how Johnson wanted to be addressed in the media, by and to people who would never meet Johnson in person. But in light of the uncertainty, my disappointment in Rolling Stone is lessened.

Representative Ayanna Pressley: Naked Courage

Ayanna Pressley has just released a video through The Root about losing her hair over the last 6 months as a result of alopecia areata.  This is a screenshot from that video:

Representative Ayanna Pressley goes bald in public for the first time.

I’ve written about Black hair before, but seriously, this is a doozy of a topic. It’s hard for white people to understand just how political Black women’s hair can be, even though we’re often the ones doing the politicizing (e.g. her hair isn’t professional, is she trying to be militant? etc.).

So right now, I’ll just say this.

The first Black woman I ever seriously dated had sickle cell trait-related alopecia. She wore a wig constantly – nice looking one, too – but was apparently freaked that I might “discover” she had very little, very short, and very patchy hair on her head. In the dark she took off her wig while I was in the bathroom. I came back and found her sitting straight up, rigidly, instead of relaxing on the bed. I could tell there was something different about her silhouette, too, though it took my eyes a little bit to refocus. By the time I sat down on the bed next to her, she was almost shaking.

For the Black women who have this, this is a huge deal with a lot of shame attached. [I am, of course, not saying that’s how it should be, just saying that that is how it actually is right now.] It took a fuckload of courage for that girlfriend to expose her natural hair to me, one on one and in the dark after I had already clearly expressed my affection for her and attraction to her.

It’s remembering that woman quivering with fear on my bed in the dark that makes me qualified to say, Pressly, you’re a straight-up BadAss.

Go watch the video. It’s under ten minutes, and you won’t regret it.

Trump Would Rather Have His Racism Than $20 In His Pocket

So, when redesigning the US$20 bill, the treasury department took a poll on the best person to next be depicted. You may remember that Andrew Jackson, the genocidal maniac who was critiqued by other slave holders for how cruelly he treated his slaves, graces your US twenties right now. Since the US has been notoriously bad at featuring women on its currency and since the new bill was due to come out in 1920, the anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the US, and because US citizens have more sense than the government, the person selected to honor the new bill is Harriet Tubman… except the men couldn’t have a white guy replaced by a Black woman, so the new design was to keep Jackson, but move him to the reverse side of the 20 while putting Tubman on the front.

Creating a new bill is a time-consuming task, not least because after the old one has been out for a while, counterfeiters will have learned to mimic most of the features and the new bills, in addition to being durable in water, somewhat more tear resistant than most papers, and meeting US consumers’ subjective expectations that a bill seem “official” and not feel plasticky (which implies “fake”), new anti-counterfeiting techniques need to be designed into each new bill. Even when the person featured in the portrait does not change, the bills themselves do every so often and updating the counterfeiting countermeasures is a significant part of that. For this reason, the Treasury is literally in a constant state of research and development of new features that can be built into any new bills.

This time round, however, Steve Mnuchin, the US Secretary of the Treasury, has just told congress that despite the long lead time and the overwhelming poll support for Tubman, she will not appear on the $20 bill in 2020. Instead, Mnuchin suggests, 2028 is a more likely date. This would extend the current design to 25 years of use. We are already at 16, and the previous record for the longest use of a single design is about 15 years. In 2017 Mnuchin suggested that the Treasury might not release Tubman on the 20 because consumers become attached to particular persons on particular bills. This rationale was given despite the fact that the decision had already been made to keep Jackson’s image on the bill, if on the other side. But now, in 2019, Mnuchin has just announced that due entirely to needing to develop new anti-counterfeiting techniques, Tubman’s image cannot appear when originally intended.

The whole thing stinks, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Take a moment to think and you’ll realize that even if no new anti-counterfeit measures were ready to be placed in the 2020 series bill, changing the design and keeping the current measures is better at challenging counterfeiting than doing nothing at all. So why delay?

The real answer we can only guess, but I have three good ones: 2020 is a Presidential election year, and not only does Trump idolize Jackson, but I think he’s also afraid that his racist supporters will be furious at him if his treasury department releases a $20 with a Black woman on it – no matter how many white men are on it with her. If enough of his supporters are racist (a reasonable proposition), then pissing off the racists will hurt Trump’s chances at reelection.

And so here we are, we can’t have nice things because

  1. Trump idolizes a genocidal maniac who embarked on the ethnic cleansing of indigenous peoples from the areas of US territories that were recognized states during his term, and generally from any economically valuable land,
  2. Trump’s supporters are too often racist to risk the US government promoting the picture of a Black woman during an election year, and
  3. Trump is his own racist supporter who doesn’t want to see a Black woman’s face on “his” money.

It’s amazing how Trump can combine the most obscenely consequential power grabs with the most trivial and petty exercises of that power.


PS. And will the Democrats call this out for the racism that it is? Of course not. We’ll get a few comments about how it’s disappointing that 100 years after the ratification of the 19th amendment we still have never had a woman’s portrait on US paper currency during a federal election in which women were entitled to vote. But they certainly won’t say anything about racism, or even about how Mnuchin’s assertions are literally irrational.

 

Passovers Past: The One Drop Rule

Passover is a time to think about slavery, and for many of us to think about race because of the deep connection between the two topics. Two years ago I wrote one of my best-loved pieces The One Drop Rule. Not only do traffic logs show that both of my readers read the post twice, but apparently one of them still comes back a few times per month to read it again right up until today. Since it’s also a post about which I’m proud, and since I’m also struggling with kidney stones right now, I thought I’d take the opportunity of this year’s Passover to bring it back for new readers. It turns out that I’m not up to messing around with 301 redirects to create all the appropriate aliases, so instead I’ll link it here and encourage you to go read the original if you haven’t or if you’ve forgotten it. If you like, you can pretend that post is your reward for finding the afikoman. I’d make a chocolate joke here, but Bootsy Collins told me I can’t fit it between the 1s:


Yes that’s the same video I included in one of my earliest blog posts ever, but as long as we’re headed down memory lane, we may as well take the funk railroad. I hear it even has a stop in Mixed Metaphorville.

Credit Due

Pat Parker is a particularly awesome poet, although it’s true that we all tend to value most highly those things we can’t do ourselves, and whatever talent I have with language, it certainly doesn’t include a gift for brevity. So maybe I overvalue Parker because she’s able to make a point much more succinctly than I?

Hmm. Let’s see:

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Loving Day

Well, I missed it by two days, but let’s do this anyway: Fifty-one years ago on Tuesday, a mere 99 years, 11 months and 3 days after we passed a constitutional amendment requiring states to stop with the racial discrimination already, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that yes, Virginia, there are limits to constitutional violations and stop Freuding persecuting the Lovings already, okay?

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Dana Loesch Sends A Love Letter to Richard Dawkins

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the author of the recent book Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions among others, was brought on the Daily Show to be interviewed by host Trevor Noah. It’s a good interview, and you should watch it. Here, let me make it easy for you:

So did you notice the extremist horror about 2/3rds of the way through? That’s right, the part where Noah asks about generous gestures that, through chivalry, have been entwined with sexism and specifies holding open doors as an example? And then Adichie goes completely off the rails, saying

gestures like holding the door shouldn’t be gender-based. I think it’s a lovely thing to hold the door but we should hold the door for everyone. …[T]he idea of someone holding the door for a woman because she’s a woman…I have trouble with it.

I’m quite happy for people to hold the door for me. But I hope they’re not doing it because of this sort of idea of chivalry. Because chivalry is really about the idea that women are somehow weak and need protecting.

Adichie, how could you? Well, at least Fox & Friends had Dana Loesch on hand to nip the budding tip before the petals surrounding the reproductive bits can open:

With all due respect to her [Adichie] — and I’m familiar with her — I think it’s a luxury of third-wave feminism to complain about holding doors open for people where her country, Nigeria, it ranks top in the world for female genital mutilation, which I think if far more of a disservice to women and far more suppressive than someone courteously opening the door for someone else.

Dear Dawkinsima: when Loesch is your fellow traveler, perhaps it’s time to rethink your destination.

 

 

 

 

 

Fuck Yeah, She’s Worth $1 Billion.

NPR has the story of Hope Cheston who was raped by an employee of Crime Prevention Agency Inc.

No shit.

The employee who raped her, Brandon Lamar Zachary, was not qualified to be an armed security guard and did not have proper licensing. Nevertheless, CPA gave him a gun and the job of patrolling Cheston’s apartment building. Then, when Cheston was only 14 years old, Zachary raped her.

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Since Rosa Parks Wasn’t Rosa Parks, Who Was? Irene Bad-Ass Morgan, That’s Who

Over on Pharyngula, a discussion has been started about the propriety of using “accomplice” as a better word to describe the people that we have sometimes described as “allies” when discussing people that are not targeted by a specific form of oppression but nonetheless choose to work against it.

I started to write a comment over there about why I believe accomplice is appropriate, but it ended up becoming a treatise*1 about a woman named Irene Morgan*2. I decided that the thread shouldn’t be cluttered by a comment quite as long as I was writing, but that Morgan deserved better than cutting that treatise short. So I’ve moved it to Pervert Justice as a post for your reading pleasure.

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