Say It, ACLU!

On the afternoon of Wednesday, Sep 23rd, not much more than an hour after the Kentucky AG announced that no officers would be charged for the killing of Breonna Taylor, the ACLU released its own statement to the press. Before you read it, remember that this is the statement of an old organization that depends on its relationships for its effectiveness as much as it does the courts. So when they release statements, they’re not normally likely to simultaneously set fire to their political relationships and impugn the credibility of the courts.

But read this fucker:

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Black Lives Don’t Matter

Well, the grand jury indictments are in and a single officer is being charged with three counts of “Wanton Endangerment” because his bullets penetrated through the dry wall of Breonna Taylor’s apartment, burst through the drywall on the other side, and trespassed in an apartment not belonging to Taylor.

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Newsweek Shocked to Find Racism In Its Establishment

Remember that Newsweek editorial saying that the first Black woman on a national ticket wasn’t really a citizen?

Yeah, apparently Newsweek’s top management got a bunch of internal pushback from the people that actually produce the product without which they’d go immediately bankrupt: the writers. Under threat of not having anything to sell and therefore no money, which would, presumably, not be the happiest outcome for the shareholders, Newsweek brass decided it was time for a walkback so that they could defend their decision, admit that they maybesortaprobly wouldn’t make the same decision in the future, acknowledge that Harris is an actual American human being, and hold their heads high that they have been good and reasonable throughout this trying time:

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Senator Harris and the no good, terrible … yeah, whatever.

There are a lot of articles and even lists (and, yes, listicles) about Senator Kamala Harris’ worst actions and decisions, primarily as a prosecutor in San Francisco and the Attorney General of California. Let me be quite clear: I hate a number of things that Harris has done and a number of positions she’s taken in the past.

THAT SAID: when you’re considering all the bad crap in one of those lists, consider that it is, quite literally, harder for women of color to get elected in the USA than for a white man with the exact same resume and political positions. A LOT harder. You can only rock the boat so much and still be electable because of the way the USA’s plutocratic electoral system operates. Black skin rocks the boat. Being female rocks the boat. Being a woman rocks the boat. That leaves Harris dramatically less leeway to rock the boat with her actions or positions and still get elected. She has to take conventional positions on a number of issues to get to the position where she might be considered as a VP candidate.

In other words, white men are allowed to be more liberal and still get elected than black women are.In other, other words, you would never have gotten a VP-candidate Harris if Harris had not taken those positions that we progressives so roundly criticize.

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Yes, again…

A while back there were fuckers who tell us that one drop of non-white blood ruined a person’s whiteness and disqualified her from participation in society and government.

All over the US political right today you have fuckers who tell us that one drop of non-Black blood ruins Kamala Harris’ Blackness and disqualifies her from participation in society and government.

You know, it’s very, very weird, but I think these are the same, god damned fuckers.

 

 

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.