sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
Spoilers for Ghostbusters ahead. Overall I loved this movie but there was some weird racist stuff going on.

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An apology

May. 31st, 2016 04:51 pm
sasha_feather: the back of furiosa's head (furiosa: back of head)
At opening ceremonies I attempted to give an "elevator talk" (2 to 3 minutes) describing the social model of disability.

The metaphor I used was eye glasses and contact lenses: many of us wear corrective lenses and do not consider them to be a marker of disability. While impairment exists in my vision, my eyesight is not disabling because society does not make it so. It is relatively easy to acquire corrective lenses in most cases, because both brick-and-mortar stores and online stores supply them, and because doctors and community members encourage you to use them. There is wide support for these pieces of assistive tech in the society I live in, and they are mostly non-stigmatized, with some exceptions such as very thick lenses.

I contrasted corrective lenses to wheelchairs, which are highly stigmatized. Doctors and community members will generally not encourage you to use them; they are expensive and difficult to acquire; difficult to fix when broken; and infrastructure in our society does not support them, unlike corrective lenses.

A WisCon member pointed out to me later that I missed an intersection having to do with race: Glasses are designed for white people. People with flatter features (for instance some Asian people) can have a lot of trouble getting glasses that fit correctly, as glasses tend to rest on a prominent nose.

I completely missed this intersection of oppression and I apologize for causing pain. I will be more mindful in the future.
sasha_feather: Black, white, and red image of woman with futuristic helmet (Sci Fi Woman)
Just for the record, I hated "Ex Machina". It was a science fiction movie about straight male fantasies come to life and gone wrong. It was gross.

This blog post gets into some of the racist stuff in the movie:
sasha_feather: "subversive" in rainbow colors (subversive)
So sometimes around the internet I run into this Problem statement:
Something terrible happens in (usually the South or SouthWest).
Some people will respond with "Why do people even live there?" or "just let them secede".

I find this so problematic in so many ways.

-- These folks are essentially writing off whole swathes of people and places. There are many activists working hard to make those places better. There are people all over the country who *can't* move away and who don't want to. There's history and culture and resources in those places and why would just let the haters have those things? And even if the good folks were to move away....

--Assuming that where you live is better is so wrong.

In the important essay I, Racist by John Metta, he quotes his sister:

“The only difference between people in the North and people in the South is that down here, at least people are honest about being racist.”

--White people where I live (Wisconsin) are sometimes smug and think that there isn't racism here. But Wisconsin is the worst state for mass incarceration of black men and Native American men (source: NPR 2013). And we're the worst for having a gap in graduation rates between black and white students (source: Madison newspaper 2013). It isn't different in other parts of the country. Racism is everywhere. It's in your hometown.

--This framing falls into "us vs. them" thinking. "Those racists over there" are the problem. I was taught that as a white person growing up in a racist society, I *am* racist; it's what I do about it that matters. I must actively combat racism within myself. That is where I begin.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
I said something tonight which seemed to surprise my friends, and now I feel the need to talk about it a little, so I'm laying it out here: I don't believe in the "obesity epidemic." I mean that I really don't believe it exists.

My essential reading for this is a 2005/2006 scientific article:

The epidemiology of overweight and obesity: public health crisis or moral panic? Paul Campos, et al. International Journal of Epidemiology.

Selections follow, but I suggest reading it all. It is scientfic, but readable, and a fantastic article that states the claims the claims the medical/scientific communities have been making, and swiftly knocks them down. For example:

Claim #2: ‘Mortality rates increase with increasing degrees of overweight, as measured by BMI.’—WHO, 2003 (p. 61)2

This claim, central to arguments that higher than average body mass amount to a major public health problem, is at best weakly supported by the epidemiological literature. Except at true statistical extremes, high body mass is a very weak predictor of mortality, and may even be protective in older populations.

Claim #4: Significant long-term weight loss is a practical goal, and will improve health.

At present, this claim is almost completely unsupported by the epidemiological literature. It is a remarkable fact that the central premise of the current war on fat—that turning obese and overweight people into so-called ‘normal weight’ individuals will improve their health—remains an untested hypothesis. One main reason the hypothesis remains untested is because there is no method available to produce the result that would have to be produced—significant long-term weight loss, in statistically significant cohorts—in order to test the claim.


The authors also speculate on social and political factors contributing to this moral panic:

In particular, organizations like the International Obesity Task Force (which has authored many of the WHO reports on obesity) and the American Obesity Association (which has actively campaigned to have obesity officially designated as a ‘disease’) have been largely funded by pharmaceutical and weight-loss companies.

Moral panics are typical during times of rapid social change and involve an exaggeration or fabrication of risks, the use of disaster analogies, and the projection of societal anxieties onto a stigmatized group.47,48

Public opinion studies also show that negative attitudes towards the obese are highly correlated with negative attitudes towards minorities and the poor, such as the belief that all these groups are lazy and lack self-control and will power. This suggests that anxieties about racial integration and immigration may be an underlying cause of some of the concern over obesity.49–51

Previous work indicates that moral panics often displace broader anxieties about changing gender roles.49,53 While this hypothesis deserves further research, a recent advertisement that ran in a major American newspaper suggests that this may be at play in the obesity panic. This advertisement blames ‘30 years of feminist careerism’ for an epidemic of childhood obesity and diabetes: ‘With most mothers working, too few adults and children eat balanced, nutritious, portion-controlled home-cooked meals.

However, other works suggest that some portion of the population's weight gain can be attributed to smoking cessation,56 which runs counter to the assumption that the country's weight gain is evidence of both moral laxity and a harbinger of declining overall health.
[bolding mine]
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This talk was part of UW's Distinguished Lecture Series, and was given by Dr. Michelle Alexander, speaking about: "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The New Jim Crow is a stunning account of the rebirth of a caste-like system in the United States, one that has resulted in millions of African Americans locked behind bars and then relegated to a permanent second-class status—denied the very rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights Movement."

Here are my notes.

An introduction was given by a professor of law? politics? who was a white man. He said that at the start of the U.S. there were only 5 laws; now there are something like 2,000, and all of us break laws. This overcriminilization leads to overincarceration. Discretion must be used to enforce the law, but this opens the door to bias. Federal laws are vague, and plea bargaining is rampant. There is a decline in the use of juries.

From 1990 to 2001, there was a doubling in the number of people in prison. The number of prisons rose by 41%. There are 2.1 million people in prison. Although blacks use drugs at about the same rate as whites, they are 9 times more likely to go to prison for drug crimes. Equal protection is not in play, which is a political issue. Other issues inc lude the fact that prosecutors often live outside of inner cities, and intraracial crime is not addressed, leaving black people unprotected.

Michelle Alexander spoke about the Invisible Undercaste in America. We see the Obamas on TV but that image does not match up with the "other America". Dr. MLK Jr. said there is no greater sin than sleeping through a revolution. We've slept through a counter-revolution: one that fought back against the civil rights movement. Poor folks of color are shuffled from under funded schools into high-tech prisons.

In this era of "color blindness", we aren't allowed to see or name race, so the word "criminal" or "felon" replaces race and becomes a legal form of descrimination. Being a felon makes one a pariah. She talked about her own awakening here and her own prejudice against a particular person with regard to this label, while she was attempting to bring a lawsuit against the Oakland police for "Driving while Black/Brown" stops. Felons often can't get food stamps, public housing, or jobs. The cops get to everyone in the neighborhood. The path to racial justice includes those that we see as guilty. Felon laws keep people from voting in the same way that poll taxes used to. Felons are permanently unemployable. Black families are decimated.

Incarceration quintupled over a 30 year period while crime fluctuated. This was because of the war on drugs. Our stereotype of a drug dealer is of a black person which is not true. Violence is a part of daily life in some communities: why? Because of Joblessness. Work disappeared, Factories closed in black neighborhoods in Chicago. There was no bailout for this, when there could have been. The war on drugs is a backlash to the civil rights movement! Felons can't get food stamps! This was a bipartisan effort --- being tough on crime-- Joblessness is a major predictor of violence. Incarceration does not solve crime. Law enforcement makes major money off the war on drugs. They are allowed to seize assets from people only suspected of drug crimes. Clinton escalated the drug war especially for marijuana.

The Supreme Court has supported all of this, gutting 4th amendment rights (search and seizure), much as they supported Jim Crow laws. She talked about "stop and frisk" actions.

When people get out of prison, they have many obstacles, including having to pay back child support, legal fees, and sometimes having to pay for their incarceration, all while being unemployable and having little to no access to services. This system is designed to send people back to prison. The prison industry employs white people, and private prisons are listed on the NYSE.

We need a Major Social Movement for all poor people of all colors. It needs to be a Human Rights Movement. There should be no discrimination against people released from prison. There should be an underground railroad for these people to help them get back home and get food, shelter, and work. She mentioned the local group "Voices Beyond Bars". We also need to work for the abolition of this system. We need to end the war on drugs. One trillion dollars has been spent on this useless war! We need to shift to a public health model of addiction. We need to shift away from a punitive model of justice and towards a model of restorative justice and rehabilitation. We need to challenge the belief that some people are unworthy: we need to recognize the dignity and humanity of all people!

"Illegal Immigrants" is the same game and we must reject that discourse. We must be a multi-racial and multi-ethnic movement.

Q and A: the questions were mostly inaudible but I took notes on the answers.

MA: the 13th Amendment (which bans slavery) has an exception for prison labor. This is wrong and must be fixed. Work is good, but must be by choice and be paid. Corporations profit in many ways from prisons, and it's a virtual slave system. Book rec: Prison Profiteers.

Audience member: The 11x15 campaign seeks to reduce the prison population in WI to 11,000 by 2015.

Audience member: A woman talked about her son who is in prison. His name is Lawrence Tucker and he is a father. She talked about how dehumanizing prison is. This situation is very hard on her family.

MA: She is a prison abolitionist. Solitary confinement is used here in the states for years on end, and it is torture.

Question from a law student about getting into the field.

MA: Takes courage to get into the system and speak the truth and have compassion. Book rec: Let's Get Free.

Q: inaudible
MA: We need to transition from protest politics to movement building where the message is a critique of the system and energy is sustained over time. We would never have heard about Trayvon Martin if he'd been killed by a police officer, for instance.

Q: Suggestions for multi-ethnic movement building?
MA: Who is already doing the work in your area? Support each other's work.

Q: inaudible
MA: "Tinkering with the machine" isn't the way to go. Aim a larger goal. Have a comprehensive vision and broad picture for your activism. Her example was not to focus on just one narrow issue but when someone asks you about violent offenders, include them too and talk about restorative justice. Don't avoid the question! (As an activist I really appreciated this tip.)

Q: Incomprehensible convoluted question/story/statement which I think might have been about student activity fees?
MA: Very graciously brushed him off.
sasha_feather: cake that says WTF on it (WTF cake)
The Madison Times:
School board "race" highlights the disconnect between the two Madisons by A. David Dahmer.

I was pretty baffled when the winner of the primary dropped out of the race the day after winning because she suddenly found out that her husband had been accepted to grad school in California (and not in town). That seemed shady to me-- perhaps just flaky, but as this article points out, it's also very privileged behavior and served to shut out the one woman of color running for the school board in a district where there is a huge achievement gap.

That, and telling lies about her, of course. WTF.
sasha_feather: Uncle Iroh from avatar: the last airbender (Iroh)
Lana Wachowski says part of her hope with "Cloud Atlas" is that it will challenge transphobia:

(Title is somewhat misleading). Also she's been doing some great work speaking about her transition, etc.

However, Cloud Atlas uses yellow face. Egregiously. The Cloud Atlas Conversation

Intersectionality is so important. Ms. Wachowski is attempting to fight one kind of oppression, but is further oppressing Asian people, and completely ignoring the fact that trans Asian people exist. How are they supposed to react to this movie?

Zuko, I am disappoint.
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The Science of Racism: Radiolab's Treatment of Hmong Experience
Submitted by Kao Kalia Yang on October 22, 2012 - 10:17pm


Full text under the cut, since the link is not working for some folks (assumed high server load)
Content notices: Racism. Discussion of miscarriage.

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sasha_feather: Teyla from Stargate: Atlantis (teyla)
Day 16 - A vid that told you something new about a show/movie you already loved

I am struggling with this question. Being a participant in fandom gradually changes the way I regard media, rarely is there an "aha" moment when I see something differently, such as watching a vid. Anyway, watching vids is an intuitive experience for me generally, only if someone explains it to me do I really consciously get what one is trying to say (if indeed it's trying to say something).

Well, I'm overthinking it. I'm going to rec two critical race vids, which I have had explained to me by various people in various formats:

How Much is that Geisha in the Window by [ profile] lierdumoa, Firefly. This is a vid that critiques racism inherent in Firefly.

I was lucky enough to hear [personal profile] deepad and others speak about this at a vid panel at WisCon in 2008. Deepa said, among other things (IIRC), that the shots of the railroad echo the history of the American railroads, and the erasure of Chinese people from American history, because after all it was Chinese immigrants who built the American railroads.

This vid brings background shots to the foreground, and shows that aspects of Asian culture are used as "set dressing" for the show.

White and Nerdy by [ profile] talitha78. Psych.

OK, this is not a show I love, mostly because I find Shawn annoying, but I have seen it and think it's kind of a cute show. This vid is great. It is both funny and cuttingly critical. Why is white synonymous with nerdy? How many TV/movie characters can you think of that are black and nerdy? I can think of 3, maybe, including Gus.

I also heard Francesa Coppa talk about both of these vids, and some others, in a video presentation about people who don't exist in the future, and how fandom can help. I can't find the link right now, will ETA if/when I do.

ETA: Things We Don't Have in the Future, and how Fanworks Can Help
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
[ profile] handyhunter at Dear Author: A Special Guest Post on Cultural Appropriation in Romance novels. You might not want to read comments.

[ profile] tbonejenkins: It Happens in the Christian World Too On racism in Christian publishing and responses to it.
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
Trying to Explain a Drop in Infant Mortality
By Erik Eckholm

Full article with pictures and links at NY Times

MADISON, Wis. — Seven and a half months into Ta-Shai Pendleton’s first pregnancy, her child was stillborn. Then in early 2008, she bore a daughter prematurely.

Soon after, Ms. Pendleton moved from a community in Racine that was thick with poverty to a better neighborhood in Madison. Here, for the first time, she had a full-term pregnancy.

As she cradled her 2-month-old daughter recently, she described the fear and isolation she had experienced during her first two pregnancies, and the more embracing help she found 100 miles away with her third. In Madison, county nurses made frequent home visits, and she got more help from her new church.

The lives and pregnancies of black mothers like Ms. Pendleton, 21, are now the subject of intense study as researchers confront one of the country’s most intractable health problems: the large racial gap in infant deaths, primarily due to a higher incidence among blacks of very premature births.
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sasha_feather: Teyla from Stargate: Atlantis (teyla)
Via [ profile] handyhunter

"The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue; it is that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story."
sasha_feather: sad lego man in space helmet (sad lego man)
I am still extremely tired and today I cried for no reason. That was odd. I ate some leftover choco-raspberry cake that lilaia gave me, and that helped.

Mystickeeper said I should blog about my Strange Chain Restaurant experience.

My high school friends wanted to eat at HuHot Mongolian Grill. One funny thing was, we all showed up 10 to 15 minutes early for our dinner date. A Minnesota culture thing? IDK.

The food was OK, and there is a novelty aspect where you choose your own food and they cook it on a big grill in front of you (not food allergy friendly since it gets mixed up with other people's-- shared surfaces).

But I was disturbed by the menu. There is a Mongolian motif of a guy with NO EYES. Fierce eyebrows, a goatee, and helmet. Then the language:

Control your destiny. (Look what it did for Genghis.)

Advance to the fresh food bar and commandeer a bowl.

Choose your favorites from a bountiful selection of meats seafood noodles and vegetables

POUR ON THE FLAVOR - The Essential Weapon
Ladle on our Specialty Sauces or express your inner warrior by creating your own unique blend from the ingredients provided. Use 5-6 ladles of sauce.

Watch as your chosen ingredients are cooked before your eyes on our grill of epic proportions!

Behold your piping hot creation! Return to your table and enjoy.

The grill is unlimited, so mix it up again. Remember to leave room for the Final Pillage... dessert.

Antoine said something about how the staff must be carefully trained... because if they are encouraging customers to pillage, what else are they expecting?!!

This is all directly from their website. It's a chain restaurant that you can find in Suburban landscapes.


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