yeloson: (Magical Feeling)
Life likes to give examples. Today's example is Neil Gaiman saying stupid things about Indians. When called upon it, he makes what initially sounds like an ok clarification and apology.

Except, he also had to add this:

"Also apologies to any Icelandic or Norwegian readers who are offended by my imprecision. Obviously none of the Newfoundland settlers were Vikings."

Ah, yes! After all, you wouldn't want the descendants of Vikings getting upset!

They might be offended by a little invisibility or absence, after all, it's just like being the survivors of a centuries-long genocide that covered two continents along with being written out of history and being silenced to this day? Right?

"A few dead Indians" is exactly the history told in this country, every day.

Context. Without context, nothing means nothing.

Germans gassing Jews might as well be Aliens vs. Robots*. Product placement is just as bad as lynchings.

"I don't see what everyone's upset about!" (You people don't matter anyway!).

Yeah. And the thing is, that thing about Vikings? It's not based in genuine naive ignorance of the situation- it's a nod, a signal, "Oh, look I have to be 'politically correct', the natives are restless. Oh bother!"

Of course, if you really care about what you did wrong, you might want to understand what it was, so you could not do it again.

Until then, I guess we'll "keep being oversensitive" about genocide and stuff, until we get our priorities correct, right?

*People often read that comic as "Ha-ha, racism doesn't exist!". Try reading that comic backwards, right to left, and consider... context!
yeloson: (Default)
M. Night on the casting choices for Avatar:

Here's the thing. The great thing about anime is that it's ambiguous. The features of the characters are an intentional mix of all features. It's intended to be ambiguous. That is completely its point. So when we watch Katara, my oldest daughter is literally a photo double of Katara in the cartoon. So that means that Katara is Indian, correct? No that's just in our house. And her friends who watch it, they see themselves in it. And that's what's so beautiful about anime.

Where to start?

As a movie director, he knows that visual continuity is created deliberately- you can't haphazardly throw visual elements together and make it work. It's not ambiguous, the series team did a giant amount of research - the architecture, the characters, the clothing, all of this had to be communicated to the animation team.

Sure, his daughter identifies - because how many brown female characters are there for kids? Does she also identify with random white characters? (Maybe. Look at the implication in mentioning her friends identify as well. All white social circles?) Of course, maybe she's just happy to have A Girl Like Me in her cartoons.

Also, I like the "Well I could have used these other ethnicities, but I didn't" as if the would have, could have actually impacts the final result. Kung Fu the TV series could have had Bruce Lee in it! Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee could have been true to the original story! Wizard of Earthsea could have had brown characters! 21 could have had asians in the story, just like the real life events!

What makes this intent bit completely moot is that basically, at the end of the day, despite it all, he chose white actors. Actors of color don't even get considered in many roles, so it's not like "well we could have" works the other way.

This is someone who very deliberately chooses roles. He's very careful with his visuals. Am I to understand suddenly he became enveloped in a magic fog of color-blindness that overwhelmed his craft and experience as a director? (Was this the same magical force of post-racism that exploded across the nation when Obama took office?)

White supremacy isn't everyone's fantasy. There's nothing ambiguous about white folks getting roles and actors of color not.

Try restoring the balance yourself, before telling movies about it.

ETA: Because it cannot be said enough times: These are the Ghosts of the Heroes I never had.
yeloson: (Oh NOES)
There's a game kids do. They do something really obnoxious, like wave their hands around another kid's face, "I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you, I'm not touching you!" and then, when the other kid either screams at them, or hits them, they go, "MOOOOOM! He's being mean!"

It's pretty stupid, but it's something kids do.

Now, when you come to the internet, it's really interesting to watch even grown folks do things which are basically that kind of behavior, then turn around and go, "Woe is me! All these people are being MEAN!" when you get the same response.

If you anonymously comment, make bizarre statements and refuse to cite anything in reality, ignore valid points, and basically show off your ignorance even more? You might find yourself being mocked.

Woe is you!

Look at how mean the world is!

What's interesting is the degree at which this shows up in privilege and silencing discussions. "Woe is me" works really well because the circle the person usually is engaged in, is oblivious to the privilege, and the problematic behaviors in the first place, so easy sympathy points there. (Politeness and Tone are usually part of this game as well).

At the same time, it shows exactly how much this person wasn't engaging in good faith discussion to begin with.

It wasn't about learning -what- was right, as much as an exercise in reassuring non-thought about privilege (-who- was right, and that who is the person playing the game, why are you so mean?)

If someone's not talking with you, there's not point in wasting precious moments on the stupid.
yeloson: (Default)
99% of the time, those in privileged positions asking for "education" are not actually asking to learn something. Instead they're engaging in dishonest debate- the questions aren't aimed at learning something, but rather designed as challenges - it's not about information, it's about dishonest debate.

The two usual giveaways about it are:

a) An unwillingness to do research and effort on one's own - that is, if you point the person to books, websites, movies, historical events to research, they refuse to bother doing any effort on their own.

b) Any answers are met with more challenge-type questions, which almost always involve shifting the terms of debate, each time. It's not about more understanding, it's really just disguised versions of "I don't believe you, PROVE IT TO ME, AGAIN.", which repeats until you stop, at which point they can rest easy, because clearly you're wrong, the idea is bunk, because you couldn't summarize it in a half hour conversation or 3 email/comment exchanges.

Under that logic, most science would also be wrong as well...

The whole behavior is basically a form of concern-trolling- "Well, but educate me, since I'm being polite and reasonable and therefore you OWE IT TO ME, and if you, individually, don't sell this idea to me RIGHT NOW, then the whole idea is bunk." (also note the egotism in the demand; the immediate assumption of servant/served relationship...)

It's easy to get caught in this game, because we're so used to having to justify and explain and defend ourselves, not to mention usual internalized 'isms.

But basically, the answer is to point people to do some research, and come back later if they're actually interested. Anyone who is, will go ahead and do that, and anyone who isn't, isn't worth your time.

They're not asking a real question, and aren't worth a real answer.
yeloson: (Default)
Dear Giant Robot Magazine,

You once made me excited to read you. You were a great voice for asian am folks, at a time when our choices were Asianavenue, A, or Yolk.

You used to have articles about folks traveling to homelands they didn't know, trying to understand traditions, snarky reviews on asian hot sauces or liquors, interviews with asian american performers, stories about small things we'd only know about and pieces of our bits of history.

Then you started just doing music reviews and interviews with people who created kitschy hipster shit.

For awhile, you kept me going for the occasional interview with a movie celebrity... but all of these folks were asian movie stars- not asian americans.

In many ways, you became the Quinton Taratino shopping guide.

Look, you haven't EVEN had an actual asian person on the cover since Issue 18 - instead, all we get are paintings and shit to collect. Is this really any different than bookstore zen gardens or Trader Joe chow mein?

Now, at the end of the day, you're asking for donations, and I'm trying really damn hard to come up with a reason to help. I mean, right now I've got a lot more incentive to send money to the defunct Bamboo Girl Magazine, since the few issues I have still have so much to give to folks.

Community has a reason to invest in community. But consumers? They owe you nothing- you get left behind like an empty PBR bottle on the lawn after they're done with you.

GR, it was a good run while it lasted, but it's been over for a long time.

Maybe it's time you realized that as well.
yeloson: (Default)
I've been watching an online community, with much sadness, flail at it's inability to live to it's own social contract.

The basic idea of the social contract is good: "Support each other's threads, respect the thread starter's requests, engage honestly, take side issues or serious disagreement to other threads."

The problem is, this contract is fairly well upheld when it's a white, male posting. And not so much when it's anyone else.

The two major "solutions" so far proposed are:
a) "If you don't like it, ignore it" - AKA "The community doesn't care about you, mutuality, or upholding the social contract with regards to you, too bad. Don't complain". This also assumes people haven't already BEEN doing that, to the point of ridiculousness. It's pretty hard to miss when your thread is an example in derailing and a white man posts just what you posted, right after you, and gets more honest and supportive communication.

b) A "karma" system- aka, a systemic social pressure system.

So. Huh. If the problem is that some aren't getting equal treatment based on the bias of the majority, installing numeric system by which the majority enforces it's rule will produce... um what?

Ultimately the problem with "mass social pressure" based communities is that it effectively entrenches it's own problems- if the majority is happy, equal treatment under the system doesn't need to happen, and likely, will be resisted on simple basis of ratio and the unconscious desire to hold onto power, equality be damned.

When you have a space that has a basically good concept, it's stable enough that all the things that make it good, also serve as the reasons the majority then see any possible change as something to be feared- a shield from making sure everyone gets to enjoy the mutuality of participation.

This is basically why I stick with the idea that it's far more useful to build productive spaces where you have the opportunity than to fight through existing ones- it's less effort and more payoff.

Typically the hardest part with this level of community disengagement is the hard honesty of accepting that despite all reassurances otherwise, the message through action really is, "You don't matter except in how you can help my fun/fanboy/squee/etc." It's the Big Betrayal and an ugly one, since usually at that point, you've developed long term relationships and such. Add in any manner of internalized 'ism, and there's a layer of wanting acceptance from this same group that just showed you that acceptance only comes at secondary status.

Take the good idea, take the community goal you want to participate in, add whatever systems will assure that your group doesn't come around to do the same thing, and make it work. If someone consistently takes your money and fails to deliver on the goods? Why would you believe if you talk to them again, this would be any different? Same thing with your time and energy.
yeloson: (Default)
My good friend Ben Lehman is donating profits from PDF sales of his rpgs to Haiti relief. Also note that if you've already donated, he'll send you a free PDF!:

Hi everyone.

From now until Sunday midnight, I’ll donate all profits from PDF sales on my website (which is basically the amount you paid) to Haitian earthquake recovery organizations. Additionally, I will donate $5 from each copy of Drifter’s Escape. So if you’ve been thinking about buying Polaris or Bliss Stage, now’s a great time. For this to work, you have to buy directly from my website not from IPR.

If you have already donated $10 or more, send me a receipt and I’ll send you a free PDF.


A short summary of the games he has:

Bliss Stage: The Evangelion mecha game where your relationships power your mechs- and your mech's damage damages your relationships. Angst! Trauma! Fun!

Polaris: The fantasy game of knights trying to defend the doomed society before time in face of the first Dawn. GM-less. Awesome. Tragic.

Drifter's Escape: The Americana game about a person travelling into town, just trying to get by, while The Man and the Devil both try to con him or her out of her soul.
yeloson: (Magical Feeling)
By way of delux, I'm reading the awesome interview with Nancy Miller on women writers in TV.

I'm just musing on the fact that she still has to address the "no free ticket" and "prove that you're just as good as the boys" arguments and the way in which people don't think about the assumptions in those arguments.

I mean, that you have a group in which your demographic was the first key to entry before we EVEN get to looking at your ability. Wouldn't that be a group of folks who got a "Free Ticket"? In that they didn't have to "prove themselves" against both the 51% of humanity that are women and the other 20% of Americans who happen to be both male and a person of color? (nevermind how much more narrow that gets when we're looking world-wide...)

As usual, whatever the oppressor claims about others, they're probably first in line doing it.
yeloson: (Magical Feeling)
From Don't Pay To Pray's Twitter, there's a good link on Meditation and insanity, and the dangers of what happens when people don't understand the exercises they're undertaking, try to do them before they're ready, and overdo exercises beyond what is called for.

All legitimate traditions understand that if something has the power to help you, it can also have the power to mess you up- you wouldn't randomly take medicine out of the cabinet imagining all of it is good for you in all situations. There's a lot of people looking for simple answers, simple methods, and a lot of people willing to sell it to them as well- would you believe you can solve all health issues if you did enough push-ups?

And, impatient people trying to start at the end. Detachment is an end result, not a beginning one. Attaching self-judgment is ridiculous- it's like teaching children to feel bad about themselves if they can't reach the kitchen counter yet- time and due course without frustration or impatience is what people need to learn instead.
yeloson: (Magical Feeling)
Both Glockgal and Willow pointed out that in the white worldview POC aren't real people, but rather figments of fantasy in people's heads. Newspaper Rock comments on the fact that when several Quileute youth are invited to take part of the opening night- most of the stars and people are shocked to find out it's not a made-up tribe:

Comment: Let's think about this a minute. Millions of people have read the Twilight books and seen the Twilight movie. The media has written tens of thousands of articles on the Twilight phenomenon. Yet after all that scrutiny, half the media don't realize there's a real Quileute tribe?!

This is what happens when you turn real Indians into fictional warriors, shamans, and werewolves. You place them in some alternate reality of mystery and magic where they never fought European invaders, signed peace treaties, or established modern governments. By equating Indians with ferocious beast-men, you deny that they have the accouterments of a civilized people: history, culture, language, religion, philosophy, and art.


The problem remains that the fiction about POC is more prevalent than the fact and, when tied with strong aversive racism and privilege, you have a power structure supported by folks who are willfully ignorant and unwilling to deal with people as people, as well as making concentrated efforts to keep us from having access to venues to tell our stories.

The argument "it's only fiction" really can only apply if you have context to understand the difference between fiction and reality.

And it's always interesting how one group profits in reality for making fantasy about another.
yeloson: (Magical Feeling)
What if this Halloween, I dressed up to be a white person?

Not a celebrity, politician, or anyone with a name.
Not a police officer, a cowboy, a doctor or a profession or role.

A white person.

That alone, would mark me as different, strange, "dressed up". A costume for your amusement and enjoyment.

I wouldn't even dress up as a real white person as you see day to day. I'd dress up as a caricature of a white person, one which every white person would get to hear inflicted upon them day after day, for the rest of their lives to let them know some horrible, fucked up weird fetish person from shitty movies, pornos, and sites dedicated to hating and using white people, THAT fake person is what everyone thinks of when they think of white person.

That's what their kids would get to face too, not just this holiday, but everyday, for the rest of their lives. Coming home crying, because their real skin, their real lives, wasn't "authentic enough" for other people.

That horrible fake person would be me, dressed up like that, for fun.

Trick or Treat.
yeloson: (Default)
First Nations peoples demand assistance and medical supplies from Health Canada after second wave of H1N1 ravages their communities. Medical supplies received? BODY BAGS.

Targeted negligence- the clean genocide? Hate can be as dispassionate as watching someone die without a blinking an eye... because you made them invisible, and rationalized their suffering as their own fault.
yeloson: (I see crazy people)
Reading the most recent white supremacist antics at WorldCon, I've come to an understanding of that damaged way of thinking in privilege:

Only "equals" have the right to be angry.

When you are wronged, you have the right to be angry.

But it's "not wrong" to treat us like shit, in the mind of white supremacist. It's "not wrong" to expect us to be dismissed, silenced, and put to the side. It's "wrong" for us to expect to act as full participants, with full voices. It's "wrong" for us to not have attached ourselves Harujuku girl style to some white person as supporters and hanger-on accessories... after all, wasn't the whole world and everything made for white use?

It's "wrong" for us to protest the logic of megalomaniacal narcissism as a way of life.

When a white person goes on a crazy shooting rampage, the question is always "WHY?!?" There's a desperate need to know how this person, this murderer, wasn't helped, was underserved, was wronged. When a person of color sounds angry? There is no seeking of empathy, no looking for motivations, no seeking of ultimate causes.

An elderly black man yells at a cop. "He's crazy and mean and angry for no reason."
A cop shoots an unarmed child in the back. "Oh, he was scared."

You who blame victims and protect abusers and murderers?

How can you define "rude" when you applaud savagery?
yeloson: (Default)
I just came across Cereta's excellent post on men and rape by way of Coffeeandink's links and post.

The first rule of abuse is that we don't name it. And when we have to deal with it, we rename it, we call it something else, point the finger at someone else, or anything else than call it what it is. The abuser renames things because it serves to hide what is being done. The abused renames things, for survival. Speaking truth has consequences. Speaking truth might mean having to admit someone you love, someone you trust, even blood relatives JUST RAPED YOU.

And those of us men who might not have committed such acts? We benefit in renaming it because we don't want to have to admit that our teachers, our fathers, our friends, our family members, have raped either.

For the rapist, it's a chain of rationalizations. About how he's not responsible, how she did this or that to make it happen, or how she didn't say no, or she didn't say no in the right way, or enough times, or a thousand other excuses that in the end, are about him getting his.

For the rest of us? The chain of rationalizations are "Well, I don't know the full story!", "Oh, she's kind of dramatic!", "Maybe they're exaggerating!" "People say a lot of things when they're angry.", "I'm sure if it was really a problem, someone would press charges!"

You know what? Fuck rapists. And fuck every goddamn man who makes excuses for it.

See, this shit happens because fuckfaces, like you, like me, like us, don't step up and stop this shit. To be sure- there's 51% of the population who suffer and have an interest in stopping it, but let's be real, we are the ones with power, and privilege and we're either raping or standing by while rape is happening. Worse yet, we're standing by silently while it's happening. We're even defending it.

Every time you do that, you're saying to your mother, sister, daughter, friends, girlfriends, cousins, teachers, students, coworkers, anyone who happens to have that other chromosome? You're saying "Hey, I'd feel -bad- if you got raped, but I wouldn't do shit about it."

Maybe that's not what you mean, but that IS what you're saying. And, because you are encouraging that environment, you're making it more likely to happen. ("I hate me some of THOSE PEOPLE, they can all hang from trees, but you, you're different, I wouldn't do that TO YOU", "Ah thanks!")

This is a rape culture.

This is the culture where we make heroes out of troops while we ignore the fact that they rape the people they're suppose to protect. They rape their fellow troops who are risking their lives to protect them. We ignore our clergy who rape our kids and fellow believers. We ignore our bosses. We ignore our activist leaders who rape the very people they're supposed to protect. We ignore our cousins, uncles, fathers, friends who do this to other people we love.

And to flip it and look at the other side? At the women? That means we ignore the fact that all these people we care about, know, and work with- we ignore that they're being raped.

What kind of fucking love is that?

Stop worrying about calling yourself a man. Try being human for once.
yeloson: (Default)
Endgame vol. 1, Derrick Jensen:

My understanding came when I happened across a line by Nietzsche, "One does not hate when one can despise." I suddenly understood that perceived entitlement is key to nearly all atrocities, and that any threat to preceived entitlement will provoke hatred.
....
From the perspective of those who are entitled, the problems begin when those they despise do not go along with- and have the power and the wherewithal to not go along with- the perceived entitlement. That's where Nietsche's statement comes in, and that's where hatred of the sort I'm trying to get at in this book becomes manifest. Several times in this book I have commented that hatred felt long and deeply enough no longer feels like hatred, but more like tradition, economics, religion, what have you. It is when those traditions are challenged, when the entitlement is threatened, when the masks of religion, economics, and so on are pulled away that the hate transforms from its more seemingly sophisticated, 'normal', chronic state- where those exploited are looked down upon, or despised - to a more acute and obvious manifestation. Hate becomes more perceptible when it is no longer normalized. Another way to say all of this is that if the rhetoric of superiority works to maintain the entitlement, hatreda and direct physical force remain underground. But when that rhetoric begins to fail, force- and hatred- waits in the wings, ready to explode.


(Emphasis mine)

One need never mention nor object to "normal" things. In fact, it is taboo. One thing Jensen does particularly well in his writings is tie the behavior of abusers- silencing, minimizing, the desperate need to indoctrinate and normalize the abuse- to the larger scale of culture- that the culture, too, does the same thing.

Who doesn't get to matter.

And, who is entitled to decide that. Who isn't penalized for enacting force and violence. Who doesn't get to be called on their shit. Whose systemic violence isn't "politicized", but normal.

I often say internalized self hatred is culture wide Stockholm Syndrome. The self hateful are just as dangerous as the abusers- the only difference is that while both may have been tools of the system of violence and indoctrinated as such (see what happens to men ally with women controlling their own bodies?), one group has been indoctrinated by receiving violence and one group has been the perpetrators OF violence.

A link Jensen does make elsewhere in the book: Abusers most frequently kill their victims when they try to escape the relationship.

In the normalized kyriarchy, "Freedom or death" might be the only possibilities of our society.
yeloson: (Default)
Learning How to Learn, Idries Shah, on the topic of advanced discussions/learning (in Sufism, but applicable to so much more):

First of all, it is not for us to satisfy each and every would-be student about Sufi applicability to himself and Sufic probity or otherwise. It is for him to satisfy himself; and he will probably use the same methods he uses when eh applies to learn anything else.

But he should remember that if he goes, for instance, to a school of medicine and asks: 'How do I know that you can teach me?' he will be shown the door. He is not eligible. Such an approach is neither correct behavior nor indicative of a stage of intelligence in which one can be taught. There are plenty of people who do not adopt the attitude of an idiot, and it is the duty of the medical school to give its limited time to such people.

It is someone else's task to do the more preliminary work with you.

I come back to this idea over and over when we talk about safe spaces.

The ways in which privilege demands to be let in, demands to ask questions and not listen to answers, demands to "correct" everyone else, and the temper tantrums when told, "No." The way in which the truly misguided actually take time to utilize Mr. Google, books, or to actually, you know, talk to people as people and learn something vs. privilege's defensiveness and anger.

And, of course, the fact that most of us aren't in the job of education- we're in the job of surviving.
yeloson: (stop silencing us)
The intellectually dishonest silencing tool in racism discussions* that we:

1. are polite
2. only talk about things that matter (as defined by someone else)
3. are inclusive of all the other possible things that matter (sexism, classism, ecological survival, etc.)
4. are educated enough to speak (as defined by someone else)
5. aren't SO educated that we're elitists in ivory towers
6. prove that we exist, and not as sockpuppets (to standards as decided by someone else)
7. prove that we are, in fact POC (as defined by someone else, to their standards)
8. answer everyone's objections, doubts, and questions, even if we already answered it and clearly this person either lacks the ability or the good faith to read for themselves, even if it is unrelated and completely unreasonable to answer in context of the question ("But unless you can tell me how many molecules are in this orange, slavery didn't happen!")
9. accept that the people demanding this are not held to the same requirements and simply automatically assumed to have authority to determine your legitimacy regardless of the fact that they may have never even heard of the subject in their entire lives.
10. and of course, prove TO COMPLETE STRANGERS ON THE INTERNET, all of the above AND that you are "doing something besides 'just complaining'

...in order for our words to be heard.

IF NOT ALL TEN, THEN TROLL, seems to be the Denial Subroutine in the Timecube OS of these people.

Of course, none of these people ever seem to be able to point to an example of someone who sufficiently meets their demands and therefore is a "legitimate" voice...

*These are silencing tactics and show up in other ways in other discussions too. But, you know, if you aren't just trying to roll in denial, I shouldn't have to point that out for the point to stay valid (#3)...

Sometimes

May. 21st, 2009 07:14 am
yeloson: (Folding Chair)
Womanist Musings brings the truth - anytime you demand equality, anytime you help someone get the foot off their neck, you're fighting the kyriarchy:

Being activist is not really a choice when you exist as a stigmatized body. Simply leading your life in a world that believes in hierarchies and devaluing others to maintain the privileges of a small percentage of the population means that your very existence is counter to the desired norm. One need not take on the negative labels and assume a position of helplessness if you decide that your everyday actions are for the purpose of change. It matters not if it as simple as a conversation or as active as blogging or purchasing responsible products. Each time you demand the right to take up space, you disturb our dissonance in worth in value. I matter, you matter, we all matter, we just have to believe it.

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yeloson: (Default)
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