White hats and black hats

As simply as possible: we are so used to the media and entertainment world portrayals of the bad guys vs the good guys. Even without the instant visual identification of black cowboy hats or white ones, we know that racists are stupid, foaming at the mouth, barely literate hysterical people and that anti-feminists are macho, arrogant, pompous windbags.
And yet, we all understand that we have family members who appear completely utterly normal who look and sound just like us…but are utterly racist. If you tell them so, if you treat them as so, they become belligerent and angry because they’re NOT racists: they just know certain things to be truths. As you argue why “Black Lives Matter” is utterly the right slogan and yes, “All Lives Matter” is inherently wrong to say, you will find yourself marveling at how some can be so oblivious to this truth. Because:  they will not accept a label of “racist”. They’re not racist, they don’t want to be racist, they would never choose to be racist. What they do not realize, what they do not accept is that racism is not always an active choice:  it can simply be a matter of absorbing, however unaware, the racism of the world around you and living within that reality.

And so it is with sexism and misogyny. Even some who would jump to the front of the line to call themselves feminists spout anti-feminist points of view, utterly oblivious to the irony.

From the beginning of the current US primary election campaign, we have seen and read much discussion of sexism and misogyny against Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Anyone who opposes her, anyone who disagrees with her, anyone who supports Bernie Sanders sneers at the suggestion. They know as an utter fact that they are not sexist:  they couldn’t possibly be, so they won’t consider it for a single second. They will not dignify the accusation with a moment’s thought.

And off they go to discuss the oblivious racism of many of the perfectly good people they know…

Martin Luther King Jr had a dream…

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(from Jesse Zimmerman’s Facebook page)

I say this again and again and again…. whenever the majority identity group (ie, whites, sometimes white men) feel the need to silence a minority identity group they find one member of that group who has expressed ideas that the majority group feel best represents their own views. They then trumpet this anywhere and everywhere: we found ONE person who has spoken and now no one else gets to speak. I have written endlessly about the idea that white people, particularly white men, have no one person who speaks for them. When a white man shoots police officers, no one runs to other white men asking if they will denounce that person and their views as another white person. White men are individuals; black men – black people – are but a single entity and they stand and fall as one dependent upon the word of white people.

 
When I have posted about feminism, MRAs have come back with quotes from Camilla Paglia or Christina Hoff Sommers; both self-declared “dissident feminists”. Both of whom have written long essays and articles and books which can be easily summed up as, “I’m not like the other feminists: I actually like you men, so listen to ME.” And those men eagerly posting those quotes are convinced that I have been silenced because they found a woman who disagrees with my words. Apparently two women cannot have opposing views about feminism: we cancel each other out.
 
As I often note, the women of the world don’t actually get together and have a secret vote for Queen of All The Women, the one woman who gets to speak for all of us. (There must be something to the idea that men interpret women in a group as speaking 3x as much as they actually do, and that their numbers are 2-3x as great as they actually are.)
 
And so it is with any minority group… with queer and trans rights, off the majority goes on a hunt for a Log Cabin Republican. So now that there is an active and public debate about “Black Lives Matter” white people have hunted around for the perfect rebuttal, convinced they have found the ONE voice that black people will not be able to ignore: Martin Luther King Jr.

Ijeomo Olumo has written about the co-opting of Dr. King’s words to prove the point of those trumpeting AllLivesMatter. She writes of this so much better than I. I will simply say this:  do consider that you, a white person, are telling black people that they are not entitled to stand behind a slogan and a movement that is for them, by them, and which explicitly names them in it’s title. You are justifying that by telling them that you, a white person, have found the words of another black person and that those words mean they have to do what you, a white person, tells them to do.

All Lives Matter is a useless pointless trite slogan. Yes, I understand that your point is that you are trying to say “All lives should matter, not just the white lives! Black lives matter too!” But if you are a genuinely good person who believes that…then there is no reason to tell people of colour that they are not entitled to use the slogan THEY chose to represent the movement THEY had to start to raise awareness of how little their lives have been valued. No matter what argument you make there is no getting past the doubt you instill by your very insistence on that slogan:  that you are uncomfortable declaring Black Lives Matter. That you are insisting on some level of qualifier so you, a white person, are not left out of the equation.

I can say it no more simply than that. Much as anti-feminists try to modify the language and tell feminists that maybe, just maybe they would consider possibly thinking about equality for women but only if women come up with another name that isn’t quite so…about women, white people do not get to say, “Come up with another name and then we’ll support you having rights equal to ours.”

By insisting on a name change, by insisting on imposing a slogan of your choice upon them you are not-so-subtly trying to say that you are the one with the power:  the only power or equality they get will be by your choice. You want an acknowledgement of your superiority. The line I read too many times is some version of “blacks are trying to be superior to us!” (much as I am continually told that feminism is about women trying to be superior to men). It has been much said “When you are used to privilege, equality feels like oppression.” And that is what you keep saying any and every time you say “All Lives Matter.”

It ain’t the name that is the problem. The name is pointing at the problem:  and the problem is that semantics matter more to you than the desperate fear and unhappiness felt by too many POCs and indigenous people in America.  And the real problem is that you have intrinsically accepted that any shift in power is solely yours to bestow, as a white person:  so first you start with their slogan.

PAY ATTENTION

I cannot take the white humans at Toronto Pride who are upset that their party was interrupted by BLM protesters. They were invited. They were invited specifically because they ARE protesters and activists. They were invited because of their successful protests earlier this year outside Toronto Police Headquarters. They were invited as guests of honour, of importance.
 
Various news sites are reporting solely that the BLM demands were to ban the police in future Pride Marches. Almost all do not mention that this was the third March in which they protested that weekend. Most of those sites don’t mention that the protest was for a list of demands that included more funding and staging for events featuring POCs and indigenous people, a return of the South Asian stage, and for the event to hire more POCs and indigenous people. That the organizer himself said that BLM was invited because Toronto Pride has had significant criticism that it has become an event for (white) tourists and not for the very people it claims to represent. That even then, the event has not worked to include POCs and indigenous people.
 
Many have complained that Toronto Pride is a party with no room for the political. Those are the people who do not know that the event was started as a protest against the police who had raided local bath houses, arresting three hundred people unnecessarily. Just recently the Chief of the Toronto Police apologized for those raids to acknowledge the grievous harm done to the gay community by the force.
 
Just last month, 43 queer and trans people of colour, members of different ethnic minority groups were murdered in Orlando, Florida at a gay club. This year’s Toronto Pride was to honour them and acknowledge how much more work has to be done for queer and trans people of colour to feel safe and accepted. And yet there were those who find it acceptable to complain that THEIR party was interrupted by a political protest, completely oblivious.
 
Pay attention. PAY ATTENTION. Any white woman expressing these selfish myopic views has FAILED as an intersectional feminist. Any white man who has decided that his queer and/or trans identity trumps that of POCs and indigenous people has not owned his white privilege. Anyone who is cis het and is complaining about how they were inconvenienced: stop talking. PAY ATTENTION.
 
You are arguing that your ‘right’ to party at an event allegedly for all is more important than inclusion and consideration for a group that does not feel welcome, safe or included. Instead of welcoming them, instead of finding out how to make them feel welcome, you have told them that your attendance is more important than theirs.
 
PAY ATTENTION.

We’re angry

We’re angry, we’re scared, we’re miserable, but most of all, just angry. So angry at the loss of life, so angry at all the useless handwringing and moralizing, the prayers, the whitewashing, the erasure, the politicking, all of it. Angry. Angry that it happened; angry that it happened again. Angry that it will happen again. Be it an attack against the queer and trans community, be it an attack against the Latinx community, be it an attack against anyone by someone with an assault weapon, it happened. It will happen again.
 
We’re angry.
 
And out of that anger, people speak. I’ve seen people railing against those who will not speak of the Orlando victims as being queer and trans. I’ve seen people angry that they’re only talked about as being gay “as if they’re not real people like anyone else.” I’ve seen people angry that people are not speaking about them as Latinx. I’ve read those angry that they’re talked about in terms of their backgrounds and not as if they’re “real” Americans, that they have to be disowned. I’ve seen native activists angry that people are calling this the worst mass shooting when they know that was Wounded Knee. Equally I’ve seen queer native activists angry that anyone is derailing the conversation about this tragedy.
 
We’re angry.
 
And, consistently, I’ve seen people angry at who is speaking and who is not speaking and…the subjects of that anger are the same. As much as I’ve seen many raging against white allies for speaking out, I’ve seen those furious that white allies are not speaking up. The suggestions are that speaking is trying to pull focus, not speaking demonstrates a lack of support.
We ask people to honour victims and be precise about who they are and how they identify, and to not force other labels on them…but there are times when we do not know which identity was targeted. We do not want to erase the identities of any. We do not want to assign identities they did not assume. However well-aimed or however misdirected the hate that killed them, we do not want them to be erased by the actions of the man with the guns.
We’re angry.
 
And I’ve seen the same fury at the cis het community: both for speaking and for not speaking. I’ve seen many furious that people are not contacting them asking them if they, personally, are okay with the news, as they are a member of one of the identity groups targeted in this massacre. I’ve seen some of those same people rage against others trying to make the tragedy about them and not about the people actually involved.
We ask allies to speak up all the time…and then we tell them to be silent when they do. We tell them that we are people just like they are and that they should stop separating us out, then we castigate them when they include us in the group.
 
We’re angry.
 
Anger and grief are powerful emotions. They are not born from cool calculation and rationalization; they are visceral responses which often cannot be controlled. If this is the first time you and yours have dealt with such grief, then why would anyone know what is the ‘right’ way to deal with it, the ‘appropriate’ way? No one does. There is no right way. There is no appropriate way. There should never be an appropriate way to deal with such a horrific tragedy: it should never be something for which we have rules of proper behaviour.

It would be nice to live in a world where others know what we need and are there to provide it…but if that has never been your relationship with others then why would they know now what they have not known in the past? Be angry, but be aware that your anger is so great, so immense, so overwhelming and tinged with so much fear and sadness that you are looking for other places to spread it. Be aware that our anger is from a sense of helplessness, a knowledge that we are constrained from taking steps to stop such a tragedy again in a world where too many argue as to the actual reasons and cause. And be aware that our anger is as much from feeling bereft, needing comfort from others as much as it is understanding that some of the people we seek comfort from belong to the very identity groups we fear.

We are angry. Do not let it go. Let it burn. Let it fill you. Let it flow through you so you know the pain and the anger and the grief. Remember it so that you will continue to fight so that you will not need to feel it again.

The power of hindsight: it’s always 20/20.

Everyone knows that THEY would be the Perfect Parent whose child would never ever ever have a problem ever: any child who ever has an accident is the child of a Bad Parent. Obviously. No Good Parent ever lets anything bad happen to their child ever.
Anyone with even the tiniest bit of information about the incident at the Cinicinnati Zoo (where an adult male gorilla was shot to protect the 3 year old boy he was holding onto, who had fallen into the enclosure) knows it was the Bad Mother who is at fault, which explains all the memes about “the bitch mother” that I’ve been seeing. I’ve read reports from witnesses mentioning the child’s family…and yet no one is clear what other family members were there. Most don’t even mention them. They don’t need to: only the Bad Mother is to be faulted. And everyone is very clear that the child’s mother is at fault based on several witnesses who suggested that (“She was on her phone”). Of course we know that those witnesses are only speaking truth: at no point would their memories be arbitrary or creating a storyline that fits their facts. Everyone knows memory is a perfect thing. Sure, when I witnessed a major tractor-trailer accident months ago I realized that within the hour I was becoming fuzzy on many of the facts…but that’s probably because I’m a Bad Parent. (Yes, my children have had accidents. And only the children of Bad Mothers have accidents:  Fact.)
 
One witness mentioned that the child’s family was watching…and yet, we only hear about the mother. The Bad Mother, The Bitch Mother Who Caused the Death of the Gorilla. The Bad Mother so closely observed by witnesses that they can testify that she was on her phone. Because they were watching her…but not her child? Why were they watching her? Why do they know what she was doing?
In a world where we blame passersby for not preventing beatings and assaults, where we blame those who stand by and watch accidents happen, where we wonder why people turn away rather than try to deal with those who need help…  it does seem like an awful lot of people want to be very very clear that there is no way that THEY could be held responsible.
 
But clearly: it was the Bad Mother’s fault. After all, she should have been paying attention because she should have known it was a possibility that her son could slip through a fence and FALL INTO THE GORILLA ENCLOSURE. The only reason it had never happened before is because they’ve never ever had a Bad Mother at the zoo with her children before.

Oddly enough, I’ve spent decades taking my children to the zoo at various ages. They’ve run loose, they’ve run up to enclosures, they’ve run around the exhibits, just like all the other children at the zoo with their families. There are no signs suggesting that it’s dangerous for children to be loose, that their parents should hold onto them at every moment… In fact, the few times exhibits have been breached at the Toronto Zoo it has been teenagers or adults with time on their side (after closing), or with the ability to jump and climb around several fenced barriers.

And thus, we come to the fatal flaw at the centre of all this blame game:  a three year old child was able to get through a fence and fall into the gorilla enclosure. One zookeeper suggested that it wouldn’t be easy to do (my understanding of zoos is that it should have been “well nigh impossible to do”), and would have taken some time…  Too bad all those witnesses were so busy watching a mother on her phone…and not paying attention to a three year old child.

Toronto Marijuana Dispensaries: legalization vs legalities

Many are protesting the raids on marijuana dispensaries in Toronto yesterday. The argument is that marijuana will be legalized in Canada next year.  And yet, many are the same people I’ve seen posting articles explaining how no one has to worry: that the future dispensaries will be controlled and regulated and licensed, much like the ones in Denver. That is to say, people wouldn’t be able to just decide that they wanted to set up a corner store and start selling; like any other kind of business they would have to follow the rules. The Liberals’ own material makes clear that they are not saying simply that will only legalize it:  they will license and regulate its sale, meaning that not all who wish to sell it will be approved.

Yet, people decided that they wanted to set up store fronts and start selling. Without controls, without regulation, without licenses. People selling hot dogs out of food trucks have to pay for licenses, have to follow regulations, have to have inspections. Hot dogs have never ever been illegal. It wasn’t a matter of controlling the sale of a now-legalized substance.

Alcohol is a legal substance and yet we all know that we can’t just decide to open up a liquor store because we want to. And we would look askance at anyone who suddenly did so…and we would be downright suspicious of anyone selling their own homemade brew.

We understand that cigarettes are a legal but controlled substance. We would be equally surprised and leery to see anyone selling their own brand of cigarettes out of a storefront.

There is also a certain naiveity about running these as unlicensed businesses hoping for “the law” to turn a blind eye. This is a business with significant profits…there are those protesting what they see as the government simply wanting their cut. They are choosing to ignore that there are other organizations that will want in on this business. Perhaps the club owners paying protection money to some of the biker clubs would be better able to speak to that.

A lot of people are protesting what they see as the hypocrisy of the raids. Yep…but the hypocritical might not be those you think.

“Just make something new…”

Once upon a time, many mainstream record companies would insist that a new signee’s first release would be a cover: covers were almost guaranteed hits. People like familiarity, people like the comfortable…so Kylie Minogue hit big way back when with a nonsense song like “Locomotion”, and The Fugees released a cover of “Killing Me Softly” even as much of their intended audience didn’t necessarily know the original song. There are many acts who never had the second hit after that first cover. But in every case, the record company felt that they could make back their (significant) financial investment with at least that one cover.
 
The thinking was always that it’s easier to take a chance on some percentage of known quantity rather than a complete unknown. A hit song is one that has a hook that worked…
 
And so it is with the movie and tv biz. Endlessly, fans whine, “Why not just make something new?” Yes. In a world where a big Hollywood movie can easily run $150 million even without ‘big’ name stars, why don’t studios “just” make something new? Because it’s a business, and they want to make money. If they risk money on an unknown and lose out, eventually they will be out of business. And guaranteed hits help pay for their riskier new projects, the ones with unknown stars or new writers. So the companies look for a hit that can be covered…be it an old movie, a comic book, or an old tv show, or a book series, something that has had success, something for which they know there is an audience.
 
Given the endless writings when Bridesmaids was scheduled two years ago, given all the pronouncements that it’s success or lack thereof would dictate For All Time whether the world could deal with the complete strangeness of having an all woman cast, given the utter and complete nonsense debate every single time a woman is announced as a star of pretty much anything…is it really so surprising that a movie company looking to have an all-women cast would tap an old product to remake?
 
No, no it is not. Well, not to me…apparently it’s an awful big shock to an awful lot of someones who are convinced that the movie company should be paying more attention to that someone’s $12 than the $120 million or more they’ll pay for a feature.