I decided to pop out of my self-imposed blogging hiatus to address a recent comment on my site. It seems that a long-time reader of my blog, Shouting Thomas, has taken a bit of umbrage with, well, I guess my entire site — text and graphics included. According to Shouting Thomas, I am a “very silly young man.”
In order to fully comprehend Shouting Thomas’ comment, I feel that it is necessary to re-write his words as translated by my inner monologue.
For your reference and convenience, I am including the original comment sans inner monologue translations…
Jason Kottke has an excellent post about the gender disparity amongst several of the most popular (successful?) web conferences and their featured speakers.
Women make up less than 25% of the featured speakers at the majority of the conferences (TED, PopTech, An Event Apart Boston 2007, Future of Web Apps – San Francisco, etc) that Kottke analyzes.
According to Kottke:
it seems to me that either the above concerns are not getting through to conference organizers or that gender diversity doesn’t matter as much to conference organizers as they publicly say it does. The Future of Web Apps folks seem to have a particularly tin ear when it comes to this issue. For their second conference, they doubled the size of the speaker roster and added only one woman to the bill despite the complaints from last time.
I think I have a social justice crush on Angela Davis. More than 1,000 people attended her talk at Oregon State. Two professors from OSU had the privilege of being her students at UC Santa Cruz. Angela Davis could have talked for a week and I think we all would have listened.
Angela Davis‘ talk covered many topics including: historical memory, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Condoleeza Rice, George Bush, Affirmative Action, Diversity, Marriage, Activism, Racism, Critical Awareness and Prison Systems.
Davis talked about the importance of “historical memory” and the Civil Rights Movement. “The figure of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been set aside and isolated and represented as the lone historical figure, so everyone else who participated in the Civil Rights Movement falls away.”
Davis mentioned that she took umbrage with the term “diversity.” She said that “Diversity is difference that doesn’t make a difference.” Her comments were extremely relevant for institutions of higher education. Enrolling students of color, women, students with disabilities, lgbt students, and students with high financial need does not mean that racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia/heterosexism, and classism will simply disappear. However, “diversity” is thrown around as if it’s a magic anti-oppression elixir. Without social justice oriented, anti-oppression oriented, anti-racist oriented educational efforts, diversity cannot affect change amongst members of the dominant paradigm.
Apparently, both Condoleeza Rice and Angela Davis grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. Davis mentioned that people often attempt to refer to Rice as her “homegirl” (cue laughter from 1,000 people) because they share the experience of growing up in the Jim Crow south.
According to Davis, “Rice narrates her life as triumph over racism.” Davis said she needs to constantly “disassociate her story” from Rice’s story. “How can I claim my story is a triumph? We’ve won some victories..some important victories…, but from the time I was quite small, I learned from my mother that it was about collective victory…community triumph, not about an individual rising above the rest. Affirmative action was a strategy designed to enable communities to move forward, collectives to move forward.”
I attempted to record her entire talk, but my pda wasn’t working correctly so I have over an hour of audio that I pieced together from 40 audio snippets.
The fidelity isn’t the greatest but the message is amazing.
“The victories that we win are not always the victories for which we fought.” — Angela Davis
A white anti-racist feminist man responds to racist/sexist rhetoric in the Providence Journal….
It is unfortunate that the Providence Journal Editorial Board feels the need to print not one, but two articles which serve to marginalize people of color and women. As a white man who is an active anti-racist feminist ally, I feel that it is my responsibility to address these oppression-oriented pieces of rubbish.
The recent evisceration of affirmative action in Michigan has created a huge problem for admissions staff at the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Michigan State University. The constitutional amendment in Michigan becomes an official part of the state’s constitution on December 22nd. Admissions applications and financial aid packages which were considered while affirmative action was on the books will now need to be modified to meet the new anti-affirmative-action-racist-sexist-white-supremacist-amendment.
The Michigan Attorney General has warned the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and Michigan State University that any attempts to delay the implementation of the new anti-affirmative-action-racist-sexist-white-supremacist-amendment via lawsuits will be “vigorously” challenged.
Simply put, the great “PC” cliché, as commonly deployed in mainstream discourse, is cultural propaganda designed to befuddle and misdirect while defending the current power structure. All politics deal with power relations, and in the debate over America’s alleged climate of “political correctness”, there’s a stark asymmetry of power between the defiant megaphone-wielders who complain of being constrained by humorless hypersensitivity from below, and the under-represented people of color, women, LGBT, handicapped, poor, and otherwise marginalized or dispossessed people who have no choice but to absorb the linguistic, cultural, and physical barbs of the ruling class. The megaphone-wielders feel psycho-emotionally oppressed by their inability to crack puerile ethnic jokes without criticism; the under-represented simply are oppressed.
It is virtually impossible to view one oppression, such as sexism or homophobia, in isolation because they are all connected: sexism, racism, homophobia, classism, ableism, anti-Semitism, ageism. They are linked by a common origin-economic power and control-and by common methods of limiting, controlling and destroying lives. There is no hierarchy of oppressions. Each is terrible and destructive. To eliminate one oppression successfully, a movement has to include work to eliminate them all or else success will always be limited and incomplete.
To understand the connection among the oppressions, we must examine their common elements. The first is a defined norm, a standard of rightness and often righteousness wherein all others are judged in relation to it. This norm must be backed up with institutional power, economic power, and both institutional and individual violence. It is the combination of these three elements that makes complete power and control possible. In the United States, that norm is male, white, heterosexual, Christian, temporarily able-bodied, youthful, and has access to wealth and resources. It is important to remember that an established norm does not necessarily represent a majority in terms of numbers; it represents those who have ability to exert power and control over others.