Monday, March 31, 2008

Nobody Can Say it Better...

Sudy posted this on her blog:

about SPEAK womyn of color blogger collective's participation in this weekend's Women "Action" and the media conference:

LIVE Blogging from WAM: Say Thank You

It's not easy hosting brilliant feminist thinkers in one apartment. Adonis and I welcomed BFP, Nadia, Lex, and Jess Hoffman from Make/Shift into our humble abode and are trying to keep up with everyone's energy.

This morning, we were cutting it a bit close as I drove like a mad womyn through the crowded streets of Boston to get BFP to her 11am session. We arrived at 10:54am and I ran through the parking lot to make it in time for the opening talks. The speech BFP gave can be found on her blog. There's no way to sum up the injustices that are happening on our borders and how womyn are being abused, beated, mocked, and torn away from their children. But, the panel was really terrific and shed light on an issue that cannot be denied as a womyn's issue. Including myself in this vow, for those who ignore the violence at the border done to migrant womyn, it is erroneous to claim one is a feminist or engages in feminist discourse. These continuous infractures of human rights on US soil is a feminist issue. Period.

The Radical Womyn of Color Bloggers' Caucus had a few bumpy spots, to say the least. Our room was double booked and we got booted to another building. By the time we got settled and going, we only had 30 minutes left of a one hours session. Nonetheless, those 30 minutes were filled with question, passion, and struggle. What amazes me most about deep conversations with womyn of color is how different we are, how contrasting our opinions can be, but somehow it stays streamlined and flows with the utmost respect and understanding.

The second session was the one I originally proposed, "We B(e)lo(n)g: Womyn of Color and Online Feminism. The space that we created was filled with incredible voices and generous minds who spoke gratitude, wishes, and vision for a world of healing, belief, and justice. I wasn't sure how the session was going to go, but I know that there was one moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life.

After the session, I was catching up with Adele Nieves about her rocking book proposal for which she has worked her patooty off. A young womyn, maybe 19 or 20, stood quietly behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. I turned and recognized her fresh eyes and smile - a radiant participant in the session I just helped convene. She threw her arms around me and whispered into my ear, "Thank you. I have to go, but thank you." When I pulled back to see her face, she skittered off and left before I could ask her name.

That moment will likely fill me for many days to come. A simple, conventional gesture turned miraculous offering, an embrace of thanksgiving gave me a clarity that can only come with such a young person. What I helped create helped someone else. I don't know how, why, or to what depth. But, a stranger's embrace healed any pain I had felt that week and any anxiety I had about the presentation. I touched one.

And she thanked me.

I was left to ponder Gloria Anzaldua. This young womyn and her fierce Thank You reminded me exaclty how I felt when I read Gloria Anzaldua for the first time. I was overcome not only by her power, but what came out of me because of her honesty. I became a better human because of her work.

I'd like to think that perhaps, in a small way, I helped someone else today too.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Sprung Already!: This is What Radical Love Looks Like

Note: This entire post is sparked by the video brilliance of Shannon, Sudy and Nia and the talent of my community. Please do yourself the honor of seeing Mama Nia's editing, Rachael 's voice and Mama Nayo's beautiful face on the tribute video "Nothing is Destroyed"

Another world is not only possible, it’s already here, working and growing in our communities. Can you see it? Brokenbeautiful Press is proud to announce the launch of our new community video portal “What it Look Like” featuring the radical, subversive, beautiful and challenging work of community building made visible.

“What it look like?” is a homegrown question about where we are (going). We ask “what it look like?” to begin a conversation, assess a situation and open ourselves to possibilities. This new interactive space is about the BrokenBeautiful possibility of connecting our communities, remembering what we already know how to do, and firmly forgetting the corporate media’s shuck and jive.

Click here to view the first set of videos and email to add your home-made videos, slideshows or photos of your community in action to the site.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Statement in Solidarity with Palestine

INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence endorses the following statement (and so do i!) ~~~ Given that International Women's Day coincided with the catastrophic events in Gaza, please show your solidarity by signing the statement below from the Campaign of Solidarity with Women Resisting U.S. Wars and Occupation. You can send your name, affiliation, and place of residence to: Piya Chatterjee & Sunaina Maira

An Open Letter to All Feminists:

Statement of Solidarity with Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim Women

Facing War and Occupation

As feminists and people of conscience, we call for solidarity with Palestinian women in Gaza suffering due to the escalating military attacks that Israel turned into an open war on civilians. This war has targeted women and children, and all those who live under Israeli occupation in the West Bank, and are also denied the right to freedom of movement, health, and education. We stand in solidarity with Iraqi women whose daughters, sisters, brothers, or sons have been abused, tortured, and raped in U.S. prisons such as Abu Ghraib. Women in Iraq continue to live under a U.S. occupation that has devastated families and homes, and are experiencing a rise in religious extremism and restrictions on their freedom that were unheard of before the U.S. invasion, "Operation Iraqi Freedom," in 2003. At this moment in Afghanistan, women are living with the return of the Taliban and other misogynistic groups such as the Northern Alliance, a U.S. ally, and with the violence of continuing U.S. and NATO attacks on civilians, despite the U.S. war to "liberate" Afghan women in 2001. As of March 6, 2008, over 120 Palestinians, including 39 children and 6 women (more than a third of the victims), in Gaza were killed by Israeli air strikes and escalated attacks on civilians over a period of five days, according to human rights groups.[1] Hospitals have been struggling to treat 370 injured children, as reported by medical officials. Homes have been destroyed as well as civilian facilities including the headquarters of the General Federation of Palestinian Trade Unions.[2] On February 29, 2008, Israel's Deputy Defense Minister, Matan Valnai, threatened Palestinians in Gaza with a "bigger Shoah," the Hebrew word usually used only for the Holocaust.[3] What does it mean that the international community is standing by while this is happening? Valnai's threat of a Holocaust against Palestinians was not just a slip of the tongue, for the war on Gaza is a continuation of genocidal activities against the indigenous population. Israel has controlled the land and sea borders and airspace of Gaza for more than a year and a half, confining 1.5 million Palestinians to a giant prison. Supported by the U.S., Israel has imposed a near total blockade on Gaza since June 2007 which has led to a breakdown in basic services, including water and sanitation, lack of electricity, fuel, and medical supplies. As a result of these sanctions, 30% of children under 5 years suffer from stunted growth and malnutrition. Over 80% of the population cannot afford a balanced meal.[4] Is this humanitarian crisis going to approach a situation similar to that of the sanctions against Iraq from 1991-2003, when an estimated 500,000 Iraqi children died to lack of nutrition and medical supplies, and the woman who was then Secretary of State, Madeline Albright, proclaimed that the death of a half million Iraqi children was worth the price of U.S. national security? As feminists and anti-imperialist people of conscience, we oppose direct and indirect policies of ethnic cleansing and decimation of native populations by all nation-states. In the current climate of U.S.-initiated or U.S.-backed assaults on women in Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan, we are deeply troubled by one kind of hypocritical Western feminist discourse that continues to be preoccupied with particular kinds of violence against Muslim or Middle Eastern women, while choosing to remain silent on the lethal violence inflicted on women and families by military occupation, F-16s, Apache helicopters, and missiles paid for by U.S. tax payers. This is a moment when U.S. imperialism brazenly uses direct colonial occupation, masked in a civilizational discourse of bringing Western "freedom" and "democracy." Such acts echo the language of Manifest Destiny that was used to justify U.S. colonization of the Philippines and Pacific territories in the 19th century, not to mention the genocide of Native Americans. U.S. covert, and not so covert, interventions in Central, South America, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean have devastated the lives of countless indigenous peoples, and other civilians, in this region throughout the 20th century. The U.S., as well its proxy militias or client regimes, has inflicted violence on women and girls from Vietnam, Okinawa, and Pakistan to Chile, El Salvador, and Somalia and has avenged the deaths of its soldiers by its own "honor killings" that lay siege to entire towns, such as Fallujah in Iraq. It is appalling that in these catastrophic times, many U.S. liberal feminists are focused only on misogynistic practices associated with particular local cultures, as if these exist in capsules, far from the arena of imperial occupation. Indeed, imperial violence has given fuel to some of these patriarchal practices of misogyny and sexism. They should also know that such a narrow vision furthers a much older tradition of feminist mobilizing in the service of colonialism—"saving brown, or black women, from brown men," as observed by Gayatri Spivak. While we too oppose abuses including domestic violence, "honor killings," forced marriage, and brutal punishment, we are disturbed that some U.S. feminists—as well as Muslim or Middle Eastern women who claim to be "authorities" on Islam and are employed by right-wing think tanks—are participating in a selective discourse of universal women's rights that ignores U.S. war crimes and abuses of human rights. While some progressive U.S. feminists claim to oppose the hijacking of women's rights to justify U.S. invasions, they simultaneously evade any mention about the plight of women in Palestine, Iraq, or Afghanistan. Their statements continue to focus only on female genital mutilation or dowry deaths under the guise of breaking the "politically correct" silence on abuses of women in the "Muslim world" that the Right disingenuously laments.[5] Some progressives may support such statements with good intentions, but these critiques ignore the fact that Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim feminists have been working on these issues for generations, focusing on the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class, and nationalism. Their work is ignored by North American feminists who claim to advocate for a "global sisterhood" but are disillusioned to discover that women in the U.S. military participated in the acts of torture at Abu Ghraib. We are concerned about these silences and selective condemnations given that the U.S. mainstream media bolsters this imperialist feminism by using an (often liberal) Orientalist approach to covering the Middle East or South Asia. For example, on March 5, 2008, as the death toll due to Israeli attacks in Gaza was mounting, the New York Times chose to publish an article just below its report on the Israeli military incursions that focused on the sentencing of a Palestinian man in Israel for an honor killing; the report was deemed worthy of international coverage because the Palestinian women had broken "the code of silence" by resorting to Israeli courts.[6] The implications of this juxtaposition of two unrelated events are that Palestinians belong to a backward, patriarchal culture that, rightly or wrongly, is under attack by a modern, "democratic" state with a legal apparatus that supports women's rights. Others have shown that the New York Times gave disproportionate attention to the Human Rights Watch report in 2006 on domestic violence against Palestinian women relative to its scant mention of the 76 reports of Israeli abuses of Palestinian rights by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Israeli organization, B'Tselem.[7] Similar coverage exists of women from other countries outside the U.S. that are portrayed as victims only of their own cultural traditions, rather than also of the ravages of Western imperialism and predatory global capitalism. No attention is paid in the mainstream U.S. media to reports such as that in Haaretz documenting that Palestinian women citizens of Israel are the most exploited group in the Israeli workforce, making only 47% of the wages earned by their Jewish counterparts in Israel, and with double the rate of unemployment of Jewish women.[8] Little is known in the U.S. about what the lives of Iraqi women are really like now that they are pressured to cover themselves in public or not work outside the house, nor of Afghani women whose homes are still being bombed in a war that was supposed to have liberated them many years ago. We stand in solidarity with feminist and liberatory movements that are opposing U.S. imperialism, U.S.-backed occupation, militarism, and economic exploitation as well as resisting religious and secular fundamentalisms. We also support the struggles of those within the U.S. opposing the War on Terror and racist practices of detention, deportation, surveillance, and torture linked to the military-industrial-prison complex that selectively targets immigrants, minorities, and youth of color. We are grateful for the courageous scholarship of academics who are at risk of not getting tenure or employment because they do research related to settler colonialism or taboo topics such as Palestinian rights and expose controversial aspects of U.S. policies here and abroad. At a moment when U.S. military interventions have made "democracy" a dirty word in much of the world, we strive for true democracy and for freedom and justice for all our sisters and brothers. Piya Chatterjee, University of California-Riverside Sunaina Maira, University of California-Davis Campaign of Solidarity with Women Resisting U.S. Wars and Occupation South Asians for the Liberation of Falastin

[1] "The Tragedy in Gaza," Kinder USA, March 5, 2008. [2] Weekly Report on Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: "Wide-Scale Israeli Military Operations Against the Gaza Strip." Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, March 6, 2008. [3] Rory McCarthy, "Israeli Minister Warns of Holocaust for Gaza if Violence Continues." The Guardian, March 1, 2008. [4] "The Tragedy in Gaza." [5] For example, Katha Pollitt's petition, "An Open Letter from American Feminists," posted at: See also: Debra Dickerson, "What NOW? Feminist Fatigue and the Global Quest for Women's Rights," Mother Jones. www.MotherJones_com.News.mht [6] "16-Year Sentence in Honor Killing," The New York Times, March 5, 2008. [7] Patrick O'Connor and Rachel Roberts, "The New York Times Marginalizes Palestinian Women and Palestinian Rights." November 7, 2006. [8] Ruth Sinai, "Arab Women – the Most Exploited Group in Israeli Workforce." Haaretz, January 2, 2008.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Your thoughts on blackness, womanness, and artistic process wanted for an oh so important performance process

The Questionnaire

You thought you were too far away to participate in a performance process going on in NYC, well you were wrong.Calling all sistas who got something to say about blackness, womanness and artistic process.Visit for more information

Please answer the questions below in any form you choose: a poem, letter, story, list, sketch, dance, meal, outfit or what ever!

Then send it to me at along with a bio and picture or yourself and what you created.

Please note if you want your ideas to be kept private, just let me know and I will honor your wishes

So here is the assignment:

As the Gumbo Yaya Sistren transition into thinking about our personal narratives of healing and spirituality, I would like to extend this process around awareness, identification, and literary production to all the sistas who come in contact with this email.

-please complete the questionnaire below


choose one of the following prompts and engage with it in your own way-

-a letter written to yourself as an infant

-a letter written to yourself as an elder

-an interview between you and a sista younger or older than you.


Please answer the following prompts-

-what does it mean to be a black woman to you? do you identify yourself as a black woman?

-what is black women’s art? is this important to identify? should art be universal?

-what does it mean to be an artist to you? do you identify yourself as an artist?

-what does womanism mean to you? do you identify yourself as womanist?

-if you could ask your mother one question about her journey as a black woman or artist, womanist, or spiritualist, what would you ask her?

-if you could ask your daughter or future daughter about her journey as a black woman or artist, womanst, or spiritualist, what would you ask her?

-is there anything that gets in the way of your process as a black woman artist womanist spiritualist?

-is there anything that supports your process as a black woman artist womanist spiritualist?

-what does an artistic process look like to/for you? do you have an artistic process?

-what comprises a womanist artistic process? is there such a process? should we (we being black women cultural producers) be concerned with this process?

Life and Peace,
Ebony Golden

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Mobilizing to Support Andrea Smith

Hey all,
I know at UBUNTU Andrea Smith work has been crucial to our analysis of white supremacy. This is BrownFemiPower's post about how people can get involved
Let's go.


Updates on Andrea Smith’s Tenure Case

As you may already know, the University of Michigan is in the process of denying Professor Andrea Smith tenure. Many of you asked how you could help, so I emailed around and got the following information:

My question is–what can we do?

Making a national fuss about this, plus the letter writing campaign to
the university, looks to be some concrete actions on the table for
now. Also proposed today was starting an online petition. Student
organizations might also plan some actions; we’re having a town hall
meeting next week at the university to see what ideas people come up

Who should we be addressing correspondence to?

All of the email addresses listed in the action alert, including

At what level was she denied tenure? (I.e. her department, the school, the provost, etc)

She received a positive rec. from:

Program in American Culture

She received a negative recommendation from

Dept of Women’s Studies
College of LS&A (departmental decisions go to LS&A, and they make a
judgment on those)

A decision is now pending on the provost level, after which it moves
to the president and the regents.

Is it possible to get a reason why she was denied tenure?

Not officially, as the faculty committees don’t release the results of
their deliberations publicly, although we have been trying to
communicate on unofficial as well as official levels with the

In what way can non-academics who have been influenced by her books help? In what capacity should those who haven’t been her students but are influenced academically write about her? For example, an academic on my site uses her books in her class and considers her book a fundamental part of Womens Studies–should she write an email? And if so, to whom?

They can
- write letters to the provosts and president (see Press Release and
Action Alert for some talking points)
- send the Press Release and Action Alert to as many people as they
know who are both affiliated with the University and who are not, or
blog about it
- attend the “Campus Lockdown” conference on March 15th
- as much as possible in public spaces, write about the university by
questioning its notion of tenure as meritocracy.

I think everyone should consider writing a letter, whether they are an
academic or not. They should address it to the addresses listed in
the action alert, and use some of the talking points listed in the
action alert. Those talking points generally emphasize, first her
merit as a scholar, and second her international impact as a thinker,
organizer, activist, teacher, and mentor.

What would be good to talk about in any letters?

You can say that Andrea’s
intellectual work is brilliant etc etc (which implicitly in this case,
it’s brilliant precisely because she can write complex ideas in clear
language). You can talk about how her writings and her research have
shifted contemporary thought in multiple sites across the nation. Etc
Letters should not bash the University for its inherent fucked-up
nature, but rather, letters should emphasize the great loss the UofM
community and surrounding communities will experience with Andrea
Smith gone, stuff along those lines.”

So at core this would be about her wide-ranging intellectual
contributions and that the university would experience a loss of a
towering public intellectual.

Would a blogging campaign help at all? Or would it be better to lay low for the moment?

At the moment we are trying to spread the word
to as many people as possible, while asking people to engage in
whatever actions they think are appropriate. The dialogue that
happens out in the blogosphere will definitely help with this - so a
huge thank you. If you’re in the area please consider attending
our town hall meeting, March 6, 11:30am-1pm in Haven Hall 3515 at
University of Michigan!