Thursday, August 29, 2013

What I'm Reading

Just a quick tour through a few of my recent reads...

I know by now we are all probably extremely tired of the whole Miley Cyrus/twerking/VMAs/Robin Thicke nonsense, but I happened to catch a particularly good piece so I figured I'd share. I'm temporarily breaking my No Jez rule because I stumbled across this by a number of other sources sharing it and it's technically from their community section (Group Think). User Ninjacate explains how the mainstream reaction to Cyrus' performance (and on Jezebel specifically) lacks the proper examination of the race elements and all ties back to #solidarityisforwhitewomen. She said:
The problem is that they (Jez) completely sidestepped the other glaring teddy bear in the room, and that is the commodification of black female sexuality in Miley's performance. But it's not a thing that white women deal with, so it didn't warrant inclusion or discussion by the white-led mainstream feminist media. 
Go read the whole thing. Seriously. Now.

I guess this next part technically falls under "what I'm listening to" but you can both listen to it or read it. As a part of their commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington, Michele Martin at Tell Me More hosted a discussion of the current state and future of civil rights. One of the quotes shared by Rinku Sen of Colorlines struck me particularly:
I think a major problem that we have as Americans today is that people define racism in a very narrow way. They define it as always being individual and intentional and overt. And so if there isn't a noose hanging somewhere, then they can't recognize that there is actually racial discrimination present in that situation. But as a Taylor Branch, Dr. King's biographer, has said, Dr. King saw that race was a part of everything, but not all of anything. To me, that means that every issue that we are dealing with has a very serious racial component, and our challenge is to get Americans to deal with that racial dimension without dismissing race talk as, quote-unquote, race bating, simply because they can't identify the individual with the intention to commit an overt act of racial discrimination.
So we need to redefine racism as being systemic and often hidden and often unconscious. And recognize that people with very good intentions can still make individual and collective decisions that lead to terrible racist impact in jobs, in the criminal justice system, in schools, in housing, in every issue that affects our lives as Americans.
I see Sen's observation play out in many ways, namely in how my white cohorts have compartmentalized racism as those overt acts she mentions and fail to actually examine their own racist beliefs or the ways that they benefit from racist systems.

And in a last, heart warming piece, I really loved what Melissa McEwan at Shakesville had to say about her relationship with her rescue dog:
I spent long hours lying on the floor beside his crate, where he felt safe, synchronizing my breathing to his, quiet and still. Not looking at him, just being there, to reassure him I would never hurt him.
...The things my dog has taught me. He has taught me how to run at someone's side; he has taught me how to be there, still and patient, to make a safe space.

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