Let’s Talk About Rape.

Rape is a part of our culture and the recent Holtzclaw judgement has been a increased the focus on rape. Unfortunately the majority of the focus that I have encountered has been in the comment sections or a part of Facebook posts.

Otherwise peaceful and well behaved people are writing out revenge fantasies and wishes of terrible things to be done to Holtzclaw. Some are short wishes that he will experience what his victims did, and others are detailed and dark.

When these inappropriate comments or posts are called inappropriate there are generally two defenses either it is “justice” or “a joke”.

So let’s talk about rape.

First let’s cover what it isn’t.

Rape is not funny.

Rape is not a form of justice.

Rape should never be a form of punishment.

Rape is not about sex.

Now lets talk about what Rape is.

Rape is a pervasive part of our culture.

Rape is about power.

Rape is damaging to both the body and the psyche.

Rape is used as a threat.

The withholding of rape is used as a form of insult.

 

I am a survivor, and the scars have followed me my entire life. My first rapists were my grandfather and my uncle. I was 6 years old. My grandfather would rape me when I would stay overnight or over the course of a weekend. My grandmother turned a blind eye, and when I wanted to go home because I was scared and hurting she was angry at me.

My next rapist was my (now ex) husband. I didn’t think of it as rape at the time, and I still struggle with the concept now. But he was never so satisfied as when he made me uncomfortable. He claimed to suffer from a disorder that caused him to have sex in his sleep (while this is a real thing, there is evidence this was a lie on his part) and I was often pulled from sleep by his “advances”.

He would talk of the things he wanted, and when they were well beyond my comfort zone, he would talk about the women he knew that would do them. Or the women he had known. He used shame, coercion, and withheld affection, love, and attention to get what he wanted out of me.

So no, he never held me down and physically forced me. But he ensured I was so emotionally damaged that he could take what he wanted physically.

My family members and my ex are no longer a part of my life, but the damage they did still is.

Bathrooms are an absolute nightmare for me, and being in one with the door completely closed can generate a panic attack. Showers rarely last longer than 7 minutes because the idea of being so vulnerable causes anxiety. Public restrooms are always a challenge and I am well known for being the fastest pee’er in the west. I am in an out of the stall before most people can sit down, and I abhor the polite conversation that most polite society requires in women’s bathrooms.

I am very sensitive about my arms. Long sleeve shirts with the cuffs too tight makes me feel confined. So most of my shirts are short sleeved which can make winter fun.  Pressure on my upper arms can make me go into a panic attack. Anyone who grabs my upper arm does so at risk of life and limb. And when I visit the doctor I have to focus on my breathing while they use blood pressure cuffs, because all I want to do is rip it off my arm and run from the room screaming.

Physical contact with other people requires a deliberate choice on my part, and hugging is uncomfortable unless I have a deep sense of trust with that person. The number of people I can hug with comfort is small. Most of the time I’m counting the seconds until I can let go without being rude.

At night I only feel comfortable and safe if I can feel the edge of the bed. I cling to the edge of the bed like it’s a life line, and a new bed can cause problems as during the night I am trying to establish where all the edges are. So when traveling with T- we get double beds and sleep separately, else she would get no sleep.

There are a hundred tiny things in my life that are difficult and challenging. Some I am painfully aware of, while others I just live with and no longer think of as a challenge of a part of my abuse.

I share all of this because I want you dear reader to know that I know of what I speak.

I have no feelings of kindness or forgiveness for rapists. I do not forgive my abusers. I do not sympathize with them, nor do I wish them peace and solace. I wish them long healthy lives, and I wish that they know loneliness and regret. I wish justice. But I do not wish rape.

I am familiar with rape and the damage it does.

So I do not wish rape on rapists. You shouldn’t either.

Rape is not punishment, and punitive rape  is still rape. So wishing rape upon someone as a form of revenge is not glorious or good. It is a part of rape culture. It makes you a part of the problem.

Rape is not a joke. It should never be treated as such. And “it was a joke” is not an acceptable defense. Because when you joke about rape you are making light of deeply shameful and personal experiences that too many people have gone through.

If you can’t get behind these concepts, then at least get behind this. You may think that survivors all share your dark revenge fantasy and want to read or hear the detailed ways you want someone like Holtzclaw to be violated.

Some survivors do have these revenge fantasies. Many don’t. And you may be triggering old wounds.

Feminine presenting or perceived people deal with threats of rape. A strong opinion on the internet will often result in a threat of rape, or as an insult they will be threatened with the withholding of rape. The implication they are too fat, ugly, disgusting, gross or otherwise unworthy of being raped.

Feminine presenting or perceived people must always be mindful of the threat of rape. We must take extra precautions in almost all aspects of life, to avoid being raped. It is constantly reinforced that the victim either invited the rape or failed to properly protect themselves.

At the same time when masculine presenting or perceived people do not believe what we tell them. They think that our precautions are silly,  or unnecessary. But these same people will both joke about rape, and assume that a victim was at fault.

Rape is an ever present part of feminine life, and as such it can leave scars even if the person has never experienced physical rape.

It’s not funny.

It’s not justice.

It’s not okay.

 Stop it.

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#BlackLivesMatter: I am the villain

The #BlackLivesMatter Movement is a narrative, and I am the villain in this piece.

My terms are carefully chosen, because to say “I am not the hero” will invite people to tell me that I am their hero. That I am brave. That I am a thousand other positive things. Or that I am looking for people to say this.

No.

In this narrative, I am the villain. And not in some kind of Adam Sandler sort of way. Where I start off as the offensive person, but I learn my lesson and we all get to feel good at the end. I was born into privilege and I benefit from it every day. Despite my best efforts I still support the system that systematically dehumanizes and violates People Of Color.

I am a part of the problem. I have privilege and no matter how hard I try, I stumble over it all of the time. I push myself into spaces that I am not welcome and am shocked when I do not find myself welcome.

I am losing friends. I make them angry and uncomfortable. I challenge their views of the world and I am often unable to have a conversation that does not center on race and privilege.

I am finding white spaces increasingly uncomfortable because I am so aware of how problematic they are in general and I don’t want to be there.

I am not welcomed into Spaces of Color, as they have no reason to trust me or welcome me in. And even in the few spaces where I have earned trust I am an outsider and a reminder of what they can never escape. Not even in their most private and sacred places can People of Color escape from whiteness.

I am not trusted by most People of Color, because they have no reason to trust me or my intentions.

I am the villain in this piece. And well I should be.

When it is all said and done, I will be remembered only as one of the vanquished and that is appropriate.

But between now and then I will play my role well. I will weaponize my whiteness.

I will lose friends. I will make enemies.

I will clear the airwaves so that Voices of Color can be heard. Because this isn’t brave or noble. It’s doing the right thing.

The Heroes have work to do, and we should all support them.screenshot-2015-01-05-164934png-41574132591cfc35

What Social Justice Hero Are You?

This post is dedicated to my LOWPAWS peeps, you know who you are.

I keep encountering people who grew up in the church of be nice and chew with your mouth closed. preaching_thumb

And as a parishioner of this church we often feel compelled to Be Nice.

But what does nice really mean?

When we are “nice” we are putting the feelings of others before our own.

When we are “nice” we are putting the interests of others before our own.

When we are “nice” we start to guard our selves.

When we are “nice” we are not true to who we are.

When we are “nice” we are opening ourselves to be abused.

Nice is not going to change a damn thing. If Nice was working you wouldn’t be a Social Justice Warrior.

Hey, so um, could I have some social justice? Thanks.
Hey, so um, could I have some social justice? Thanks.

Nice Social Justice Warriors are going to politely and awkwardly ask for an extra slice of Social Justice, and those who would stop us will look down at us and say No.

So why are we being nice?

Because, SJXM, I know there is a good person in there and I want to talk them through it.

Good luck with that.

How much is your emotional health worth?

You can toss nice out the window and you can keep, kind, caring, compassionate, loving, understanding, or any other positive adjectives.

So who are your heroes? What is your fandom? What can you take from it?

Me I chose the Alien series. Because I’m a touch obsessed. T- says that the face hugger that I have hanging on the wall like it’s watching over the door is creepy, I think he’s adorable.

But my choice is as much about Ripley as it is about the Alien. If you watch the first movie, she starts out as a soft spoken woman who is tough but reasonably nice.

Ellen_Ripley

But what do you remember her for? For being a Stone Cold Badass who took on the Queen and won. It cost her everything, but she won.

aliens Ripley

But Ripley still cares, she laughs with the people she is with. And she loves. She loves deeply. Much of her motivation in the second movie is based on the promise she failed to keep to be home in time for her daughters 11th birthday.

Even as she struggles to fight and destroy the alien threat, is is motivated by love and compassion. Not just a need to survive, but a strong need to protect humanity. Even when most of that humanity will never know what she has done.

So I love all parts of this series. I love Ripley, I love the Aliens, and I’m even a fan of a fictional evil corporation. Then T wrote this Blog Post and I started to really take a shine to being a Xenomorph. It tickled me, even as I tried to cling to “Nice”.

Then I got burned out. Social Justice just ground me down. I had nothing left. So I spent the weekend doing what comforts me most. I watched the Alien Quadrilogy (AVP and AVPR are dead to me). And I found my anger. I looked at the tattered remains of “Nice” laying on the ground and I said Fuck Nice.

I changed my FB profile picture and cover photo. It’s a reflection of this blog. But I had a lot of anger. So I followed the trolls to Twitter and started knocking people around. And then I just felt that I had more to say, so I wound up my blog again.

But previously I had “Rose Colored Ramblings” a written blog that was a counterpart to my photography blog. But the happy feeling of seeing the world through a rose colored lens was gone. So I reworked an old blog and SJXM was born.

I still operate from a place of love. I am the Queen. Watching over and guarding my brood. If you are against me, that love may not be apparent. But my love is no less valid.

So who do you want to emulate? What qualities do you want to emulate? Are you a hero or a villian?

Are you a

Social Justice Mage

Social Justice Webslinger

Social Justice Ninja drops out of the white privilege shadows to deliver some justice.
Social Justice Ninja drops out of the white privilege shadows to deliver some justice.

Social Justice Ninja

Social Justice Timelord

Social Justice Browncoat

Social Justice Jedi

Social Justice Cat

Find something that you can get behind, that resonates with you. This can be a really helpful thing, because you can don it like a super hero costume.

By day you are a mild mannered <insert your self identifier here> and then you come home and become a Social Justice <Fandom identifier>.

Because when you are trying to figure out how to leave nice behind, but not leave the other things you value about yourself if you look at what you identify with. Hero or villian, loud or quiet. Find your hero, and figure out how to make that hero yourself.

So what Social Justice Hero are you?

When you find your Social Justice Avatar you can go from asking for an extra slice of justice to punching delivering some social justice to their FACE!

KAW POW Here is some social justice for your FACE!
KAW POW Here is some social justice for your FACE!

@SenSanders You Have A Problem #ThisIsWhiteSupremacy #WhatFergusonTaughtMe

I value Black lives over comfort. Direct action has been shown to be both necessary and effective in addressing the state of emergency regarding Black life in America. If your primary concern is “rudeness” you need to reexamine what you value

What a Witch

I am not a happy Witch. Strap in.

WhiteFeelings2

Almost exactly one year after an 18-year-old was shot and left in the street for 4.5 hours we see the face of Whiteness in America.

**********************************************************************************************************************************************

@SenSanders this weekend your supporters screamed at and put their hands on a Black woman who was literally crying for her life and you stood there and did nothing.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Just a few hours later you finally put out something like a Racial Justice plan and pushed a Black female face out front. And then you directed her to teach your supporters to further shout down Black Lives Matter activists.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

You are White Supremacy.

Dear Bernie,

Can I call you Bernie? I’m going to. Simple truth: We DO. NOT. NEED. YOU. You need us and you are throwing away Black votes with both hands. Get…

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Engaging The Troll: The Broken Record Method

So you have graduated from Engaging The Troll: Stop Explaining and you are now ready to move on to the next level of your training.

graduate holding diploma UP

And now you are in the awkward situation where the Troll won’t go away, but you are too tired to come up with new arguments. Some Trolls have endless creativity and while they may lose their mind they don’t care about being seen as the reasonable one they just want to bait you until you become unreasonable.

So what is a reasonable person to do?

Use the Broken Record Method ™

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The Troll will wear you out by constantly challenging you to find new proof or evidence for your points but stick to the same old rhetoric and never varying from their points. Even if you stop explaining and start challenging their assertions with questions there will simply come a point where it is no longer reasonable for you to engage in that way.

So find the core point that you are making, and just keep hitting that.

Points that can be made are things like

You are the part of the problem.

What you said is Racist / Homophobic / Bigoted / Offensive
<insert descriptor of what they said here>

You need to apologize

You can do this in a couple of ways.

You can either use a statement like this at the end of each post.

I refute your points with these logical statements. You are part of the problem that I am referring to.

I expand upon my earlier statements with further links and carefully constructed arguments. And what you said is bigoted.

Here is a clear and logical explanation of why what you said is hurtful. You need to apologize.

Or you can just find the statement and you can stick with it.

Troll: RANT RANT DOUBLE DOWN ON TROLLING

You: What you said is offensive and you should apologize.

Troll: I’m not going to apologize! You should apologize! RANT RANT more Trolling.

You: What you said is offensive and you should apologize.

Troll: Is that all you have to say? Rant Rant Double Down on Trolling

You: Yup. What you said is offensive and you should apologize.

The great thing about this technique is is works online and in real life.

You can use it in a wide variety of situations. From getting into a debate about current social or political issues to being on either side of the customer service counter in a retail location.

It can be particularly infuriating / effective if you can deliver the impression that you are repeating yourself to someone who is unable to understand you. Speak slower or use smaller and fewer words. Act like you are explaining to a particularly dull child.

These techniques are not nice.

They are not for the faint of heart.

And they are not going to let you maintain the guise of a reasonable person.

If you want to be reasonable and nice, then perhaps this is not the place for you.

I am a white lady who is done being nice. And sometimes, to get the work done you need to be unreasonable.

Engaging the Troll: Stop Explaining

I have been arguing with someone and I can’t seem to get anywhere with it. Can I get some help?

guilty_raised_hand
I keep getting blocked by a troll, can you give me some advice?

In the various groups I am a part of, one of the most commonly asked questions is folks looking for help dealing with a their resident Troll. Trolls come in all sizes and can be found almost anywhere. They comment and post on such a wide variety of subjects that it is an overwhelming thing to try and set up the arguments against all the possible trolling that is out there. So SJXM is going to give you some tools on engaging Trolls.

Stop Explaining.
Stop it right now.

But Why?

Because when you are explaining you are losing, that’s why.

When you are explaining you are opening yourself up to a debate.
When you are explaining you are giving the other person the benefit of the doubt and acknowledging that they have valid points to be refuted.
When you are explaining you are creating points to be refuted.
When you are explaining you are losing.

Let me show you how this works. I suggest we go to a movie and seem really excited. You, as a nice white person who grew up in the church of chew with your mouth closed and be nice, don’t want to turn me down. But you really do not want to go.

SJXM: Hey let’s go see a movie tonight!

You: Well, I don’t have access to the car tonight.

SJXM: That’s okay I’ll pick you up.

You: I don’t have the money in the budget.

SJXM: I’ll pay.

You: I have to work early, I don’t want to be out late.

SJXM: We’ll go to the matinee.

You: Okay, what movie did you want to see?

So what happened there? You didn’t want to go! Why are you suddenly agreeing to see a movie?

Because you presented valid and reasonable objections. But in those objections what you were telling me was, if I overcome those objections your answer will be different. You explained, you didn’t decline.

So let’s take another crack at this.

SJXM: Hey let’s go see a movie tonight!

You: No thank you, I’m not up for that.

SJXM: Okay maybe some other time.

See how that totally changes the conversation? You can still be a reasonable person, and just say no.

But SJXM, you say, how does that apply to the longer conversations?

The same concept applies. I am sure that if you sit for a moment and think about the many conversations where you have created a carefully constructed argument only to have it demolished by things like:

That’s not what I meant.
You are twisting my words.
Why are you attacking me?
You need to check your facts.

And you go back in and start all over again. You do some research, you collect links, you share them and you are a reasonable person. Only to find yourself backed into a corner by the argument. And that is because you are dealing with a Troll.

troll
“You didn’t do your research!”

And when you engage a Troll, logic will bounce off them because they are immune to all logical arguments. Your anger and rage will only make them stronger. But reasonable and pointed questions can break through and make them lose their minds.

Keep in mind that an internet slap fight (which is what any conversation with a Troll is) will almost always devolve into one person sounding reasonable, and the other one foaming at the mouth. And the troll is seeking to make you the one who loses it, while they enjoy themselves and look reasonable.

“My points are valid! Why aren’t you listening to me?”

So Stop Explaining.

Stop letting them dictate the where the conversation goes.

Stop letting them put you on the defensive.

Why are you trying to be reasonable to a Troll?

So what am I supposed to do SJXM?

Keep your answers short and to the point.

Ask Questions.

What do you mean?

How do you know that?

So What?

Make them do the work.

When you ask the questions, you are in control.

When you ask the questions, you are directing the course of the conversation.

When you ask the questions, you are breaking the troll’s narrative.

When you break the narrative, they break down.

Stop Explaining.

#BlackLivesMatter: This is not okay

Trigger Warnings – Rape

Language Warning – I’m going to be cussing in this one.

First. I very much doubt that my tiny little corner of the internet is going to intersect with Charnesia Corley . But should it happen, Charnesia I am sorry. I am so fucking sorry that this happened to you. It should have never happened, it was horrible and you deserve justice.

To the other women that this has happened to. I’m sorry. I am so fucking sorry that this happened to you. It should have never happened it was horrible and you deserve justice.

If you have not seen the news Charnesia Corley was raped in a gas station parking lot.

She was raped.

If you don’t want to follow the article I am going to sum it up.

As a woman of color, in America, she was targeted by the police. On her way to get medicine for her mother Charnesia was pulled over. The officers claim they smelled weed and proceeded to do an illegal search. No drugs were found during an illegal search. She was removed from her car, and after multiple protests the male officer directed the female officer to do a body cavity search.

This happened in public. She was bent over a squad car and the female officer raped her.

She Was Raped

She was then charged with resisting arrest.

And the officers are being supported by the department who claims it was a valid and legal search.

She Was Raped

The thing is that I am angry at so many things regarding this case.

I am angry that this happened to her.

I am angry that the officers are covering it up.

I am angry at the responses. From both those who are attempting to show support, and those who are partaking in victim blame.

The problem with conversations about rape or sexual assault is they are rarely centered on the raped. The conversations are usually about the rage or disgust of the people in the conversation, what the raped SHOULD have done, or victim blaming.

In the category of what Charnesia should have done we have this gem:

“She should have pissed on her”

Fullscreen capture 872015 83326 PM.bmp

This is comment clearly comes from someone who has never endured sexual or physical violence or violation. I can say this with confidence because the comment is so filled with ignorance I am frankly amazed that six words can contain it all.

While it focuses on the raped, it is still about what she should have done. In this case urinating on the officer. I’m not sure what the commenter thinks this would have accomplished.

Charnesia was not in a position to do anything but attempt to claim her legal rights, which she did.

She was charged with resisting arrest for all of her trouble, and the officers later claimed they did in fact find .02 oz of marijuana. I’m pretty sure this .02 oz was found in the officer’s vehicle, because they sure as hell didn’t find it in hers.

I can only imagine the terror that Charnesia felt when she was going through this. The stories of murdered people of color that are on the news every day must have been running through her mind. And even as she protested she had to comply because the alternative was probably going to involve a bullet tearing through her body, or a “suicide” in a jail cell.

Other commenters also listed the things that she should have done or what they would have done in her place.

Such comments are not helpful, they are not signs of empathy, and they do nothing to move the conversation forward.

Then there misplaced concern.

Oops – according to the deputies .02 oz of MJ was found. I don’t like the search, but I don’t like the dishonest article either.

Please tell the truth in these articles.

Fullscreen capture 872015 83331 PM.bmp

For clarification at the time the article was written there was no information about .02 oz of MJ. So if you read the article and are confused by that reference, now you have context.

Okay, this is a 3 sentence comment. and over two thirds of it was about the drugs.

When you place a “but” in a sentence you are functionally eliminating the words that came before it.

The white lady tried to make a valid point, but totally failed.

So that “but” makes all 3 sentences about the drugs. And not the horrible thing that was done. And the tiny bit she does say, is she didn’t like it.

Didn’t like it.

She was raped.

Not liking it is not strong enough.

The other way conversations like this go sideways is the change of focus on to how the men folks might feel about this.

I wonder how they would feel if it was their wives or girlfriends this happened too.[sic] And the female officer???? Please. Why don’t the communities shun these cops and their families?

Fullscreen capture 872015 83336 PM.bmp

Okay, so here is an attempt at empathy.

It’s just completely shrouded in male hetero privilege.

How would they (the officers) feel if it was their wives or girlfriends.

How would the men folks feel if their women were violated. Not how did Charnesia feel about this.

In case you are confused at my anger here, I will clarify.

It is about the men would feel if something that belonged to them were harmed. I’m sure that if I were to challenge the poster he would not see it that way. But that is what his words said.

Then he goes on to suggest that communities should shun the families of the officers. So not only should the women connected to them be punitively raped so the men folks can understand it’s wrong, they should also suffer for the negative behavior of their men folks.

 

No.

 

Just no.

Don’t victim blame.

Don’t justify.

Don’t suggest punitive rape or violence as an answer to violence.

In case this leaves you unclear about what you should say? Let me spell it out for you.

 

Charnesia I am sorry. I am so fucking sorry that this happened to you. It should have never happened, it was horrible and you deserve justice.

 

So You Want To Be Activist, Now What?

You see the pictures of inspiring men and women marching and protesting. Activists are on your page, and there are hash tag slap fights going on in your social media feed. And you want to get involved, you want to be an ally. You want to be an Activist you don’t quite no what. So let me be the first to welcome you.

Welcome to the world of Activism.

Here is your Ally Cookie.

ginger_cookie-096102
Ally Cookie Is Happy To See You

Enjoy it, because this is the only one that you are going to get.

But you still have questions, and while you munch on your delicious ally cookie you are standing awkwardly wondering what you are supposed to do next.

What am I supposed to do as an ally / activist?

Listen.

That’s it. In fact I almost could just end the post right here with Listen. Find the voices of the marginalized group you are identifying with or want to be an ally for. And listen to them.

Don’t go seeking out people who are not marginalized and see what they have to say about the marginalized groups. In fact, if you take this so seriously that you close this page right now and find advice from a person of color I would be more than happy with that. Because it is not right that my white voice is the one being listened to. But we are here, and we are going to learn together.
And when you are listening, when you feel those strong objections come up. When you want to say “Not all <insert your personal identification here> are like that!” choke it down. Bottle up that discomfort. Realize that this is a place to start to empathize, because as uncomfortable as you feel right now, they feel like that all the time.

Now you need to do something with all of those difficult feelings, I suggest you weaponize your privilege and use it for good.

I don’t know how to behave or what I should do when I am at an event.

Listen and follow directions.

It’s just like grade school.

If you are at an organized event they will tell you where to march, stand, or go. They will often share talking points or give directions. Be mindful of what you chant along with. When they ask you to Say His / Her Name, you can say their name. But if you are White you shouldn’t say Hands Up Don’t Shoot.

I’m just afraid I am going to lose friends / family over this

You are.

Get over it.

People are dieing. But you might lose some friends.

People are being murdered. But you are worried Thanksgiving is going to be awkward.

People are suffering from PTSD simply because every day in the world is a traumatic event. But someone is going to say something hurtful to you on social media.

Get. Over. It. Do the work.

But there are no groups in my local area that I can join.

Everyone is an activist in their own way. If you have the privilege of travel, then travel. If that is not a privilege you have, then you clearly have at least limited access to the internet. Use that.

The internet lost it’s collective mind over a lion, and there is visible change happening because of it. People did nothing more than sign online petitions, share memes, make posts on social media and comment on articles. Yes there were marches, and the dentist won’t come near his home or place of work because of the Minnesotans who terrorized him.

So do not dismiss the power of internet interactions. Engage in a way that is suitable for your life and circumstances.

In summary

This is going to be hard.

You are going to want to attract the notice of the marginalized and gain their approval. And that is a valid feeling, you want to help someone and you want to know you are doing it right.

Avoid this. Because you are functionally asking to be praised for doing what you should have been doing all along.

You are going to want to get in the middle of things and shout, because there is a high that can come with activism. And you are going to want more of this.

Don’t do it. Whenever possible use your voice to amplify the voice of the marginalized, but never to overpower.

The final lesson I want to impart to the new activist is this.

You can’t fix it. You are not the hero.  And there is not going to be a montage of you and your friends at marches and protests followed by a heartwarming wrap up.

It’s going to be long, hard and sometimes boring. You are going to be discouraged and frustrated. You are sometimes going to feel guilty for enjoying something that isn’t activism. You are going to sometimes feel guilty for how much you enjoy activism. And sometimes you are you just going to be bored with it.

But sometimes, you see small changes. You get the win. And it feels amazing. And you will cheer, and cry, and you will celebrate. And for one moment, one shining amazing moment the world will feel right. And you will do anything for that feeling again.

Welcome to the team. Now get to work.

#BlackLivesMatter: Conversations About Hair

I am not the first person to talk about this, nor the last. I don’t even have the belief that I am the smartest or best person to talk about this.

There are plenty of women of color who have something to say about this. As I have said before, I encourage you to seek them out and hear their voices and listen to what they have to say.

But I understand the the world being what it is, what a white lady has to say about cultural appropriation is going to be taken far more seriously than what the marginalized appropriated people are going to have to say about this. So Mama Xenomorph is going to talk you through this.

Allure Magazine did this nonsense.

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If you are here, then you are probably equally outraged, and chances are you don’t know how to talk about it with your white peers. But how do you approach your white peers who don’t understand why this is cultural appropriation or why it is wrong.

Your first answer should be, because women of color said so.

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Because we said so.

That’s it. That’s all that should be said. Because anything further means you are giving into the idea that the white person talking deserves an explanation.

But I want to educate and help them!

Okay. But I am going to warn you, it’s going to be ugly, you are going to get mad and the person you are debating is likely going to double down on their privilege. But – you want to try and I am going to put some tools in your tool box.

You are blowing this all out of proportion, it’s just hair.

There is no thing as just hair. We as species place a great deal of emphasis on hair. As a global market it is worth 83.1 Billion Dollars.

Dr Evil

Hair is a huge industry and is a defining part of who we are. India Arie is not her hair, women of color are constantly dealing with people who want to touch their hair. There was even an Art Installation that gave people permission to touch their hair.

Any time a movie or show needs to visually show the growth of a character there is a hair style change. It may go from pinned up to hanging down, it may go from long to short. But the narrative is told through hair.  So hair is a big deal. It’s a very big deal. It’s an $83.1 Billion dollar sized deal.

And this conversation is about hair that is associated with black culture, it is another instance of cultural appropriation. Aspects of black culture are donned by white people as a costume, a trend, or as a statement. They are are admired for it, while the same things done by people of color are treated in a negative light.

Women of color who do not struggle to make their hair appear more white suffer in the work place and socially. They are told they are unprofessional looking or too wild. And when they do “tame” their hair to an appropriate level of whiteness it comes at a cost that is both financial and physical. Not to mention the emotional toll that it takes.

Some women are choosing to leave behind the chemicals and damage and embrace their natural hair. And we would not describe them as brave or edgy if we did not know that this flies in the face of what we consider acceptable.

And when white women adopt the same hair styles, it is offensive to the women who have taken the brave step of embracing their natural hair.

But many cultures have adopted this hair style, including my culture of

At this point you can acknowledge the history they are referring to, then remind them of the current context. And when we as white people adopt these cultural touch stones as trends of fashion statements we make bodies of color exotic and other. And we do not acknowledge the discrimination and danger they face daily.

Black women wear white women’s style

To stay safe, to be accepted, to ensure they are able to work, women of color must strive to achieve a white standard of dress and beauty. It is the only way they can operate in this culture.

It is not the same.

You can’t tell me what to do!

This is true. But I can call you out on it.

Silence is consent, and I do not consent to this.

There is a difference between appreciation and appropriation.

Yup.

Appreciating natural black hair is to say, oh that hair is lovely.

Appropriating natural black hair is to attempt to duplicate it on white bodies.

In the end, adopting the hair styles, clothing, music, or culture of a marginalized culture is a form of racism. And it’s not okay.

You could use all of the logical reasons that have been laid out.

You could refer the person to the many valid voices of color who have said this over and over again.

Or you could just stick with, because the marginalized women of color said so. And that should be enough.

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