Freelance

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From A Future Without Me: Matt Damon is the Great White Hope in Elysium, featured at Bitch:

“With the growing gap between the rich and the poor and home and abroad, as well as major environmental change taking place, we are living in a real world that looks a lot like Elysium (sans space real estate). And racialization is a form of oppression for the global majority of those being exploited for the benefit of those with the most privilege. This would suggest that, even just in terms of accuracy, Elysium should have a person of color as its lead.  The more nuanced the representation of that lead character, the more powerful this movie about fighting global oppression would be.”

Elysium was made for an audience that Hollywood sees as “unconsciously” privileged and that feels that their relative disenfranchisement speaks to all issues of inequity for everyone. In reality we know that even in this theoretical future Earth/Hell/factory-for-the-rich there will still be all kinds of factors that will establish social hierarchies within all of that misery—including race and gender. If power continues manifest in the future in the same ways it does now, Matt Damon would be sitting pretty high up on the privilege pile, telling a pretty privileged story. In reality Matt Damon is the beneficiary of all kinds of privilege, which surely contributed to the decision to cast him in the lead role.”

“The film appears to cater to the idea that present-day movie-goers get outspokenly uncomfortable when confronted with issues of privilege and with their own real-world complacency. People are calling out Elysium for it’s liberal stance already. I can’t imagine if the film had done a more honest job of examining power. If racism stopped Will Smith from getting jiggy with Cameron Diaz in Hitch, I have a sneaking suspicion these same decision makers would have a hard time watching marginalized folks have their day in a movie about subversion of power. Matt Damon represents a safe choice in this instance.”

 

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From It’s Not My Fault! Your Guide to Defensive Feminism, featured on The Toast:

“There’s a troubling demographic of people who resist more intersectional social justice practice — the “defensive feminists.” These folks do everything they can to debunk, derail, and distract from the issues at hand, in ways that subvert the entire point of the conversation. To them, defending feminism as it currently stands is more important than strengthening or challenging it. This group represents a significant barrier to achieving intersectional feminism, because they undermine the voices of those experiencing oppression, all while hiding under the helpful guise of self-professed ally.”

Step 1: Make sure everyone knows that you aren’t one of those “oppressive mainstream feminists.” This response is all a lot about excusing yourself from the benefits of privilege. Maybe there are systems of oppression that lead to all kinds of unequal outcomes for people. But you didn’t make it that way! And you certainly don’t think that way. It is essential in these cases to take the honest confession of pain from another person, and make it all about you, real quick. Try something along the lines of “I know ____ is really hard for you, but I’m not one of the people that contributes to ____.” Whew! Now everyone knows how anti-oppressive you are, and also, everyone is paying attention to you. +1 point!”

“Step 9: When in doubt, plow through the critiques. Do you think you might have made a mistake? Are you considering that you maybe, possibly could do a better job of being an intersectional feminist? That this might require sitting down, shutting up, and changing your practice? Can’t have that! Feminism is yours; you are feminism. It’s hard being right all of the time, and you meant no harm. So, maybe work out a fake apology if you can muster one, but mostly just keep on doing what you are doing. Just make it more oppressive if you can. The discussion of racialization on the show Girls was a great example. Defensiveness/fauxpology/apathy, followed by more of the same. Score!”

 

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From The Long Climb to Nowhere: On Oprah and the Impossibility of “Transcending Race”, featured on The Toast:

“As a woman of colour, I have often heard that if I just work harder, or act in a certain way, or wear the right clothes, or [insert any number of things here] that I may be perceived positively by white folks, or that I may be able to protect myself from racism. That there is a successful way to transcend race.”

“I don’t believe I should I have to work harder to rise above discrimination. I don’t think there should be any racism to “transcend” in the first place. I’m not interested in forbearing. And I certainly don’t believe that freedom from racism should be dependent on anything other than a basic human right for all people to live a life free of discrimination.”

“As people of colour trying to fight racism, we are carrying a heavy load and climbing a steep hill. It often feels like we are getting nowhere.  There is no such thing as “transcending race.” Our equity does not lie in a “colourless” (which really means “white”) society. It doesn’t lie in a few people achieving a great deal,  in the hopes that their success will trickle down. It lies in the same solutions that will work to address all oppression. That is, in the universal acknowledgment of the inescapable intersectionality of oppression that cannot be “transcended,” and in working together towards an equity that values every single one of us, exactly as we are.”

 

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From Ally-Phobia: The Trayvon Martin Ruling, White Feminism, and the Worst of Best Intentions, featured on The Toast:

“My worries are different. I’m worried about well-meaning white folks, who in their effort to lead a social justice conversation as my allies, make missteps that continue to reinforce oppression in racialized communities, and do a disservice to mainstream feminist social justice work, which should surely be intersectional as fuck by now.”

“I have been assured a multitude of times that mainstream feminism is getting better. That each wave is better than the last. That intersectionality is upon us…. I am still waiting for the evidence on this one, the proof that mainstream feminism is becoming a safer space for me as a Black woman. And I am getting pretty damn tired, and increasingly angry. And I am living in that anger, because I can’t think of a more reasonable response to this ongoing failure of many white feminists to be intersectional allies to Black women.”

“When a person of colour speaks to their own experiences of racism, they are speaking to a collective pain, and speaking truth to power. When a person with white skin privilege gives an anecdote about racism, whether their own or someone else’s, they are exposing more racialized people to this discrimination, and reasserting their own privilege. The narrative is no longer about Black victims of racist crimes and a deeply flawed justice system, it is about white feelings about Black bodies and their experiences. This is not helpful to intersectional practice, as it implies that only by making an oppression about the oppressor can power-holders work towards becoming allies. [It also] disregards the feelings of Black people by exposing them to further racism in an effort to work on white privilege. I do not consent to being confronted with racism in the hopes that white folks can maybe start to exorcise their own internalized issues. Allies need to do this work on their own.”

“I want to emphasize that the Trayvon Martin murder trial and aftermath is not about having better white jurors. It is about ending racist laws in a racist system that target Black people in terrible ways. It is about having a jury that includes Black people, rather than excludes them because of their perceived racial biases (as though non-Black people do not carry biases that lead to the death of Black people on a daily basis).  It is about living in a country where Black children can go to the store and get some candy and a drink without being profiled, followed, and killed. It is not about the racism that white women would hope to transcend were they appointed to a jury, in which their very appointment would represent the exclusion of Black people. This is not about being the ‘best’ ally. Being the best ally one can be should already be a given at this point. This is about centering and discussing racism, with Black people leading this discussion.”