So I was recently tipped off to Borgen, a Danish political drama about life at "the Castle," Denmark's government headquarters. I love political dramas, and this one has a woman (Birgitte Nyborg) as Prime Minister, so I'm all about it. I've been binge watching and just finished season 1. This contains some spoilers, but also the first season of Borgen aired in 2010, so if you're really so invested, you should just watch the show.
A couple weeks ago, in my newly adopted neighborhood of Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, a woman stopped me outside my house. "I'm looking to move into this area," she offered with little introduction. "Do you think that this is a...safe neighborhood?"
Our brief conversation - in which I informed her that I had moved into the area just days before, but so far was quite enjoying myself and the neighbors - clearly left her unconvinced, nose wrinkled in a nervous smile as she trotted off toward the subway. I had a sneaking suspicion she probably wouldn't move here.
"Is this a safe neighborhood?" When this unknown white woman asked me The Question, groups of young black children and Hasidic men passing on the street, I felt the weight of her subtext. Will those people hurt me? Can I keep my distance from them without feeling bad about myself? Is there a Whole Foods nearby? In today's New York, coded language is the dialect of young white people toeing the Venn diagram of gentrification and prejudice.
What I’m talking about is more than recompense for past injustices—more than a handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe. What I’m talking about is a national reckoning that would lead to spiritual renewal. Reparations would mean the end of scarfing hot dogs on the Fourth of July while denying the facts of our heritage. Reparations would mean the end of yelling “patriotism” while waving a Confederate flag. Reparations would mean a revolution of the American consciousness, a reconciling of our self-image as the great democratizer with the facts of our history.
Ok, so first of all, I think the bell-hooks-Beyonce-terrorist thing was way exaggerated. [If you haven't yet, watch the really excellent New School panel where the incident took place. hooks is in conversation with Janet Mock, Shola Lynch, and Marci Blackman.] In case you missed it, here's what happened. When Beyonce's hyper-sexual public image came up in the course of this otherwise un-Beyonce-related panel discussion, hooks said:
I see a part of Beyonce that is in fact anti-feminist...that is a terrorist, especially in terms of the impact on young girls. I actually feel like the major assault on feminism has come from visual media and from television and from videos. I mean just think - do we even know, of late, any powerful man of any color that's come out with some tirade against feminism? The tirade against feminism occur so much in the image-making business and what we see.
The other night, I was out with three friends dancing at the Salon, a bar/club in Providence. The Salon is a cool spot: ping-pong tables and arcade games on the ground floor, dark lighting and techno music in the basement. We'd been out for a few hours prior, and were ready to hit the dance floor. In the dark basement, my friend and I started dancing together, as we are often wont to do. Note that we're sexually empowered, queer ladies. So suffice it to say we weren't swing dancing.
Just moments after we starting getting our groove on, a flash startled us from the sidelines of the dance floor. My friend acted first, breaking away from me and striding toward the flash. "Put your fucking camera away!" she shouted, pushing the man's phone down. I was quick behind her and shoved him further away from us, vaguely aware of snickering from him or his cronies and acutely aware of my limited capacity to physically challenge any of these men. They slinked into the darker outer perimeter. Panting, the whole scene remarkably unnoticed by other dancers, we returned to our friends.
In his recent piece "The Color of His Presidency," Jonathan Chait examines how both sides of the political aisle have used and abused conversations around race - particularly related to our black President - to manipulate public thought about progressive legislation. I disagree with a lot of the piece, namely Chait's implied premise that any conversation around race has led us backwards rather than forwards, and agree with some of it, like how overusing "the race card" (can we get rid of this expression?) undermines liberal arguments for equality. But one aspect of the piece stuck with me as being especially ignorant.
Near the end of his argument, Chait calls upon the conversation around anti-semitism as a point of comparison for the conversation around racism. First of all, such comparisons are essentially useless if your framework for understanding oppression is intersectional and sees each human's experience of oppression as individual. But even I understand that's a high bar for mainstream journalism. Chait in his own words, emphasis mine:
Seriously, watch it. It's fucking great.
Thanks to the Schomburg Center for putting on - and filming - this great event.
Body shaming for female-bodied folks comes in so many forms that it can be hard to keep up. What's currently being idealized as the perfect feminine form? Big hips? Little waist? Pear shape? As an ED survivor and body positive feminist, I opt not to draw comfort or confidence from the fact that some of my features may or may not conform to a beauty standard projected onto my body by capitalist white supremacist patriarchy. But that doesn't mean I'm immune to the internet.
This piece was originally published in Bluestockings Magazine in collaboration with Kristy Choi.
And just like that, we have transitioned into the post-Macklemore phase of the “post-racial era”. Most of us are way over talking about The Grammys, but racism has a way of remaining utterly relevant. Hegemonic, actually. As one face of white pseudo-allyship falls, ten more emerge or reemerge with characteristic “good intentions” and often egregiously offensive results.
You may think that Macklemore’s post-Grammy apology to Kendrick Lamar was the poorest display of white allyship of the new year. Unfortunately, his antics were just one event in a series of gaffes that display a sad trend in white media’s attempts at appeasing LGBTQ/POC communities. Need some evidence? Here’s a quick run-down from the last two months: