advice, feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, race, racism, sexism, strenght, Uncategorized, women

Beauty and the Bill? Harriet Tubman, The New $20 Bill, and Contemporary Beauty Standards

Racism and sexism is alive and well and rearing it’s unquenchable head once again!

Only yesterday, the US Treasury announced – in what will be a milestone for women and people of colour – that abolitionist WoC Harriet Tubman would grace the new $20 bill.

Harriet_Tubman_by_Squyer,_NPG,_c1885.jpg

While the new bills won’t be available until around 2030 (or so the reports say), racists and sexists have taken to Twitter and other social media to lament the decision to represent blacks and women.

The biggest complaint I’ve seen so far is, strikingly, that Tubman doesn’t conform to modern (and often unattainable) standards of beauty. Many of the posts publicly found on Twitter question why Tubman’s “ugly ass” (that’s an actual quotation there, by the way”) should be on the bill;another claims, in what is evidently a racist trope, that Tubman belongs on food-stamps rather than currency. Shockingly, – in what can only be seen as a  manifestation of the insidious nature behind sexism and racism – it seems even many people of colour are falling into this sexist rhetoric; as though having, say, Tyra Banks on the notes would have been more applicable and timely.

The more important question here, it seems, is why Tubman’s history  is being relegated straight back to her physical appearance? Current ideology continuously positions women – of all races, ethnicity, and backgrounds – as relevant only according to the standards of beauty, physical appearance and attire they present; anything else which they may achieve during their lifetime is either an added bonus to this imperative or is, sadly, inconsequential.

So what does this treatment of Tubman reveal: that women continue to be regarded, despite their historical influence and present status, as relevant only as symbols of beauty in our culture. Tubman herself is quoted to have said:

I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.

It’s time to free women from this rhetoric, too.

 

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charity, Ireland, personal, Uncategorized

“Will Swim/Cycle/Run for Money” – Fund Raising for Charity

 

So this coming June my very dedicated and generous Brother-in-law Michael Garry will be taking part in Challenge Galway, his first ever full Triathlon – that’s a full 226KM distance split between swim, cycle and run! – and to celebrate the momentous event he is raising donations for charity!

The donations raised will be split between two deserving and amazing foundations here in Ireland – Temple Street Chidlren’s Hospital and St Brigid’s Hospice for Kildare and West Wicklow. In his own words, Mick is dedicating this to the memory of his late father, Michael Garry Senior and his young cousin Eamonn who tragically died in 2008 due to complications relating to Cerebral Palsy. Mick has a special relationship with both institutions, which cared for his father and cousin respectively and wants to ensure they can both continue their wonderful works.

If anyone is interested in donating, please do so through the following link, and, of course, I’ll be happy to provide an update come June when the event is over:

http://www.mycharity.ie/events/mick_garry/

Many thanks!

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Ireland, race, racism, Uncategorized, violence

Racism Rife in Ireland

A recent report from the ENAR (Eire Network Against Racism) has revealed the extent of racial prejudice in Irish culture.

Released this very morning, the disconcerting report is already receiving mass attention from various media outlets. The report, headed by Dr Lucy Michael, explores the issue of “Afrophobia” in Ireland through the use of data from racist incident reporting system iReport.ie. The launch page for the report explains the term “Afrophobia” as denoting forms of global racism aimed specifically at people of African decent and further claims:

 In Ireland, as this report demonstrates, racism against people of African descent is not a new phenomenon at all, but one which has failed to be recognised by the State and wider society, even as it has evolved from colonial times. Afrophobia has contributed to the racialisation of Irish identities, both in Ireland and overseas, resonated with anti-Traveller racism at home, and found fertile ground in specific phenomena and events, for example in what Junior Minister for New Communities Aodhán Ó Ríordáinhas called “our love affair with incarcerating people” (from the Industrial Schools and Magdalene Laundries to Direct Provision), or in the political expediency manifest in the 2004 Citizenship Referendum. (ENAR Ireland)

A summary of the findings indicate that an approximate 30 percent of complaints submitted to iReport were incidences of racial harassment and threat against people of African descent; the harassment was commonly reported as taking place in public, specifically in/on public transport systems. Similarly, many of the complaints raised the concern of being knowingly under constant surveillance in public spaces.

But the threat is not only public; over half of the reports received and studied described instances of online abuse and racial threat, mainly on social networking sites where many people where individually targeted and harassed.

Many of those who reported incidents of racist abuse and harassment further recorded a disillusionment with Gardai services:

There are low levels of trust in An Garda Siochana to address and understand the impact of racist incidents, and to apply the definition of racist incidents adopted in 2001.

People of African descent experience worse outcomes from Garda involvement even where the racist incident is perpetrated against them and, should they confront the perpetrator, are more likely to be considered suspected of instigating the incident. (Report Summary)

Currently, the ENAR is urging An Gardai Siochana and other public bodies to implement a more stringent anti-racist discourse among staff, in order to encourage the official reporting and handling of both verbal and physical forms of racial violence and that an eventual change in legislature is required to protect these groups. For my part, I argue that better educational practices need to be established throughout primary schools, with the conversation being brought into the home as well. The Irish people need to be educated on issues of racism, their psychological and undermining effect in our society. The ENAR further encourages the need for a renewed national action plan to combat racism, and the time for that is now.

Links:

http://enarireland.org/afrophobia-in-ireland-racism-against-people-of-african-descent/

http://enarireland.org/enar-irelands-submission-on-integration-multiculturalism-and-combating-racism/

 

feminism, feminist, race, racism, strenght

José vs Joe: Who Gets A Job?

 

Same man, same resume, same job; different name.

The fact that we continue to discriminate in terms of ethnicity and race is evident in this short video, with José failing to receive any job replies until he changed his name for the benefit of his could-be/would-be employers.

José, clearly, was a capable candidate for certain applications (having received several invitations to interviews after the fact) yet was not deemed so until he took it upon himself to remove the ‘s’ and the acute accent from his name.

These prejudices continue to damage our contemporary society and divide us as human beings who could and – more significantly – should treat one another with the respect and admiration.

This video needs to go viral, we need to see just how deep the roots of prejudice and discrimination go and can they be excavated at long last?

feminism, feminist, gender, misogyny, race, racism, sexism, strenght, women

Can We Have a #FairFutureNow Already?

Who doesn’t enjoy one of President Obama’s enigmatic tweets? I, certainly, do; and especially when they involve the promise of equal pay for both men and women.

Obama’s most recent (from the 8th of April) tweet backed an equal pay program on his own site Organizing for Action and calls for people to support the cause by boasting the #FairFutureNow hashtag.

Women, on average in America, earn 77 cent for every man’s dollar despite doing the same work. This discrimination has been highlighted consistently and yet no change has actually been implemented to better the situation of women.

The US Bureau of Labour Statistics (found here http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpswom2012.pdf) recorded that:

In 2012, women who were full-time wage and salary  workers had median usual weekly earnings of $691. On
average in 2012, women made about 81 percent of the  median earnings of male full-time wage and salary workers  ($854)

The report also detail the wage gaps which exist between differing race and ethnic groups in the US, highlighting that Asian women ($770 per week) and men earned more than Black (599 per week), Hispanic and Latino ($521 per week), and White ($710 per week) counterparts in 2012; while White men ($879 per week) earned 83 per cent as much as Asian ($1,055 per week).

The statistics are telling, and President Obama’s support for equal pay and an end to the wage gap is inspiring in such a prominent world figure, but the questions remains; why can’t that future be now? Why, as the images suggest, must we wait for our children for the wage gap to close and equality become an actuality.

Surely, it can’t be that hard to imagine that future now. #FairPresentNowMaybe?

 

advice, feminism, feminist, literature, misogyny, race, racism, sexism, strenght, women

The Best of the Oscars (According to Me)

Everyone’s talking about the Oscars. The epic photobombs; the celebrity selfies; the best dressed. And, of course, the beautiful Lupita Nyong’o, who took home the coveted Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Everyone’s talking about her eloquence, her dress (seriously, though, that dress!), and her speech. And obviously, this is the Oscars and the hypes still all in the air, so the Academy’s best and brightest are still catching us out on the speech acceptance videos (hopefully soon there’ll be a full update) but for the moment, here’s some of the highlights for Lupita’s acceptance speech:

Lupita later dedicated the win to her parents, but inspiringly stated:

When I look down at this golden statue, me and every little child that no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid.

Lupita, furthermore, recognised the pain and suffering which led Solomon Northup to narrate both his and Patsey’s despondent story.

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And then, there are the lesser told stories. Blogs and news pages are full of Lupita’s graceful figure and eloquent quotes; let’s not forget Cate Blanchett’s own win and stark reminder.

Blanchett now boasts the best actress award for her work as the lead in Blue Jasmine, and cut a stunning in a Georgio Armani gown. What really stole the show for me, however, was her speech, in which she recognised the incredible talent of her fellow nominees, stating:

As random and as subjective as this award is, it means a great deal in a year, yet again, of extraordinary performances by women […]  [There are those] who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences.’ she said. ‘They are not. Audiences want to see them, and in fact, they earn money. […] The world is round people.

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And then, after the awards and celebrations, their was Lupita’s entrance on Ellen:

1tumblr_n1vsdizCGB1qedmbzo1_2502tumblr_n1vsdizCGB1qedmbzo2_250

 

 

race, racism

#HowIMetYourRacism

It’s not the first time a primetime sitcom has been called out for racist content, and it’s definitely not the first time How I Met Your Mother has been put under the spotlight for indecent and offensive content.

This weeks episode featured three of the shows protagonists – as seen in the images below, Lily, Ted and Robin –  join in one of Marshall’s ongoing storylines in yellowface.

How-I-Met-Your-Mother-racist-yellowface-2 How-I-Met-Your-Mother-racist-yellowface-3How-I-Met-Your-Mother-racist-yellowface

The storyline, quite frankly, is so ridiculously offensive and unwarranted that it’s repetition seems unnecessary. What is obvious is that the episode required a certain Asian stereotype to be fulfilled, and that was clearly done without any thought given to the offending nature behind the content.

The backlash since the episode’s preview has been phenomenal, with social media website Twitter once again being employed as a social activist medium with the tag #HowIMetYourRacism trending. Many have called for a boycott of the show, until a formal apology is issued, including activist Suey Park:

I used to watch @HowIMetMother but I now refuse to and hope they apologize for yellowface. #HowIMetYourRacism

 

I certainly will not be watching the final series before an apology is issued to the Asian community and I can only hope that others will, too, will be pushing CBS for an official apology.

 

 

feminism, feminist, misogyny, sexism, women

Should Mindy Kaling’s Elle Cover be Controversial?

Renowned comedic actress Mindy Kaling graced the cover of Elle magazine this February. She’s well known for her role on The Office as actress, writer, and  director, as protagonist of her own show The Mindy Project, and for her position as a curvaceous, coloured woman in an incredibly public role.

And yet, check out Mindy’s cover:

downloadmindy

While Mindy was certainly and openly delighted about her Elle cover, there is a serious difference between her image and the three other Women in TV themed covers. The three other women – Zooey Deschanel, Amy Poehler, Allison Williams – were featured at three-quarter shots and in colour; Mindy is featured close-up and in black and white, washing out what makes her completely different and unique from the three other actresses.

o-MINDY-KALING-570

Mindy may be happy with her cover – and, yes, she should be, she is an incredibly beautiful, talented women and the cover certainly depicts this – yet, the racist, sexist implications behind the shot need to be brought into question. The cover should be perceived as controversial and women – women of colour, curvaceous women who do not adhere to the stick thin standard magazine culture adores, women everywhere who desire a more accurate, honest view of different bodies – should demand better from their society. 

So, perhaps it is best that we continue to question these implications, that we criticise the racist, sexist, and demoralising realities behind the cover while upholding Mindy’s character and her wonderful talent.

race, strenght

Nelson Mandela dies aged 95

Nelson Mandela, a great and inspiring world figure, a constant advocate of unity and peace, and a hero of our era, has passed away aged 95 after several years of .

The former South African president passed on peacefully in hospital, following a summer of recurring health issues and hospital visits.

This huge loss, undoubtedly, is already being felt and mourned across the world, with current president Jacob Zuma stating:

Our nation has lost its greatest son. Our people have lost a father.

“What made Nelson Mandela great was precisely what made him human. We saw in him what we seek in ourselves.”

World leaders, and peace and equality advocates alike today mourn this great loss and, I can only hope, will continue to look back on his life, practices, and beliefs as mantras worth repeating throughout the course of human history.

abortion, feminism, feminist, misogyny, poetry, pro-choice, pro-life, sexism, women

“What Women Deserve” Sonya Renee

Sonya Renee brilliantly slams the anti-choice/pro-life movement and the organisations and governments which defend and protect their scare tactics and which, yet, will not actually help these women once they have children. “Women Deserve Better” highlights the race and class issues surrounding abortion, pregnancy, and motherhood and, significantly,  how society uses these issues to control these women and keep them from actually improving their own lives before actually deciding to have children in their own time.

Renee, herself, is a feminist activist as well as a national and international poetry slam champion. She is also founder and CEO of The Body is Not an Apology which focuses on “radical self love and body empowerment” and invites individuals to join the “unapologetic posse” encouraging women to “dismantle their personal body shame by reminding themselves of their individual amazingness on a regular basis Help their friends and loved ones see how body shame is keeping them from living their best lives and encourage them to live unapologetic existences Share information, resources, and inspiration with each other as we all take the journey toward radical unapologetic self love!”

Her website states:

We believe that each time you unapologetically own your beauty, love your scars, heal your shame; you in turn give us permission to do the same! It is time to live UNAPOLGETICALLY!

Join their movement here: http://www.thebodyisnotanapology.com/#!

Her live performance is emotional, powerful, and full of the strength women are truly capable of.

 

Culturally-diversified biracial girl with

a small diamond nose ring and a pretty smile
poses besides the words
“Women Deserve Better”.

and I almost let her non-threatening grin
begin to infiltrate my psyche
until I read the unlikely small print
at the bottom of the ad:
Sponsored by the US Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities
and the Knights of Columbus

On a bus
in a city
with a population of 553,000,
4 teenage mothers on the bus with me,
1 Latina woman with 3 children under 3
and no signs of a daddy.

One sixteen year old black girl
standing in 22-degree weather
with only a sweater
a book bag
and a bassinette,
with an infant that ain’t even four weeks yet
tell me that Yes ….
Women do deserve better.

Women deserve better
than public transportation rhetoric
from the same people who
won’t give that teenage mother
a ride to the next transit.
Won’t let you talk to their kids about safer sex
Have never had to listen as the door SLAMS
behind the man who adamantly says,
“That shit” ain’t his
leaving her to wonder how she’ll raise this kid.

Women deserve better
than the 300 dollars TANF and AFC
will provide that family of three
or the 6 dollar an hour job at KFC
with no benefits for her new baby
or the college degree she may never see
because you can’t have infants at the university

Women deserve better
than lip service paid for by politicians
who have no alternatives to abortion
though I am sure
right this moment one of their seventeen year old daughters
is sitting in a clinic lobby
sobbing quietly and anonymously
praying parents don’t find out
or will be waiting for mom to pick her up because research shows
that out-of-wedlock childbirth doesn’t look good on political polls and
Daddy ain’t having that.

Women deserve better
than backwards governmental policies
that don’t want to pay
for welfare for kids
or health care for kids
or child care for kids
Don’t want to pay living wages to working mothers,
Don’t want to make men who only want to be last night’s lovers
responsible for the semen they lay.

Flat out don’t want to pay for SHIT
but want to control the woman who’s having it.
Acting outraged at abortion.
Well I’m outraged
that they want us to believe
that they believe
that women deserve better.

The Vatican won’t prosecute pedophile priests
But I decide I’m not ready for motherhood
and it’s condemnation for me
These are the same people who won’t support
national condom distribution to prevent teenage pregnancy.
But women deserve better.

Women deserve better
than back-alley surgeries
that leave our wombs barren and empty.
Deserve better
than organizations bearing the name
of land-stealing racist rapists
funding million dollar campaigns on subway trains
with no money to give these women
while balding middle-aged white men
tell us what to do with our bodies
while they wage wars and kill other people’s babies

So maybe women deserve better
than propaganda and lies
to get into office
Propaganda and lies
to get into panties
to get out of court
to get out of paying child support

Get the hell out of our decisions
and give us back our voice
Women do deserve better
Women deserve choice