Check Your Privilege.

check-yourself-before-you-wreck-yourselfAn important part of participating in any sort of struggle or fight for justice is checking any sort of privilege you might hold. Everyone has some sort of privilege – whether it’s race, class, your ability (both physical or mental), etc and checking that usually means realizing the ways in which you benefit from some social institutions that disadvantage others.

Sam Dylan Finch wrote it perfectly in an article about checking privilege that:

When someone asks you to “check your privilege,” what they’re really asking you to do is to reflect on the ways that your social status might have given you an advantage – even if you didn’t ask for it or earn it – while their social status might have given them a disadvantage.

I have plenty of privilege – much of who I am involves power within the US. I’m white, middle class, college educated with no debt. I’m able bodied by societal standards and English is my first and only language.

And the thing about learning about privilege and oppression is that all of those identities that have power within the US, the ones that make it so the police are in fact here to protect people like me among other things, is that if I do want to participate in destroying the status quo, I will be uncomfortable. But my feelings don’t matter because the importance of black lives.

Checking your privilege is going to be uncomfortable; it’ll be awkward and weird and you’ll probably make a few mistakes. And all of that is okay – hell for me, it’s expected. No one is born a revolutionary.  But learn from your mistakes, ask yourself why you’re uncomfortable, do a hell of a lot of reflecting and even more self education.

There are so many places to start but some include:

  • How to Be a White Ally from Black Millennials
  • Becoming a White Ally to Black People in the Aftermath of the Micheal Brown Murder – Janee Woods
  • How to Be an Ally if You are a Person with Privilege – Frances E. Kendall, Ph.D
  • 4 Ways to be an Ally to People with Invisible Disabilities – Sara Whitestone
  • Examples of Straight Privilege – Erin Tatum
  • Privilege 101: A Quick and Dirty Guide – Sian Ferguson
  • On Male Privilege, (transcript of video) – Jamie Kilstien
  • 25+ Examples of Western Privilege – Sian Ferguson
  • What is White/Male Privilege? (video with closed captioning) – Marina Watanabe
  • The Straight, Ablebodied, Cis, Rich, White Man’s Burden

Consent.

consentToday I found out that a friend of a friend had been raped last night after drinking with a few coworkers and I got incredibly furious. Despite what Robin Thicke  and so many others might think, there are no blurred lines in regards to sex and consent and there’s no grey area as far as consent. Consent is yes, no, a conversation. It’s a process and it’s something that people should work on together.

Before anything else though, I do want to say to everyone who has been assaulted, raped, or went through anything traumatic, you are worthy. I love you and you are so wonderful. What happened wasn’t your fault and you are more than this.

(transcript)

One of main things about consent is that it’s a decision that requires thought and something that can’t be forced on someone. It has to be your decision with knowing all the facts and without being pressured. And it’s important that it can be withdrawn at any time, as Lex Croucher points out:

Consent can be withdrawn at any time. A person does not need to say the word no to withhold consent. There are lots of ways that a person might indicate that they don’t want to engage in sexual activity with you. Like body language, or lack of reciprocation.

Last year, California passed an affirmative consent law that dictates that a conscious and unambiguous decision must be reached be by everyone involved in sexual activity. The law primarily focuses on college campuses and helps to support prevention groups and victim rights’ groups. There are a lot of think pieces about this law, some in favor and others not so much. But personally, I think this law opens up a door towards having conversations at large about what consent means and how to have on going conversations about it means. It’s important to realize, at least for me, that consent is grounded in respect for the other person (or people if that’s the case).

(closed captions available)

#TransLiberationTuesday

tumblr_ntlehjNAu41u3nkrio2_1280-600x552Today, the hashtag #transliberationtuesday on Twitter is calling for more awareness and the ending of violence against trans individuals, particularly against trans women of color and black trans women. I’ve written previously about the violence that happens to the trans community and how that violence disproportionately impacts trans women of color (especially black trans women). It’s so important to realize that many of the violent crimes that currently happen against the LGBTQ+ community are in fact against trans women of color.

Just in the past eight months of 2015, there have been 20 murders of trans people and most cable and news shows have been ignoring the spike in the murders. Not everyone has been ignoring this issue – Janet Mock has been discussing this issue and read the names of those who have died while serving as a substitute co-host for Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC. But that doesn’t make up for the fact that the issue is largely absent from many other news shows.

There are several actions across the U.S. today that are calling for trans liberation and the end of violence. And if you can’t make it to any of these actions – there are other things to do. Support organizations that help house and provide resources to trans women, support trans women directly, call out transmisogyny when you see it or hear it. These are of course just some of the things we can do to support trans women of color right now.

I am not a people person.

I’m honestly not much of a people person – haven’t been as long as I can remember really. It’s not that I hate people (as much as I often say I do) – it’s more that I do significantly better in occasional brief encounters with a few individuals and by myself than anything else. I’m an introvert and very shy – I stumble over my verbal words and get stressed out easily over constant stimulation through interacting with people.

I prefer reading and written communication – it’s often easier for me to think about what I want to say and the best way to say it through writing than talking. (Although I definitely appreciate body language and unspoken cues when having major discussions. Talking about television shows and how a date went? So love being able to text for that stuff!) I love reading and watching stuff on Netflix because I still get to interact with the world outside of just myself but it’s usually not too over stimulating.

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So the past couple days has been really stressful because I’ve been constantly hanging out and doing things with plenty of people. And it’s not that I don’t love the people in my life – at the very least I have a deep appreciation for their existence. But it’s exhausting to constantly be on and to be social for me.

I’m very much looking forward to the next few days – really brief encounters with a small group of people and spending so much more time alone are both things I desperately need for some down time. Hopefully with this break I’ll also be able to write a little more as well!

Making Mistakes.

quote-if-youre-making-mistakes-it-means-youre-out-there-doing-somethingFor me, a big part of humanity is that we are flawed and we do make mistakes. But the great thing about mistakes is the ability to learn and grow from them. I do think that if you want to act as an ally and stand in solidarity with different groups, you have to be okay with making mistakes and owning up to them. Ashley Truong wrote about making mistakes as an ally and how if someone does call you out, listening, giving a genuine apology, and learning from your mistake are some of the most important things you can do.

But a big thing is to learn from your mistakes and not repeatedly use “I’m human and make mistakes” as an excuse. Because at least for me, if someone keeps fucking up and uses that excuse on and on again, there’s a very good chance I personally won’t want to be around them for too much longer. Acknowledge mistakes and grow from them.

And I also think it’s important to realize that people change, grow, and learn in the span of days, weeks, months, years. What someone might have believed a few years ago might not be what they believe now and ironclad holding people accountable to problematic stuff they said some time ago can be tricky. I think that if someone is called out and they genuinely apologize and learn from it, it’s important at the very least to acknowledge this.

That doesn’t mean I think marginalized people should coddle the people in power or hold their hands throughout all the discomfort we as people in power are going to face but instead that we can’t expect people to be perfect revolutionaries from the very beginning. Everyone grows in different ways and society is so dead set on keeping up the problematic status quo that what might be apparent to one person might not be so apparent to another.

I hope this adequately describes the points I’m trying to convey about making mistakes. This was actually one of the few times I felt like I didn’t quite have the right words to describe what I’m trying to talk about here but hopefully the message is still understood. And this is as much as a note to self as it is something to consider for everyone else.

Fat Shaming And Loving Your Body.

I’ve mentioned before my relationship with my own body and with fatness. Because I’m fat and I’ve pretty much always been fat, my self esteem and my self worth has frequently been hinged on the unwanted comments from others. I have avoided going to the doctor with legitimate concerns because I know there will be unnecessary comments about my weight. (Once went in about anxiety and depression – the nurse practitioner told me that I should lose weight?!)

th (12)Anyway, I’m not the only one to struggle with weight and others’ perception of my own body. And there are so many facts and pieces of information that actually tear down all the unnecessary comments and concerns that people might have about fat people.

Sarah Landrum, for example, wrote over at Adios Barbie about the 6 scary facts that prove the existence of size discrimination, including the fact that there is an unconscious bias against overweight patients from medical students and that there is an increased likelihood of conviction. Over at Mic, Julianne Ross wrote about the 9 facts that shatter the biggest stereotypes about people who are fat, including the fact that:

Fat shaming, though cruel, is another form of bullying that often goes unchecked because people believe that it will spur others to lose weight, and, as the logic typically goes, become healthier. This is misguided first and foremost because there’s nothing inherently wrong with being fat… And even if there were, fat shaming doesn’t help people lose weight.

Justin Dennis also brings up the fact that fat shaming doesn’t actually help people lose weight like many seem to think it might. In her video, she talks about that and unpacks what fat really means. (transcript)

Ultimately, it’s taken me a long time to get to be even kind of okay with my body. I still frequently struggle with my self esteem, still wonder about how others perceive me because of my fatness. But I’m at the point in my life where I realize that despite all the fat shaming, my life is worthy. I’m still human even if I don’t fall into what society deems beautiful. And that’s also true of so many other people who struggle with their weight as well. I think that Marie Southard Ospina said it best though in an article she wrote about coming to love her fat:

I don’t have a recipe to falling in love with your body. I don’t have an easy button you can press to feel fat and flabulous. I think it’s hard. It’s really freaking hard. We don’t live in a society that makes it easy. We don’t live at a time when fat is considered beautiful by the mainstream, so we have to fight to make people realize the beauty in it. And fighting is never easy, but it’s worth it.

#NotMyStonewall

StonewallfilmAt first, I was so excited to hear that a movie was being made about the Stonewall riots that happened in June of 1969. I mean, here’s an event that had a huge influence in the LGBTQ+ history within the US and started what we now celebrate as Pride. And many of those involved were trans women of color –  including Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy.

But more information started to come out about the film, including the trailer and a short description from IMDB, which says that the movie is about:

A young man’s political awakening and coming of age during the days and weeks leading up to the Stonewall Riots.

And now? I’m not so excited about the movie because it is yet again whitewashing and ciswashing history and centers a white cis gay man instead of any one of the actual major players who were trans people of color. I get that the film isn’t a documentary and hot damn Hollywood is great at making fiction out of history but to continue the erasure and rewriting of history? No thanks.

One of the great things about the release of the trailer has been the critiques of the erasure and white washing. Many have taken to social media and proclaimed that this movie is #NotMyStonewall and Miss Major herself has spoken about her anger over the inaccurate portrayal of the event.

Janet Mock also talked about the movie in her segment SoPOPular! on MSNBC and brought up so many amazing points, including the hope that the director, producers, and others involved in the movie will own up to their mistakes and address the issues they created by centering a white man in their film. Monica Roberts also wrote about the whitewashing of the events and called out the fact that Sylvia and Marsha are just minor characters:

Seriously?  The mother of the trans rights movement, who jumped off Stonewall and along with Marsha played a major role in fighting for the recognition of gender variant people as the nascent movement was forming in the wake of the Stonewall rebellion is a minor character?

That’s some bull feces.

Personally, instead of spending money on the upcoming Stonewall film, I’ll be donating to the film Happy Birthday Marsha!, a film centered on some of the actual major players of the Stonewall Riots like Rivera, Johnson, and Miss Major. Apparently I’m not the only one to do something like this – there have been many others that have similarly acted in backlash to the upcoming Stonewall film.