On Graffiti, Women of Color Writers, & Yarn Bombing
Anonymous asked: what do you have against yarn bombing?
I’m p. sure I’ve briefly discussed this topic before. I’ll check if i tagged the original text and repost, but essentially my disdain with yarn graffiti is that it is a phenomena whose origins are an exercise in privilege. White feminists used yarn bombing as a way to ‘counter male-dominated realms of street art and graffiti’ (see here, here, here, here, here and here.) and forcefully insert themselves into a subculture made up of poor people of color, primarily black and latino youth.
The lumping of graffiti and street art alone raises red flags as it fails to acknowledge how the emergence of street art has negatively impacted women writers of color. While I don’t want to get into an in-depth discussion between graffiti and street art (because it is a ton to delve into), we must note two important and relevant distinctions which separate these realms—race and class. Graffiti (graffiti as an element of hip hop and not solely the act of writing on surfaces w/o permission) has always been an art attributed to kids of color from a lower socio-ecomomic background and is for the most part looked down upon as vandalism. While ‘street art,’ a relatively new art-form, has long maintained a white middle class majority artists as well patrons and is considered a legitimate art which has gained prominence as well as commercial succe$$.
Now, white feminists ignore these important distinctions and offer yarn graffiti as an alternative w/o understanding that although sexism is a problem that persists the graffiti world, we cannot ignore the problems of racism and classism that are contributed by these co-optive side-graffiti arts which both street art and yarn graffiti can be included in.
If there is going to be a change that challenges these issues it should be done from the bottom up. Women of color exist in the graffiti world. It is insulting that these feminists believe they’re solving our problems as women when they have no idea what it is to be a woman writer at the bottom of the graffiti hierarchy, especially when their solution is one that will never be criminalized/looked down upon but instead be seen as cute and edgy but most importantly an art that will be welcomed by mainstream culture.
in the end, yarn graffiti is simply yarn art made by probably racist women (first yarn art was attributed to a group who went by the name ofknittaplease—that name is questionable AF) who got bored and thought just because they liked a life that was foreign to them they would create a graffiti offshoot to cater a need of belonging while at the same time writing off women of color who have long participated and fought against misogynistic attitudes in graff culture.
It ain’t cool, and I ain’t down with it. Sorry for the long response, but i hope this answers your question.
White privilege is learning history from the viewpoint of your race, even if you are the only white person in the room.
Instead of asking me, read about privilege!
When someone tells you that you have privilege…
It does not mean that:
- you are a bad person
- you are hateful or bigoted
- you cannot suffer or experience pain
- you cannot also be a member of an marginalized group
- you willingly exert power over an marginalized group
It does mean that:
- you are a member of at least one dominant group
- as a member of that dominant group, you benefit - directly or indirectly - from the oppression of marginalized people, whether you like it or not
- you have unearned advantages simply from your membership in a dominant group that those belonging to marginalized groups do not
- your privilege can be invisible to you, as can the oppression of marginalized groups
- you need to check your own privilege and should not expect members of marginalized groups to educate you
Also, please understand intersectionality. You can still be white and struggle from mental illness or poverty, but so can people of color.
Ok, white people, I’m sorry.
Poor white people, you have it so so so hard.
It must be so difficult getting benefits in every avenue of life because of your skin tone.
It must hurt so much benefiting from stepping all over PoC, and benefiting things that push our faces into the mad.
I can only imagine how agonizing it is for you when we ask you to stop standing on us so that we can get on our feet.
I can imagine that it must suck having PoC be disgruntled with you because you refuse to acknowledge that you’re standing on our necks, and because you refuse to acknowledge that you benefit from others standing on our necks.
It must be so hard, being asked to “Get the fuck off of me because you’re hurting me when you do this.”
I mean shit. That’s probably the most painful thing in the world, it’s surely more painful than your feet digging into our backs.
I understand. It’s hard to get through life without stepping all over PoC, and making a conscious effort to not step on us or shit on us while you navigate the road called life must be so, so hard. \
Regarding how your actions affect other people is the most difficult thing in the world to do and it takes so much effort and requires you to actually think. So how dare we ask you to t ry not to shit on us or step on us anymore! We should just lay there and take it, and allow you to dig your heels into our spines as much as you please.
But instead of being good little non-whites, we’re just complaining about how much it hurts, and yelling at you to get the fuck off of us, and gosh, that’s just so awful of us, how dare we expect you to treat us with any sort of decency.
And how can we expect you to treat us with decency when you don’t even know how, damn it!
Poor poor white people.
I weep for you. For nobody has known pains and struggles greater than yours.
It must be so hard being white.
Just kidding, CRY HARDER I LOVE IT, I DON’T GIVE A FUCK
ALL of this! Too awesome for words.
Omnibus of scumbags
Some responses to things I’ve seen on my Dash today, compiled here so as to spare you from multiple posts about people being ignorant jerks about stupid shit:
Tard the cat: The owners are shitty people and the name is ugly ableism. I have no patience for people defending them. You can think the cat is cute without justifying or minimizing its owners shittiness. See: How to be a fan of problematic things.
Wil Wheaton: Or how not to behave when you’re being called out for doing something stupid. Don’t double down on a mistake by deflecting criticism for it or whining about your feelings. Intent isn’t magic. Good intentions don’t erase bad actions or consequences. Ovary up, apologize, learn something from your mistake, and move on. Can’t be arsed to do that? Goodbye.
People against Black James Bond: This doesn’t erase English culture. There are and have been black people in England for centuries. Also, James Bond is a fictional character. Queen Elizabeth, Shakespeare, Churchill and Jane Austen are all real people. Changing their ethnicity or race would be weird, but there’s absolutely nothing about James Bond as a character that makes him essentially white. He’s a debonair British spy and ladies’ man. Nothing about those character traits = whiteness. If you think they are, then you need to take a good, hard look at yourself.
Fighting hate with hate: It’s misleading to equate the hatefulness of bigotry with the anger of the oppressed. Context matters. The hatred of oppressive bigots is unwarranted, unjustifiable aggression toward marginalized and disempowered peoples for characteristics they can’t control. The hatred of the oppressed is a reaction to that aggression—it didn’t spring from nowhere. Let me repeat this: bigotry is aggression. An aggressive response to bigotry is the self-preservation instinct kicking in. Treating the two things as though they were the same is wrong.
James Gunn: is a homophobic, misogynist sack of shit. See what I did there?
A post on cosplaying characters that are not your size/race/gender/etc:
I’ve been seeing a lot of complaints from white cosplayers on Tumblr about the fact that they get shit for cosplaying brown characters with accusations of whitewash while there are Tumblrs dedicated to cosplayers of color and the like.
Look, the world is not Tumblr. (As much as I’d like it to be.) The very first thing you’re forgetting when you complain about this is that even on other major sites on the internet, you’re going to see people of color / fat people / people of various genders get hatred and slurs thrown at them for their cosplays. This is because of some strange idea that, especially in the world of illustrated characters (comics/cartoons/video games etc) if you’re dressing up as that character, you’re supposed to look EXACTLY like that character.
Personally, I think this is shit. A cosplayer should not be expected to mold themselves to become a character, they should mold the character to make them them. More generally, I like to think of cosplay as a recasting of that character.
So let’s look at the white thin cisgender nerd for a bit. Look at all the things they like! It’s so easy to transform into all these main characters. They have the same body shape, the same skin tone! (In anime, light skin does not actually mean white, but in Western society it’s interpreted as such.) The only thing stopping them, maybe, is a ridiculous hair color, but that’s what wigs are for! So all you have to worry about, my friend, is constructing the best costume you and/or your friends can make. (Though if you’re a lady, and you don’t choose to be the sexy version of a male character in your cosplay, you might get some hate.)
If you don’t fit this mold, you’re already fucked. How many major characters can you find that are fat, brown, queer, even female (or any combination) for the rest of us to cosplay? Even when I was thin, the fact that I don’t look my race (white/Asian - oh the irony) made cosplay into a really difficult decision, so much so that I just would decide not to bother. But thinking of it as a recast… Well, how many mixed-race characters do I get to see? For me, specifically, there are a few in anime, but they’re all half European as a way to excuse the character’s natural blonde hair. In Western shows, it’s even worse- I think I lost my shit watching the Elementary pilot because Joan Watson’s father is white, making her biracial, making her me. But aside from that, it’s really rare to find a character that isn’t a thin white or light-skinned person. So if I cosplay, say, The Doctor (as I plan to for NYCC) I’ll be temporarily recasting the Doctor as myself. Sounds kinda narcissistic, but to be perfectly honest, I’d still watch the fuck out of Doctor Who if the Doctor was a fat queer half Asian chick. Haven’t exactly seen any other shows with characters like that, in any case…
If a white person cosplays a brown character, or a thin person cosplays a fat character (again, there are many crossovers of all these things because intersectionality) the people who are already underrepresented are gonna get fucking mad. You have SO MANY CHARACTERS that you can cosplay without getting hate for being “too fat” or “the wrong skin tone” and you’re taking ours anyway. It’s hurtful. That’s why you’re getting shit for it on Tumblr. To act like it’s unfair it’s to be painfully (for us) unaware of your privilege.
Ok that post turned out way longer than I expected but I hope my point came across.
"a white male writer is never asked to be a spokesman for anything; he has complete artistic freedom"
You can read the full interview here
Straight privilege is saying that all non-straight people should be fine with homophobic slurs and jokes because you found one non-straight person who says they weren’t bothered by that incident.
Straight privilege is thinking there’s no point to including other sexualities unless it’s to make a statement - “why’d they use a gay couple for that advert? There’s no point, it’s not about being gay. Using a straight couple would’ve worked just fine, why bother?”
White privilege is having the gall to say “I hate being white.”
Mod note: I’m way more disturbed at the “I’m Native American by soul” argument. Hope that paleface gets scalped someday.
Why “Love is All You Need?” amounts to straight people jacking off onto a movie script and calling it progress.
Let’s talk about this movie, tumblr. The premise of this movie is that the roles have been reversed. Instead of straight people being the privileged majority and gay people being the oppressed minority, it’s the other way around. In a world where being gay is normal and straight is not, two heterosexual people fall in love and must face the derision and oppression of the world.
Seems okay so far, right? WRONG. Here is a list of the reasons why this premise is fucked up, in the order I’m going to talk about them:
1. It is recentering the conversation from being about oppressed people to their oppressors. (AGAIN).
2. It is privileging straight stories over queer stories.
3. It is holding up straight people are more sympathetic than queer people.
4. It /IS/ playing into gay panic.
Points the first and second. So supposedly this movie is helping the gay rights cause by exposing oppression. You know what would do the same exact thing? Making a movie about gay people being oppressed by straight people. The thing that actually happens. There’s actually no really good reason to reverse the situation. (I know you’re going to argue with me on this, but stay with me. I’ll get to that.) In fact, in doing so, all this movie accomplishes is making the conversation not about the actual people being oppressed. Again. This happens all the time. Most of the time when oppressed people talk about how they are victimized, their oppressors immediately begin trumpeting about how they’re not all that bad and how can those naughty marginalized people be so mean and heartless as to accuse them of doing bad things?
We really, desperately need to stop talking about straight people and start actually talking about queer people. I know this switcheroo seems innocuous at face value but it’s unconscionable to fictionalize our oppression and make the viewer cry for the straight people when they’re the ones hurting us on a daily basis. It’s unconscionable to erase our pain like that. Our pain is real and it kills our own every day. Mapping it onto the bodies that actively perpetuate that pain and death? Wow that’s really fucked up. Like I said, it’s 100% possible to accomplish the same thing, which is exposing the damage of oppression, except actually telling it like it is. Why does it need to be about straight people? Point the third: If you are saying it’s so that straight people can empathize then what you’ve just said is that people care more about straight people than queer people. According to that argument, when straight people hear stories about gay people being oppressed they don’t care. In which case, that’s y’all’s fucked up problem. Maybe you should go stand in the corner and think about why you don’t care about anybody but yourself.
Finally, I stand by my point that this movie DOES play into gay panic. No, it is not the intent of the movie makers to create a dystopia where gay people have taken over the world and now oppress straight people. But do you see how that is actually the exact story being told? Intent isn’t magic and it doesn’t erase the reality of what is on the screen. How come apparently the way to get through to non-queer people, according to the premise of this movie, is by showing them a reality where queer people are the majority and it causes “straight oppression”. (Excuse me a moment while I laugh like a hyena. Moving onward.) You must be aware, dear reader, that gay panic is a real thing. That real people are genuinely afraid of queer people. Afraid enough to hurt us and kill us and deny us services and our basic human rights. You must also be aware that there are people who regularly complain that it’s too hard to remember not to be heterosexist or cissexist, or just generally not an asshole, and that being “politically correct” is oppressive to their free speech. In case you’re not, those people do exist and us queers know because we’re the ones who have to deal with them. And just because this movie doesn’t intend to pander to that fear doesn’t mean that it isn’t pandering to it anyway. These things don’t exist in a vacuum. Our media is born into a world full of prejudices and oppression and to not be aware of the context into which we set forth our creations is, at best, irresponsible and, at worst, outright harming people.
So yes. I do know what the creators of Love is All You Need? intended. And I don’t care, because it’s still a fucked movie that offends me and makes my overall life more difficult. If you tried to help a marginalized group and all you managed to do is piss them the fuck off, maybe you haven’t succeeded. And maybe you should listen when they tell you that you’re not helping, you’re just talking about yourself and hurting them in the process.
White Privilege is Ryan Lochte wearing his grillz and most people just thinking its an odd choice or even a funny quirky thing about him. If he were black he would be called ghetto, ratchet and a disgrace to the American US swim team.
White privilege is being able to do and wear things black people do and get applauded for your self expression while black people are being shamed for that same expression. (See Kreayshawn)
White privilege is when white people say ‘I don’t think that people should be made to pay for things relating to their ancestors’ like it’s some sort of get out of jail free card on their cracker-ass guilt, when, to give just one example, after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, far more PoC were killed than white people, because most PoC in New Orleans live on the floodplains of the Mississippi, because that was where their slave ancestors were forced to live. Tell me again, white people, about not paying for the past?
Mod note: We’re still paying for what your ancestors did, white folks, so don’t think I’m going to give a single fuck about you not wanting to feel guilty.
"I consistently answer the question “Where are you from?” incorrectly. I begin to tell of the story of where I have lived, but soon it becomes clear that this is not really the question. Something about me reveals that I am not completely white. The asker wants to know “what” I am but also knows that perhaps there is something inappropriate in such a question. I answer the question incorrectly in part to challenge the asker to say what he or she means, and in part because I sometimes forget people are not interested in the fact that I was born in New York but instead in where my parents were born. In these moments I must move from my narrative of place to a narrative of lineage. With me, and with everyone else, race is visibly present at the moment of every interaction. Americans have worked hard to make many distinctions between people “disappear,” but race does not. Among the elite, who today are working especially hard to make distinctions appear to disappear, race stands out as a reminder that this work is not always easy and that the quest to elide all traces of difference is not always possible."
Shamus Rahman Khan (via wretchedoftheearth)