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.
The color we believe ancient Egyptians were in a society that tells us only white people can be innovative vs. the actual color of ancient Egyptians
- how poc are treated: constantly stereotyped and limited in media, mocked for their facial features, get shot or have a friend/family member shot because they are poc, are never seen as "american" or whatever nationality because they are not white, unable to find work or enroll in schools or get decent pay because they are poc, are objectified and fetishized, basically have to deal with a society that limits their choices because they are not white
- what we are told: you see racism in everything it's all in the past get over it
Today is 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and seems like a good time to dispel some common historical myths:
Myth: The Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery and freed all Black people who were enslaved
Truth: The Emancipation Proclamation signed on January 1st, 1963 stated that slaves were to be freed in rebellion states. The proclamation did not address slavery in the Border States that did not secede from the union. Although, the proclamation went into effect on January 1st, it was largely unenforceable and many millions of Black people were still in bondage. In fact, in the state of Texas, Black people were still enslaved until June 19th, 1865, a full two and half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
Myth: Abraham Lincoln was an abolitionist or an anti-racist.
Truth: In 1858 Lincoln said the following: “I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races—that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this, that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any other man, am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”
He also said this:
“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”
Myth: After the Emancipation Proclamation and the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment, Black people were given the right to freedom, right to citizenship, and the right to vote.
Truth: After the passage of 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment, states and localities passed heinous laws to not only restrict and prevent Black people from exercising their right to vote or enjoy the rights of full citizenship, but they even passed laws to legally re-enslave Black people. The 13th amendment does not outright end slavery it states that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
So in addition to the horrible practice of sharecropping, states passed laws to convict and arrest Black people of all kinds of ridiculous violations such as “selling cotton after sunset” and then placed steep fines for the crimes. (Read “Slavery by Another Name” by Douglas A. Blackmon) If they couldn’t pay the fine, they were sold leased to private businesses as laborers (i.e. slaves). This practice of convict leasing persisted until the 1940s and 1950s. I would also like to remind people that the current, racist criminal justice system as Michelle Alexander writes in her book “The New Jim Crow” is creating a literal caste system in the United States in which Black and Brown youth are being arrested at extraordinarily high rates and placed in a permanent underclass. Most shockingly, there are currently more Black people in the criminal justice system then were enslaved during the height of slavery in the United States.
“Do you have proof? Convince me that this is harmful and racist or else everything you say is invalid!”
Oh, how I fucking hate this derail.
Basically, it’s set up to put PoC on the defensive, and that’s why white folks and “colorblind” racists do it — they make us feel defensive about our experiences, our feelings, and our perceptions, which are all valid.
Yet they need to invalidate them and try to drive us insane by forcing us to give them evidence, which they usually always dismiss. They try to make us not trust our own gut instincts and intuition, saying that they’re inherently “unreasonable” and “irrational.”
Which, when it comes to racism? PoC are going to know more than white people. Automatically. We experience it, so of course we’re going to know. Racism and whiteness are the things that are unreasonable and irrational, not PoC’s perceptions, experiences, and very valid feelings with living through it.
And you wonder why a lot of PoC don’t trust white people? We constantly feel like our minds and hearts are being put on trial.
We don’t have to prove shit. If you’re not open-minded enough to at least hear about what we have to say and consider it without automatically invalidating it because you’re so afraid of your whiteness being deconstructed and your perception not being the only one that’s “right” and “true,” then the burden’s on you to prove to us why we need to give a shit about your opinions and why we should waste any of our time and energy on you.
Somebody told a real life woman that her skin was too brown to play an imaginary creature. That basically in the whole fictional world of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, where you have dragons and trolls and talking trees, where you draw the line, where imagination is capped out, no more room, is for a brown hobbit.
Like firery eyeball thing, no problem but don’t even try to imagine a Samoan elf. That shit will blow your mind."
Wherein Wyatt Cenac remains perfect, and completely articulates our Mission Statement.
Making this extra ridiculous is the fact that Tolkien literally described the hobbits’ skin as being brown in the books.
(Clipped conversation FOR THIS RIGHT HERE - bankuei):
I am a HUMAN and not a “white girl”.
This is my favorite type of white tears, absolutely 100%. Because it always, always, always serves as an admission of unacknowledged privilege.
Know why you don’t like being called “white girl”? Because you’re used to being the default. You’ve always just been “a girl.” But for the rest of us, that qualifier has always been there. When you’re a POC, you’re not just “a girl.” You’re “that Indian girl,” or “the black chick,” or “the Asian guy, I think he’s Chinese or something?”
You can go on and on about how “we’re all human, race isn’t an issue!” but that’s not what this is about. Being called “white girl” tells you that the person you’re dealing with isn’t going to give you the free pass you’ve always received for being white, and that scares you.
bolded for emphasis. great reply/commentary.
Asian/Black relations is a conversation that pops in Philly media every so often and no one asks the right questions
There was this huge rash black kids just kicking the shit out of asian immigrant kids at southeast philly high the last few years
And it took the media so long to get to the bottom of things
These black kids didn’t hate these kids because they were Asian (as it was framed originally)
They were mad because a lot of these were straight up NEW to America, only here for a few years
And they were getting treated better in the classroom than them by white teachers
Their weaknesses (poor English for most of them) weren’t being written off as symptomatic of them as Asian people, but merely a minor bump in their learning
And black kids were not getting that same courtesy
So yeah that made them fucking angry.
When Asian folk are pigeonholed as “model minorities”, that’s white supremacy. When black folk attack Asian folk as “model minorities”, that too is white supremacy. When the media does not acknowledge that, again, white supremacy rears its ugly head.
On a related note, with the help of Asian Americans United (AAU), BPSOS-Delaware Valley, Victim/Witness Services of South Philadelphia, and the Asian Student Association of Philadelphia, a lot of the kids from that incident a few years ago put together an exhibit called ‘We Cannot Keep Silent’ that’s worth checkin’ out. It’s open through March 2013 at least.
More POC solidarity, less participation in our collective oppression. Onward to liberation.
"A lot of times people make excuses for old people’s racism, as if racism is just a product of a bygone era and it will die out when the old people do…I always think that if my old people have to suffer racism, your old people should get called on it."
I am not about to coddle these folks and “respect my elders” when not but too long ago these folks were calling for MY PEOPLE to fucking get lynched and die and shit. Hell the fuck no. You think you’re immune from my wrath but you’re not.
ALL OF FUCKING THIS
My mother was born in 1957.
She was in grade school when the whole desegregation shit went down.
She told me about how white women would treat her like shit for daring to want to fucking learn.
My grandfather told me of how white men his age would fucking JOKE about how they should have ‘put the niggers in the concentration camps because Germany had the right idea.’ He’s a WWII Vet.
Fuck what you heard.
I WILL NEVER EXCUSE OLD PEOPLES RACISM
Annoying Things White People Do in Racial Arguments.
They NEED to be validated at every twist and turn. They need you to let them know how open and accepting and good and not-racist they are. If every comment out of your mouth is not validating their existence as a Good Not-Racist Ally, they will derail until the cows come home and build a tent in your living room.
If we argued the way white people wanted, a racial essay would look much like this:
“I really hate white people, but only sometimes and only the really bad intentionally racist ones, which not all white people are. When I go into a store, the white security guards follow me around because I am black, but let’s not forget that not every white guard does this and that many white guards are amazing people who are great and completely not-racist at their jobs. Once, I joined a conversation with some white feminists, and when I brought up the issue of racism in feminism, they told me I was being a bad feminist for not supporting them. Those feminists were especially bad, there are many good feminists who support black feminists, so let’s take a few moments to sing a hymn to their praises. My brother got arrested and beaten for jaywalking, and the cops who did it got away with it, but remember that white cops are vital to our survival and they take care of us when we can’t or are too afraid to. I saw a white hipster wearing a Native headdress and an offensive logo on their shirt, and even though it was wrong, they probably didn’t mean it or know, and not all hipsters are insensitive like this. I was discussing my native language, which is Japanese, and someone kept asking me to say things in “Chinese”. I felt terrible because this happens a lot and is extremely dismissive of who I am. However, Japan and China are really far from America, and both languages aren’t very popular in this country, so I understand that the white person was probably confused and didn’t mean to continuously insult me, and of course, many white people know the difference and try to learn about my culture. Racism is perpetrated by white people, but a lot of white people hate that and try to fight with us even when they get it wrong. At least they’re trying.”
Perhaps seeing it written this plainly will help some people realize why this is problematic.
[Reblog because there’s a word-for-word repost floating around with no credit]