The “images I’ve been meaning to blog” blogaround

February 14, 2009

These are all images that made me stop and think, “That’s interesting. I wonder what I could say about that.”

Let’s start with some economy!!1

A graph charting defense spending in the U.S. over the last decade. The area of interest is the last two data points, which show an increase from 494.3 billion to 527 billion, but which is being referred to as a "defense cut."

You really ought to read the article for this one, which is from Salon. Basically, there’s been a lot of right-wing hand-wringing about how Obama is cutting defense spending and that now terrorists will kill us and eat our puppies! Except that is a total lie, and Obama is increasing defense spending. This is a common thing for Republicans, isn’t it?

Speaking of politics…!

Above, Obama signs the Lily Ledbetter equal pay act, surrounded by happy women of several races, who are wearing a lot of red. Below, Bush signs the partial birth abotion ban, surrounded by a cadre of old white dudes in gray suits, standing at attention.

I found it here, on The F-Word. Even their expressions are so telling. Those women just look so happy! (I was going to specify, “the women photographed with Obama,” to clarify, except, oops!, Bush somehow forgot to include any in his photo…) This picture’s just here because it makes me smile, and provides a little hope that things will change.

I’m generally of the opinion that our system is flawed, though, which is why the following image really made me think:

main_animals

The website, More Party Animals, advocates for, well, more party animals. I’ve long felt that the two-party system is better than a one-party system, but still provides insufficient options. It leads to lazy thinking, as if every issue has exactly two sides. It makes it much easier for one party to have power over everything and completely steamroll the opposition (as opposed to in a minority government in Canada, say, where the leading party has the most representation, but still less than half, so that it must be able to compromise to accomplish anything. I know that “bipartisanship” is driving me crazy right now, but largely because the Republicans went so far with the power they had before, and because there’s no one further to the left of the Democrats with a loud enough voice to keep the discourse from shifting permanantly to the right. In general, though, I would be willing to put up with compromises from the liberal leadership as long as I could be sure that the conservatives, if/when they had power again, would be subject to the same need. So in an idea world, the particularly right-wing Republicans would greate a conservative party, the rest of the Republicans and the majority of the Democrats would merge to form a moderate party (i.e., what they already are), and then an actual liberal party would exist on the left. Because having just the center and the right represented in my government is going to drive me crazy.

Speaking of crazy!

mullarkey

(From this article, at Towelroad.) Apparently the artist, who likes to use gay pride imagery in her work, donated a thousand dollars to the Proposition 8 campaign. You know, the anti-gay one. It seems she doesn’t paint pride parades and such because she actually cares about the subjects– no, it’s just that Teh Ghey makes for great “spectacle.” The artist says, “Art is not about ‘appreciating.’ It is about looking. People get accustomed to viewing art through a filter of words: theories, press releases, the pieties of art appreciation. Spectacle cuts through the static…I’ve never really liked parades that much…But when the majorette is a middle-aged man in a tutu and sneakers you know you are not in Kansas and you might want to stay awake.” So, that’s sweet of her.

And, finally…

scifi_channel_2

It appears to be a promotion for something on the Sci Fi channel, but I found it here at L’image Blog (oh, stumbleupon!). I particularly like that it’s a cute, sweet-looking white girl scaring the “monster” in this one, since so often in these old movies (and, uh, current ones), it’s exactly that kind of character who would be the “fragile” victim. (Other kinds of women get a ton of crap in movies, too, obviously, but not usually this particular brand of crap. You have to “deserve” victimhood– the other, less wholesome women aren’t victims, they were asking for it.) The look on her face here really fascinates me, like she knows it’s a “hilarious” reversal because of its impossibility, but she still wants to take revenge for all the indigities she and women like her have suffered in film. I also feel like there’s something about the racial undertones of such movies, but I haven’t really seen enough of them to know (before my time)… King Kong was, uh, pretty awful, racially. And the lips on our lagoon creature here makes me suspect that not too much has changed, and makes me wonder more about the “woman getting revenge” aspect that I liked earlier.

So, ending on that ambiguous note, I am off to return to my life. If you have come across any other interesting images lately, please share in the comments! Or just add your thoughts about the ones I put up here.

Happy blogaround, everybody! And, uh, Valentine’s Day too, I guess.


Betrayal?

January 30, 2009

Many years ago my family went on vacation several states away from where we lived. An incident occurred there that had devastating results for us. The town where this happened opened their hearts and pocket books to us, giving us a place to stay while some of us were in the hospital so we didn’t have to stay at a hotel, as well as paying for our airfare back home when it was all over. We made friends with some of the townsfolk then, friendships that lasted decades. Despite the tragedy that occurred, we continued to travel in the same direction, stopping in the town to visit our new friends.

One set of these friends moved to the deep south a few years back and as it was a bit farther from where we lived we weren’t able to visit very often. But that was ok, we still called and wrote letters. A few days ago my mother, K, was talking to her friend down in Georgia, and, perhaps wondering how much of the Southern stereotypes were true, asked her friend how they were feeling about their new president.

There was a long pause. “Well, we can’t all get what we want.”

My mom was not terribly surprised by this as she had suspected they tended to vote Republican. But our friend continued: “he is black, you know.”

Now K is taken aback. Taken off guard, she asks about the neighbourhood. Apparently a lot of people are pissed and the KKK is talking openly about finding out who in the town voted Democrat and “getting them.” Now my mother is really alarmed. “Really?” she asks, incredulously.

“Well, he is black.”

At this point it’s all sinking in and K, not knowing how to deal with this development, stutters about the doorbell and it was nice talking toyougottagonowbye.

When she told me this, I had to keep asking her about exactly what was said in that conversation. I kept asking her if she was sure that “well he is black” was spoken of when the friend was talking about her feelings, and not  those of her racist neighbours. But no, alas, that’s how it went down. As I write this I’m thinking that it might be surprising that we didn’t know they were this way. I guess we never talked about politics enough to know they were staunch Republicans? Certainly K wasn’t surprised that they voted for McCain, but I would imagine that if they never would have voted Democrat that that would have become evident over the decades that we’ve known them? My guess, as I interacted with them the most as a child and thus didn’t really talk about politics, is that they leaned toward conservative most of the time but were not dyed in the wool party faithfuls.

And certainly we were not aware of just how racist they were. This is, in large part, because we’re white. Duh. Certainly if we were black we would have found out earlier! As my mother and I were talking about this new information about them, both of us quite upset, my mom said “would they have helped us back then if we were black?”

And it hit me, this galling understanding that, no, they probably wouldn’t have. And the town likely wouldn’t have opened their hearts and pocketbooks and houses (literally) if we had been black. Emergency personnel would likely have done their jobs, yes, but probably that paramedic wouldn’t have let us stay in his house while he and his family went on vacation. But, maybe other people in the community would have helped us, but as it was a predominantly white town, that help would likely have been much smaller. I probably wouldn’t have met the mayor.

I know, I know, say hello to my white privilege! *declines shaking hands* Disgusted to meet you.

I found it interesting that the first emotion that I felt after hearing about this conversation was betrayal. Ok, first there was shock and dismay. But mostly betrayal. I think K and I feel betrayed by this revelation, even though we are not on the receiving end of this bigotry. Is that my white privilege showing itself again? Or is that us automatically seeing people of colour as like us, easily could be us, might as well be us, so that a friend’s betrayal of our (everyone’s) common humanity became a betrayal to us, even though we’re white? It’s just that betrayal seems a bit of an odd feeling to have, since they didn’t reject us/ignore us/leave us on the side of the road because of our race. But that they might have, if our biology were different, indicates a degree of seeing us as members of a certain class rather than just as people. And while being of the “right” class helped on this occasion, it is still ultimately not about just helping us as people. But about helping other white people.

The more I think about it the more appalled I get.

I’m not really sure, and I’m still trying to sort out what’s behind these feelings. I feel like I’m stumbling around in the dark somewhat – that there’s a dynamic that I’m missing or not explaining well. So I’m processing aloud, for all the world to see. I’m not attached to any of these feelings – meaning I have no problem in thinking that my response is connected to the problems of white supremacy itself; I’m not going to defend it. Maybe this is me being full of shit? Could be, and I’m willing to take the lumps for that and hopefully grow. I do think I’m leaning towards a both/and scenario. I think it is both my white privilege at work when someone’s racism feels like a betrayal to me, a white person (kind of like co-opting an oppression, in a weird way, if that makes sense). But I also think it’s a betrayal of our common humanity. If you feel differently, by all means feel free to tell me. I certainly don’t expect anyone to educate me about anti-racism, and I will continue to think about this and process it. I just want to make sure you knew that y’all are welcome to call me out on my shit. Hell, you’re always welcome to call me on my shit.


See what I mean about amazing email forwards?

November 21, 2008

I think I have to start a new tag for the awesome stuff I get in my email, it’s so frequently amazing. Take a look:

43 white men, and Barack

Yeah. This is why, even though I still wish Hillary Clinton was going to be my president– this is why I am nevertheless awed and even cautiously optimistic. I know he will eventually disappoint me. But man, does that line-up ever look good with him in it!


Yes, You Did

November 5, 2008

I had spent the entire hour on the train-ride home trying to think of what I might say, knowing how likely it would be that Barack Obama would be the next president. I found I wrote about my misgivings, echoed by others, that he was not as progressive as he sounded, that he would continue to move to the right in an effort to “bring the country together.” I came home and ate my dinner and watched both CNN and CBC (the national Canadian channel), read what Shakesville had to say and what my friend Heart had to say.

I had just finished reading this post of Heart’s, commented to it, looked up and there it was: CNN with a giant banner saying “Barack Obama: President-Elect.” And I just started to weep.

I’ve never, in my 40+ years, ever wept at an election before. The closest I’ve come is getting misty-eyed watching Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and on stage at the DNC last August. I’m cynical as all hell. I’m Canadian! We don’t fall in love with our politicians. We don’t expect them to be John Wayne or James Bond or something. We rather expect good bureaucrats, I think. We often get them. I rooted for Clinton during the primaries too, and have deep concerns about Obama’s tendencies to move to the right. I’m not all riding the Hope-y/Change-y pony, yanno?

But this is really huge, this electing of a biracial, African-American president. Only 50-odd years ago, People of Colour lived in conditions akin to pre-war Nazi Germany. Anne Moody, in daring to sit at a lunch counter with white people knew that if the next morning she read of a murder occurring in her home town, that it would be a member of her family. Just in looking for a picture of Obama this very evening to go with this post lead to me to many racist shite images. America has deep deep problems with its racism, there is no doubt.

Canadians, I believe, have often looked south with some shock at the level of racism there (being completely blind to the racism here, mostly towards Aboriginal people). I’ve always believed, as have many other Canadians I’ve spoken to, that America would elect a white woman before you would elect a black person of either gender, most likely a black woman last of all, because of that level of racism (and sexism).

While a lot can be said about sexism in American politics this year, I’m not going to go into it. This moment is for Barack Obama. This moment is for Americans of Colour. This moment is for America in total.

Congratulations President Obama, congratulations Americans of Colour. Goddess bless and Ceiling Cat protect you all.

 

*Update: people are in the streets, all over the country. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Did I just not notice? Amazing!


Hey! Everybody! I voted today! Wooo!

October 25, 2008

For the first time ever! I have to say, as depressing as this election has been, I couldn’t help grinning as I was leaving the court house.

So here’s what the process was like for me: after I figured out where I was really supposed to vote, I drove downtown and parked. Then I had to cross the street to the court house. At the street corner, there were a bunch of people with signs, plus a man who was running for mayor. We chatted and since he was a Democrat, I promised to vote for him (and all the other Democrats being endorsed by this corner). Eventually, the “walk” symbol blinked on, and off I skipped to vote, vote, vote!

Except that there was no door in the courthouse. Seriously– I walked right up to the big, lovely facade facing the street, and walked back and forth along the whole front of the building, and it was nothing but windows. Eventually I found a little door, but it said something to the effect of “This Is Not A Door.” As I looked at it, perplexed, a similarly confused couple came along; together we ventured to the back of the building, where we found the proper entrance. I could tell it was the right place because of the metal detector.

Upstairs, there really wasn’t any kind of line. In about 30 seconds, I got waved over to a poll-working-person, who asked for my ID. I was surprised, since I hadn’t realized that ID was required (since so many people don’t have any, it amounts to a poll tax) but, as a Lucky McPrivilege-Pants, I had no problem and handed over the driver’s license.

Then I was asked, “Touchscreen or paper ballot?” I asked for the paper, which is to say, our conversation looked a bit like this:

“Do you want to use the touchscreen, or a paper b–”

“PAPER BALLOT! Please.”

It’s probably paranoid, but I just really, really wanted to have a physical record of my vote. The environmentalist in me realizes that it would be better to switch to all-electronic, but the rest of me just can’t accept that. Switch junk mail and bills to email; leave our votes on good, solid paper. The consequences are just so much more dire for voting, it’s important to me that there’s a physical record, and that if something seems funny we can look again at the actual votes cast. With electronic votes, we just have to trust the computers– which isn’t something I’m willing to do with my vote right now.

Anyway, paper ballot: it was bubbling things in, just like high school all over again! I felt silly, like a kid, until I got to the section labeled “FEDERAL” and was presented with Barack Obama’s name. There were a half-dozen other names I didn’t recognize, which was cool, and Cynthia McKinney was there, of course, which was tempting, but ultimately, despite the many ways he continues to disappoint me, and despite how much I would have preferred to vote for someone else– it was a warm, fuzzy feeling filling in that little bubble.

I also voted on a number of local items– for the eradication of outdated language in the constitution; against a measure that would make adoption available only to people in valid marriages; and so on. There were maybe half a dozen. Plus of course the senators and county clerks and so on; straight Dem, basically, except for one position that had only Democrat and Green running– I got in my Green vote there.

When I left, I was feeling so pleased, somehow, so proud. I wasn’t expecting that. I’m pretty cynical about politics; I’m not really convinced my voice will make a difference. But man, it felt good to vote.


Voting is complicated

October 22, 2008

So, I lied earlier; I didn’t get to vote today. Turns out the polling place listed on the website and on my voter registration card doesn’t actually do early voting; I have to go to a different city hall for that. I’ll still manage to vote before I leave for India, but man, am I ever glad I didn’t wait til the last minute to try to figure this stuff out!

I think just about everyplace is doing early voting now, so for the Americans in my audience: I strongly recommend you all get it dealt with as soon as possible. If there are complications, better to find out when there’s still plenty of time to spare! Also, be absolutely sure your ballot says what you want it to say (i.e., Obama! Or McKinney, which is what mine would probably say if I wasn’t in a swing state.) Especially if you’re using electronic voting (especially in W. Virginia), it pays to double-check; there have been some reports of voting machines switching votes to Republican, which is, um, bad.

And for the Canadians in my audience: thanks a lot for voting the Conservatives back in! 😦 Vote better next time, guys.


More from the randomly-forwarded-emails files

October 22, 2008

Made of awesome:

I get pretty awesome forwards, actually, especially considering the right-wing rubbish that I know a lot of you are getting.

In other, related news: I’M VOTING RIGHT NOW! Yeah! I scheduled this post so it would be true: RIGHT NOW! VOTING! DEMOCRACY IN ACTION!

It’s the first time I’ve ever voted, actually, so expect some kind of post afterwards. Potentially not until tomorrow, but eventually.