Coffee Rhetoric: Personal Rights
Showing posts with label Personal Rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Personal Rights. Show all posts

January 20, 2014

Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream Deferred

The Importance of Looking Beyond the Words: "I Have A Dream" 

Once a year, during Martin Luther King, Jr.'s day of commemoration and/or during the anniversary of his famous 1963 "I Have A Dream" speech, people are prompted to do one (or all) of a few things: fist pump about having an extended weekend before rolling over to sleep-in, hit up all of the MLK shopping deals at the mall, cull a cursory menu of food items that include fried chicken, collard greens, and other edibles ascribed to Black-Americans, or reduce Martin Luther King to nothing but the opening line, “I Have A Dream…”, gleaning the parts that best suit myopic platitudes to peddle post-racial propaganda and silence or they'll co-opt his words and misuse them to condescend to black people, in hopes that black folks will stop talking about racism and the daily microaggressions we have to navigate.

April 20, 2012

So I Creep: Men Who Don't Like Being Called Creepy


According to an article at the site Jezebel, men’s rights activists (or MRA); a movement that surfaced in the 1970s to address inequities in reproductive rights, divorce settlements, domestic violence laws, sexual harassment laws, education, fathers’ rights, health care, and genital integrity among other issues-including ensuring that their entitlements stay intact by challenging the tenets of feminism – don’t like us women, hurling the word “creepy” at them in response to what is deemed, (more times than not) legitimately shifty behavior while in our presence and/or space. 
Apparently the ability to“creep shame” is a special power men seem to think women have; used to ostracize them in the worst way, because earth, wind, and fire forbid we have the unmitigated gall to exercise the right to say “no”, “I’m not interested”, shut down in response to elevated levels of unwanted attention, or even change our minds about wanting to date somebody for whatever reason.  

Writer Jeremy Paul Gordon wrote of creepiness in a 2010 article for The Hairpin;  
“Without a doubt, creepy is the worst casual insult that can be tossed at a guy. A guy can publicly scoff at something you say and be a “douchebag;" sleep with your best friend, never call her back and become an “asshole;" cry while listening to Neutral Milk Hotel and forever be a “pussy.” But creepy is not that simple. It doesn’t relate to someone’s appearance, actions, or behavior. More accurately, creepy is a vibe. You can’t define it — you just know it. It’s when a guy looks at a girl for a little too long, when he friends her on Facebook a little too quickly, when he doesn’t understand that no actually means no, not “Try harder.” It’s a tag that isn’t easily dispelled.” 
In any event, the Anti-Creep Shaming Brigade’s shoddy attempts at advocating against women who use their instincts to protect themselves against douche-like behavior, is an exercise in futility. And it's an unfair demand, to expect women to pacify the male id, particularly if she's protecting herself. But at least allows me the opportunity to share this excerpt from novelist, Phaedra Starling’s 2009 guest blog post, originally featured on the (now defunct) site"Shapely Prose", Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced. (Which I was fortunate enough to come across via writer and cultural critic, Son of Baldwin's  Facebook page).
You want to say Hi to the cute girl on the subway. How will she react? Fortunately, I can tell you with some certainty, because she’s already sending messages to you. Looking out the window, reading a book, working on a computer, arms folded across chest, body away from you = do not disturb. So, y’know, don’t disturb her. Really. Even to say that you like her hair, shoes, or book. A compliment is not always a reason for women to smile and say thank you. You are a threat, remember? You are Schrödinger’s Rapist. Don’t assume that whatever you have to say will win her over with charm or flattery. Believe what she’s signaling, and back off.

If you speak, and she responds in a monosyllabic way without looking at you, she’s saying, “I don’t want to be rude, but please leave me alone.” You don’t know why. It could be “Please leave me alone because I am trying to memorize Beowulf.” It could be “Please leave me alone because you are a scary, scary man with breath like a water buffalo.” It could be “Please leave me alone because I am planning my assassination of a major geopolitical figure and I will have to kill you if you are able to recognize me and blow my cover.”

On the other hand, if she is turned towards you, making eye contact, and she responds in a friendly and talkative manner when you speak to her, you are getting a green light. You can continue the conversation until you start getting signals to back off.


January 26, 2008

Personal Space Invasion Syndrome (PSIS)

I've been documenting the crazy on here since about 2004. I think regular readers (assuming people have been following this blog for that long)- probably are hip to the fact that I am a self-described neurotic with a smattering of germaphobia and a dollop of obssessive behavior (i.e. where I place items in my personal space matters, as I insist things be placed a certain way, and that they're neat and organized). And while this much I know is in fact true, my quirkiness has not prompted any need for prescriptions used to combat any anxiety or psychotic episodes. In summation, I'm a relatively normal person- (considering the levels of actual weirdness festering out there)- who is slightly askew. I pump a celebratory fist at my eccentricities and don't plan on changing any time soon. No one's infallible. And for those acting like they are... you all need to cut it out. The prologue aside, if there's one thing I cannot stand, it is when people (particularly those not close with or familiar to me) invade and tamper with my personal space and belongings without my permission. Close talkers (if I back up a couple of inches... please don't move forward to close the already small gap)- If you don't come in a wine glass, we aren't about to kiss, or about to engage in relations... there's no need for anybody to be 2 inches away from my mouth, beyond the standard (6 to 8 sq ft), conversational closeness. I think violating someone's space; adjusting and taking other people's things without asking is rude, discourteous, and disrespectful... particularly if you're the type of person who resents having your things tampered with and especially if it's within the context of a communal (i.e. work) environment, where the majority of the space is already shared, to begin with. It's almost as if certain people feel as if they're entitled to behave this way, or they have the right to impose their tastes by strongly suggesting a person should rearrange things to look a particular way other than how they choose have it set up. I mean, you listen and humor people afflicted with PSIS by saying, "Oh okay, that sounds nice. But I think I'll just leave it like this" and they're adamant about trespassing, like an uninvited guest who insinuates him/herself into your home, rearranges the furniture, and uses your toothbrush! You can see their sweaty fingers and palms wiggling with the desire to touch your stuff. To rearrange, to fix and fuck everything up... making you ready to sling some pimp slaps. These people, who like to stand shoulder to shoulder, toe-to-toe... so close that you feel a little of their spittle spray your face during conversation. Making you shudder with disgust, also prompting you to tap your foot uncomfortably, to swallow hard, and blink furiously to keep from going nuts. People, listen, regardless of how crazy this rant may seem, this type of bahavior is definitely a spatial DON'T. I think we've gotten too comfortable in this current cult of personality. Manners are a thing of the past. We live in a culture that divulges TMI about bowel movements, itchy delicates, and explicit sexploits (some great to listen to, some not so sexy), where people will grope, expose themselves or rub up against strangers, and where people think it's okay to invade... to bully their way into someone else's orbit, scattering forces messing up the alignment of your small planets. All it does is create tension, anger, and more neuroses to grapple with. How difficult is it to be respectful of other people's space and property? It's not. Some concepts are fundamental and implicit. So back the hell up and keep hulking figure and hands off of other people's sphere, unless invited. That's it.

January 21, 2008

Unsung Activists

While everyone uses this day home from work and school to reflect on Martin Luther King's birthday, attend special observances and programs, or simply to piss around (or however you choose to spend your free day off)I'd like to take this opportunity to recognize the women who made a significant impact during the Civil Rights Movement. It's rare that we read or hear about how Black women (in addition to Rosa Parks) have impacted our (black) history and women's history in general. Stereotyped, hypersexualized, and often labeled as 'right bitches (or hoes, depending on who's hurling the insult), Black women... we don't get a fair or accurate rap sometimes. Zora Neale Hurston's contribution to African-American literature was written off by her Black, male literary peers, who accused her of "romanticizing" the Black experience, but that's for another post. My point is, we often can't get a break or any cred for the things we've done in the past and the ways in which we continue to thrive presently. We hear so much about the indelible mark Rosa Parks - left, it probably leaves some folks wondering if she was the ONLY black woman who fought for equality during this time. She's not.

JoAnne Gibson Robinson was a professor of English at Alabama State and member of the Women's Political Council. Months prior to Rosa Park's negative bus experience Gibson-Robinson experienced similar treatment from an abusive Montgomery City Lines driver and used her membership to the WPC as a catalyst for change. Ella Baker. Septima Poinsette Clark. Fannie Lou Hamer. Civil Rights overlooked revolutionaries who remained stealth, in the background... perhaps due to sexism, racism, and other biases. Author Lynne Olsen writes:

After the bus boycott got going and (Martin Luther) King got involved, they wouldn’t even let Rosa Parks speak at the first mass meeting. She asked to speak, and one of the ministers said he thought she had done enough.
Olson added that Parks is often depicted as a deferential woman who defied segregation laws at the urging of movement leaders, but in fact she had for years quietly pushed for racial justice — and she had carefully planned the actions that led to her arrest. She was not just a symbol, She was an agent. Olsen also added. I think it's great that we get to observe the significance of Martin Luther King's birthday and that it was made into a national holiday. I think he also wouldn't mind us extending thanks to some of the women that helped him make such relevant and important changes in helping him further his cause. ...

  • Ella Baker was a charismatic labor organizer and longtime leader in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She believed the movement should not place too much emphasis on leaders.
  • Septima Poinsette Clark, often called the “queen mother” of civil rights, was an educator and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People activist decades before the nation’s attention turned to racial equality.
  • Fannie Lou Hamer, a Mississippi sharecropper, was beaten and jailed in 1962 for trying to register to vote. She co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party and gave a fiery speech at the 1964 Democratic National Convention.
  • Vivian Malone Jones defied segregationist Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace to enroll in the University of Alabama in 1963 and later worked in the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department.

November 12, 2007

Just 'Cause

My favorite clips from La Haine and Do the Right Thing. There's no way you can miss the social commentary on the state of race relations, the ways in which young urbanites get through their day and their disenchantment with law enforcement, or the fact that these matters still apply today, unfortunately. I'm sure Dog the Bounty Hunter would agree that the dialogue needs to remain open.

October 22, 2007

Full Speed Ahead on the Ignoramus Express

This is why race matters continue to fester. And why I become a little more bitter (with a dash of militancy thrown in for good measure) and a little less hopeful. Racism and bigotry in varying degrees continue to percolate, because many members of the majority refuse to acknowledge or accept the fact that people with dark skin, are not intellectually inferior. And have the capacity to excel and be successful. People like this piece of shit are archaic (but unwelcome) artifacts, that need to be buried for good with the rest of the fossils. UGH! Maddening!

September 08, 2007

Re-birth of a Nation

"the greatest americans have not been born yet they are waiting patiently for the past to die. please give blood" -Saul Williams
During the summer of August 9, 2006 in Sound Beach on Long Island, a heated confrontation at a party- (where he was accused of threatening to rape a young white girl some months prior to the summer celebration)- prompted Aaron White, a 19 year old Black teenager to leave sans argument, after it was demanded that he do so. On his way home (nearby Miller Place, a predominantly white community), Aaron exchanged a series of angry cell phone calls with 17 year old Daniel Cicciaro, who alerted Aaron White that he was coming to his home. Drunk, Mr. Cicciaro with four of his friends in tow (all white), proceeded on with the threat of their presence. All five angry teenagers pulled up in front of the Whites' residence in two cars shortly after 11pm and were greeted by Aaron White and his father, John White via the garage. Father and son felt threatened enough to arm themselves for the impending showdown. Yelling ensued, in which Cicciaro and friends allegedly hurled racial epithets and refused to leave. At some point during the melee, Mr. White (father) shoots Daniel Cicciaro in the face with an antique handgun he inherited from his own grandfather. Daniel Cicciaro is felled by the gunshot, and is announced dead upon arrival to the emergency room. John White- who moved his family to their dream home on the North Shore in 2004- is described as a harding working "upstanding citizen" with no prior police record and who has never committed a crime in his life. He expressed deep regret and sorrow toward the Cicciaro family, claiming the incident was an "accident' and that he never meant to shoot the young man. That his only intent was to protect his family and scare his son's pursuers away from his home. John White was charged with manslaughter and criminal weapon possession. Internet users would then blow online news forums up with hateful racial epithets upon hearing the father's fate. Including cries for John White to be hung from a tree. While the outcome of the altercation is tragic, indeed. Can one blame John White for protecting his family and his son? The teens were unarmed, yes. But alcohol, bravado, hate speech, anger... Perhaps Daniel would be alive today, if he and his friends hadn't tried to recreate some vigilante style style of revenge. It's purported that during the 911 call and the race to get young Daniel to the hospital, his friends were overheard (through the phone) spouting off even more contemptuous race rhetoric. ...
Miles away, in Jena, Louisiana racial tensions are also brewing. Reaching their peak on August 31, 2006 after a black male freshman asks the Jena High School principal if he could sit under the shade of the "white tree" (where most of the white students usually convened amongst themselves). The principal suggested that students could sit wherever they wanted to. Three white students disagreed however, because the next morning three nooses were found hanging from that very same tree. The three students were later found to be guilty of the infraction and were up for expulsion... which the school board and superintendent promptly overruled. The superintendent would later trivialize the threat as a joke, as opposed to a threat against Black students' sensibilities. The school administration would later fail to report the incident to the police or the FBI (such brazen incidents can and should be reported as a Hate Crime). The decision and subsequent indifference would cause racial animus to reach a fever pitch. A series of disagreements, racially charged fights, and arson would soon occur over the course of three months. Black students would continue to grow disenchanted and slighted by the school's administration and local law officials. These disagreements would eventually culminate in the assault of a 17 year old white student named Justin Barker, perpetrated by 6 Black Jena High School students: Robert Bailey, Mychal Bell, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Theo Shaw, and an unidentified minor. Barker allegedly hurled racial epithets, a charge his family denies. Barker was taken to the hospital and treated for a concussion, bruising, and various other injuries and released two hours later, in time for a ring ceremony. The Jena Six, however were arrested and charged with aggravated assault. The overzealous District Attorney would then decide to increase the charge to attempted second degree murder which could result in the defendants being imprisoned past age 50. This blow prompted outrage from the Black residents of Jena, because the charges were disproportionate to the crime. On June 26, Bell's sentence would be reduced to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated second-degree battery. According to my research, a deadly weapon would've needed to be used, to warrant being charged with such. The DA argued that Mychal Bell's tennis shoes he wore during the day of the assault and kicked Barker with, were deadly weapons. The all white jury agreed. The other defendants' charges would eventually be reduced, leaving Mychal Bell to remain in jail, facing 22 years in prison. All are waiting for their day in court, which will happen later this month. So many conflicting accounts and mishandling of this case. The public outcry and online groups supporting the Jena Six are warranted. The case has garnered national attention and has drawn the ire and support of black leaders and organizations. Jena's Black community are skeptical that the boys will receive a fair trial. I mean after all, their wariness is justified considering the glaring segregation and aloof attitudes toward the "noose" incident. The Jena Six should indeed pay if they assaulted Justin Barker. But they should pay with a sentence that matches the crime. Most murderers and repeat sexual molesters get off with with less time. How much responsibility do Jena High School administrators bear, by deciding not to address the root cause of the issue to begin with? They, in essence, instigated a terrible situation by choosing not acknowledge it. A prank is stealing the school mascot or T.P.ing the halls. Hanging nooses, racially charged graffiti, and the like are not mere pranks. It's hateful propaganda that has no place in the school system or anyplace else... not in this day and age. It's frustrating that in 2007, issues of race still abound. Technology, the current cult of personalities, media, and celebrity help exacerbate hateful language and inane rhetoric. The structure of most institutions and a dubious this White House administration continue to disadvantage many ethnic groups by fanning the flames of xenophobia, racial profiling, and not accepting that we're in the midst of the 21st century! A multicultural era, where we should be evolved by now. Instead, we're slowly regressing. Most of us are still scratching our heads over the outcome of Hurricane Katrina. As much as I'd like to think we'll reach some sort of resolution on race matters, the fact is, I don't think there will ever be a workable medium. Period. That would require cooperation from the powers that be. That would require those same powers that be, to relinquish some semblance of control by distributing justice and equality fairly and accordingly. Fat chance of that ever happening. Divide and then conquer. The most antiquated (and seemingly effective) method in the book. ... Why do hate and growing racial disparities still continue thrive and fester? The Jena Six deserve a fair trial plain and simple, and are being railroaded. P.S. I'm dying to hear Ann Coulter and Bill O'Reilly weigh-in on the Jena Six situation, if they haven't already.

May 25, 2007

Keeping Our Head Above Water...

Yesterday, after I was settled in at home from work, I caught an episode of Good Times on the TV Land network. Florida (matriarch of the Evans clan) came home, excited and breathless... ready to share with her family that she had just enrolled herself back in school, in hopes of obtaining her GED. Before she could relay the good news to her family, father James [Evans] interrupted, chastising her for not listening to HIS good news first. He had been hired for a better paying job with a construction company as a foreman, and the opportunity would possibly allow him to move up. Excited, Florida heaped praise upon her husband, before telling her family that she was back in school, and may finally have the opportunity to get her diploma after having dropped out in the 10th grade. Thelma, J.J., and Michael were ecstactic and hugged their mother. James (who dropped out of school in the 6th grade) on the other hand wasn't thrilled and a dark look came across his face. Suddenly he became discouraging and somewhat insulting... commenting, "Everybody knows that you can't teach an old dog new tricks!" He suggested that best friend, neighbor, and modern woman (for the time) Willona was the one, undoubtedly, putting such nonsense, as going back to school, into Florida's head. James also demanded to know what she planned on fixing for dinner. Willona proudly told James that she had finished school, got her diploma, and that it afforded her the opportunity to work at a clothing boutique. Florida challenged James (with Willona's encouragment) that if he tried to stop her from achieving her goal, he was gonna be faced with "One hell of a fight!" from her and suggested that she wouldn't be able to improve the quality of her (or the family's) life if she didn't see her education through to fruition. It was an intense episode. Due to my getting up to get a glass of vino and some Ramen, I missed the end. Good Times was filmed during the mid 70's, which wasn't that long ago. That particular episode, where James discourages Florida's desire to improve herself by turning into a chauvinist extraordinaire... brow beating and insulting his wife's desire to excel, prompted me to think about how difficult women... black women (as well as other women of color) in particular, had it during that time (and how difficult it still can be for us). I'm reminded of the whole concept behind (and need for) the womanist movement, encouraged by author Alice Walker and adapted from her book: In Search of Our Mother's Garden: Womanist Prose. The concept of womanism came to be, because women of color were left out of the mix during the feminist movement... which dealt largely with issues pertaining to white, middle-class women; and focused predominantly on suffrage and sexism. Racism and classism were not issues they related to or felt compelled to fight against. Womanism paints a portrait from the perspective of black women. When discussing issues of race or classism, the focus tends to be about the oppression of black men. Sexism tends to chart the plight and suppression of white women and how they overcame their struggles. It's rare to find literature that deals specifically with the oppression, suppression, and plight of black women, specifically. There are Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, but how many other black women have traveled tumultuous roads, paving the way and fighting for civil rights and liberties for women of color? We grapple with sexism, classism, and racism. Throw sexual stereotypes based on ethnicity into that equation, thanks to the rump shaking featured in rap videos and the media's portrayal of us, and you begin to understand WHY the Don Imus incident caused such an uproar, after he described the Rutgers University women's basketball team as being "nappy headed ho's." Many people seemed flummoxed about the furor that statement incited. Some martyrized him, saying that his constitutional right to free speech was being infringed upon... which is true, but so is our right to freely be WHO and WHAT we are, without having to continously apologize or go through this multi-step assimilation process, because people aren't happy with how we look. It's maddening, and I'm sick to death of it. Snoop Dog weighed in on the Imus controversy, by justifying his (and other rappers') use of the term "ho's", after the rap community came under fire (or were scape-goated) for desensitizing the masses to the use of the word ho'. Snoop suggested that it was okay for rappers to disrespect certain types of women by calling them the ugly name, because they're referring to the ho's living in the projects, not "a successful basketball team." That didn't really do much to help our cause, now did it? It's a neverending battle, particuarly when you consider that we already have 3 strikes against us. I think of some of my own personal struggles, particularly since I wear my hair natural, I carry around an ample rear end, and I constantly have to defend the reasons WHY I don't act like [insert stereotype here], WHY black women aren't one- dimensional, and WHY I'm not going drop my shit like it's hot for some ignoramus who has OD'ed on videos shown on BET... or WHY I want you to kiss my ample rear, when you pigeonhole me and women of color or chastise me for my blackness. I will gladly continue to fight the good fight and refer to myself as a 21st century womanist.

April 05, 2007

A Bus Tale and Random other Gripe

Being a rider of public transportation there is one trend that I wish would end. It's usually (in my experiences) apparent in the early A.M., this trend. An obnoxious fetor that seeps right into the heart of one's olfactory nerve... finding a comfy little spot to nestle in for the duration of the morning, no matter how much you blow your nose to get rid of the stench, post ride. A fierce kind of musty B.O. ... dancing a fervid tango with stinking morning breath. The two smells mixing betwixt and between one another, finally creating a noxious parfum not likely to be bottled and sold in any fine department store or boutique. Is it so hard to brush your teeth, floss, gargle and scrape your tongue in the morning? More importantly, to soap up the ol' P.T.A. or D. ? (I'll let you figure out what P.T.A. and D represents). Soap and water, followed by some deodorant, never hurt anybody, well no bodies that I know of anyway. A mint, some Orbit, a spritz of binaca... it's all relative and these minute details tend to work a lot of the time. These smells can be distracting and can intercept your thoughts, particularly when someone pops a squat right next to you, breathing in your direction, burning the fine hairs in your nose and melting carefully applied gloss, no matter how far your turn your face away. *sigh* Since when did leaving your house, smelling like hot trash on a hot, humid summer morn, become all the rage?? Perhaps I didn't receive the memo or some coded language got lost in translation. Anyway, I went on a job interview today (at a law firm) and did not come away with a soothed soul. The interviewers were rather, well, rude. I had no idea who they were, because they never identified themselves. Neither of them shook my hand pre or post interrogation, they were dressed rather inappropriately, and they didn't strike me as being experienced in the interview department. I had my coat on during the whole ordeal, which I quickly brought to a close. I left it on purposely. Neither of them asked me to take it off nor did they offer me a place to hang it. The pay sucked, and is slightly less than I make now. They offer a 401K plan, major holidays off, and insurance coverage. That aside, they were basically wanting me to start STAT. One of the primary things that turned me off the most, was when one of the interviewers spoke ill of the person that left the position vacant. Saying she wasn't fast enough, and just did not "work up to par." Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I've been on enough interviews and to enough workshops of the like, to know that during an interview, you aren't supposed to trash your former place of employment, when asked why you left. I assume the same rule would apply those conducting the interview as well. According to this site You're supposed to put the candidate at ease, greet us warmly, introduce all members conducting the interview, and give the candidate time to think about the answers to questions you've asked us... those suggestions among a bunch of other, pertinent and professional ones. Needless to say, they were vague and brusque in their questions as well as to their answers to mine... basically wanting to know if I could "cut and paste" on the computer (who can't??) and if I work fast. Long story short, these unpleasant, twisted and mealy mouthed C.U.Next Tuesdays, wanted to hire a work horse to labor for chump change, who would keep her gob shut, not make eye contact, not develop any work rapport with colleagues, and to not ask too many questions about the tasks. I think I'm going to decline and resume my search.

March 30, 2007

Chocolate Jesus

I'm flummoxed, because I don't understand why Catholic organizations, churches, and the Vatican don't get this up and arms over pederasty and abuse against young children, perpetrated by some of their priests. Artist, Cosimo Cavallaro caused an uproar with his chocolate Jesus sculpture, which he christened, "My Sweet Lord." Art, birth control, women's bodies, women's issues, sex, gay marriage, ... Slowly and surely, the religious right and other fanatics are trying to desperately bring us back to our puritanical roots, and have a monopoly over the civil and constitutional rights of the masses. I feel it in my spirit.