Game Devs & Others: Tales from the Margins* – Call for Submissions is Open!

In case you missed the announcement, I am editing an anthology for CRC Press, due out in 2018. Submissions open on June 12, 2017 and end on August 15, 2017. Contributors whose work is selected for publication will be paid.

I am writing/editing a book for Focal Press about marginalized folks in games. It will be a series of essays by game developers whose identities intersect and for lack of a better phrase, fall outside the margins of those who usually get to talk about their experiences.I am also seeking people who are adjacent to gaming who could contribute personal essays about their experiences as marginalized gamers.

This book would be a follow up to Jennifer Brandes Hepler’s Women in Game Development: Breaking the Glass Level Cap, released last year.

For details on the submission process, and more about the book, bop on over to this page and if you’re interested, please send in an essay!

 

Next weekend kicks off a super busy month for me!

I’m doing sooo much stuff in April, but it’s cool and I’m excited even if I’m a little tired just thinking about it. That means streams will be sporadic and not on the usual Tues/Thurs/Saturday schedule.

Here’s what I’m up to starting next Friday:

April 1 & 2: Queerness and Games Conference  Los Angeles, CA

I’m doing three things!

1) Gaming as POC: Where the Industry Has Failed Us, Where It Hasn’t and What to Hope For 

2) Microtalks: Out of Sheer Spite

3) Facilitating a round-table on POC in the industry

April 8: GenVidCon, Gender and Videogames  Keynote speaker, San Jose, CA

April 12: Let’s Talk Gaming!  Montreal, CAN

April 17: Guest Lecturer at NCSU

April 18-20: East Coast Games Conference, Speaker in Career track. Raleigh, NC

April 21-23: C2E2, Panelist  Chicago, IL 

My panel schedule for C2E2

29 & 30 April: GX Australia, Boss of Honor , Sydney, Australia

On the value of black women’s work

So yesterday I couldn’t sleep and twitterpated all over about the Safetypin box and the reactions to it. Notably that some dude bro who didn’t know anything about the creators (Leslie Mac and Marissa Johnson)

I collated those over on Medium for anyone who wants to peep  that first. On paying black women for the work we do and the ways people accuse us of cashing in

Today, I had more twitterations on the idea that Safetypinbox HAD to be a 501 c 3 charity or people felt uncomfortable with where the money was going. IE These two black women can’t be trusted. Those thoughts and some more to follow because I am fed the entire fuck up with how people want the benefits without realizing the human cost behind it. What follows are my tweets c/p from 12/6/2016.

I keep seeing people throw out that *should* be a 501(c)(3) charity. Because that gives *them* comfort somehow. Let’s talk.

One, if this was charity work then fine. It’s a service however. Says so right on the website.

spb-not-a-charity

Go read it over, then come back.

Two, do any of these people talking about how easy it is to become a 501(c)(3) know anything about the process? At all? Guessing that’s a no. If you have to file the 1023 form, (30 pages long btw)have the $400 or $850 filing fee & get it done quickly? 180 day window for decision.If you qualify for 1023 EZ filing? Still $275 & 180 day decision window. So it’s not easy to start a charity. But that’s not the issue here.

The real issue is two black women have done the same thing white activists are lauded for & y’all mad.

They are putting a dollar value on the free emotional labor that people expect of black women all day, every day. I should just start posting the requests to pick my brain, get a cup of coffee to get a read on something I get re: games diversity. Y’all expect black women especially to do this heavy lifting for the good of the community, for free cause it’s better for all.

Fuck that

It’s unsurprising to see who has some shit to say in the face of black women going fuck you, pay me for my time & knowledge. Like people who go follow black women, expect to be educated & have their ignorance lifted but won’t drop a tip or support their Patreons. Out here treating us like Hazel, like we’re supposed to hold your fucking hand & let you sip from the Chalice of Wokeness for free!

Nah, we all gotta live. Stop devaluing our labor, our knowledge & expecting a handout to rise beyond your ignorance. Google is free y’all. So stop acting like we’re asking for too much when we say pay up for that time you asked us for. We value our work, our expertise. Since you asked for our help? You must value it too. So put your money where your mouth is or be quiet.

I salute you y’all for getting that money

That said, I had the usual rando’s and well, actually’s roll through my TL. Once I was properly up and about, I had a few thoughts on the people who follow me on various sites, say they learn from me etc. Yet, people don’t value work all the same. Even had someone who inferred I was saying pay me to tweet.

I got nothing to say about that except that added 2+2 and got yarn. If anyone following me thinks that’s where I was going, then leave now. Ain’t nobody said pay me to tweet. For those curious I said the following:

So I’m up and I been thinking. Remember when I asked people why they follow me? Realize what the majority of answers were? To recap: Because they learn something, because they get a POV unlike their own. I.E they get value from my tweets.

Or the articles I write and share here, or the collated, nicely bundled and edited twitterpations I put out on Medium. Still with me? I have over 6700 followers (for now, watch I drop some after this tweet). Some are bots that will drop off & don’t count. Let’s be generous and say 1500 are not real accounts that haven’t dropped off. That leaves over 5500 people reading what I have to say daily.

If half those folks dropped a donation or even supported my Patreon at $1 each? I’d be A-OK. But I guess there’s a line for some. Ok. Same for other black women on here & other platforms. People listen but they ghost out when we pass the hat or ask to be compensated. [this is where some people got stuck and probably thought I was saying pay me to tweet. Which I wasn’t but whatever]

I’m mad but I’m also tired, tired of the expectation of free labor from some. Not everyone does this but it happens too often.

Here’s the thing, no one is obligated to do a damn thing. Ain’t nobody gotta follow me, or donate or support me on Patreon. Point was it would be great if the same people who say they learn from what I say, who say they enjoy my work and consider the other things I do off twitter to be important would throw some coins my way.

It’s been almost a year since I lost my day job, just 9 days away from that anniversary so I’m probably noticing this more keenly than usual. But I’m real tired of black women’s work not being valued. For POC/LGBTQIA/Disabled/Neurodivergent folks to have the burden of free emotional labor dropped on them but when they ask for compensation? Then they’re greedy, not helpful, scamming… it goes on and on.

Just tired and full of thoughts that needed to get out. Consider what you are asking when you ask us for that coffee chat, a quick lunch or a few minutes of our time. The cost is usually higher than what you think.

 

 

Re: Sending me Facebook requests…

Just a note, if you send me a Facebook friend request and the following applies:

a) We have no friends in common

b) I don’t interact with you regularly on other social media platforms

c) I go to check out your page and it’s all posts selling your book/game/what have you, I’m not accepting the request.

d) Or we do have friends in common and you just send me a request w/o some kind of hey, we have a lot of people in common I’d like to add you, or something I’ll likely ignore your request.

I will block you if you keep re-sending the request or try to circumvent my lack of response by contacting me on other social media. If you wish to know what I’m up to, conventions I’m appearing at, etc, then please follow my public figure page.

 

It’s @GaymerX go time!

GX logo

By the time this posts I’ll be in San Jose, CA for GX3 aka GaymerX –  December 11 – 13, 2015

Here’s my GX3 schedule!

I’ll be speaking briefly about my role as Diversity Liaison & on why it’s important to GX to be diverse during the opening ceremonies, Friday, December 11th, 10:00 am GX Talks A

Also something to note, there will be POC Safespace hours at GX3. Full details at the GX3 blog post!

Regarding interacting me with conventions:

Have one handy guide to interacting with me at conventions, totally 110% free of charge. 😛

Overall I am pretty friendly but I do not like strangers touching me, especially my hair. If you try to pet my hair or touch my locs without express permission or invitation it will not end well for you. So just don’t, especially if you like having fingers.

If we are tumblr/LJ/DW/twitter friends but have not met off-line, feel free to say hello and if you ask first I’ll likely give you a hug/want a hug. I’m actually quiet and introverted in off-line life so if you see me fleeing for a quiet space, it’s not  you I am just feeling overwhelmed and need some quiet time. I have a terrible memory so if we have met just once or twice at previous events I might not remember you immediately, please don’t be offended.

I like to take photos, but I will always ask permission before taking them and again before posting them on tumblr, twitter, Instagram, LJ/DW, flickr etc. I don’t mind being in photos, but ask me first before posting them online.

My badge name will be my full name, and I’ll probably add my twitter handle (@cypheroftyr) once I’m there. if you want to chat me up afterward, please ask.

I’ll have business cards with me if one of us needs to dash off after  a panel. Friday the 11th, I’ll be wearing a black #INeedDiverseGames tee and going forward I’ll be wearing some kind of gaming related tee, IDK yet.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

About “Save the Pearls”

So… I’ve had some time to ruminate on this ‘book‘… “Save the Pearls”. I put book in air quotes because this doesn’t deserve to be called a book. It’s a self serving, poor me, white people are OMG oppressed in this far flung, post apocalyptic, fictitious world so this is totally ok, AMIRITE?! oppression fantasy brought to you.

Here’s the “About” blurb. I apologize in advance for any rage you may experience, but I didn’t write this. Bold commentary mine.

Would you betray your loved ones—and maybe your entire race—to avoid a horrible death?

In a post-apocalyptic world where resistance to an overheated environment defines class and beauty, Eden Newman’s white skin brands her as a member of the lowest class, a weak and ugly Pearl. The clock is ticking: if Eden doesn’t mate before her eighteenth birthday, she’ll be left outside to die. (Humanity is fucked then if people who don’t mate by 18 are left to die, shortest dystopian epic ever)

If only a dark-skinned Coal from the ruling class would pick up her mate option, she’d be safe. But no matter how much Eden darkens her skin and hair, she’s still a Pearl, still ugly-cursed with a tragically low mate-rate of 15%.

Just maybe one Coal sees the real Eden and will save her-she has begun secretly dating her handsome co-worker Jamal. But when Eden unwittingly compromises her father’s secret biological experiment, she is thrown into the eye of a storm-and the remaining patch of rainforest, a strange and dangerous land.

Eden must fight to save her father, who may be humanity’s last hope, while standing up to a powerful beast-man she believes is her enemy, despite her overwhelming attraction to him. To survive, Eden must change-but only if she can redefine her ideas of beauty-and of true love.

Acclaimed writer VICTORIA FOYT <—- acclaimed by WHO? blends equal parts suspense and philosophy, adventure and romance, in this captivating dystopian novel set in a terrifying future, which is all too easy to imagine. <—- only if you are a white person who is terrified of becoming a minority and what it could mean if *gasp* there are more of them than us.

The first installment in the Save the Pearls series of fantasy romance novels, Revealing Eden recently won the 2012 Eric Hoffer Award in the Young Adult Category, the Best YA Fantasy Award from Books & Authors, and was runner up in the 2012 Los Angeles Book Festival!

NO, JUST FUCKING NO. Save yourself the trouble and embarrassment of attempting to make a “statement” when all you’ve done is show how very, very little you know of how the world works. This attempt at showing some alternate reality, where white people are oppressed, devalued and dying out because they have a low mate rate because they can’t survive a super heated environment due to their lack of melatonin is perverse.

It’s a sad attempt at showcasing their own little world view (emphasis on little, since their writing and attempts and stemming the tide of their own fail on FB shows how narrow minded the author is) and trying to make some kind of … argument for something…

The author has posted a response on the Facebook page, here and many people have responded. It looks like the author is deleting comments that disagree with her post, her book and this whole concept. Here’s what I had to say:

Intent means nothing. Look at the vocabulary used in the book. Coals for dark skinned people, supposedly those that are “Coals”a re more worthy and valuable. Do you understand that coal does not have value except as fuel, something to be used and tossed away? Yet the poor, oppressed white people in this book are still called “Pearls”. Pearls, a semi-precious item in today’s world, something of intrinsic value, that is coveted, and treasured by others. 

The snippets I’ve seen are poorly written, the cover is offensive and you jumping up and down saying I’m not a racist is full of fail. Try harder, do some research into what words mean as well as caste systems, and try again once you have some research, some facts and can do better than this…whatever this is.

In choosing to KEEP TALKING instead of listening to the numerous POC (and non-POC) voices telling her how racist, fucked up, vilifying and fetishizing this thing is, the author is trying the usual tactic of repeating ad nauseum, but I’m not a racist! I’m not a racist! And this goes back to Jay Smooth’s point of how to tell the difference in someone doing/saying something racist, but that doesn’t mean they are a racist.

I’d liked to have given the writer of this fictitious world the benefit of the doubt, but when her responses basically boil down to OMG YOU ALL I AM NOT RACIST, STOP PICKING ON ME. I AM CRYING ALL MY WHITE WOMAN TEARS, WHY CAN’T YOU JUST TRY TO UNDERSTAND WHAT I’M DOING HERE!!!

I can’t do that because of her oh so special comment here:

Conceivably, if the book had not reached the African-American community of readers, if such a category still exists, perhaps there might be some backlash. The first young African American reader who responded to me loved the book. But then, she’s the kind of free spirit who would eschew limiting herself to a single category.”

That gave any inclination I had to be civil in this post went right the fuck out my living room window.

“IF SUCH A CATEGORY STILL EXISTS?” You know what Victoria Hoyt, FUCK YOU. I’ve been reading since before you were thought of you privileged dumb ass. Who the fuck do you think you are to make such a statement? Clearly reading, writing, and comprehension are skills you lack based on the this thing you are attempting to pass off as a serious look at “reverse-racism”, what-if scenarios.

Here’s something for you to read, print, and tack it next to your monitor because you need a lesson in how not to continue to fuck up regarding race issues:

I didn’t mean to and other such nonsense from allies:

http://racismschool.tumblr.com/post/22807040831/i-didnt-mean-to-and-other-such-non-sense-ally

Also, the Invisible Knapsack from Peggy McIntosh is required reading for you (and anyone else dumb enough to think your book is anything but an epic case for race fail).

I’d say just fucking Google it but it’s clear that using research tools and methods and actually trying to sound like an intelligent human being is beyond you, so have a freebie.

Ahem, back to what I was saying… oh yes how this attempt at post apocalytpic dystopia (read white oppression, mandingo fantasy gone wild) is a piece of tripe.

In going back to the site (shudder) to get more reference material I found this “video-log” of the main protaganist. SHE IS IN BLACKFACE, FUCKING BLACKFACE YOU HEAR ME. (video is here, watch at your own risk, I am not responsible for any damage caused after viewing it)

Just… really? Mate rate? Is that what people have been reduced to you in your fantasy world? Mate or die? If that’s the best you can come up with as a plot device, I would skip this tripe anyway but the whole thing about “Coals” and “Pearls” just cements the fact you are naive, privileged and have no clue about real world race issues.

Let me tell you something… words have meaning, they have value. Tossing about words like Coals, savage, beastly in reference to the antagonist who discovers her father’s experiments and tosses her out in the rain forest does not endear me, you want-to-be wordsmith. It shows that you still buy into the savage, hyper-sexualized, black man trope. It shows me that you couldn’t be bothered to try and find some way to describe the superior, darker people in this book without finding a way to still reduce them to nothing by your choice of words.

The fact that whites are described as “Pearls”, something precious, to be coveted and desired, “saved” shows your oppression fantasy quite clearly for the world to see, and it’s ugly. You should cover it up. I also want to know in what world (oops, yours apparently) that the girl used in the YouTube video would be considered ugly? She looks like someone dabbed her in brown shoe polish and she needs a bath but she is not ugly. I suppose there are people who tell her, you’re not bad looking for a Pearl in your book? (my guess is not really).

Someone with some sense, and a red pen should have stopped you when you pitched this idea to begin with. Someone with sense and editorial knowledge should have sat you down and explained how racism actually works in the real world, how the caste system works in the real world before letting you attempt whatever the hell you have let loose on the world.

Congratulations, you have created something I hold in greater derision that 50 Shades of Grey. You have also shown that you need some very harsh life lessons in order to see that racism is more than you conceive of in your attempt to show people the wrongs of racism. You failed Hoyt, seriously, epic-ally failed in Eden.

Also, other people have taken this concept and done it WELL. [Noughts and CrossesBlonde Roots] You should read their books, take notes and once you come out from the cave of Tropes, caricatures and fallacy that your characters reside in, perhaps learn to listen and try again, or not. I’m sure none of us would mind if you stopped attempting to teach people about concepts you don’t even understand yourself.

On respecting the boundaries of your bisexual friends – inspired by Neo’s post

The Microaggression by a bi-woman who had a former school mate assume she MUST have a crush on every woman she knows

“Girl:: Oh hey, so you’re bisexual?

Me:: Yeah.

Girl:: Do you have a crush on me then?

Me:: Oh hey, so you’re straight?

Girl:: Yeah.

Me:: Do you have a crush on every guy you meet?

Girl at my old school upon finding out I was bisexual. Made me feel like there was no hope left for humanity.”

Along with neo_prodigy@ Livejournal’s recent post on respecting gay men’s boundaries here combined with the idiocy of Dan Savage (pick anything he’s said about bisexual’s over the last year) has me full of thinky thoughts about the fallacy that bisexual = I want to fuck everything with two legs.

Let’s be clear on that, just because I’m bi does not mean I want to necessarily fuck everything. I have limits and boundaries as I’m sure you do too. To wit; here are those boundaries & limits so no one can say I never told you so.

1. If you are not bi or lesbian; there’s a 100% probably I don’t want you. If you’re straight, you’re straight and thus off limits (That’s my opinion, YMMV)

2. Even if you are bi or lesbian; don’t assume I want to fuck you. I’m not easy and odds are you are likely not my type.

3. What is my type you may ask? Well the one thing that is an absolute requirement you have to be intelligent… you have to be able to carry an intelligent conversation with me or you are not allowed to ride this ride. All the other stuff is negotiable.

4. Don’t ask me stupid questions about being bi; aka so do you have one of each? Partners are not pokemon, I don’t collect them

5. Don’t tell me it’s just a phase and that I’m really lesbian and will figure it out one day. I’m 38, I’m damn sure this isn’t a phase.

6. Don’t assume I know everything about all bisexuals out there. Just like with other things about me, bisexuals are not a hive-mind and I can’t tell you definitive answers regarding every be-all, end-all things bisexual.

7. Don’t reduce my identity to equal sexual activity. I’m more than who I share my bed with as are you.

ETA: 8. Also: I am not magically straight when I am involved with a man. I am not magically a lesbian when I am involved with a woman. My sexual preferences/attractions don’t change based on who I’m in a relationship with, just like you don’t stop finding tall people attractive just because you’re dating a short person. (via zia_narratora @livejournal.com

Lastly, treat me as a person, as your friend and I’ll do the same for you. Respect me and I’ll respect you. If you can’t do that —–> the door is that way, don’t let it hit you on the way out.

Queer Women of Color Still Face Racism During Pride, Among Other Things (Repost from Spectra Speaks)

In response to mainstream prides everywhere, including both the racism and sexism that pervades the larger gay community, Queer Women of Color and Friends (QWOC+ Boston) hosts OPTIONZ — in its fifth year — tonight, a highly anticipated annual pride party specifically created to provide a space for lesbian, gay,bisexual, transgender and queer women of color and their friends, supporters, and allies during pride. But as excited as I am about QWOC+ Boston’s work in ensuring that we — women of color — are celebrated and visible during pride, that this is not the main subject of my post. If you follow QWOC+ Boston, you may have noticed on Facebook or any of our other social media channels, that our OPTIONZ party needed to be relocated to a new venue.

The reason for the venue change is that, last-minute, the previous venue, Caprice Lounge, presented me with some new terms: “No Hip Hop music, because of issues we’ve had in the past.”

Now, QWOC+ Boston has had a long-standing relationship with Caprice; we’ve been hosting events at their venue for the past three years. The reason, they gave, for the new policy was due to some recent violence that ensued after a Hip Hop show they hosted. Besides the fact that we’ve never had a single fight break out at a QWOC+ Boston event, it seemed ludicrous that the management had decided to villainize an entire genre of music based on a one-off incident. Something else that really pissed me off is that after informing us that we could not play Hip Hop at our party, we were offered a slew of other genres we could play as substitute including… (wait for it)… Rock music. So while we’re on stereotypes, it’s okay to play angry white man music, but not angry black man music? Wow.

Racist stereotypes aside, I was also only told that we could not play Hip Hop music on Tuesday (just two days before our event), which also seemed shady and manipulative. There had been no mention of this during our earlier communications. So, despite the fact that they’d been pushing for a large venue deposit to be made and incessantly trying to get me to sign a contract that would guarantee them two thousand dollars from the bar (of which I’d be liable if it was not met), I’m just floored that they had the audacity to limit whatever kind of music we played at our party.

So, guess what I said? HELLLL NO!

Okay. Not exactly in those words. I needed to be realistic. Despite the outrage expressed by community members after I’d relayed the incident — including the collective push for us to say goodbye to Caprice, I wasn’t sure it would be possible to find another venue, not during one of the busiest seasons of the year — weddings, graduations, prides etc — with just TWO days to go before the event.

So, rather than be seduced by the opportunity to give Caprice a self-righteous middle finger — and run the risk of having to cancel our pride party altogether —  I told the event coordinator at Caprice to send me the contract with all terms laid out; I would look it over and get back to her. In the meantime, I reached out to other venues comparable in size, and after just one day of mass emails and phone calls, I got lucky.

Market Lounge was big enough to accommodate us. Moreover, they weren’t going to charge us an arm and a leg to use the space (since they had no competing events during our event time). In fact, they seemed excited about getting the business of over 150 pride-ful peeps on a Thursday night. We had struck gold! Or so everyone thought…so  the applause began.

Great decision. Excellent. Yay for saying no to racism! But what I didn’t tell people, was that the new venue had a similar (albeit less overtly racist) dress code policy; a variation of the all too familiar Boston ‘dress code’ which goes something similar to “No hats, no sneakers, no do-rags, no athletic wear… women in dresses/skirts, men in collars etc” was prominently displayed on the wall by the entrance to their establishment. Here’s the picture on the right.

Making a decision based on who was less racist seemed impractical, so we went with this new venue because they were responsive, accommodating of our group last minute, the management agreed to not enforce their dress code policy during our event, and most importantly, they weren’t going to charge us an arm and a leg to bring them business (vs. Caprice that was essentially trying to make us pay them to go against our ideals).

Here’s the thing folks… I’ve been an event organizer for over five years, and I know first hand that most — if not all — downtown club venues have similar racist policies intended to keep “those people” out of their clubs. It doesn’t take a genius to note that these policies are overtly racist. In fact, as you read through the banned items of clothing, you’re almost expecting to come across, “No Black People,” towards the end of the list.

Venue policies are a stark reminder of Boston’s deeply rooted history with racial segregation, but racism isn’t the only issue queer women of color have to deal with.

If I turned my nose up at every venue that had a racist policy, homophobic and/or sexist staff etc, QWOC+ Boston would never have succeeded in pushing the physical boundaries of our community and creating new safe spaces for LGBTQ people of color in the manner in which we have. I daresay our willingness to push through the discomfort of so many tough, frustrating, awkward interactions has created more “ally venues” today for LGBT people of color — and the larger gay community as well as evidenced by a number of organizations / producers hosting events at venues after we’d done so successfully — than if we immediately walked away whenever we faced policies we didn’t agree with.

But this is not to say that we should ignore blatant signs of discrimination. There are venues that I’ll never send a dime of business (and LGBT organizations that I simply refuse to work with) until they’re willing to meet us halfway on the issue of white privilege/racism, male privilege/sexism etc. However, if we are to charter new territory, we must be patient, and more importantly, we must learn to speak the language of the gate keepers. In this case, that means knowing how to use money to send a message.

You should know that once I told Caprice that I was moving the party to a new venue, they came back with an O.K. to play whatever we wanted. This made for a great opportunity to explain that we would NOT be working with them this time around. And whereas, the loss of business may not result in the dissolution of their policy, the owner will remember that he lost a big event — a pride event, big dollars consumed at the bar, ouch — because he dared to broach the subject to the queer women of color who had been repeatedly giving him business for the past three years. (Incidentally, we first worked with Caprice during the second year of OPTIONZ, because we were in a similar situation; the venue we’d been in talks with slapped us with a racist dress code last minute, and wouldn’t budge on enforcing it. Caprice opened their doors to us then, and we’ve been working with them since. Isn’t it ironic, that the venue that has been the most flexible and easy to work with as far as hosting QWOC+ events, is the one being villainized for being racist today?)

I keep going back to the strong push I felt from our community to say F-U to Caprice and stand against racism, and can’t help but wonder if another ism or form of discrimination would have been met with the same level of engagement (and anger). What if I told you that via my work as an event organizer, I’d run into minority-owned/run venues with similar racist music / dress code policies? Can we remind ourselves that in women’s spaces /feminist circles, there is still so much language riddled with homophobia and transphobia? Shoot, I still pray for the day when sexism will be met with as much anger and outrage as racism from Boston’s LGBT community, when the political war being waged against women (via Planned Parenthood funding cuts, the GOP redefining rape etc.) will be treated as seriously by QPOC as they do AIDS/HIV prevention.

It’s easy to call out isms when the perpetrator is perceived to be a straight white man — the icon of patriarchy, which most of us can relate to wanting to take down. But the reality of being a queer woman of color is that you’re burdened with calling out offenses and violations against multiple facets of your identity, and forced to reckon with the harsh truth that your allies in one arena can be your oppressors in another.

Activism, for so many of queer women of color, is a constant negotiation of which ism to address. We don’t have the luxury of snubbing everyone that offends us, or we would have no where to go. We can’t — and shouldn’t have to — fight everyone. As a direct consequence, for queer women of color, standing up for what is ‘right’ in the face of racism, sexism, transphobia, xenophobia — all issues that significantly impact our community — can sometimes mean drastically limiting access to resources that we need as a community. So, whereas we should never compromise our ethics (as in this case — for the sake of a good party), QWOC+ Boston’s work isn’t just about one event, not just about today. I don’t think that I speak out of turn when I say that we all work our asses off so that tomorrow can be better, for everyone.

So, as we march, rally, dance, and speak out during pride, let us not forget those of us who are marginalized within the gay community, those of us who don’t have the luxury of approaching “Equality. No More. No Less,”, per the 2011 Boston Pride theme, as an isolated single issue. Most of the time, I hear louder, more aggressive forms of activism (against one kind of ism) encouraged and celebrated. But today, I feel humble as I reflect on the patience and perseverance that must have been maintained by my mentors and predecessors against so many injustices, that have enabled me to come this far. I celebrate you. I salute you. And I wish you all a happy pride.

WGYB Project is still alive, and we’re still taking your stories

We Got Your Back Project is still alive and still seeking submissions!

I had a chance to talk the project up at Gay Is the New Black? Event hosted by JF tonight. Hopefully this will generate some interest and new submissions.

Can I ask a favor? Can anyone who comes across this post please signal boost this project for me & whereisjoy? We don’t want to see it die but to thrive it needs stories, your stories so that our POC-LGBTQIA youth know that they are not alone and just because someone says its gets better, that it may not apply to them.

Sumbission Info

Submission guidelines are below. If you come across something you think would be good for posting, please email us at wegotyourbackproject@gmail.com or tweet at us WGYBProject on Twitter.

Thanks for your interest in contributing to the “We Got Your Back” Project! We are accepting videos and written statements that share how the lives of LGBTQIA people get better when we have each others back. Give some hope to LGBTQIA youth by telling them how your own life improved. To submit, send an email to wegotyourbackproject@gmail.com We request that posts meet the following guidelines:

Videos: Please keep videos to no more than 8 minutes maximum. If you have a video on YouTube or Vimeo, please submit a link to the video and a brief description.

Length: 2,500 word maximum. (Please note, longer posts may be broken up into several posts on the project)

Language: Feel free to use adult language, however please warn for swearing or other adult and/or potentially triggering language in your post at the beginning. If you do share potentially triggering material, we ask that you use the “more” tag to put it behind a cut.

Permission to repost/share your content: Please indicate to us whether or not you consent to the sharing of your material outside of this project when you submit your post and/or video.

Black is… black ain’t…

Black is beautiful, just so we are motherfucking CLEAR. Black ain’t “less desirable than other races”,

“inherently less attractive than other races”

tumblr_llb9rsnCiZ1qzo0zoo1_500

So… we are in the throes of yet ANOTHER online storm about black folks. Black women’s looks, black women’s bodies, black fathers and the old ass trope of omfg black folks are on the internet too!?! How about that has been dragged out and beaten again for what its worth. (A hint – Not much). I tried to be eloquent and wordsmithy, but you know what? Fuck it, I’m sick of being polite about people telling me how I should feel about how I look.

So many people have waxed eloquently on this topic that I’ll give you links and such… but for what my 0.02 is worth; I’m so fucking sick of being told that I’m not beautiful or attractive or worthy of love and affection because I’m “strong” or career focused or “the strength of the family.”. I’m really fucking sick of the idea that everyone gets a say in how I feel about myself as a black woman. I’m tired of everyone getting to hold up the brown paper bag to check my blackness, and worthiness of having a say in racial debates because I’m fair skinned and obviously “not really black.”

I’m tired of pseudo scientists speculating on the attractiveness of myself and the bounty of black women everywhere. Who the fuck decided that this guys opinion was worth anything to begin with? I don’t even know what an evolutionary psychologist is, do you? Someone explain what that means and then you’d better have a really, really good reason as to why some “evolutionary psychologist” gets a say on black bodies and beauty. I’ll be here, so when you get a clue, come holler at me. Until then, all these faux pop psychologists and arm chair thinkers can shut the fuck up about our bodies, our beauty and everything else in-between.

I leave you with some great articles and a repost of a lovely image snagged from the Angry Black Tumblr.

You Keep Saying Black Women are Ugly Worthless Whores and We Refuse to Believe you by Karnythia

Racialicious: Repeat Offender: Satoshi Kanazawa’s Other Greatest Misses

Angry Black Tumblr: The Article is now gone, but more thoughts

Angry Black Woman: Initial post on this article; noting original title was “Why are Black Women Ugly?”

ABW: Screencap of the article in question, after the title was changed.

Help Con or Bust!

Here are some con_or_bust auctions with very few or no bids. Please bid and spread the word about these auctions!

Con or Bust is administered by the Carl Brandon Society. Learn more.

Make a donation or pay for an item with a PayPal account or credit card (more information)

Here’s a quick primer on how to browse auctions, many of which were posted several weeks ago now. And here are some auctions that have been modified or are neglected—no bids, only one bid, or fewer bids than I think they deserve. Please link this post or the general announcement post far and wide!

Modified items:

* chocolate chip cookies – additional batches offered
* Three Short Story Critiques by Claire Light – updated to include hour-long “meeting” along with critique and marked-up document
* Steam-Powered: Lesbian Steampunk Stories + Artwork by Shweta Narayan – additional poetry offered

No bids:

* character named after you and erotic paranormal trilogy
* Tutoring
* Middle Earth Roleplaying Modules
* Three trivia books about Stephen King
* George Beahm, The Stephen King Story: A Literary Profile
* Shine, Coconut Moon and Jazz in Love, Signed, by Neesha Meminger
* Farlander by Col Buchanan, Wolfsangel by MD Lachlan, and Changes by Jim Butcher

One bid:

* Yarn Lot #4: Grab Bag
* podfic by [info]bessyboo
* Spanish edition of The Warrior’s Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold
* Translation of a Korean text into English
* Coraline Nike Dunks
* Copy of the script for the TV miniseries of The Stand
* Professional Editing/Critique Service
* Fat-Acceptance Books II
* Signed 1st ed. hardcover of Acacia by David Anthony Durham
* Paper Cities (anthology) & Sybil’s Garage (magazine) full run
* Australian edition of Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner
* Print of The Purifying Fire cover art, a Magic: The Gathering novel by Laura Resnick
* Alcestis trade paperback
* ARCS of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by NK Jemisin, Finch by Jeff VanderMeer and The Heir of Night by Helen Lowe

Items I think deserve more love than they are getting (feel free to add your own!):

* Small Beer (Press) Sixpack
* Circlet Press Erotic SF/F Ebook Library
* One-of-a-kind altered fashion doll
* Custom story and character by Mary Anne Mohanraj
* Naming Rights In YA Novel by Karen Healey

Words have power and meaning

Like the rest of the country, I’ve been watching the coverage of the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords at a local Safeway in Arizona. Like others I’ve watched pundits, the local blogger and everyone in between postulate on what motivated the shooter(s)*. I’m horrified at the loss of life, of a nine year old girl who was on the scene because of her interest in the political system, and a judge who stopped by in support of his colleague. I’m also moved by the words, thoughts and analysis of so many people online, who have stopped for a moment and put some thought into what they are saying and bringing some sense to the table in this maelstrom of chaos brought on by this senseless act of violence. I’m no wordsmith, but I do want to throw my digital two-bits in on the subject of words and the power they carry. My words here are not meant as an indictment, sanction or anything of the sort but they are meant to be taken, read, re-read and hopefully they will put some food for thought on the stove today.

First, we (as in anyone who has uttered an unthinking word about someone of an opposing viewpoint, be it political or otherwise) must stop the hate speech. We must stop being so careless with our words, only to be forced to swallow them after tragedy occurs. It’s far too easy to say “Well I didn’t meant THAT!” THAT being whatever act has been done by one or more members of the society; especially if they are in any way encouraged or easily swayed by rhetoric, and the lull of a final solution to what they perceive as a problem in their worldview. Second, It’s far too easy to use words laced with violent intent, and ASSUME that every single person that your words reach will be able to discern between the verbiage you toss about and your actual INTENT. I would hope that the people tossing about such hateful words so carelessly regardless of where they stand in terms of religion, politics, anything would remember the basic lesson of speaking. Do not assume anything about your audience, speak to them as if you are bringing new information to the table and they are learning from you.

Third, call out those that continue the pattern of hateful and violent speech against anyone they are not in sync with. Keep events such as the shooting in Arizona in the back of your mind, the Kennedy Assassinations, the murder of Dr. King and everyone who has taken a bullet because they dared to have a differing opinion than what another portion of society holds. Remember the lives lost over the years because someone felt that they held the key to solving the worlds problems in their hand via violence. Especially if their motivation does wind up being traced back to words said in the media freely and with no regard as to how they are going to be perceived, taken and used by those that may not be able to tell the difference between the reality we inhabit and the reality they inhabit. We must also think about those that have mental illness, those that just may not be well in any sense of the word and how a message such sent by a politician urging people to remove a Congresswoman, dressing in fatigues and inviting them to shoot M16’s? What about a message sent by using a map with bullseyes on it to target your opposition?

(Image posted for reference, and the fact that Palin should not be allowed to scrub this from her sites in the chance that people will forget. The memory of the internet is long)

There is so much power in what we say, the way in which we say it and in this day and age the method of delivery can get your message out there for good or ill in seconds. I repeat, we all need to take what has happened as a lesson in meaning what you say, and saying what you mean. Be clear in your speech, right in your intent and for the good of all of us, consider the places your words will reach, the ears they will fall upon and the minds they will touch. I say this to you politicians, friends, teachers, educators, loved ones, celebrities, sports figures. All of us are responsible for the words, the intent and messages we put out in the world every moment of every day. No one should be afraid to do their job because they could be shot down.

None of us should be afraid to disagree with someone out of fear of retribution by another, or by the person we’ve disagreed with. We really need to wrangle our words, think about their perception once they are out in the ether of the internet, others minds, hearts … this event is already changing how public servants will think about their jobs, how they serve and I’m sure many will rethink public office if merely dissenting with the opinions of others can earn you a death sentence.

Many others have covered this topic with more clarity and more eloquence than I can. I leave you with their words and I urge you to share their words, and think very hard about your own the next time you engage in conversation, especially one in which you plan to disagree with someone about the topic at hand.

Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment on the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Giffords

Cabell Hankinson Gathman:Discussion of an assassination: ableism & the failure of sociological understanding

Letters from Titan: Words Matter

Views Across the Pond: Lessons learnt – The Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords

Join the Coffee Party Movement: On the shooting in Tucson today

Huffington Post: GOP Senator, Rhetoric must be toned down

Maddowblog: This is a democracy, we can’t govern if we don’t respect each other

Introducing… The We Got Your Back Project

So… Joy E. came up with a nifty idea. A project where LGBTQIA youth, straight allies, adults and others could share their stories to encourage and strengthen youth who may be getting bullied, harassed and otherwise mistreated for being who they are. This project will make sure that lgbtqia of color, bisexual and transgendered folks will not be left out of the work of telling their stories and having their voices heard.

Yes, I know some of you are thinking… but there’s already a similar project out there! Well, yes there is but whereisjoy and I wanted to be sure everyone’s voice is heard, that everyone is able to share their story in the hopes it would give strength to others who are dealing with coming out, being out and bullied as well just for being who they are.

This idea is just a wee idea, barely out of the box and we need your help to make sure it thrives. What we need help with is:

Contributors; anyone who falls within the LGTBTQI & A spectrum, allies, anyone who has been touched by the injustice of having their voices silenced or drowned out by the masses.

A couple people to be editors; to help with reviewing content, posting and maintaining the site (which is now a WordPress site). Please note that the site is pretty bare at the moment, and we are adding content, submission guidelines and such over the next couple of weeks.

As the project grows, we hope to have someone who is media savvy, who can talk to the local LGBTQIA media, and deal with the issues that will arise from creating a project similar to one that already exists. Please note that we are not doing this to be in direct competition with the It Gets Better Project, but rather to supplement and give everyone a voice who may not feel as if they will be heard otherwise.

For now, please spread the word about this project, what we hope to do and most importantly the soft launch date of mid-October 2010. In the interim, please leave questions here, if you want your question discussed off site want to have a longer chat, email us at: wegotyourbackproject@gmail.com

So there’s the great idea, let’s make sure it not only learns to crawl but learns to soar.

My two cents on the utter idiocy being displayed around health care reform

I’ve been watching the utter lunacy unfold around the health care reform bill, debates in DC and both those who support and oppose the changes. I’ve seen the teabaggers accost a man with Parkinson’s disease, conservative nutjobs say that Obama is using an 11 year old boys tragedy for sympathy and as a ploy? We’ve also had some pundit suggest that Senator Reid’s wife get put down because of her recent injuries.

I really wonder what the hell is wrong with the people who are so vehemently against healthcare reform? Are they rich enough to endure injury and medical bills without insurance? Do they have money stashed away in case of emergency, enough to cover unexpected surgery or an extended hospital stay? I’m going to go with a resounding NO.  I’m thinking the people who are out in the street screaming about “their tax dollars going to the undeserving” and acting as if the government is siphoning money directly out of their checking account don’t seem to understand that their tax dollars go toward services they may never use, but also towards roads, tollways, schools, and other public services that they use every single day, but would howl to the heavens if they had to suddenly start paying for their mail to be delivered, or their garbage to be taken away.

I’m not sure why these folks can’t see that they could be one medical emergency away from ruin, and healthcare reform, if it existed would help them not be in financial ruin due to sudden illness, a prolonged stay or the toll even a sudden death can take on a family due to funeral expenses. It seems as if they are so focused on not letting illegal immigrants have healthcare, and making sure no one can have an abortion on the governments dime, that they have lost (or to be frank, they never really had a grasp on the issue to begin with) the focus of healthcare reform. The point is to give ALL AMERICAN’S health insurance, not just the ones they deem worthy of being/remaining/regaining their good health.

Yes, I think a good portion of the teabaggers ire is racially driven, since they seem to have come out of the woodwork once Obama was elected and sworn in. You’d have thought the End of Days was upon us with the way they keep going on about wanting a return to the good old days, and wanting “their country” back. No one has stolen your country, no one has moved you to a point in time where whites are disenfranchised and out in the street and blacks are suddenly the majority. Their insistence on pushing back against the President’s (non-existent) Socialism and Communism are making their idiocy plain for everyone to see as well as their racist reasoning for their actions. When you call Congressemen Nigger and even spit at them, your racist ass is showing for the world to see.

But I digress a bit, I was going towards the point that the people the Teabaggers and staunch Rethugs are trying to deny healthcare to are not all illegals and poor, undeserving people. They are young people,that have only minimal coverage via their university or their parents insurance that will cut them off at 22 or 23.  These are folks who are suffering from the economic downturn and have lost insurance after losing a job. Even those that may have insurance but it’s coverage is minimal, and often times things are refused coverage being cited as “pre-existing” conditions or there’s always a loophole that some penny pincher finds to deny someone coverage and they can be destroyed by one medical emergency. I give these examples not just for their truth, but because I know people who are in these situations.  A friend is now facing bankruptcy and fiscal ruin before 30 due to one ER trip, surgery and then back-pedaling by her university insurance on covering any of her care.  Another has been uninsured for years, but dealing with chronic pain, and has to deal with the rather poor treatment of healthcare staff should she run out of medication and needs to seek out more; they have treated her as if she must be an addict, when she simply is in pain and needed help.

Another young woman I’ve come to know of is suffering to the point where she can’t even bathe or dress herself without assistance, but SSI refuses her claims, saying she is able bodied enough to hold several jobs. How blind can our system be to such people? How blind can these people who claim to be such great patriots and arbiters of justice be to see that these are the people that would suffer along with their “enemies” of America that they claim would just suckle from the government teat of free healthcare for all at the cost of their “tax dollars”! What they fail to realize, they have no control, and never did have any direct control over where their tax dollars are spent. As far as I know, all my tax dollars could be funding a neighborhood school that I’ll never utilize, or for a highway in Iowa that I may never drive over, but that doesn’t mean I should be out protesting in the street about not using “my tax dollars” for schools or roads I may never use. It’s stupid, and shows an astounding amount of ignorance on the part of those that would deny their fellow Americans a shot at being healthy, even if they never are sick a day in their life.

In closing off this ramble, I really wish those that oppose healthcare reform would actually take a moment and read through what is being proposed instead of hearing my tax dollars supporting others, that I deem unworthy of basic needs like health, and well being. It sickens me that there are those that would deny another person the right to good health because they refuse to educate themselves on healthcare reform and on what it could actually do for them. See Michael Moore’s Sicko, (and here’s a link to the fact file regarding the films topic) and look up the ways in which companies profit of your poor health before you complain about reforming our broken system; and if you have decent insurance, be very grateful you do have it. Be so grateful that you help pass healthcare reform instead of obstruct it.

Now I’m off to see if reform finally will begin to happen or if the obstructionists will get their way and keep the system broken.

A message from the Average Black Person by Elon James White (reposted w/Author Permission)

“A Message from the Average Black Person”
Via the Huffington Post (Would love to hear what you guys think – Sorry about the cut IT WONT WORK. And if you enjoy this please DIGG it – http://is.gd/1ev4T – and feel free to pass the link along!)

To Whom It May Concern:

Greetings. My name is Elon James White. I’mBlack.

I write this letter on behalf of a lot of people that fall into the category of Average Black People. (Yes, I capitalize it, as if it were a title.) I do not claim to represent them because that would be absurd. I really, truly don’t. I don’t even represent my circle of friends. At any point in time one of my Black buddies will, in fact, tell me to go to hell when speaking on concepts of race, politics, or religion.

I do, however, qualify as an Average Black Person. I am neither a part of the Black intelligentsia, nor do I fall into the category of your garden-variety street Negro. A lot of folks see Black people in one of these two categories. Normally, let’s be honest, it’s the latter.

I don’t qualify.

I do come from “the Hood.” That’s right. I am a born and bred Brooklynite raised in the middle of Bed-Stuy. If you aren’t familiar with Bed-Stuy, perhaps you have never listened to gangster rap. You’re probably also unfamiliar with Jay-Z, Biggie Smalls, or the thousands of songs that yell out “Brooklyn!” and then give a shout-out to Bed-Stuy. It’s fine. Just understand that Bed-Stuy has a primarily negative connotation and for many years was used in boasts to gain respect or fear because it’s an incredibly violent environment.

In other words, you could get shot, son.

Speaking of which, I am the son of a single mother. My father is in prison. My grandfather was a pastor and I grew up in the church. I, without shame, also enjoy fried chicken, watermelon, ribs, and orange soda. I can have an incredibly in-depth debate on the best five MCs ever. My credit isn’t great and I’ve been shot.

With facts like this I qualify as a stereotypical Black person right?

But I am also a computer programmer. I’ve been known to quote Nietzsche. I, on occasion, host dinner parties where I serve five-course meals, including a specialty of mine, White Truffle Tilapia (it’s delightful). I have the entire John Williams discography and wear a backpack that is emblazoned with the Thundercats insignia.

Those with one half of that story shake their head at the sheer mass of stereotypes I carry. Then those with the other half question if I even understand the Black experience at all. Some refer to me as someone who “made it out.” I currently live in Crown Heights. Some say “You’re not like the others.” Most people I interact with are very similar to me.

I am an Average Black Person.

So, as an ABP, I have a few requests:

Media.
Please stop referring to blacks as a monolith. I can’t possibly express to you the different types of Black people that exist. We neither move as an entity, nor do we move as three or four entities. For every Sharpton, there’s a Steele. And for every Sharpton and Steele there are a hundred folks in the middle. What we share is a past, which on occasion helps shape our view on things. Also? Obama is not a unicorn. Please stop acting like Obama and his family are magical in the Black community. Just because some of you may not have seen a Negro like this doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Lots of smart black folk living with their smart mates and their cute smart kids. So please remember. Obama? Not a unicorn. Black people? Not one voice: I don’t care what the supposed Black leaders try to claim.

Supposed Black Leaders.
Please stop speaking for us as if we were a monolith. This is not the 1960s. We don’t need a Martin Luther King, Jr. or a Malcom X. You speak for yourselves and your view on what’s happening. You also can’t police black people. There isn’t an us. Are there issues within the Black community? Absolutely, but it’s not everybody as much as it is certain groups, most time classes that are in need of help and focus. Hence you can’t speak for “Blacks.” There are people who need your help and don’t want you speaking for them. Oh, and for the love of all that is holy, could you please stop critiquing Obama simply to show you aren’t drinking the kool-aid? I get it. You’re sugar-free. Got it.

Critics Of Obama.
Hey, um…guess what Black people are not? A monolith. We are not holding Obama on a pedestal. Some critique him harshly (and personally I feel unjustly) and others love him. This is the case with every president. Obama is not the spokesperson for Black people. He is a symbol of hope. He is a symbol of opportunity in a land where opportunity for us seemed nonexistent. He’s a symbol of a fight where people cried and died and sacrificed in order for the opportunity for him to exist. But his actions are his actions and have to be judged. Just not four months after he walked in the door with one of the worst clean up jobs in the countries history. You may critique him without critiquing Blacks’ ability to critique him.

The hypocrisy of saying we are not One, and yet speaking for the exact group for which I justemphatically denied exists, is not lost on me. Perhaps there are Black people who absolutely want to be spoken for and referred to as if we were one big team. I acknowledge the possibility, but if this was the majority people like Dyson and Smiley would be way more important, and let’s be honest: they aren’t. I hope that my message is clear. After reading this, the next time you talk to a Black person you can feel comfortable in now knowing with every fiber of your being that you have no clue what they think or feel based on their skin color.

But if they’re wearing a Soulja Boy shirt you may disregard this essay and judge them immediately

My $2.00 worth on White Privilege

After discussions, upon discussions where sometimes I feel like the person I’m talking with genuinely “gets it” and many other times where people just can’t/won’t/refuse to understand their privilege, I’ve decided to spell it out for people and hope they actually read, comprehend and think about what’s coming in this post.

What’s about to be said here is based on MY experiences, what I’ve read by other people who have done research on the topic and who have shared their insights with me over the years. This is fueled by hearing one time too many.. but I’m POOR  I can’t be privileged! I don’t treat people like that, stop accusing me of being racist! etc….

Continue reading “My $2.00 worth on White Privilege”

Just so you know…

If you are going to comment on anything here, especially if you want to just argue without PROOF, then you will be mocked, ignored and banned, not neccessarily in that order. If you drop in on posts older than 6 months old, you will be mocked, your comment deleted and banned again not in that order. This is my little corner of the web, and if you don’t like the rules feel free to leave, just close the door on your way out.