merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
So as part of my work on NOW's Combating Racism Committee, I wrote a piece for white allies on how to challenge everyday racism. After some bureaucratic delays and editing by national communications staff, it's finally up on the national website. It did get shortened and changed a little bit, but I like how it came out.

I have somewhat mixed feelings about not having a byline. The piece was my idea and is solely my work, so I wouldn't mind some public credit for it. But on the other hand, the lack of byline makes it seem like the organization's official position is that white folks should step the hell up on this issue, which of course I think should be the case. And my partner pointed out that no bylines seems to be a stylistic choice consistent across the website, so it might seem weird for me to be the exception.

Regardless, I'm happy with the piece and I feel like I've struck a blow for intersectional feminism. Woohoo!

merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
Hey smart folks reading this -

I sit on NOW's Combating Racism Committee. I developed this handout for white allies; my goal is to get it up on the website before the holidays so people can use it as a resource when they encounter That One Relative, that kind of thing. I would really appreciate feedback. Thanks! Big long thing behind the cut )
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
These are nothing resembling complete; they're just things that struck me, so I wrote them down.

From the Feminist Intersectionality panel:
- Ian Hagemann: "Ally" is not an identity you get to keep all the time. You not even have a say in whether you get it.
- Ian on how to be an ally but not speak for others: You can start with an I statement - "I have a different opinion" or "Please don't use that language around me." Or step up and make space - "I'd like to hear what (x) has to say about that" - and then step back.
- Isabel - No outgroup is a monolith. [My reaction to this: one of the concepts I recall most vividly from my social psych courses is outgroup homogeneity bias. So probably this is something we all have to work very, very hard to remember. :( ]
- Betsy - Disability accommodation != accommodation for wheelchairs. If you ask Jesse the K, who's in a chair, and Betsy, who has arthritis, about what they need, you'll get really different answers.

From the Feminist Coalition-building panel:
- Culturally relevant approaches matter. Seriously. All the time. If you ask an Inuit child, "If I have 3 apples and you have 4, how many apples are there," that child will probably not answer, "7." Community values about sharing mean that zie is probably going to say something like, "We can all have some apples." Interesting!
- How to have productive disagreement - Acknowledge that disagreement/discord is inevitable; re-acknowledge basic commonalities; start with agreement/set boundaries on what we won't argue about; commit to having a moderator
- Debbie Notkin - Often what makes us angry is feeling like the other side has all the power and we have no power to speak.
- Argue in the present, not the past.

From the Self-Reflective Revolutionary Panel:
- "Buddha, you are acting out your shit right now." Heh! Read: no one is exempt from the possibility that zie's being an asshole.
- If you get calm, the level of calmness in the universe has gone up.
- Ian - Revolution is a state change which could not have been predicted beforehand - not a logical extension, but a new thing.

From the Slacktivism panel
- Online activism != slacktivism. Online stuff can be impactful and real, and for some folks, it's all they can do. So be wary of judging.
- Offline activism can be sucky and unhelpful, too!

I wrote down many, many things that Ian Hagemann and Debbie Notkin said. Wow, they are smart and I am so grateful to be able to learn from them. I'm SUPER excited that Ms. Notkin is one of the guests of honor for next year, and I'm eagerly anticipating her GoH speech.
merielle: purple passiflora on a barbed wire fence (Default)
tyler clementi, an 18-year-old gay college kid, committed suicide after his roommate streamed video of him making out with a guy. basically, this kid was bullied to death. and he was the fourth this month.

RAGE sorrow sorrow rage rage RAGE. what the everloving fuck is wrong with people? why is it fun or cool or anywhere near okay to torment people like this? and where are the grown-ups in these scenarios? why didn't they see? why didn't they do anything? how do you miss kids acting out blow jobs and anal sex, which in any sane world would count as sexual assault, IN CLASS?

i already cried. now i'm infuriated. so here's what we can do.

- check to see if your city has a queer youth organization. austin has outyouth. see if they have a program going on this. volunteer, join a speaker's bureau if you're able, donate if you can.

- do your local high schools or colleges have gay-straight alliances? if so, see if they need anything: speakers, mentors, supplies, money...

- belong to an organization that is pro-queer? get them involved. have an announcement at your meeting to raise awareness. have a moment of silence at your religious service. make some flyers and pass them out. organize a group to go volunteer at your local LGBT group. pass the hat and raise some money.

- remember that donating doesn't just mean money! donations of stuff (known in the biz as "in-kind donations") are great, too. look at organizations' wish lists - they might need office supplies, web design skills, cookies for their volunteer night... there is almost certainly something within your budget of time and resources that can make a difference.

- US peeps, help GLSEN out with advocacy for the safe schools improvement act.

- US peeps, see if your state LGBT organization has something like equality texas' safe schools initiative. if they do, sign on, go to a lobby day, donate if you can. if they don't, ask why and let them know you want them to work on this issue. help them get going.

- talk to any teachers in your life. ask them if they have ally training or anti-bullying training. if yes, tell them they fucking rock. if no, help them find some. your local GLBT organizations can help. GLSEN also has a great page of resources.

- talk to the young people in your life. offer support to the queer/questioning. ask the straight kids what it's like for queer kids at their school. if it seems like they can handle it/is appropriate, ask them if they know about these suicides and what they think and feel about them. help them think through things. hell, remind them that gandalf/magneto is gay, and he's a damn superhero/wizard/omg ANGEL.

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