My friend linked me to this beautiful article on why some of us take GPOY’s. It’s short, poignant, and very well worth the read.
…I live in a world where either body privilege or race privilege is always against me. So I point my camera at my face, most often when I am alone, and possibly bored, and I click; I upload it to instagram, and I hold my breath because the world is cruel and I am what some would call ugly, but I don’t see it. At first I clicked so I could see what others saw, but I don’t. So now I click and post and breathe, waiting for others to see what I see: beautiful dark skin, Afrika’s son, a dream un-deferred, pretty eyes,and nice lips, and a nose that fits my face; I want them, you, to see that I am human, and there is a reason why I got to this size, but I owe you no explanation or justification for any part of my existence I owe you no explanation or justification for my smile or my swag or my selfie.
…I owe you nothing, but I owe myself everything.
<3 <3 <3
- 70 Percent of Anti-LGBT Murder Victims Are People of Color
- While people of color make up about 30 percent of the United States’ population, they account for 60 percent of those imprisoned.
- Report: Immigration Status aRace Affect Domestic Workers’ Pay
- Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders. The U.S. Sentencing Commission stated that in the federal system black offenders receive sentences that are 10 percent longer than white offenders for the same crimes.
- Marijuana Prohibition Turns 75, Blacks Three Times More Likely to be Arrested Than Whites
- According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
- A number of states have bans on people with certain convictions working in domestic health-service industries such as nursing, child care, and home health care—areas in which many poor women and women of color are disproportionately concentrated.
- African Americans were twice as likely to be arrested and almost four times as likely to experience the use of force during encounters with the police.
- The prison population grew by 700 percent from 1970 to 2005, a rate that is outpacing crime and population rates. The incarceration rates disproportionately impact men of color: 1 in every 15 African American men and 1 in every 36 Hispanic men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men.
- [TW: Rape] Canadian police accused of abusing native women
- CNN breaks down the numbers: > Nearly nine out of 10 people “stopped and frisked” under a controversial New York Police Department policy in 2011 were African-American or Hispanic.
- The War on Drugs Is Really a War on Minorities
- Martin Luther King assassinated by US government: MLK civil trial decision
I will tell you a story. It is mine, but not alone
I was given a name.
I was given a body
Pronouns in various languages
clothes, narratives, a past, and a projected future
I was expected to be present, to accept
a life chosen for me, a way
a certain walk
and ways to talk
ways to act, up
and erect, in the world
“I’ve been required to justify my presence.”
“Once upon a time I was a boy”
Once upon a time I was a girl, perhaps as well.
I changed my name.
It came free of charge when I changed my citizenship.
How much does it cost to change one’s identity?
What is the worth of a piece of paper?
What is the worth of a single character?
What must I prove, and to whom?
told me to be a real man
As he had been told to be a real man
by others, real men, who were told to be the same
What is a real man?
What is a real woman?
Is it to look the part?
To have “working” body parts?
A way to dress, to be, to act in the world?
How does a real man sleep?
How does a real woman sleep?
How does a real man wake up in the morning?
How does a real woman brush her teeth?
“You don’t have to be the man anymore.”
Society, in its incessant need to put us in neatly categorized boxes
and make us sit still, has failed
for we are truly
always in transition.
Kiam Marcelo Junio
February 5, 2013
Sexy, Masculine, Asian hotties - something American mass media doesn’t ever show.
What is perpetuated instead? The image of the Asian male as a clown, comic relief, smart/wise but non-sexual, non-threatening, safe, weak, small penis, etc.
Lost’s Daniel Dae Kim and Naveen Andrews are probably the only exception.
Kiam Marcelo Junio, 2012
“I don’t know why humans are obsessed with grids and squares and straight lines,” my roommate comments from the living room. I am in the kitchen, making vegetable stir fry, cutting tofu cubes into smaller cubes.
“Nothing in nature is like that.”
“Maybe we’re aliens,” I reply. “It could explain why we think we have dominion over the earth. We always want order, but really, we just destroy everything.”
I toss the tofu cubes into the oil and they sizzle in the heat, slowly, surely, turning a nice golden brown. I think about how the soy particles coagulated to form these masses which I will gnash between my teeth, break apart in my body, and expel.
I wonder to myself if creation and destruction are human impulses. Have we only characterized aliens as monsters? Or are we the monsters ourselves? As a species, we’ve managed to royally fuck up this planet to near disrepair.
My roommate and I are really hoping for the apocalypse this year. Fingers crossed.
Let me tell you a story I heard repeatedly as a kid in the Philippines. Sometimes, no joke, I would hear this in church.
God was making man from clay. He fashioned a figure, placed it in the celestial oven, but took it out too soon. And so it became a white man.
He fashioned another figure and put it in the oven, but forgot about it, till it was dark and toasty. Thus it became a black man.
Then he carefully sculpted another and placed it in the oven, this time watching closely, waiting attentively, until his creation was perfectly baked. He took it out, and
Oy! Ang galing talaga! It’s a Filipino man.
“In order for there to be m
t from above to
there has to be a c a p i l l a r i t y
e at the same time.”
Last year in Costa Rica, I was volunteering at a farm with my sister.
We built benches and walls out of dirt, clay, dried grass, and cow shit.
Here’s a video of it: http://youtu.be/ULRDV7mfWX0
a most human contradiction
with the ability to exert
a propensity to control
a living history
unstable and perpetually changing
in a constant state of becoming
eyeless and voiceless
almost living beings
with a peculiar sense of independence
to leap from the ashes
a vigorous free spirit
forever set and doused
but not everlasting
My hands, small I know, but they’re not yours, they are my own
But they’re not yours, they are my own and
I am never broken
When it’s all over, what vestiges we would have left behind!
Freeways, skyscrapers, underground railroads,
Bathhouses, coliseums, shopping malls, and so much goddamn plastic!
They will study our majesty for millennia to come.
The Grid Book, Annah B. Higgins, “Introduction” and “Chapter 1: Bricks”
It was obvious to me from my first erotic dream at the tender age of seven. From that first secret and shameful stirring deep within my lower body, I knew that I was destined to be an easy lay. And it must have been obvious, though perhaps a little later, to my peers as well. I was fourteen years old the first time one of my classmates called me a “gay cocksucking [sic] whore.” This would become a trend amongst my friends and acquaintances over the next half-decade: from the barrage of anonymous internet insults in the tenth grade to the random man last week who grabbed my ass and attempted to pull me into an alley, it seems that my sexual availability is common knowledge to the wide world.
So if I am such a slut – if this Asian, transgendered, feminine body of mine is such an easy mark – why is it so dang hard to get laid in this town?
There is no shortage, of course, of men on the streets, in clubs, bars, and grocery stores, who, alerted by the swish of my skirt or the sheen of my lipstick that I am “that kind of boy,” catcall from their cars at night and leer at my legs as I pass by. On any given weekend, I can don a tank top and tight jeans, go to Unity, and shimmy my hips for a few hours until a white man approaches me and says, “Ni hao, I love Chinese boys, and by the way are you a bottom?” But if what I am looking for is a liaison of the flesh that also respects my mind, body, and choices, I had better prepare my heart for a long and lonely hunt.
For most of my life, I did not know the difference between sexual objectification and sexual intimacy. I believed that being valued or loved meant the same thing as being fuckable, and as an Asian boy-child who wanted to be a girl, I knew that my body was less lovable by far than those of the beautiful white men I fantasized about. (How many times have I heard those fateful words: “I’m sorry, I’m just not into Asians?” How many Craigslist ads and dating site profiles proclaim: “No femmes, no fats, no Asians or Blacks?”)
Yet these men who move so easily and fearlessly through the sexual realm are not sluts. Their bodies – white, cisgendered, born with all the physical abilities that society favours, masculine, valued above all things – are not construed as something constructed for the pleasure of others, that can be bought and sold, summoned, or dismissed at a whim. No, the body of the slut is feminized and racialized; the slut’s face is the face that dares to gaze back without deference at the judgement of a world that deems it ugly, unlovable, devalued below all things.
Marginalized peoples are not meant to have access to sexual capital – we are not allowed to take pleasure in other people’s bodies, or in our own. If we are of colour, then we had better not presume to make love to whites – except to please them. If we are queer, we dare not desire straight bodies. And if we are women, we should not want to make love at all. In being combinations of these identities, our access to sexual pleasure, to that blurry line between objectification and intimacy, diminishes ever more.
It is in the wanting that we become sluts. It is our desire, even our capacity for desire – that secret-shameful stirring deep in our bodies – that threatens the hierarchy that keeps our bodies enslaved in sex. In surviving rape, in showing pride in our beauty, in wanting to be lovable and fuckable and everything in between, we challenge the domination of those who hold the keys to sexual power. And so we are insulted, assaulted, leered at on the streets and dragged into alleyways. Beaten down that we might submit once more.
I can be only what I am destined to be: an Asian man who dresses and has sex like a woman. Who wants sex, fears it, who still searches long and lonely nights for that hook-up, affair, relationship, in which I can be whole. It isn’t easy. It never is. Still, I want it. Still, I search.
Ryan Thom’s Memoirs of a Gaysian is a column about life, love, and intersectional oppression. Ryan is a writer, performance artist, and lifelong slut. Contact them at email@example.com.
Source: (McGill Daily)
World’s richest woman says poor should have less fun, work harder (via L.A. Times)
Just in case you were beginning to think rich people were deeply misunderstood and that they feel the pain of those who are less fortunate, here’s the world’s wealthiest woman, Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, with some helpful advice.
“If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain,” she said in a magazine piece. “Do something to make more money yourself — spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working.”
Ignorance really is bliss, isn’t it?
Important thoughts about dress, and cultural appropriation.
I’m also trying to navigate this, as it’s a difficult subject.
A few of my own thoughts:
- I believe there are different degrees to cultural appropriation and what is or is not okay, most influenced by one’s awareness of the cultural significance of what’s being appropriated.
- Wearing a warbonnet / native headdress for fashion is never okay. It’s a cultural item that’s highly specific, worn by people who deserve to wear it. If you haven’t earned a warbonnet, don’t wear it.
- The more one realizes that what one is doing and/or wearing may or may not be affecting a marginalized group, the less desire there will be to actually do/wear that thing or item.
- If one wants to wear a bindi, maybe do so with awareness of its significance and specificity to that appropriated culture?
- The jeans argument is not really sound. Jeans were made for utilitarian use, and not specific to one culture. What are the power dynamics of jeans?
- There are wide differences between cultural appreciation, appropriation, and exploitation.
- I have no answers, just thoughts and my own personal guidelines about this issue.
I am a queer Mexican/American fashion designer working in Paris. My friends are also fashion design students.
Yesterday I was walking in Paris with two (white, cis, female) european friends of mine. Some African men walked by is really beautiful batik suits/ shirts/ robes, and we all swooned…
WHO IS JERRY BLOSSOM?
Jerry Blossom is an Asian person of ambiguous descent. He is often seen wearing a blonde wig, and uses foundation that’s at least 3 shades lighter than his natural skin tone. Outwardly, he seems to be desperately trying to fit in to a Western ideal image of blonde hair and fair skin, and yet he does so critically and consciously. He is not “playing whiteface” or acting as or pretending to be, a white person, but rather, embodying (or failing to embody) the standards of global whiteness.
His manner of dress is often that of a dandy, appearing to be upper-middle class male, although he also plays with wearing women’s garments.
Jerry is a social chameleon, able to ingratiate himself in the favor of people from varied personalities, gender ambiguities, and social classes. By changing his personality with each encounter, however, “the real Jerry Blossom” remains a mystery.
Jerry is also an entertainer and somewhat of a celebrity in Southeast Asia, and is the current face of Eskinol, a skin lightening facial cleanser popular in the Philippines.
BLESSED ARE THE BOI DYKES
BLESSED ARE THE PEOPLE OF COLOR MY BELOVED KITH AND KIN
BLESSED ARE THE TRANS
BLESSED ARE THE HIGH FEMMES
BLESSED ARE THE SEX WORKERS
BLESSED ARE THE AUTHENTIC
BLESSED ARE THE DIS-IDENTIFIERS
BLESSED ARE THE GENDER ILLUSIONISTS
BLESSED ARE THE NON-NORMATIVE
BLESSED ARE THE GENDERQUEERS
BLESSED ARE THE KINKSTERS
BLESSED ARE THE DISABLED
BLESSED ARE THE HOT FAT GIRLS
BLESSED ARE THE WEIRDO-QUEERS
BLESSED IS THE SPECTRUM
BLESSED IS CONSENT
BLESSED IS RESPECT
BLESSED ARE THE BELOVED WHO I DIDN’T DESCRIBE, I COULDN’T DESCRIBE, WILL LEARN TO DESCRIBE AND RESPECT AND LOVE
okay, i’m obsessed with yoga.
Okay, I’m obsessed with pointing out the inanity of people parading around unaware of the social inequalities surrounding them and their own status of privilege and how they continue to perpetuate colonialist ideals by flaunting their (most often) white bodies in yoga postures in disadvantaged locales to the blurred faces of poor, uncultured, or exotic local residents as a display of appropriation and subjugation of culture and abuse of power.
My fellow yoga bitches, please don’t be dumb. Please.
I know it’s still Christmas, and we all should be thinking positive, being happy, and stuffing our faces and stomachs to the brim. But when ready, please read the article linked. And think how we each have made an impact on the world, and how we have been framing our minds around our personal and social environments. Then, begin to think how we can prepare ourselves for the coming year/s, and what changes we need to make in our own lives.
This is a crucial point in American, no - World, history. We can’t continue ignoring the problems as they surmount. And change always begins with the individual.
It is the cult of self that is killing the United States. This cult has within it the classic traits of psychopaths: superficial charm, grandiosity and self-importance; a need for constant stimulation; a penchant for lying, deception and manipulation; and the incapacity for remorse or guilt…
…And this is also the ethic promoted by corporations. It is the ethic of unfettered capitalism. It is the misguided belief that personal style and personal advancement, mistaken for individualism, are the same as democratic equality. It is the nationwide celebration of image over substance, of illusion over truth.
A short essay I wrote for my Art History class. I could keep going on this work alone, but there was a 2-page limit.
On Felix Gonzales-Torres’ “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross, L.A.)
Perhaps one of the more curious works of art on display at the Art Institute of Chicago’s Modern Wing is a small mountain of multicolored candy piled up in a corner. To the uninitiated, it serves a curious purpose, to highlight how strange and fun contemporary art can be, to remind us of its reach past the frame and into the viewer’s experience of an art work. According to the display placard, “adult visitors are invited to take a piece of candy,” (but “only one piece, please,” as a security guard alerted me). The viewer can interact with the art work in a multi-sensory form. Besides seeing it, they can feel it, consume it, taste it, enjoy it in multiple ways.
Upon encountering “Untitled”, the pile of candy gleams under the bright museum lights. The individual pieces of candy - in colors of green, red, blue, yellow, and metallic silver shine with opulence. They almost seem like precious stones: topaz, rubies, sapphires, bits of gold and silver. Piled into a corner, the mound can shift, and there is a mild sense of tension, as if the pile of candy will avalanche down and spread all over the ground. Ironically, this sense of impermanence, along with its location on the floor, and in the corner, where things are often haphazardly thrown, seem to suggest a throwaway quality - the opposite of preciousness. There is dynamic power in this tension, its ambiguity or paradox.
Their materiality - they are sweets, after all - can give a sense of joy to any viewer. Most museum visitors probably do not expect to receive free candy when going to the Art Institute. When tasted, each color corresponds to a predicated flavor (blue seems to suggest blueberry, while the orange orange, and yellow lemon), but all are typical, and are un-named, non-branded. These are nondescript candies, they could have been from any store in the world, or even made in someone’s kitchen. In their lack of embellishment, they become ubiquitous, and therefore, relatable.
We can look at “Untitled” on multiple sensory levels, its visual and sensory experience, but more importantly, we must look at its latent effect, which, like the aftertaste of sugar, an undertone, its meaning, is what truly stays. The title suggests a dedication - it is a “Portrait” of Ross Laycock, Gonzales-Torres’ partner who died of AIDS in 1991. The pile of candy, weighed each day to equal 175 pounds - “corresponding to Ross’ ideal body weight” (Art Institute of Chicago). It is replenished daily, as if to be born again. It is evident that the work is one of deep intimacy and devotion. In various interviews and reviews, Gonzales-Torres is quoted that “his primary audience was his lover, Ross” (Storr, Queer Cultural Center). Effectively, then, in our experience of the shining pile of candy, of its beauty, impermanence, and its lingering taste, we question our own experience beyond the sensory. Gonzales-Torres’ work “was always motivated by his fervent desire for dialogue and community” (Carnegie International). The work raises many questions, which often contradict one another. If this is a portrait, which we then consume, do we not, in essence contribute to the ultimate end? Or does the artist simply seek to share his love with the rest of the world? What does it mean to take in another person, a stranger, into your self? Who is your own Ross?
“Untitled” is a work of art that can be analyzed on its own accord, but is much more powerful, in the larger context of Gonzales-Torres’ ouvre. His works “combine the impulses of Conceptual art, minimalism, political activism and a chance to produce a number of ‘democratic artworks’” (Queer Cultural Center). He has also exhibited other piles of replenishable items including candy such as in “Untitled (Placebo)” as a more direct commentary on the AIDS epidemic that claimed his lover, as well as his own life in 1996.
The Art Institute of Chicago. Collections. About this Artwork.
Carnegie International. “Artists: Felix Gonzales-Torres.”
Queer Cultural Center. Felix Gonzales-Torres.
Storr, Robert. Interview with Felix Gonzales-Torres.
Good looking people get paid more, do less jail time and have more sex than ugly people, and beautiful people get all that but even more so, and if you try to say ugly people don’t exist because ‘everyone is beautiful’ I’d ask you to take it up with Sartre (were he not dead), who not only believed in ugliness as a definite trait but attributed much of his philosophy to his own lazy-eyed, freakshow face and near midget status yet still managed to date feminist icon and all-around social theory genius (and sometime lesbian pedophile) Simone de Beauvoir for years and years and years, not to mention blow minds on the daily, even now, 30 odd years after his death.
There are worse things in the world than being ugly, and most of the great minds of every generation got their thinking and writing done because they weren’t beautiful enough to waste their nights having meaningless sex with other gorgeous layabouts. Very few, if any, renowned scientists or philosophers were beautiful.
All people are somewhat interesting, and most of us have rich and varied intellectual lives or great stores of compassion or other attributes that, once discovered, can make us very wonderful and occasionally beautiful to those who know us, but some people are just plain beautiful, physically, in the fucking face, and that is neither a good nor a bad thing (although studies show it’s usually good for them). It’s just a fact.
(More to read when you click the link above)
I’ve been having this conversation with someone recently, and it’s gotten me thinking about what it means to be beautiful, attractive, or ugly. We can all say that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and perhaps this is true in the deepest, truest extent. But here’s my theory, which I was explaining to a friend last night:
We create our own worlds, and we create this one too. Our minds and selves are universes trapped in physical form. Where does a thought go when you forget it, but somewhere in the wide black space of your own existence?
But we have also all corroborated on creating this physical manifestation of a world we live in. The rules of physics exist because someone thought it, and we have all since agreed upon its reality. This goes for everything, even beauty. There are standards of beauty, which may change from generation to generation, but the concept of it remains the same. And it is why, as linked text mentions, beautiful people receive more privilege. They fit certain standards to which we ourselves have subscribed.
So what happens when you don’t fit these standards of beauty? I would consider myself a fine example for this. I’m short, bald, and I am not an owner of six-pack abs. I do not fit the criteria for what the Western world considers as objectively beautiful - and here we can also agree that different cultures have different standards as well. But in this increasingly globalized world, the Western standards seem to be winning out. However, I’ve learned to love myself regardless. I’ve learned to cultivate other qualities that make me a good, interesting, and perhaps somewhat attractive person.
Something that used to frustrate me as a gay man is how shallow of a culture “the Gays” seem. It always comes down to looks and to another degree, race. Years ago, while browsing through Craigslist personals, or on Adam4Adam, I would lose count of how many times I would read “no fems, fatties or Asians” or something to that degree. Do you know how demoralizing that is? Of course you can brush it away and simply say, “Wow, what an asshole.” But it doesn’t erase the fact of its existence. To be told that you are unwanted cuts to deep degrees, and makes you question yourself, no matter how much you’ve built yourself up. The ego will take a fall.
So is there a solution to this? Depends on what the problem is. For me, the issue was that I felt like a powerful, beautiful, interesting person inside, only limited by this body I was born in. What I’ve done is try to stay true to myself, find people who are willing to corroborate with me in creating a world in which our inner selves speak more to our beauty as humans than how we fit certain criteria, forced upon us by the masses, and to which we, as I’ve mentioned, have subscribed, as well. Unsubscribe! Write your own standards of beauty. Live your own reality. When you can believe in your own truth, it translates to how you operate in the larger sphere, and people take notice. I’m living this philosophy daily.