- FCKH8 creates a super sarcastic and oddly cheery video “Hey White People: A Kinda Awkward Note to America by #Ferguson Kids,” to sell “racism’s not over but I’m over racism” shirts and claims $5 from each shirt is going to anti-racism charities. The t-shirt slogan is highly suspect and does nothing to support anti-racism but…yeah. Ok.
- After FCKH8 lists Race Forward (Colorline’s publisher) as one of the organizations set to receive a portion of the shirt profits, Race Forward releases a statement on Facebook that basically says “we don’t know these people, they haven’t given us any money and we’re not ok with them using our name to sell t-shirts”
- Mike Kon from FCKH8 posts a super passive aggressive comment on the Race Forward Facebook page, and another on the Colorlines article which essentially say, “we just wanted to use a national tragedy to sell some shirts and make a viral video. we didn’t know that we actually had to care about racism or address issues in order for people to be satisfied. don’t you dare critique my allyship or we’ll just take it elsewhere”
Forty-six million white adults today can trace the origins of their family wealth to the Homestead Act of 1862. This bill gave away valuable acres of land for free to white families, but expressly precluded participation by Blacks.
"how do I have privilege?"
The body of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine, a member of Sagkeeng First Nation, was pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg on August 17. Her murder has brought about an important conversation about the widespread violence against First Nations women and the Canadian government’s lack of concern.
In her August 20 Globe and Mail commentary, Dr. Sarah Hunt of the Kwagiulth band of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation wrote about the limited success of government inquiries and her concerns about other measures taken in reaction to acts of violence already committed, such as the establishment of DNA databases for missing persons. Dr. Hunt writes:
“Surely tracking indigenous girls’ DNA so they can be identified after they die is not the starting point for justice. Indigenous women want to matter before we go missing. We want our lives to matter as much as our deaths; our stake in the present political struggle for indigenous resurgence is as vital as the future.”
Violence against indigenous women is not, of course, happening only in Canada. In the U.S., for example, the Justice Department reports that one in three American Indian women have been raped or experienced an attempted rape, and the rate of sexual assault against American Indian women is more than twice the national average. This violence is not taking place only in Indian Country.
In the Globe and Mail on August 22, Elizabeth Renzetti wrote about three recent murders of First Nations women. “What unites these three cases is that the victims – Tina Fontaine, Samantha Paul and Loretta Saunders – were all aboriginal women. What else unites them, besides the abysmal circumstances of their deaths? What economic, cultural, historical or social factors? Anything? Nothing?”
I can’t answer that, but I know that all of these women—and every other indigenous woman in Canada and the U.S.—lives in a society that includes images of violence against indigenous women in its entertainment products. Over and over, violence against indigenous women is made to titillate, built into narratives along with action, suspense, swashbuckling, and romance. Indigenous women become exotic props, and when we are identified with these dehumanized caricatures, it becomes easier to treat us inhumanely.
Take as an example Disney’s Pocahontas. Released in 1995, the cartoon feature has replaced the historical figure’s life story in the minds of many Americans. Much has been made of Disney’s exotification of Pocahontas. John Smith is only compelled to put down his gun because of her beauty. Pocahontas is imbued with animal qualities throughout the film as she scuttles, bounds, swims, creeps, and dives. This reinforces a long-held conception of Native peoples as being “close to nature” at best, “more animal than human” at worst—and the latter is a view that makes us easier to abuse.
The recent depiction of Emily (a Makah woman) in the Twilight series offers viewers a direct representation of violence in a fictional Native community. Emily’s broad, visible facial scar is said to be the result of her partner Sam’s (a Quileute man/werewolf) outburst of rage: he was a younger werewolf, with difficulty controlling his “phasing” from human to wolf, he became angry, and she was standing too close. The presentation of this story problematic in its shrugging absolution of Sam of his responsibility in maiming Emily, and the aftermath is heartbreaking: in the more detailed version of the story presented in the Twilight books, after Sam mauls Emily, she not only takes him back, but convinces him to forgive himself. This sends the message that an episode of violence can and should be overlooked for the sake of romance. Emily, a Native woman, becomes expendable. Her safety is of little concern; the fact that Sam has “imprinted” on her, cementing his attachment, is more important than the reality of recidivism.
In a Globe and Mail editorial, “How to Stop an Epidemic of Native Deaths,” the author brings up the many social factors at work in the epidemic of violence against Native women. I bring up the problematic and pervasive imagery above not because I think it is the most problematic issue, but because it is what I know, and because we can start solving it with our individual actions. We don’t need to call Native women “squaws” and joke that they were “hookers” when forced into prostitution, as Drunk History did last year. We can make better choices than “naughty Native” costumes on Halloween. We have the freedom to choose the representations we make in the world, and when we perpetuate damaging stereotypes of indigenous women as rapeable, we are using our autonomy to disempower others.
Karen Warren wrote in “A feminist philosophical perspective on ecofeminist spiritualities”:
"Dysfunctional systems are often maintained through systematic denial, a failure or inability to see the reality of a situation. This denial need not be conscious, intentional, or malicious; it only needs to be pervasive to be effective."
I’m tired of hearing that these images aren’t harmful. I’d rather see how much they’re missed when they’re gone than continue to listen to the insistence that the image of Pocahontas at the end of a gun barrel is wholesome while, every day, more and more indigenous women die while we are told that this is not a phenomenon, not a problem, nothing more than crime.
Black trans women are also victims of this same violence targeting black men and black cis women. This genocide is all inclusive. And transmisogynistic violence is heavily racialized.
- Woman behind an iconic protest photo shares her story
- The Science of Your Racist Brain
- Protests continue despite storm (x) (x) (x) (x) (x)
- Another video from the Justice for Mike Brown Rally in DC
- Still no explanation for why “Support Darren Wilson” page was shut down
- Time for real change in Ferguson and beyond
- Only way Darren Wilson’s fun could have been wrestled over is if he had it already pulled out (x)
- America’s law enforcement needs greater accountability
the dumps, which include shallow unlined trenches for medical waste and above-ground sheds for nuclear waste, are being called “temporary” but will be in place for a minimum of 300 years. in return, they are promising $11 million in a charity trust for infrastructure, and a $1 million scholarship fund.
granted i am not very good at math and am definitely not one of those scientists that does nuclear waste risk assessments or whatever….but seems more than a little fishy that they expect an Aboriginal community to host toxic waste that will pretty much undoubtedly fuck up their water, air, land, and bodies for 10 generations, when they’re willing to pay them an amount that won’t even provide for 1 generation. [source]
sociological phenomenon or crime? here’s some numbers that should clear that up for you (source):