"And when you see images of dragons consuming people, it brings to mind the type of destruction [the neighborhood’s] seeking to eliminate."
creative loafing put out one of the better takes on the thing that happened recently in pittsburgh, a mostly black and mostly lower-income neighborhood in southwest atlanta, where some residents of the area painted over a mural of a crocodile-machine-man-thing that a french artist had made as part of the living walls street art conference that atlanta hosts yearly
without exactly using these words, i feel like the article does a good job of getting away from the Religion Versus Art narrative that most of the mainstream/white press (including creative loafing, usually) is using, and does more to acknowledge that this thing has been very much about how usually black and usually poor/working-class people in southwest atlanta are having to negotiate increasing gentrification in / appropriation of the area
the comments are still mostly fucking vile though
the article is here (creative loafing atlanta: thomas wheatley / november 14, 2012)
Residents of the predominantly African-American neighborhood stress they’re not anti-art. They’re just anti-Roti’s mural and wish they would’ve been more involved. They don’t think the art represents the community, which was founded in the late 1800s by former slaves and has spent the last few decades trying to combat foreclosures, mortgage fraud, flippers, vacant homes and the various social ills — prostitution, drugs, squatters — that accompany them.
"For some individuals in the neighborhood, it’s the idea that, if we allow people to just continue to move in our neighborhood and do whatever, then we’ll never be able to garner the community strength to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps to build a safer, vibrant, more thriving neighborhood," says LaShawn Hoffman of the Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association, which serves as the de facto neighborhood association.
on frank ocean’s alleged coming out
it’s been a while; life’s been busy busy busier than i’ve ever ever experienced it to be before in any sustained kind of way.
a guy i know wrote this great piece about, well, about how it kind of sucks when people jump to decide that love and affection between black men - cis or not, gay or not, whatever - is indicative of some gay or bi or queer or same-gender-loving identity, or of an attempt to hide or deny one. it’s really beautiful.
not reblogging it because he doesn’t use tumblr - this was originally a note on facebook.
As soon as I heard about this letter by Frank Ocean and everyone responding, labeling him. I thought OMG - this man didn’t say any of that.
I was also thinking about all the hetero, bi, none labeled, (and that does come in trans and cis by the way) Black men who crush on their home boys. Who circle jerk together, watch porn, did stuff like what wonderful Nathan McCall told us about and some of us nodded because we did messed up stuff like that also, or was quiet when we knew about it (we apologize). I was thinking… I hope this doesn’t run them off, run them further underground, stop the love.
Some times Black men really love each other so much - cause we recognize no one else does - and we do fall in love, have bromances, and love and respect each other in deep profound (secret ways).
I read it like that, when I read it. I was like DAYUMMMM brother said that shit? He let it out so poetically like that? Wow. I immediately called up two friends (one female and one male) from late teenage days and reminisced about our crushes on each other back in the day. We smiled and laughed at those….’remember that’ moments that we shared, over a summer, a couple of summers, the last time before you real grown and moved away. Just before you became best friends for life!
I was shocked cause within the next few hours I saw hundred of articles and blogs claiming and naming this man’s sexuality and experience. WOW! Noooo - don’t do that! Just let the letter ride and speak for itself. Being someone who is always mislabeled by others - not just mislabeled but folks get mad when I correct them about my own shit - Sorry, no I’m not transgender, no I’m not queer, no I’m not (just) African American - folks get pissed about it cause it feels like you don’t want to belong to them, with them. That’s not it at all - you just want to name yourself - for yourself - for what feels good and true to you - not what’s popular, hip or because that’s what they’re teaching you in gender studies class these days.
I hope all those Black boys, teens and men (who may or may not be gay, bi, queer or whatever) don’t get run off, turned off from the reactions. Not the negative stuff. But the naming and claiming. I read the story three times - I didn’t see that man say he was anything other than in love with this man friend of his and shared that experience and that can mean a LOT of things.
I just hope we don’t stop loving or crushing on each other because of this. Hope we don’t stop falling in love cause we see our worth, before anyone else does. We see that we need to be loved, encouraged, slept with, dapped, nodded out for our fly ass style and flavor. Black men have been pissing off our mothers and girlfriends forever cause they don’t understand why in the world we always hanging around with each other, calling each other, texting each other, why we jump up for our home boys, why?
Cause we’re in love with each other.
Shit, I’m crushing on Frank Ocean right now and I really hope this naming and claiming doesn’t stop from him loving other brothers - regardless of what he does or doesn’t do in the bed.
—- BT —-
"And if someone shines a 50-kazillion spotlight in my face, I’m not going to be happy about it either,"
Police: Despite TV reports, no increased violence among Midtown crossdressing prostitutes - by Dyana Bagby of the GA Voice GLBT newspaper (17 May 2012)
11Alive and WSB-TV went on air Wednesday night with sensational segments that stated cross-dressing and “transvestite” prostitutes were terrorizing residents living in Midtown. The commander of the Atlanta Police Department’s vice unit said Thursday the stories are not true.
Lt. Scott Kreher, commander of the vice unit for the APD, said there is no evidence of prostitute gangs or increased violence. […]
"There has been no evidence any increased violence," he added. "And we’ve done details there as much as any other part of the city. We don’t see any evidence of pimp or prostitute gangs."
When residents approach prostitutes, however, there may be issues, Kreher added. […]
"[T]he only violence I see is when citizens approach the prostitutes and are trying to challenge them," he said. "I don’t see it [violence] any other way."
For example, one Midtown resident living in this neighborhood, Steve Gower, who is gay, has for years followed prostitutes in a Midtown Ponce Security Alliance car and is known for shining a spotlight in their faces.
"And if someone shines a 50-kazillion spotlight in my face, I’m not going to be happy about it either," Kreher said.
The APD makes sweeps in areas know for prostitution in the summer months, Kreher added, including Midtown.
Kreher said there is no evidence of “prostitute gangs” and that prostitutes do travel typically in pairs for safety reasons.
When asked if these prostitutes were transsexual or transgender women, Kreher said no, that they were men who dressed as women.
"They are mostly men dressed as women, not transsexuals or transgender," he said, adding that LGBT liaison Officer Brian Sharp often accompanies the vice unit on details and trains the officers on transgender issues.
The word “transvestite” is also considered a slur by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
urph midtown security
even the fucking cop whose job it is to round up sex workers understands that harassing people [especially by shining bright, disorienting lights at people in the middle of the night] is likely to make them pissed off or scared and panicky or both
and i feel like there’s a lot of race and class (and gender!) stuff going on with the assertion that the folks who work ponce are all really cross-dressing men and not women or otherwise trans people, which is a rhetorical assertion that the midtown ponce security alliance themselves have made in the past to dismiss claims that they’re engaging in anti-trans oppression
(which, to be clear, is also not an assertion that i think that all of these people really personally identify as trans women or as trans at all, either; which can also be a dumb/normalizing/racist way of talking about whatever)
black women invented the over the top, boisterous, ultra femme, glitzy, big voiced, big haired diva.
thats why all the white gay men wanna be us.
h8 on h8rs.
WHITE GAY APPROPRIATION OF BLACK FEMALE IDENTITIES
You guys, you can appreciate Beyonce or Diana Ross or Tina Turner or Whitney Houston as much as you want, I love the hell out of all of their work (although Beyonce especially has problematic stuff happening) and consider them vitally important to queers in certain specific contexts, but that doesn’t mean that they belong to me or that their styles and presentations and ways of being belong to me.
If I hear one more white gay guy pull out “OH NO YOU DI’NT” or “GURL” in what is essentially a minstrel show parody of a black woman’s voice, I am going to lose it
the white cis gay male founder of the “campus pride” organization, is very invested in this style of “camp” and uses it to “explain” gay identity to collegiate audiences
i mean tons of people do it but it’s particularly egregious in situations that are supposed to be “educational”
man, there is so much to say about this
i think a lot of not-primarily-masculine white gay men make this connection between their own marginalized queer femininities and black (and sometimes other non-white) femininities that could be really worth thinking on more - like why is this white queerness so invested in picking up non-white marginalizations as rightly its own? or at least eager to presuppose a connection between (imagined or experienced) marginal femininities that somehow transcends other differences
differences that are, as above, often about race but that can also be about gender itself sometimes; one thing i’m thinking here of discussions about queer femininity/femmeness that can play out in some circles in ways that ignore more material differences between the things that feminine women tend to have access to vs the things that femme men and other non-woman feminine people tend to have access to, both in and outside of queer/gay spaces
i also suspect that the racial dynamic, among other things, way has to do with the way that a lot of ‘rad’ white-centric queer communities claim queer-of-color, woman-of-color, and people-of-color struggles as a source of legitimacy, too
(like acting as if the existence of anti-trans oppression means all trans people face a level of profound economic and social violence that is in reality largely faced by lower-income trans women of color; and like a white queer femme trying to school a gay man of color on the racism of militarism - lots of people have written and acted well on this shit, saltmarshhag comes to mind as a blogger who’s talked about this, and a big project of the campus african-american glbt group at my school a couple of years ago was making connections with and supporting people-of-color-centered and POC-run anti-army-recruitment organizations in order to better give lower-income and non-white high schoolers more knowledge about and access to non-military careers, rather than just acting like all or most queers in the military are stupid racist ~assimilationists~ or something)
so even when there might be articulated differences between the white gays who tend to be all uncritically OOOOH GURRRLLLL BITCH DIVAAAA and the white queers who become so invested in anti-racist allyhood to the point of wholesale (and stupid) appropriation, i do think there’s some cultural continuity there
(Source: bad-dominicana)from besttumblr
on spelling yr women’s with y’s (womyn)
do your women of color only become “womyn” of color when they are LOUD and PRETTY and ASSERTIVE and STRAIGHT-LOOKING and SOARTICULATE and GORGEOUS and SEXY and KNOWSWHATSHEWANTS and DRESSESHELLAFLY and “REAL” and “STRONG”?
what happens when they aren’t any of those things? do you listen? do you listen to the quiet ones? the ugly ones? the insecure and awkward ones? the fat ones? the crazyfuckingsensitive ones? the ones who don’t dress cute? the ones who won’t flirt? the ones who look like boys or not enough like girls or just fucking weird either way? the ones who are shy? timid? the ones who mumble or stutter? the ones who have neither academic nor “revolutionary” language to prove their smarts? the ones who doubt themselves? the ones who need to be given care too? the ones who seem overbearing with their concerns or seem overburdened by everyone else’s? the ones who don’t seem like they would have anything to teach you about strength or resilience?[…]
i see y’all, thinking you don’t need to respect WOC who don’t live up to your bullshit romanticized misogynistic standards for being “down” “radical” WOC. i see y’all, working hard at maintaining lazy excuses for why you can’t check yourselves (or be checked). i see you. all of you “womyn” lovers who are only into the heterolooking conventionallypretty confidentsounding—none of this goes unnoticed. and for the queer men reading this nodding along like you get it, THIS MEANS YOU TOO.
Few details in fatal shooting involving MARTA officer
Posted: 9:40 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 16, 2011
Few details in fatal shooting involving MARTA officer
The Georgia Bureau of Investigaiton said late Sunday it was still gathering facts and interviewing witnesses before releasing more information about a shooting involving a MARTA office.
Family members say a teenager was shot and killed by a MARTA police officer after a scuffle outside the Vine City rail station on Saturday night. The shooting happened on Carter Street following a series of high school homecoming football games at the Georgia Dome.
The victim’s brother, Rodney Stafford, told Channel 2’s Sophia Choi his brother and a group of men started arguing outside the transit station when the shots were fired and 19-year-old Joe Tavis Stafford was killed.
“They were like, ‘Where the gun at? Where the gun at?’ So after that, I heard a gunshot. Pow. Everybody started running,” said Rodney Stafford. Stafford said he then saw a MARTA officer run past him with a gun drawn.
“As he was drawing his gun, I was turning back around. My brother threw his hands up. MARTA police shot him in the back. Pow. And my brother lying on the ground, just looking at me and I was looking at his gunshot wound. As I’m looking at that, MARTA police shot him two more times in the back,” said Stafford.
Family members had to be restrained by police after the shooting in an emotional scene.
"The officers were right here. The parents were right here trying to fight them so they were calling for extra back up. They just wanted to see their son because he was dead," said witness Cassandra Ross.
MARTA officials handed the shooting investigation over to the GBI. Neither the GBI nor MARTA police would say why the officer drew his gun. The officer was put on administrative leave, which is standard procedure for a shooting, officials said.
The Space Being Occupied by Occupy Atlanta - Kung Li
de Kung Li, el Lunes, 10 de octubre de 2011, 15:19
The Occupy Atlanta occupiers renamed their campsite Troy Davis Park yesterday in honor of what would have been Troy Davis’s 43d birthday. Today is Columbus Day. It seems a good day to know something about the little patch of grass where Occupy Atlanta is braving the rain.
A month after the end of the Civil War, a train carrying Jefferson Davis pulled into the Atlanta depot two blocks from where Occupy Atlanta has pitched its tents. The President of the Confederate States of America had been caught in South Georgia as he tried to flee. The train stopped in Atlanta to pick up coal on its way to Virginia, where he would await trial for treason.
When the Georgia Legislature convened later that year, it dutifully ratified the Thirteenth Amendment as it was required to do to reenter the Union. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, but with an enormous loophole. Neither slavery or involuntary servitude, it read, shall exist in the United States, except as punishment for crime.
The 13th Amendment ratified, the all-white Georgia Legislature turned around and passed the Black Codes, effectively reinstating slavery in Georgia. The Codes required former slaves to enter into labor contracts, with wages to be paid by the Master totaling – after deductions for food, shelter and penalties for days not worked – two cents an hour. That’s how Georgia’s antelbellum 1% had rolled before the war, and that’s how they wanted to roll after. The only industry had been cotton, so the Black Codes were written to keep freedmen working the same fields they had worked as slaves.
Many were trapped by the Black Codes, but not everyone. Atlanta was the destination for the men and women who walked off their plantations in south Georgia in defiance of the Black Codes and came to the city to live as free people. They gathered in downtown Atlanta – on the streets of what is now Woodruff Park – to look for work and to build a new life. They were confronted by a new Vagrancy Law, the enforcement of the Black Codes that made it illegal to wander or stroll about in idleness without a labor contract.
When the threat of arrest was not enough to drive Black men and women back to the plantations, the real arrests began. Joseph Brown was arrested on Decatur Street in 1868, one of hundreds. Rather than picking cotton under a labor contract, he was in Atlanta without work. The charge: vagrancy.
Mr. Brown and other freedmen who were sentenced as vagrants were not sent to prison. Georgia’s prison had been burned during the war, and there was no money to rebuild. Rather, they were leased out to plantation owners, railroad companies and coal mines. Georgia’s first lease of in 1868 was to a railroad company: $2500 bought 100 Black men, arrested for vagrancy or loitering and forced to work not as slaves but as convicts.
This was the start of the modern criminal justice system. It started, you might say, right here where Occupy Atlanta will be sleeping tonight, in Woodruff Park, by the post-Civil War plantation owners intent on keeping the work of black men and women cheap and available.
By the time the practice of leasing people convicted of crimes out to private parties was abolished (by the Georgia Legislature, in 1908), convict leasing had turned the primary function of the South’s judicial systeminto the maintenance of white control over black labor.
In 1906, Decatur Street, where Mr. Brown had been arrested 38 years earlier, was now lined with saloons, hotels, a buggy repair shop, and the post office.
Spring of that year, the Chief of Police in Atlanta launched a campaign to rid the city of Black men. He committed a full squad of officers to “arrest all loafers” and close down the “Negro dives” that lined Decatur Street in downtown Atlanta. The Chief told City Council that in order to arrest and prosecute all the vagrants, he would need fifty additional policemen.
The police arrested dozens of Black men through the summer, but were not satisfied. The Chief of Police stepped up the campaign in August. “Vagrant Negroes fill streets and saloons at all hours of day,” read the August 25 headline in the Atlanta Constitution, “Difficult to convict loafers of vagrancy after they are arrested.” The editorial page the next day urged support for police efforts to “Drive out the vagrants.” And to clarify why, the next day: “For protection of white women.”
The police campaign against “vagrants” in the “Negro dives” on Decatur Street, packaged as a way to reduce crime, was concerned only with Black men and had little to do with actual violence or criminal activity.
On September 3, for example, a white man stabbed another man to death in one of the white saloons on Decatur Street. Tommy Lucas’ escape was so leisurely that the newspapers were able to report his name, which morning train he took to Chattanooga, what he packed for the trip, and where he would be staying once he arrived in Chattanooga. There is no record of his arrest.
Pressure to “arrest and lock up all the negroes who were idling about the city” intensified. By the third week in September, coverage about the police campaign against “vagrants” and “negro dives” merged into sensational stories about white women around the city fending off sexual attacks by Black men. Four such allegations turned into front page headlines in that week in September. On Saturday night, thousands of white men gathered in Five Points, sent there by the newspapers exhorting “good white men” to band together and take action to protect their women from “black beasts” and “animals.“
By the time the sun set, over 5,000 white men were milling around Five Points. They were stomping their feet on the ground where Occupy Atlanta’s General Assemblies sit. Their numbers doubled over the next two hours, men armed with rifles, pistols, long knives, and clubs. They were ready to kill.
And kill they did. Groups of twenty, thirty, a hundred burst forward in a sprinting chase whenever a black man or boy appeared. A footrace up Peachtree, another down Decatur Street, another across a bridge flying over the railroad tracks. Three bodies were dumped in a pile at the foot of the statue of Henry Grady on Marietta Street. A black man was strung up on a lamppost along Peachtree Street. The white mobs raged through the night, quieting in the early morning.
The Governor called in the state militia, but rather than protecting Black families from white violence, militiamen mostly stood at the ready to defend whites from retaliatory violence. No retaliation came. A second mob, smaller than the first, gathered at the corner of Marietta and Peachtree Street, the southwest corner of what is now Woodruff Park. Whites ventured out in groups, more leisurely now, to look for another Black man or woman to kill or maim.
Over three days, twenty-five Black Atlantans were killed, maybe more. Another fifty, sixty, or more had injuries serious enough to brave the streets to get to Grady Hospital. There is neither memorial nor mention of the dead among the commemorations in Woodruff Park.
Half a century later, the streets here around Woodruff Park had been scrubbed clean of any reminder of the race riot. Where the saloons had been were now office buildings, some modern steel frame, some red brick.
On February 1, 1960, four Black students in Greensboro, North Carolina sat down at a Woolworth lunch counter and waited to be served. The police came, but could not arrest the students because they were not breaking any law. The next day, the students returned and again sat quietly at the Woolworth lunch counter. The media picked up the story, and the sit-ins spread. On February 13, five hundred students in Nashville sat in at lunch counters across the city.
The Georgia legislature responded with astonishing speed, passing a new trespassing law four days later. Should the sit-ins spread to Atlanta, they wanted a law that would let the police make arrests. A small law would do. Cast in the same mold as the vagrancy laws, the new trespass law made it a crime to remain on the premises after being asked to leave.
The fears of Georgia’s lawmakers were well-founded. The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) held its first conference at the Atlanta University Center October 14-16 and resolved to take direct action to desegregate Atlanta’s lunch counters. Three days after the close of the conference, Atlanta students staged mass demonstrations and sit-ins at the Rich’s Department Store in downtown Five Points and other counters across the city. Across the corner from Woodruff Park where Occupiers will sleep tonight, Black students trained in nonviolent direct action took an elevator up to Rich’s 6th Floor Magnolia Room, or down to the Cockrel Grill in the basement, then sat down and waited to be served.
The police came and used the new trespassing law to arrest 51 people, including Martin Luther King, Jr. In pleading innocent that afternoon, Martin Luther King, Jr. announced that he would “sit in jail 10 years if necessary” rather than post the $500 bond.
The next day, the sit-ins and pickets expanded to 16 other downtown eateries. Twenty-six more protesters were arrested, this time on loafing and disturbing the peace charges. They were sentenced to 20 days in the city prison farm.
The students insisted on staying in jail; the Mayor insisted that they be released. The Mayor got his way, but the students won the day.
Atlanta changed. Rich’s downtown became Macy’s. Martin Luther King, Jr. made a final journey through the streets of Atlanta in a wooden farm wagon drawn by two mules before being laid to rest in South View Cemetery. The students who had been arrested for trespassing became fathers, nurses, senators.
Then in 1996, the Olympics came to Atlanta. The City built a new jail in record time, the first facility completed for the Games. It also closed down Woodruff Park and renovated it. The City took its time – it was their best chance to move out the homeless men and women who slept in the park – and when it was reopened, the Park had been landscaped with a wide open slope to make it easier for police to keep it clear of the visibly poor.
Should the Atlanta Police decide to evict Occupy Atlanta from Woodruff Park, they will likely use one of the ordinances banning overnight sleeping or camping on public space, passed in preparation for the 1996 Olympic.
Officials with the Atlanta Olympic Committee insisted the police were not used to clear poor black people out of downtown Atlanta for the Olympics. Yet, the visibly poor – nearly all Black – disappeared from Woodruff Park for the duration of the Games. The County Jail’s population shot up from 2200 to 4500 before and during the Olympics. The Olympic officials insisted: just a coincidence.
Five days before the execution of Troy Davis, thousands of Altantans gathered at Woodruff Park to march to Ebenezer Baptist Church for a part-vigil, part-protest that recalled the civil rights movement’s most raucous mass meetings. The protest was majority – an overwhelming majority, if you include those already seated in Ebenezer Church – African American. The State of Georgia was not moved, and killed Troy Davis by lethal injection.
When Occupy Atlanta rolled into the park, it was overwhelmingly white. This has caused some gnashing of the teeth, especially after Congressman John Lewis came by to offer his support and was not able to speak. My teeth are gnashed, no doubt.
But being anti-racist in this place – that is, in Woodruff Park, in Atlanta, in Georgia, in the South – is not mainly about getting more people of color to pitch a tent and sleep out there. In fact, I’m kind of OK with having mostly white people sleeping out there, because when the junta that runs downtown Atlanta decides it has had enough and people get carted off to jail, there’s no need for having more Black or brown people in the Atlanta City Detention Center.
Being anti-racist is, if you are going to set up camp and take Five Points as your center point, acknowledging that the corporate forces at play around there are totally about race. This is true currently, and it is true historically – no surprise: Georgia’s government was created by and for plantation farmers, the original 1%, running antebellum corporations. And that 1% has been using everything in its power, most notably the criminal justice system, to hold on to its power.
Put a different way. Occupy Wall Street declared, “We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments.” That’s old news here, friends. The plantation owners have always run Georgia’s government.
But they have not always run the street. In 1960, the students won. Was it because they were one sit-in among dozens of sit-ins happening around the country, much like Occupy Atlanta is one of dozens? Was it because they had both strong process and direct action? Was it because they confronted the criminal justice system head on, demanding to be arrested and refusing to post bail? Maybe, maybe, maybe.
Now that John Lewis has been invited back, maybe he will sit down and give some insight. He wasn’t just a good soldier in the Movement. He was, in my unbiased-notwithstanding-lifelong-crush-on-John-Lewis opinion, the catalyst that turned a series of actions into this country’s greatest Freedom Movement. More on that later.
For now, I am just suggesting that in addition to questions of logistics and process during Occupy Atlanta’s committee meetings and larger Assemblies, the questions of why and how race and racism figure into this fight are, I think, worth trying to think through and understand together. Because this is Georgia, after all. And because what happens in Troy Davis Park in 2011 is being written now.
 Excepting the years 1868-1871, when the First Reconstruction Act prevented ex-Confederates from holding office in Georgia. This period of what Confederates called “military occupation” spurred the growth of the Ku Klux Klan.
beyond discourses of innocence
[W]hile we mourn his death and all of the things it raises for us―racism, the death penalty, the prison industrial complex, police brutality, the historic trauma of lynchings, etc., I want us to move beyond discourses of innocence, for while it may make us feel more righteous in our defense of Troy Davis, and the many like him who have been executed or who currently languish inside prison walls, we must come to accept that to be Black and “innocent” is an oxymoron in the world we live in.
Even the Left in the US engages in other forms of innocence frames outside of prison reform contexts, that still reference and reduce Blacks to criminality. Often the anti-war, or anti-globalization movements, including the current mobilizations on Wall Street explain acts of police violence or arrests as “just for exercising our right to protest.” These statements are an exercise in bad faith―they suggest that the police have some legitimate reasons for arrests, or that white bodies simply protesting the seat of American capital are innocents, not criminal. What would it mean to embrace criminality, as opposed to trying to rhetorically avoid it by notions of innocence or exercising “rights?”
Took the wordsout of my brain
(Source: ourtropes)from vivid-eris
fetishizing guns pt. II
[TRIGGER WARNING]: guns, violence
About three months ago, I posted this and didn’t get any really satisfying conversations out of it. I’d like to think my thoughts have developed some since then, and it’s a conversation I’m still interested in having. To reiterate what I was saying in the first post: I’m basically thinking about radical and “scene kid” culture (which in my experience has comprised mostly of upper class, white kids, who have lived in the U.S. their whole lives) that like to glamorize gun imagery— both in posting on their blog and in clothes and jewelry, creating this hip violence aesthetic. So, I’m questioning if this is somehow appropriative or fucked up.
I feel like I’m reaching the conclusion that for folks who have never interacted with guns before (both in using one or having one used against them), it is appropriative and fetishizing other peoples experiences to sport this imagery. As I stated before, as someone who is queer/trans/a survivor, I can fully understand wanting to own a gun, and having there be an option of bashing back feel safer. However, I see the reality of wanting a gun as something completely different from people who have never interacted with a gun posting pictures of blinged out pink guns, etc. The latter seems like a fetishization of other people’s struggles for safety or resistance, coming from a really privileged standpoint, and a lack of understanding of those experiences. This fetishization is something I have definitely participated in, in the past, and I want to own up to that and work on deconstructing where that came from.
Additionally, I feel that the way I see this imagery being used totally ignores that it could be triggering for someone. I think it’s much easier to be aroused by gun imagery and violent rhetoric when it hasn’t been a constant reality in yr life. This appraisal of guns seems like a blatant disregard to the fact that those images carry a lot more weight for some folks, and that guns have had hugely damaging effects on peoples lives and should not be something that is uncritically praised, especially by folks who are really financially/racially privileged in hella liberal, rich, white towns (oh hey, Olympia and Arlington.) After all, guns are not only a tool of resistance they are a tool used to oppressed, they mean different things based on who is holding them.
I also think in some cases, this use of gun aesthetic play into a larger trend of a really awful fetishization of violence. There were some posts from kavitiya and waiflike on the racist and imperialistic aspects of white, western anarchists glorifying “riot porn” footage from other countries. Somewhat related to this, I’ve also seen recently, a “reclamation” of the word terrorist coupled with glorifying 9/11 from anarchists. Presumably it’s because they are “enemies of the state” and are seemingly comparing themselves with the people who bombed the twin towers, which seems to carry similar appropriative undertones the posts I linked above. I don’t have very developed thoughts, or much knowledge around the use of the word terrorist, and I’d be interested in hearing from other folks.
i don’t know the posts yr referring to, but to take this in a slightly different direction: it’s also definitely very common for white radicals—or more generally for people who’ve never had to turn to violence as an act of survival— to glamorize oppressed people using guns, rioting, or whatever. i know i’m guilty as charged too. there’s a fine line between being like, ‘hell yeah, i’m stoked to see people rise up and fight back and maybe even go on the offensive’— and being appropriative and fetishizing such actions. there are very few situations— the zapatista’s being the most obvious— where leaders of said groups of people have encouraged the fetishization of guns. i was watching a film recently that showed subcommandante marcos posing with his ak for marie claire and other fashion magazines. even though they’ve de-emphasized guerilla warfare, the zapatistas have nurtured this image a bit, but this doesn’t necessarily open up the floodgates and declare that anything goes.
it’s fine to support and be excited by oppressed people revolting due to their conditions and using force or ‘violence’ (often ambiguously defined and meaning something more like self-defense or extensional self-defense) as a means of resistance. but, when you’ve never been in a position where use of violence, as a response to your conditions- was a condition for your survival or dignity, then carrying that imagery can become a very different thing.
and calling yourself an anarchist or communist or whatever doesn’t put you in a vaccuum where your race, class, immigration status, gender, sexuality, ability, etc. are irrelevant because anarchists, communists and other radicals are persecuted and repressed by the state. because those movements, especially when they take place at several intersections of privilege, as they most often do in the us and kanada, have often been oppressive and repressive to different intersections of oppressed and marginalized people. many people of color, even apocs see white anarchists oppressors—and minus the rhetoric and lifestyle, not very different than the dominant culture. and part of that has to do with us fetishizing their struggles while remaining a predominantly white subculture that as a whole has failed to display sincere solidarity with people of color.
I wrote about this a while back, specifically about Queers With Guns, a regional meet-up of queer and trans people who learn how to use all kinds of different guns at a shooting range somewhere in New England. I was getting invited to it, and it made me really nervous. For the most part, how I feel about it was said well above. It seems like an easy thing to adopt and think is cool or glamorous when it hasn’t been an unwelcome part of your life. I grew up on the Southside of Chicago, in a relatively “safe” neighborhood, so I didn’t have nearly as much gun-related violence going on right around me, but it was still present. People get shot and killed in Chicago almost every single day.
Now I live in New Haven, which is faaaaar less intense than Chicago, but there is plenty of violence present in our neighborhood. And working with high schoolers who live in the same or similar neighborhoods, and many of whom know someone who’s been shot, that shit is very real to me; I am very protective of my kids and worry about them a lot.
Having lived in both of those places, it is difficult for me to jump on the bandwagon of thinking guns are cool or sexy. Guns are a threat to my students, in their neighborhoods. Guns are a threat to entire neighborhoods where I grew up—I am not exaggerating. Random drive-bys happen pretty often in Chicago; it’s not a place where you are safe just by not being a part of a gang or drug trade. Why would I turn around and embrace that for its sexiness? Especially why would I embrace that amongst white radicals, being a woman of color? I’m not giving them the okay on that if it isn’t something they’ve lived.
This is also why I’m interested in the POC antiviolence work that I’ve been getting involved in the past few months, that it’s rooted in what is more realistically helpful for communities of color. A lot of it centers around finding ways for young people of color to feel safe in their communities without relying on guns.
reblogging for great commentary. I don’t have a ton to say, and I really, really appreciate both of y’alls responses to this!
In response to white western folks glamorizing oppressed people in countries outside of the west rioting, I’ve seen some seriously ridiculous stuff related to this: people gathered around computer screens squealing at riot porn, people making sparkly gifs out of images of riots, etc. I think what’s the most problematic is the way that only a certain type of resistance is praised, that we don’t get as stoaked when oppressed people in countries outside of the west do what we might call more “liberal” acts of resistance. It seems like a white-supremacist/imperialist mindset to imply that their struggle for liberation is only worthwhile if it is in a way we find acceptable and glamorous. We should be listening to oppressed voices in how they need support and what they want to do, and not just picking out what we find exciting.
today i got a pottery barn catalog addressed to the past tenant
so i flipped through it for decorating ideas
what thorough and absolute exploitation
i know that people buy prints of art all the time, but i just can’t get over this cycle of what something being “art” means, and how thoroughly it exploits rural women of color in this case.
some white folk art collector found that a group of women of color in a tiny town in rural alabama were producing exquisite, innovative, unique quilts unlike any form of fiber art before—>an art museum in houston picks up their work—>the women of gee’s bend start a collective where they make quilts to sell—>pottery barn rips them off, probably using unethical labor to mass produce these quilts so you can buy one for your fucking bed for $150.
the pottery barn product description:
The women of Gee’s Bend, Alabama have developed a distinctive, bold, and sophisticated quilting style based on traditional American and African American quilts. Crafted by one of their most prolific and celebrated artists, Rachel Carey George, the original Star Quilt was made from feedsacks and recycled clothing. We collaborated with the Gee’s Bend Foundation to replicate it closely in this wall hanging, capturing the original’s lively mix of prints and patterns and intricate eight-point stars.
- 50” square
- Made of cotton.
- Expertly hand quilted.
- Trimmed in cotton piping.
- Reverses to solid.
- Hangs from the pole pocket. Hardware sold separately.
- Machine wash.
The Atlanta region ranks among the worst major metro areas in the nation for putting transit services within reach of people without cars, the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program said in a report released Thursday.
Of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, Atlanta ranks 82nd, providing 68.5 percent of its households without vehicles access to transit services, the report says. That leaves 37,634 such households out of reach, the largest number among the 100 regions studied.- Study: Atlanta among worst regions for access to transit services | ajc.com (via transartorialism)