The Problem of Internalized Racism

In the suffocating Texas summer, the last thing you want to happen is your A/C to break down. Yet that’s what happened in June 2016. It grew unbearable quickly, the inside temperature reaching past 80 degrees.

My dad arranged for someone to come and take a look. He called one of those companies that run their Ads during the morning news and daytime soap operas; the good companies, with money and company vehicles emblazoned with the logo and, probably, white employees.

A problem with their schedule forced a change of date in the inspection. Instead of rescheduling, my dad cancelled and called up a family friend who helped us with the installation of a new sink and the renovation of our entire first floor. He is also Filipino.

When my dad told me about this change in plan, even with the knowledge of all the work he’s done, my first thought was: “Does he even know what he’s doing?”

Internalized Racism is a known and insidious problem among many minority groups. Many times, it is a learned behavior passed down through the form of comments and jokes among your family that you make sure never leave the house.

Even if the premise is ‘just in good fun’, there are serious problems that can arise from those jokes and underhanded comments.

– Perpetuating Stereotypes

If you are from a minority group, there is a very strong chance that you have heard derisive comments about other minorities from members of your own group. Many times, these hurtful words come from the dominant group and repeating them only reinforces the offensive stereotypes that are attached.

–  Us vs. Them Mentality

Minority groups have always been placed in opposition of each other in the fight for education, resources, etc.  This is a tactic formulated by the dominant group (in the cases of race: white folks) with the goal to keep them on top. Contributing to this opposition through any sort of means (upholding the belief that one minority group doesn’t deserve as much as another or not believing in the agency of another group) contributes to the general oppression of all minorities.

It is important to see instances of racism being performed by yourself and members of your own community. In order to effectively combat racism in all areas of society, self-reflection in how you deal with racism in your daily life can help make strides against terse race relations between different minority communities and start to affect relationships between the dominant group and minorities.


 

Mariam Bagadion is a Filipino-American third year SCSU student. She is double-majoring in English and Women’s Studies and has loved writing from a young age. She is excited to use this passion to bring attention to and start conversations about feminist issues surrounding the world of politics and pop culture today. Mariam is an editor for The Upper Mississippi Harvest, SCSU’s literary journal and a writing tutor at The Write Place. In her free time, she writes for her personal blog, scribbles in journals and is the Game Master for her friends’ Dungeons and Dragons games.  Consulting editor.  Monitor blog analyst.

 

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The Journey

A spine-chilling breeze hums in my ear.  Rainfall touches my shoulders and caresses my face; I am sitting on the windowpane of my room that overlooks the balcony. Every so often, I like to sit by myself and think. The rain gives me serenity, for few minutes I am transported to a utopia. Sitting in the rain helps me escape all the chaos and inner turmoil that has been engulfing me lately. I have a decision to make. A decision that will determine the path I have to embark on.

My father’s words still echoes in my mind. He trusted me with this. This might probably be the biggest decision I have ever been subjected to make in my nineteen years of life. The one that will forever stay with me. He summoned me to his room earlier today and said, “Asmita, you have a decision to make.”

For many, this decision might be easy to make– effortless, evenbut for me, it is tough. Fear of the unknown, the fact that I might mess things up, scares me.

I reminisce about all the things I have done with my family, my friends, my siblings here in this very place I call home. It feels like yesterday that I was playing hide and seek with my brothers and screaming at them. My eye falls upon my window pane–the pane of memories. As I look through the windowpane, I see old markings. I look at the different colors I used to draweach portraying a story of their own.

The red crayon, I used to draw the ludicrous picture of my brother when he was mad at me. The way I used green to draw a sad personification of the grumpy old tuition teacher of ours to cheer my brothers up when our tutor got on our nerves. I look at the windowpane and I smile. I smile thinking about all the we were and all that we will someday be. Each and every corner of my house holds some sort of beloved memory of us.

Us as a family, us as siblings, us as people slowly trying to morph from naïve childhood days to adulthood.

I recall fighting over something as small as who gets the remote control. I recall mistakenly smashing my brother’s fingers in the door when he tried to get inside the television room. I recall blood dripping down his fingers and the murderous look he gave me.

I drown myself in memory lane so deep tears start to stream down my face. It is bittersweet. I have spent nineteen years of my life in this house. I have grown with my brothers here. I have learned from my parents here. I have grown emotionally and physically here. I have never known life outside this house and outside the love of my parents. I have never known anything but to be a caring daughter to my parents and a pain to my brothers.

I look at my dog that is now wagging her tail and is trying to get my attention. I remember the circumstances under which she became a part of our home. I was heartbroken when my first dog Bruno passed away. I cried a river mourning his death.My brothers, and my parents made sure I was okay. They were my rock at times when things were tough. As soon as I recovered from Bruno’s death, they got me Lucky my new dog. Bruno will forever hold a special place in my heart,but the void that he left behind was gracefully fulfilled by Lucky.

“Asmita, your future is in your hands. Either you stay here in Nepal with us and pursue your higher education in the prestigious Kathmandu Management College that you qualified in, or you go to a foreign country, be independent, and enroll in the college that you qualified in, too. What will your decision be? Which college will you pick? Where do you want to go?” my father asked.

Coming out of memory lane, I observe my surroundings and see that in the blink of an eye, the night has been swept away into the dustbin of the past and a new day is upon me.The sun, like a great golden disk, rises across the sky to greet me. It shines in my hair and glitters in my heart. I see the overcast fog of my clouded mind fading away.

The decision now doesn’t seem to be as daunting to make now as it was a few hours before. I steal one last look at my room, my windowpane, and my dog. I inhale the sweet air of my country and decide it’s time. Time for me to get out of the bubble of protection my parents have always given. I decide it’s time for me to break free and be liberated. I will carry my loved ones with me in my heart always, but I decide it’s time for me to break the mold and embark on the journey of the unknown in a foreign country without anyone to look after me every step of the way.

This is not just my journey. I think this is a journey of every international student who leaves life as they know it to explore the great unknown in a foreign country.We all need to be mindful of that and always make them feel at home or as wanted as possible.


Screenshot 2017-08-31 10.34.50

Asmita Koirala is a senior at St. Cloud State University. She is originally from Nepal, and she moved to the United States three years ago to further her education. Her major is Liberal Arts, and she chose Liberal Arts because she doesn’t want to be limited within a major and thus wants to pursue different avenues and know a little about everything.  She spends her free time reading and writing.  She also enjoys the outdoors and likes to go on hikes as well as snowboard during the winter.  She is a dog person through and through. She wants to make a change in people’s lives through her writing.  She basically wants to empower women to be the best version of themselves because life is too short to be mediocre.  Editor.

Ethnic Cleansing in Myanmar: Marginalization and Death

(Content Warning: Ethnic cleansing, genocide, sexual assault, abuse)

My heart settles heavily from the recent events occurring in Myanmar.

On August 25th, a militia group who reportedly are linked the Rohingya Muslims attacked a military outpost which killed a dozen military officials.  The retaliation of the government has been grim and brutal; it has been incredibly disproportional as well.  Ethnic cleansing in mass proportions started and human rights investigators have been refused entry into the region of Rakhin, Myanmar.

Currently, ethnic cleansing is happening.  I repeat this phrase in my head and can’t quite comprehend how this is still occurring.  It must be said that this is not the only ethnic cleansing that has been happening in the the 21st century.  South Sudan is incredibly varied in multiple ranges of ethnic groups.  The main conflict arose is between multiple ethnic groups and there has been a large scale of mass killing and destroying of tribes and villages by government officials that it has been officially declared ethnic cleansing.  

The year is 2017.  

The year that is called “progressive,” “forward,” “inclusive.” It’s one incredible lie for people of marginalized status in oppressive countries.  Thousands of Rohingya are fleeing Myanmar as I’m typing at this very moment and it startles me.  My breath seizes in my chest for I cannot comprehend how these baseless acts are still occurring.

I feel myself becoming numb from the barrage of horrific news brought to my attention.  Genocides, mass deportation, ethnic cleansing.  I take in this amount of information, and I become so overwhelmed that the only way I can rationalize such horrors is to disconnect from it.

I believe this is what it is to become desensitized.

It’s easy.  

It’s so incredibly easy to become blind to the events occurring around the world and why should I care?  I used this to  reason with myself.  If it’s not me and if it’s not here, why should I care?  I would use this question and reasoning to convince myself that it made sense to think this way.  Until just recently where I learned where my position is in society.  My place in society.  The way I choose how to accept and how to proceed with information in this society.

I cannot use this reasoning any more.

That is not a choice I can afford to have anymore.  To disconnect myself is to leave behind and numb myself to the events that have stricken the marginalized.  I do not get the privilege, and I do not choose that privilege.

This is not about me.  This is not about my reactions.  I’m not speaking for the entirety of Islam nor the entirety of Myanmar.  But I am bringing voice to horrors occurring, and I am giving amplification to the situation occurring.

Women are fleeing brutal rape and abuse.  Children are fleeing slaughter. Men, women, children.  They are all fleeing to Bangladesh from the horrors of government inflicted ethnic cleansing.

Myanmar is a primarily Buddhist country.  The Rohingya are a minority group whose main belief is Islam and while they have resided in Myanmar and implanted their roots in Myanmar, they are not considered citizens. The government has declared this. They are not acknowledged.  Instead, they are brutalized. Their homes are being burned to the ground and they have no choice but to flee.

Accounts of men being shot in the back of the head.  Accounts of women raped.  Accounts of homes being broken into and trashed.  The murders are brutal and they are merciless.  No one is an exception.

What is the meaning of this?  

What makes this situation even more horrifying is that the cleansing is not happening by rebel groups. Not by criminals.  Not by an opposing force coming to Myanmar to crack down on the Rohingya people.  This is the government.  The military who have been given this order to wipe out all they suspect of being a part of this minority group “unofficially.”.

Thousands are being killed.  Thousands are fleeing.  They walk with the clothing on their back and with very meagre belongings.  The Rohingya people have been displaced from their only home they know and they are crossing the border to Bangladesh to receive aid and basic healthcare.

What makes the situation even more horrifying is that refugees who do attempt to return back to Myanmar are turned away by government officials. Bangladesh has been outspoken in staunchly condemning of the Myanmar ethnic cleansing.  They have taken in thousands of refugees and are continuing to do so.  The Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has stated that there needs to be “safe zones” in Myanmar.  

The Prime Minister is not the only one.  The U.N as well as multiple powers and organizations are raising their voices.  These government officials need to be met with prosecution and trial.  No one group can cause such horror and be able to get away with it.  

What do we need to do as a community?  We need to be aware.  I understand that some events can become overwhelming but for those who can handle it, there needs to be exposure and there needs to be a drive to spread awareness.

Please donate to credible relief funds.  Spread the word.  Support organizations that offer relief.  To fear the power that corrupts is to sign away our human rights.  This must not occur.

Relief Funds

Rohingya Crisis Children’s Relief Fund

Islamic Relief USA

Rohingya Refugee Relief Fund

#SaveTheRohingya

Relief Fund for Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh


LakeKholood Abuhadid is a fourth year Biomedical and Medical Lab Science student with minors in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies.  She is Palestinian-American and is passionate about Palestinian rights as well as encompassing feminist intersectional ideology.  Kholood is an avid reader and loves to dabble in creative writing.  She hopes one day to establish herself in the world of medical research as well as have an active voice in the Public Health world.  She also thinks she’s good at knitting but in reality is actually quite horrible! Managing editor.

Casually Suicidal

(Content Warning: Suicidal Tendencies)

I’m suicidal, but I don’t want to actively kill myself.

I’m suicidal, but I’m safe.

I’m suicidal, but I am not able to actively kill myself.

I’m suicidal, but I have pets, family, and friends that need me in their lives.

I’m suicidal, but I love being alive.

I’m suicidal, but I know that people love me.

I’m suicidal, but I enjoy doing the things I do in the day.

I’m suicidal, but I don’t think about killing myself every day.

I’m suicidal, but I’m not alone.

I’m suicidal, but I know I’m not alone.

 

I’m suicidal and I see a therapist bi-weekly.

I’m suicidal and I do have the will to live.

I’m suicidal and I’m not on medication.

I’m suicidal and I’ve needed medication for a long time.

I’m suicidal and I’m scared of myself.

I’m suicidal and I’m angry all the time.

I’m suicidal and depression only makes it worse.

I’m suicidal and I’m scared.

I’m suicidal and I’m queer.

I’m suicidal and I have two partners.

I’m suicidal and I’m constantly surrounded by people.

I’m casually suicidal, but I know where to get help…

For those who have considered suicide, you aren’t alone. There are others like you who are also in pain. If you want to reach out to someone, please contact the following numbers:

United States Hotlines:

Depression Hotline: 1-630-482-9696
Suicide Hotline: 1-800-784-8433
LifeLine: 1-800-273-8255
Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386
Sexuality Support: 1-800-246-7743
Eating Disorders Hotline: 1-847-831-3438
Rape and Sexual Assault: 1-800-656-4673
Grief Support: 1-650-321-5272
Runaway: 1-800-843-5200, 1-800-843-5678, 1-800-621-4000
Exhale: After Abortion Hotline/Pro-Voice: 1-866-4394253
Child Abuse: 1-800-422-4453
Text (in case you aren’t up to making a phone call) hotline: 741-741 (Text CONNECT to begin, more info at http://www.crisistextline.org/ )

UK Helplines:
Samaritans (for any problem): 08457909090 e-mail jo@samaritans.org
Childline (for anyone under 18 with any problem) : 08001111
Mind infoline (mental health information): 0300 123 3393 e-mail: info@mind.org.uk
Mind legal advice (for people who need mental-health related legal advice): 0300 466 6463 legal@mind.org.uk
b-eat eating disorder support: 0845 634 14 14 (only open Mon-Fri 10.30am-8.30pm and Saturday 1pm-4.30pm) e-mail: help@b-eat.co.uk
b-eat youthline (for under 25’s with eating disorders): 08456347650 (open Mon-Fri 4.30pm – 8.30pm, Saturday 1pm-4.30pm)
Cruse Bereavement Care: 08444779400 e-mail: helpline@cruse.org.uk
Frank (information and advice on drugs): 0800776600
Drinkline: 0800 9178282
Rape Crisis England & Wales: 0808 802 9999 1(open 2 – 2.30pm 7 – 9.30pm) e-mail info@rapecrisis.org.uk
Rape Crisis Scotland: 08088 01 03 02 every day, 6pm to midnight
India Self Harm Hotline: 00 08001006614
India Suicide Helpline: 022-27546669
Kids Help Phone (Canada): 1-800-668-6868, Free and available 24/7
suicide hotlines

International Suicide Helplines


Hello! My name’s Archie Andersen, and I use he/him and they/them pronouns. I identify as a neurodivergent, AFAB, Fat, Queer, Nonbinary Transgender man activist. My main studies are in Queer Theory and Issues and the Prison Industrial Complex, but I also work to end all forms of oppression. I am in my 4th year at St. Cloud State University majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies and minoring in Ethnic Studies. My favorite color is pastel blue, and I really enjoy watching YouTube videos in my spare time.  Blog monitor. Editor.

 

National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month – Confronting Common Myths

(TW: suicide, sexual assault, depression, mental illness.)

Suicide.

It’s a term that not many people want to repeat and a concept that not many want to explore. But the truth is that everyone is affected by suicide in some way.  Most individuals who die by suicide have some form of mental illness. The most common condition that victims struggle with is depression. The risk is even higher for individuals who suffer from depression along with another form of mental illness.

I’m tired of seeing faces of panic when the subject is brought up. Society expects us to masquerade as someone who has it all together. That’s not only unrealistic, it’s dangerous. It’s important to realize that not everyone who suffers from mental illness is suicidal, but the majority of those who suffer from suicidal ideation endure some form of mental illness, have opportunity, triggers, or even missed warning signs. And sure, suicide is a difficult subject to talk about, but that’s exactly why it’s so important to bring it to light.

           “But, Ellen, isn’t September suicide prevention month? Isn’t that enough?”

Yes, it is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

Thanks for bringing that up. Is it enough? Hell to the no. Just because there’s a month dedicated to bringing awareness to a social concern doesn’t mean that we should forget about it the other eleven months of the year. However, having a month dedicated to a specific concern is a terrific opportunity to learn more about it and apply it to your own everyday life. In this case, we are focused on the prevention of suicide. Too often when a beloved celebrity or someone we know personally attempts or has completed suicide, we ask a variety of questions with one being

“What could I have done to help?”

The first step to help prevent suicide of the ones we love and care about is to defeat the stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide.

“But, Ellen, suicide is the selfish and cowardly way out. Plus, aren’t most of them looking for attention?”

Too often we label someone who is either wrestling with suicidal ideation, has attempted suicide, or has died by suicide as selfish, cowardly, and/or looking for attention. The media certainly doesn’t help with this stigma. A recent example would be the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why. There’s a lot of controversy over this show on whether it depicted suicide well or not. In my honest opinion, it doesn’t. It showed multiple situations on what led up to her suicide, including a sexual assault scene. However, it didn’t mutter a single word about mental illness such as depression or PTSD. Instead, it glorified suicide and romanticized it.

So, when someone decides to confide such a vulnerable thought, it’s not uncommon that the one they trust enough to tell attempts to stop them by shaming them for fighting their inner battle. Most people don’t want to die by suicide for revenge or to “prove something.”

Most of the time, it’s because they believe they are a nuisance to those around them and feel there is no place for them here. Do you really think telling someone who is already experiencing such painful emotions that they’re a coward and looking for attention is going to help them or stop them from thinking such thoughts? It would only magnify their distress. It would also discourage the person who was brave enough to reach out again in the future if it’s not already too late.

“If only they would have reached out for help, maybe the would’ve lived.”

Remember my last point?

With such negative stigmas surrounding mental illness and suicide, are you surprised that some people hesitate to reach out for help? On the flip side, one can’t just assume they never reached out for help. A lot of individuals do in fact use their resources. But the first step for them is to usually go to someone they trust, and if they don’t receive the help and support they need, the less likely they will pursue it longer.

While it’s important to communicate the need for people to reach out to resources and health care professionals, often people either don’t recognize what they’re experiencing or they don’t have access to mental health resources. Whether it’s because of their lack of insurance, location (such as rural areas), transportation issues, lack of treatment types, or other financial barriers, it’s crucial to recognize that this is just as much of a systemic issue.

           “Isn’t this just an overreaction to their problems? There are people who have it way worse in the world.”

Why does someone think it’s alright to minimize someone’s life experiences or the extent of their emotions?

Everyone is different and deals with situations their own way. The significance of their situation doesn’t discount their pain. It still hurts. Would you tell someone who was shot in the leg that they don’t need treatment because there are people out there who have worse injuries? No? Then why would it be any different than mental illness?

           “If someone wanted to commit suicide, they would just do it.”

This couldn’t be further away from the truth. As mentioned above, those who can do reach out for help. And the first person they go to would most likely be someone they know and trust on a personal level.

           “So, what can I do to help in the best way I can?”

There are many ways you can respond in a helpful manner, such as listening first.  A lot of times, when someone comes and talks to you, it’s better if you just listen instead of looking for an opportunity to speak. However, you don’t want to be put in a place where you are taking on more than you should be handling. Know when to recommend professional help, especially when they seem to be planning on taking some suicidal actions. When someone comes to you and confides that they may be suicidal, take it seriously.

Don’t brush it off.

If you have any reason to believe that they have a plan in place and are in a dangerous spot, call for help immediately, make sure that all weapons are out of their reach and DO NOT leave them alone. Even if someone doesn’t directly confide to you, it’s important to recognize the signs of someone who may be contemplating suicide.

Once we start working on dismantling these harmful stigmas surrounding mental illness and suicide and become more compassionate individuals, we can start to see real change in the suicide rate. It will literally save lives.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. You are not weak, selfish, cowardly, attention seeking, or manipulative. You are a strong and courageous human being that deserves to receive the help, love, and support you deserve.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline (24 hour service): 1-800-273-8255

Txt4life (24 hour service): Text “Life” to 61222

The Trevor Project (an LGBT+ crisis line):  1-866-488-7386

SCSU Resources

SCSU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS): 320-308-3171 (for appointment) ; 320-253-5555 (after hours crisis)

Active Minds (student organization)


Ellen is a 4th year undergrad majoring in Sociology and plans to attend physical therapy school after graduating. She is half Hispanic and half Asian. She was born and raised in Houston, TX and moved to Minnesota with her mom and sister in 2010. Ellen is a hardcore feminist and is passionate about social justice. She enjoys talking about topics such as race, gender and gender violence, LGBTQ+, class, ability, and mental health. When Ellen is not at school or work, she loves to spend her time running ultra-marathons, doing yoga, meditating, gardening, playing the oboe and piano, playing video games, listening to people’s life stories over coffee/tea, spending time with family, volunteering, annoying her sister, and playing with her birds.  Associate editor.

Love Songs as a Queer Woman

(WLW – A term coined by the internet meaning Women loving Woman)

I am relegated to covers.

One of my latest projects was a lesbian fairy tale. It had everything: a princess, the knight she falls in love with, a bigoted cult trying to keep them apart, an old crone that is more than she seems… all of the essentials except for a playlist that I could write to. I set about naming the empty list “RoShi” after my two protagonists, moving it into the correct “character” sub-folder (as you can see, I am very well versed in the art of creating writing mood playlists) and started to build.

I wanted the playlist to be filled with songs by women for women or, at least, by women that could be interpreted as for women (i.e. lack of pronouns, use of ‘you’/’they’/’them’). I ended up completing the playlist after a long and arduous process and out of 16 songs (that’s all I could dig up that matched my criteria and the feel I wanted from the playlist), 10 were covers.

Queer love songs don’t reach the mainstream. Some can make arguments about Troye Sivan, an out, gay artist, yet the song that reached airwaves was the collaboration he had with female artist Alessia Cara, giving off the expectation of heteronormativity.

While it is true that artists such as Halsey and Lauren Jauregui have stirred the water with their coming out and putting out songs with the blatant use of she/her pronouns, those songs don’t make the big time, being celebrated mostly by the LGBTQIA+ community… and the white LGBTQIA+ community at that. WLW artists of color, Hayley Kiyoko for example, don’t get the same recognition, which is doubly disheartening for queer Asian-American women.

Arguments can be made about the logistics between each person’s record label and the branding of each artist, but taking these into account only adds more evidence that wlw of color having even less air time than white wlw. Similar to how the majority of TV shows and movies feature a white lead, the music that finds popularity often has white artists attached to them. This becomes even more prominent if the criteria is narrowed down to love songs.

Coupled with a toxic belief spanning media that LGBTQIA+ content doesn’t sell or is too controversial, wlw of color have little to no chance of reaching audiences that may benefit from their music. A lot of credit can be given to social media sites focused on fan-bases such as tumblr, which usually brings to light things overlooked.

Of course, there is still a long way to go, and to help get there, here’s a list of black, queer women artists included in the list to maybe give a listen to and support.
Also check out Hayley Kiyoko and Mitski, two queer Asian American artists on YouTube!

 

pexels-photo-312418

 

Anonymous is an English Major at SCSU. They are an avid feminist and a passionate writer who loves coffee, cats and snapback hats.

When My Culture Becomes a Children’s Film

Thick eyebrows, big nose, and a permanent snarl.  Portrayed with sinister music or a drive for bloodthirst or greed, Middle-Eastern people are generally cast in a negative light. They are made to be a stereotype for children to watch and absorb, while Middle Eastern culture is watered down and the land they live on oppressed.

Recently, there’s been news of a new live-action Aladdin film coming out.  Initially, I felt trepidation and hesitance about the film.  Would there be any redemption for the Middle-Eastern culture of Jasmin or Aladdin?   Or will they be it be stereotyped and white-washed to fit the high demand of a light protagonist?

I don’t want for myself to be left feeling hopeless with this new adaption.  I want to be able to watch this film and take pride in some of the components that fit my culture. I want to root for the powerful Jasmin or the mischievous Aladdin. 

But with the history of how Middle-Eastern people are portrayed, I may not be too far off in my assumptions and uneasiness. 

Belly DancerThe general stereotypes of Middle-Eastern people are the nomad, the Sheik, the belly dancer, the terrorist, the haggler, and the angry “Arabs” shouting death to all and in between.  Those are the many stereotypes often portrayed in Western film.  It’s incredibly easy to create an “Other” culture to infringe on the Western dream and society that is set. Movies and TV shows are key ways these ideas have been perpetuated.

Prime examples are films like Raiders of the Lost ArkRoad to Morocco, and Never Say Never Again.  The Middle-Eastern antagonist is often portrayed as infringing upon or causing harm to the white male lead or the exceptionally white heroine.  When a Middle-Eastern woman is portrayed, she is either in a haram or she is being ‘rescued’ by a white male lead from the evil of the Middle-Eastern culture.

Can we also ask the important question of why all Middle-Eastern men never smile or show any other emotion aside from anger or lust?  I think it’s because it is better to control how they are perceived by Western culture.  If they are painted in a threatening or dark light and goodness forbid they show any positive emotion, it is easier to control what the West should think of them. muslim-152856_960_720

What makes the stereotype of Middle-Eastern people petrifying is the portrayal of the children. The Western culture has made it incredibly easy to justify the demonization of children in war-like situations happening in the Middle-East.  Two examples are Rules of Engagement, when they paint a little girl as an honest to God terrorist and in the film American Sniper, where it was so easy to callously point a sniper at a child’s head – but wait, he’s a terrorist!

What makes these films frustrating is the lack of understanding about what is actually happening in the Middle-East and the direct effect the West has had on it.  Thousands of citizens dead from useless wars (but in the defense of the West, they were collateral damage).  The land is being cultivated for resources and ground, but the Middle-Eastern people are not appointed their rightful representation of culture or ethnicity.  They are painted in these caricature stereotypes that are so easily accepted that when an actual Middle-Eastern person exhibits a component of themselves, they become the exception to the standard media has created.

It’s numbing. 

I had the unfortunate run in today when I gave my name with the intention to explain its origin with a classmate.  I proudly say Abuhadid and she laughs and says “Abu like the monkey!”  I was flabbergasted.  I wish I hadn’t laughed along to ease the tension but I had to explain that “no, it was abu like father.” My name is powerful and my name has meaning.  It is not an “Arab” little monkey who was given a name that literally makes no sense.  She exclaims and asks me why they would name a monkey abu. 

Well, when no Middle-Eastern person is making the film, it’s far more likely that the culture to get slaughtered and watered down.

I wish I was able to explain the whitewashing and brutalization of my culture.  I am met with blank stares and confusion. 

Will I be watching Aladdin?  I’m not sure.  I honestly don’t know if Middle-Eastern culture will be portrayed authentically.  With the characters look Middle-Eastern?  Will there be a caricature of the culture?  Will they be painted in greed and lust, or will it just be another kid’s film?

 

LakeKholood Abuhadid is a fourth year Biomedical and Medical Lab Science student with minors in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies.  She is Palestinian-American and is passionate about Palestinian rights as well as encompassing feminist intersectional ideology.  Kholood is an avid reader and loves to dabble in creative writing.  She hopes one day to establish herself in the world of medical research as well as have an active voice in the Public Health world.  She also thinks she’s good at knitting but in reality is actually quite horrible!

 

 

 

Championing Diversity or Upholding White Supremacist Values?

In the wake of the violent Charlottesville rallies that happened last month, black Model.jpgtransgender DJ, activist and model Munroe Bergdorf called out white supremacy and structural racism in a personal Facebook post that went viral:

“Honestly I don’t have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people anymore. Yes all white people. Because most of y’all don’t even realize or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of color. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this s***. Come see me when you realize that racism isn’t learned, it’s inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege. Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth… then we can talk.”

Munroe wrote this before she signed on with L’Oréal but it blew up when the Daily Mail caught wind of her post and published an article on it. On Munroe’s twitter she confirms that a white gay man named Adam Pennington had reported her post to the Daily Mail with the intentions of ruining her career.

She was receiving so much backlash that L’oreal made the call to fire her in the name of “championing diversity”.  They responded to Munroe’s comments with a Tweet.

Tweet

A black transgender woman speaking out against the oppressive system that endangers her life and many others, is at odds with their “values”? They proved the exact point that Munroe was making.

The white people crying out “RACIST!” at Munroe Bergdorf for her “yes all white people” phrase is unsurprising. When people of color voice out their oppressions, the responses of white people is not how to dismantle these issues, but how to silence them.

If Munroe had chosen “some” over “all” instead, it would allow white people to be absolved from taking any responsibility for white supremacy. It would allow for them to remain complicit in their contribution to structural racism, which was never the intention of her post. Monroe didn’t care about the comfort of white people. It’s just unfortunate that the situation was handled by centering white people and their feelings at the expense of her career.

L’Oréal’s values and ideas of diversity actually mean tokenizing, exploiting and silencing the voice of a black transgender woman. Corporate feminism is a farce. These major brands learn how to use marginalized identities to sell their products, not to give them a platform. L’Oreal showed us that they don’t value trans women or women of color. We don’t matter to them because we’re seen as disposable.

This is a list of L’Oréal brand names that you can boycott, and here’s a list of black owned beauty brands as an alternative. Please also support trans organizations, whether nationally or locally, and give your time and money to them however you can. Check out organizations like Trans Lifeline and Sylvia Rivera Law Project (SRLP) for starters. Always remember to support and uplift the voices of Queer-Trans/People of Color (QT/POC) in your life.

 

mePliab (Plee-ah) Vang is Hmong American. A feminist. An undergraduate senior at St. Cloud State University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Women’s Studies. She enjoys talking race, gender, class, social issues and pop-culture and is passionate about Asian American and Pacific Islander issues. Pliab is a Master of Procrastination. She spends an unhealthy amount of her time binging (but never actually finishing) TV shows, scrolling through Twitter, and hanging out with friends.

 

The Transgender Experience, Part 1

Content Warning: rape, domestic violence, violence against queer people, sexual assault, emotional abuse

(This is Part 1 of a 2-part series of The Transgender Experience)

There are an estimated 1.4 million transgender Americans in the United States. Approximately one-fifth of them have experienced homelessness. This doesn’t end here, however. When they try to access homeless shelters, more than half will experience harassment from the staff and/or residents. Twenty nine percent will be outright denied access and 22% will experience sexual assault from the staff and/or residents. (For the whole summary, click here).

This is the transgender experience.

My name is Archie Alexandre and I use he/him and they/them pronouns. I am a white, queer, neurodivergent, fat, transgender/gender nonconforming* man who is currently on Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). Yes I plan on having “the surgeries” and no, I won’t tell you my “real name” because Archie IS my real name. I’m 21 years old going to 22 on October 12th, 2017. I am polyamorous and currently have a queerplatonic partner and one romantic/sexual partner. My life is centered around central Minnesota in the United States. I’ve traveled to other states and have traveled outside of the United States once to South Africa.

This is my introduction. This is my Experience.

When I reference “transgender” people, I am also referring to non-binary and gender nonconforming folx. Transgender is considered an umbrella term for all of those kinds of identities. The prefix “trans-” meaning “the other side.”

Now I could go on and on about transgender statistics, but I cannot give you “The Full Transgender Experience™” alone. I would have to include every single transgender person on the planet to do that. What I’m doing here is providing you the lens of one perspective on being transgender. This series will become an intersectional piece on my other identities as one identity is almost always intertwined with another identity.

As a transgender man that works in centering the marginalized voices and bodies, my range of activism expands from grassroots organizing to Black Lives Matter and the abolishment of prisons as well as the disestablishment of the police force. I delve into queer politics and activism more often, however, as it is my main focus for both my educational and personal life. The most notable activism would be around Trans and Queer Liberation.

Being a transgender person has brought about many new challenges in my life. I have never officially come out to my whole family, but I have experienced some rejection from my family on different levels on my journey of discovering my queerness. Unfortunately, coming out to family isn’t as easy as people think it is. Forty-three percent of people who come out to their families will maintain most familial bonds while the other 57% will have experienced very intense rejection from their families.

There is a better chance of you guessing which side a flipped coin will land on.

For my family, coming out isn’t dissimilar to a 10-Step Recovery Process for both my family and I. Most of my family knows and actively ignores my queer identity while there are a few that truly support me. I am out to virtually all of my friends and my co-workers.

I’ve known I was a transgender male for over two years now. I’ve had internal gender issues since I was a child. The language of “transgender” didn’t exist for me until I was in high school where I had met my first transgender person. However, even that is probably a lie. I’ve probably met MANY transgender folx in the time I have existed.

Learning about this identity that I couldn’t put a word to was and is the most super important for me. I admire language in all forms and putting words to my thoughts and feelings. I use language to inform myself and others–like I am now: informing you, the reader, is why I admire language. We can exchange thoughts and feelings to each other with at least a minimal understanding.

Now that we have established some facts of myself, it is time to end here. Please look forward to part two where I describe my feminist philosophies and how my intersecting identities have helped me navigate throughout my world.

Please take this 2-part series as one scope of queer identity out of many. My lived experiences differ a lot from others and are similar to a lot of others, but this should never be used to describe every trans person’s experience.

*DISCLAIMER: This link to the definition of gender non-conforming, while offering an excellent explanation, features Laci Green, who recently has made some problematic content about gender identity. This link is meant for an explanation of the term “gender non-conforming.,” but is not meant to condone Green’s recent problematic statements.

 

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Hello! My name’s Archie Andersen, and I use he/him and they/them pronouns. I identify as a neurodivergent, AFAB, Fat, Queer, Nonbinary Transgender man activist. My main studies are in Queer Theory and Issues and the Prison Industrial Complex, but I also work to end all forms of oppression. I am in my 4th year at St. Cloud State University majoring in Gender and Women’s Studies and minoring in Ethnic Studies. My favorite color is pastel blue, and I really enjoy watching YouTube videos in my spare time.