This Week: The Schomburg, Mama Grizzlies, & more

‘I Was Scared to Sleep’: LGBT Youth Face Violence Behind Bars

The Nation: “Across the United States, the brutal and dysfunctional juvenile justice system sends queer youth to prison in disproportionate numbers, fails to protect them from violence and discrimination while they’re inside and to this day condones attempts to turn them straight.”

American Apparel wants you as naked and white as possible

theloop21: “The lighter the skin, the nicer the hair— the better. As an AA manager was told in regards to hiring at casting calls: ‘none of the trashy kind that come in, we don’t want that. we’re not trying to sell our clothes to them. Try to find some of these classy black girls, with nice hair, you know?’”

No, Sexual Violence Is Not ‘Cultural’

New York Times: “Still, we in the West too often find it easier to perceive rape as an accepted part of an unfamiliar culture rather than as a tool of war that we could help banish. Too often, the enemy becomes all Congolese men rather than men with guns terrorizing the Congolese people. By casting the chaos and violence as ‘men vs. women’ or dismissing the crisis as ‘cultural,’ we do a profound injustice to Congolese men.” Continue reading

Repeal HRC Today!

Image courtesy of Human Rights Campaign

I think I was a Human Rights Campaign member before I could legally vote, I was certainly a donor long before I was employed. Over the past few years, though, I’ve felt like HRC’s activities–what they do, not just what they say they do–have made me my question my membership. I recognize the scope of their mission, and the neccessary limitations of their activities; they are like an old friend and I’ve been more than willing to be both understanding and forgiving. When this year’s round of renewal notices began clogging my mailbox I decided to wait before sending them a donation, to take a little more time to think seriously about who and what I was supporting. Today I wrote them a letter, annoyed about something small and how much it demonstrated about something much much larger. Below is my open letter to HRC; feel free to comment, disagree, correct or advise me (heck, you can even agree with me if you like) – it just seemed like I had gone an embarrisingly long time not saying anything when something desperately needed to be said.

An Open Letter to the Human Rights Campaign:

I recently received your email asking me to thank my local representative for voting “Yes” to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” I was pleased to receive this email and happy to click through and send a message to Rep. Pascrell thanking for him his vote on this important issue. But when I reached the HRC page, I discovered that I think I need to send an email about another important issue.

The form page I navigated to gave me the option to personalize the message to my local representative. It also required that I include certain information about myself including my name, my email address, my street address and my title. I could not submit the form and send the letter to my representative without populating these fields. As a person whose gender identity happens to match both my biological sex and other people’s perception of my gender, I regularly answer the Mr/Miss/Ms question without much thought. As an organization dedicated to the protection of civil rights, I hardly think you can afford to be so thoughtless. Continue reading

Then and Now: The Thesis Process and the Power of History

by Anne Louise Cranwell

Photo courtesy of the author

A few years ago, a close friend of mine compared his medical school experience to inserting a hose into his mouth and turning on the water full blast.  Needless to say, it was stressful, and he had forgotten that he chose medicine to help people.  My experiences as a Women’s History grad student have not been quite so dramatic, but at times I felt as though my head was barely above water.  The feeling of “drowning” is something one might experience often; however, the feeling passes, and you just keep on swimming.  When this amazing blog began, I wrote of my early thesis travails, and when I read those words now, I think of how far I have come and how much my thesis has changed, not to mention my knowledge and my confidence.  At times, I had no clue what I was doing, but my passion for my topic never faltered. Continue reading

Reimagining History

by Tanisha Love Ramirez

When I was a Junior in high school my school invited fifteen students, myself included, to participate in a trial advanced placement history course, that was intended to tell American history from the point of view of the often left out historical players, such as the Native Americans, Latinos and African Americans.   We were really excited.  However, by the second day of class the course had been cancelled, because we did not have enough money in the budget to buy fifteen textbooks.  Instead, we were all transferred to an overcrowded U.S. Government class, where we shared books and learned about American Government, from a wholly white-American point of view.

Reading Latina Legacies (2005), in conjunction with Vicki L. Ruiz’s article, “Nuestra America: Latino History as United States History” (2006) was like a second chance at the course that I feel my classmates and I were robbed of. Continue reading

Making her Voice Heard at Speaker’s Corner: The Work of Latifa Echakhch at the Tate Modern

by Jen Westmoreland Bouchard

Latifa Echakhch, Speakers Corner 2008 and Fantasia 2008 © The artist, installation at Tate. Photo: Tate Photography

Born in El Khnansa, Morocco in 1974, Latifa Echakhch has lived most of her life in France and now resides and works in both Paris and Martigny, Switzerland.  Echakhch’s work focuses primarily on themes of cultural identity, agency, globalization, and immigration.  Her 2006 work, Hospitality, explores the bureaucratic obstacles faced by immigrants to France and the ways in which these “outsiders” are perceived by their Western counterparts. In the fall of 2008, I had the opportunity to view Echakhch’s installation, Speaker’s Corner, on display in London’s Tate Modern.   The installation is made up of two parts residing in separate rooms.  Though physically separate, they relate to one another thematically on many levels.  For Each Stencil Revolution 2007 is a room of dark blue carbon paper layered over the entirety of each of the four walls.  The title of this section harkens back to international human rights and war protests of the 1960s, during which carbon paper was used to create multiple copies of flyers, statements, and images. Continue reading