Eve Ensler Is Wrong That for Women and Trayvon Martin, ‘Our Struggles Are One’
In her open letter to teenage homicide victim Trayvon Martin, whose killer was acquitted on July 14, renowned sexual assault activist Eve Ensler writes, “I am not you. I am not Trayvon Martin. I will never know what it feels like to live in the skin, in the daily rhythms and predeterminations of a black boy or man in America. I will never know what it is like to always be held suspect, to feel categorized from birth as dangerous. But as a woman, there are things I do know and things that I have experienced that bring us into the same story, the same struggle.”
Ensler goes on to explain how she and Martin are alike. For example, she says she knows “what it’s like to be worried about being followed, to speed up my step or slow down and pretend to be casual.” She also says she knows “what it feels like to be attacked or raped and be blamed for it because of what I was wearing (hoodie=short skirt).” Later in her letter, she adds that she’s met many men like Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, who “are full of a simmering explosive rage, determined by poverty or shame or violence or humiliation or low self esteem.” For that reason, she explains that next year’s One Billion Rising event, an event her V-Day movement created in 2013, will focus on justice for all victims of gender violence. Among other things, the event will encourage people to “rise for an end to guns and Stand Your Ground laws where unarmed 17-year-olds are shot down dead,” writes Ensler. “We will rise to say Justice involves the whole story—the story of race, of class, of gender. Our struggles are one.”
With all due respect to Ensler, I don’t think a letter to Martin was the right place to push an agenda about her campaign to end violence against women, especially without first acknowledging the fear many people are taught to feel about men of color—a fear that is just as present in the women’s movement as it is in each of the United States of America. For many, the case against Zimmerman and his acquittal represented a symptom of the nation’s “unaddressed racism.” Ensler, then, had an opportunity to address this issue of race, particularly in the women’s movement, but she blew it.
STOKING FIRE: Islamophobia Trumps “Pro-Life” Ideology
(Annika Rydh pictured above.)
Just three days into 2013, Annika Rydh, a Swedish government official from the town of Almhult, issued a shrill call to both her colleagues and neighbors. Worried about the perceived growth of the Muslim population in her homeland and beyond, she urged the European Union “to act by having some kind of restriction, like the one-child policy in China.” If Muslims don’t like the proposed rule, she continued, they can go back where they came from.
Rydh’s appeal comes on the heels of a decade-long campaign to curtail Muslim immigration into western countries and reduce the number of babies born to Muslim families. International in scope, the anti-Islam movement relies on scare tactics that, more often than not, imply that the Judeo-Christian traditions are in danger of being trampled by Sharia law.
Joseph D’Agostino of the virulently anti-abortion Population Research Institute makes the case: “Because Christians and Jews are refusing to have children, refusing to get married, and having such low birth rates, the Muslims are going to inherit the earth.”
His boss, PRI founder Steven W. Mosher, goes even farther: “Many security experts have long believed that excessive population growth in Muslim countries is a national security threat to the west.”
The Brutal Lust of the “Jigaboo” Fantasy “Mammyfied” Through Fashion
Cross-posted with permission from jasmineburnett.com.
It is my hope that at least, every Black woman who sees these “Mammy” earrings is going to say they are racist without a second thought or question in their mind. I say that because, the fact that there have been “polls" to prove how racist it is, further indicates that "Post Racial" is only real in the definition of the word, not in the lives and conditions of Black women and girls. I have no patience to tell you why this among many other structural and institutional things that society profits from is racist, nor, will I ever become immune to society’s constant disrespect of Black women and girls. What should have happened as those designs were being sketched was a simple consideration, who is harmed by this luxury product created for profit? Of course, its Black women and girls and our dignity but again, no one asked us what we thought or how we felt.
I imagine what bores black people about the racism of well-meaning white people is watching them struggle with this shroud and entangle themselves in it and blow at it and touch it and ignore it and disown it, all the while remaining rapt in the drama, the spectacle of our own anxiety, at the expense of the encounter itself.
–Naomi Wolf, “The Racism of Well-Meaning White People”
Yet, I’m clear that society still only sees us in one way, those fantasies that percolates in its DNA: Hottentot, Jigaboo, Mammy, Sapphire and I could name more. How do I know this? Because I and millions of other Black women walk in the legacy of that experience every day.
How Governments and Individuals — Meaning Each of Us — Deny the Persistence of Racism and Abuse
When you work on human rights issues, you notice a certain pattern in government denial of abuse. First line of defense: it didn’t happen. Or if it happened, they did it to themselves. Or if they didn’t, we certainly had nothing to do with it. Or if we did, we didn’t mean to. It doesn’t matter if the issue is torture, forced evictions, or garden-variety employment discrimination. The response from those in charge is often, if not always, the same.
Though this pattern is annoying, to say the least, I have lately become acutely aware of a much more depressing trend: the denial of abuse among those of us who should know better. Of course, we don’t call it denial. We call it “realism.” But the mechanism is the same.
1. “It didn’t happen.”
For decades, commentators and a large proportion of the US public have posited that racism no longer exists. Despite the fact that skin color and ethnicity matters with regard to just about any social indicator you care to look at — health, education, employment, housing, law enforcement — most white people believe the system we live in is racially just.
The writer Touré has described this situation as a “fog of racism:” a situation so subtle, it is blurred. “With this form of racism,” he says, “there is no smoking gun. There is no one calling you a nigger to your face. There’s no sign saying you can’t enter this building. … But … it’s there.”
This is not much different from the many people who are genuinely puzzled at the need for continued attention to women’s issues in the United States now that “the genders are equal.”