Thursday, October 30, 2008

Suggested Event: Ananya Dance

Ananya Dance Theatre's
Pipaashaa: Extreme Thirst
Women of Substance Series and Ananya Dance Theatre
Thursday - Friday November 6-7, 2008 at 8PM

Pipaashaa, extreme thirst, is an artistic response to the steady
eradication and contamination of natural resources by aggressive
industrialization, from the point of view of some of the most
vulnerable populations in society. Created in collaboration with
leaders and scholars from the local environmental justice movement
and other internationally renowned artists, Pipaashaa is a story of
the desire to live amidst loss and struggle, and it articulates both
the aching thirst of struggling communities and the dream of an
alternative context, through the power of dance.

Pipaashaa is the first of a three-part series of new works
choreographed by ADT Artistic Director Ananya Chatterjea in response
to the steady drying up of the world's resources, specifically
through environmental damage, which heightens the vulnerable position
in which much of the world's women and children are forced to live.
It tells the stories of women and children who are forced to live in
the most difficult of circumstances-somehow pulling together an
existence by scavenging through dirt piles collecting recyclable
materials, for instance, in dense urban areas. More generally,
"Pipaashaa" explores ideas of loss and struggle, the desire to live,
and the relationship of these ideas to femininity.

When: Thursday - Friday November 6-7, 2008 at 8PM. (Post-show
Discussion Friday)
Where: The O'Shaughnessy, 2004 Randolph Ave, St Paul, Minnesota
Tickets: $25, student rate: $16
Call 651-690-6700 for Tickets or through

For more information on Ananya Dance Theatre:

Contact Info
Brent Radeke, E-Newsletter Coordinator

Analyze This! Video on Minnesota's Prison Industry

We will watch this in class today... we will analyze using readings from our text book.

Watch and think about KEY CONCEPTS from the reading and the "buzz" words used in this video like "productivity", "always here" labor force, "control our costs", "win-win situation for EVERYONE", and things like jobs others won't do... "where do you find workers....", the RESOURCES inside America's correctional facility"

Language and power folks.

We will look at the MINNCOR Industries website in class:

and take a "virtual tour" of Minnesota's prison at the MN DOC homepage:
(although Shakopee is not accessible)

Also, peep this blog by Carleton Educational Studies Chair Deborah Appleman who is using her sabbatical to teach a course on "Language and Power" inside Stillwater Prison:

Also, trailer of my film about project in Stillwater:

FUN Stuff guys. And, my former student Amit will join us next Thursday!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


JOB TITLE Film/Video Intern (December 2008 – March 2009)


REPORTS TO Program Manager, Film/Video

The Film/Video intern will assist in the solicitation and tracking of preview and public relation materials for future programming; assist in the drafting, fact-checking, and proofing of text for brochures and catalogues; assist in identifying community groups to promote our film programs to; and help prepare text, video clips and web links for the Walker website. This internship requires a commitment of two, 7-hour days per week.

Qualifications for these internships include a degree or current enrollment in a film/video degree program; computer experience with word processing (MS Word), Excel (spreadsheet), Filemaker Pro (preferred); and office skills for faxing, photocopying, and filing. Some professional film exhibition experience also preferred.

Benefits include: free tickets to screenings of film/video presentations; comp tickets to other events as available; a Walker membership; and Gallery 8 Café and Walker Shop discounts. There is also a $30 per week stipend.

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, November 21, 2008

For consideration, send your letter and resume to Human Resources, Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55403. Job line:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

An Open Letter to White Non-Muslim Western Feminists

Taken from Muslimnists blog (

"We need to talk.

Having the economic privilege to spend a few summers in Cairo or to study abroad in Dubai does not give you the authority to speak about Middle Eastern culture.

Dating a Saudi guy does not give you the authority to speak about Islam. Or about Muslim men.

Knowing some Muslim women through work or as friends does not give you the authority to speak for them or the rest of Muslim women.

There are those of us who suffer. But don’t speak of us as victims if we are not dead. Don’t deny the agency with which we become survivors and active shapers of our lives. Don’t ignore the fighting we do for ourselves.

We can—and do—speak for ourselves. So stop speaking for us.

I notice a lot of condescension and arrogance when you talk to us or about us. Let me be clear: you do not know more about us than we know about ourselves, our religion, our cultures, our families, or the forces that shape our lives. You do not know what’s best for us more than we do.

So please check yourselves.

Being an ally does not mean speaking for us, making choices for us, or figuring out what’s best for us. It means supporting and defending the choices we make and the voices we use.

If we want help, and ask for it, then do only what you’re asked. Don’t invent new ways to characterize us as oppressed or agitate for the solving of problems that aren’t pressingly important. Case in point: if we want better divorce laws in a particular country, don’t agitate for the abolishing of mandatory clothing policies.

If you can’t do that, then don’t bother. It’s better to just stay out of our way. Passing judgment on and mischaracterizing our choices, our religion, or ways of life does us more harm than good; with friends like that, who needs enemies?


An Islamic feminist who has met one-too-many white non-Muslim feminists that assume that they know better"


I have the movie for the day and will be watching it at some point if anyone wants to join me...i'm flexible time-wise...

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Is anybody having a movie showing tomorrow?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

movie time in the cultural house (37 macalester street)

hey all,

just wanted to let everyone know that I will be showing the movie at 7 o'clock tonight.

will that work?


Twin Cities League of Youth (aka Pissed Off) Voters

Visit the Homepage for more info

Endorsement Slate Introduction

Who we are…We are young people from the Twin Cities who are pissed off at politics as usual and want to have a say in the policies that govern our lives. There are a whole lot of us, and if politicians want our votes they need to get serious about the issues we face every day.

What we want… At the end of the day, what we want is simple—a fair chance to get an education, a job and a place to live in a safe and sustainable world regardless of sex, race, class, identity or ability. We pay taxes, we vote and we want to live in a country that respects young people and invests in us to succeed. We're not asking for handouts. We're demanding fairness and smarter priorities.

We did the research…And man was it a lot of work! Here are the candidates we think best reflect the needs and values of young people in the Twin Cites. But as LeVar Burton always said, “You don’t have to take my word for it”—We HIGHLY encourage you to do your own research as well!

What You Need to Know

• Polls are open on Nov 4, 7am - 8pm.
• To find out where you vote, go to:

• If you have been convicted of a felony, your right to vote is automatically restored when you finish probation/parole; if you are off paper, you can register and vote
• If you need assistance with a disability or a language other than English, you can bring someone with you into the polls to mark your ballot.
• Out-of-state college students: you can vote absentee in your home state OR you can register to vote in MN (but not both)
• You have the right to be absent from work, to vote, for up to two hours on the morning of Election Day—without reduction in pay

• Register by October 14th so your name is on the voter rolls on Election Day, OR….
• Election Day Registration -- bring proof of who you are and where you live to your polling place:
o Option #1: MN driver’s license, MN state ID, or photo tribal ID (ID can be expired, address must be current)
o Option #2: A photo ID + a current utility bill in your name
o Option #3: A voucher -- someone registered to vote in your precinct who can swear that you live there

• If you have any questions about where or how to vote, or if anything sketchy or confusing goes down, call:
• 1-866-OUR-VOTE

Hit us up!

For questions, or to get involved with the Twin Cities League of Pissed Off Voters, contact Camille:, 651.414.6040. Check out our website:

Download PDF of guide: Final_Endorsement_Slate.pdf

Axe Dark Temptation: Consuming the Other

I saw this ad when I was watching the baseball game last Sunday night.

There is also a website for "Axe Dark Temptation" featuring prizes, games, and opportunities to meet Chocolate Man in person at various Six Flags locations, etc.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Watch This!

Framing: Michelle Obama

Event: Michelle Obama at Macalester
Monday October 13th, 2008

When I heard that Michelle Obama was going to be at Macalester I got excited because I immediately began thinking about her and what she would say from my feminist perspective. In the past this would not have been the case, but I feel like I got much more out of her visit knowing what I do now, and having some skills to analyze things more critically.

As soon as I got into the Leonard Center where she was going to speak the coordinators began placing people on the risers on stage. These are the people who you see behind the big wig with their signs and t-shirts, etc. I thought it was interesting to see the types of people that were put on the stage and where on the stage as well. On the front row there were several white women who were 50's-ish and a younger white man and woman, probably college-age who were all towards the middle. But then, on each end of the front row there was a black man on the left end and a black woman on the right end. Throughout the rest of the crowd there was just a spattering of middle-aged white people. I think it was interesting how they only put two black people on the ends of the group on stage, as if they were the anchors or something. This is interesting to me to considering that Barack Obama has taken some heat for not paying more attention to his blackness and the ways in which he has associated with black voters.

As we talked a little bit about in class, I think Michelle Obama faces huge obstacles in presenting herself to the public. We talked about the way she has to frame herself; she is a wife, she is a mother. Mother, mother, mother. I felt like she really put stress on the importance of her being a mom and her daughters being number one. This would be great if it weren't for the fact that she's doing this because if she were to be too forward and appear too ambitious as a professional woman, she would never hear the end about how she neglects her kids. I also feel like she is pressured to stress her motherhood as well to make her capable of being resonated with by all the voting moms...maybe?

Overall, I was very impressed with Michelle Obama. I think she presented herself very well considering the position she's in and the way she has to maneuver through all kinds of crazy political and patriarchal bullshit.

Butler Reading Group: Let's start HERE!

1. Interview with Butler on

2. "The desire for philosophy" interview with Butler -


4. "The Believer" Interview -

There are obvious overlaps but I think this will give us context and some key ideas to start with. Then, we can jump into her texts... Want to "trouble gender" anyone??

In class we can figure out best time to meet... I propose Tuesdays (or every other Tuesday) in my office at 1 or 1:30 pm

Any takers? Want a different time, propose one!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Event write up: Dragmanity

Bryant Lake Bowl was host to “Dragmanity: Divalicious Night!” on October 16th at 10:00 pm. We got there around 9:30, and there was quite a long line for tickets. My friend and I got the last 2. Before this I had only seen drag kings, never drag queens, and I was wildly impressed with the level o talent. All of the acts would have been impressive if women had performed them, and the fact that it was men who were doing the splits, hanging from chains, and dancing around, made it incredibly amazing.
The idea of objectification is interesting when talking about drag. With women, seductive dances while wearing a skimpy outfit for an audience can be construed as demeaning, but with drag, maybe partially because society tends to view it as more of a choice-driven rather than necessity-driven activity, the skimpier and sexier they are the more impressive it is, and it never really seems demeaning, only fun and sometimes a bit silly.
At first I was trying to see what the tips were based on, and if different clothes produced different amount of tips, but it seemed fairly arbitrary. The one performer who was a little heavier did seem to get fewer tips than the skinny queen dressed in lingerie, but then other thin acts also received less money. I suppose it just totally depended on how much the audience liked the act.
It’s hard to analyze this performance or really articulate my reaction, other than my astonishment. The lip-synching was some of the best I’ve ever seen, there were a few times when I couldn’t tell whether they were singing or lip-synching, because they did switch back and forth.
Seeing which aspects of the opposite sex drag performers highlight is interesting. For the most part, all of the wigs were long (except in 2 acts), there was tons of makeup, glitter, and jewelry, and also, unless I missed one, all of the in all of the acts the performers wore heels. When the performer was wearing something other than lingerie, they were usually dresses, but there were a few other hot girly outfits as well, including a one-piece sparkly blue suit. Most of the performers were very thin, too. This confirmation of stereotypical “girl” clothes and accessories makes sense, because it is easiest to replicate that which is most widely apparent. But, do drag queens reinforce societal beauty standards by conforming to them in their performance of the female gender, or do they challenge them by positioning themselves as male within the standards?


7pm – Slingshot Hip Hop (Palestine/USA, 2008, 87 minutes, DigiBeta, Jackie Reem Salloum, dir.) + Q&A with director and the Palestinian DAM crew

Slingshot Hip Hop braids together the stories of young Palestinians living in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank as they discover hip hop and employ it as a tool to surmount divisions imposed by occupation and poverty. The film begins with Tamer, Suhell, and Mahmoud of DAM, the first ever Palestinian hip hop group, from their early, awkward recording attempts in an Israeli studio to fiery, sold-out shows in Europe. We experience their politicization with the outbreak of the second Intifada, their emergence as community leaders, and their years-long struggle to produce an album in spite of crushing poverty. Through DAM we meet Mahmoud Shalabi, an irreverent rapper from Akka, along with solo R&B artist Abeer and rap group Arapeyat, young women pushing up against cultural boundaries to emerge as talented artists in the Palestinian hip hop scene. Meanwhile, Mohammed, Kan’aan and Mezo of PR (Palestinian Rapperz) have begun emulating DAM and other rappers in Israel and the West Bank. Trapped in Gaza, one of the most heavily populated places on Earth, PR long to visit their fellow rappers in the West Bank, while making the best of check points, economic despair and military attacks. From internal checkpoints and Separation Walls to gender norms and generational differences, this is the story of young people crossing the borders that separate them. Slingshot Hip Hop is a reflection of the rappers themselves, an inspiring union between the Palestinian struggle and this Black American art form gone global.

Director’s Bio:

Jackie Reem Salloum is a New York based artist and filmmaker. Drawing on her Palestinian and Syrian roots, her pop-infused work focuses on challenging the stereotypes of Arabs in the media. She has directed several shorts exploring this issue, including Planet of the Arabs, which received the International Editing Award, at the 2005 CinemaTexas Film Festival and was an official selection at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. After receiving her MFA from New York University, Salloum began directing her first feature length documentary Slingshot Hip Hop. Five years in the making it made its premiere at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival-Documentary Competition. Salloum’s work is also the basis of a youth education program on Palestine, and she frequently speaks at universities and conferences internationally.

Post-screening Discussion and Concert:Director Jackie Salloum and the Palestinian Hip-Hop group DAM will be present for a post-screening discussion. DAM will also give a much-anticipated performance on the fringe of the festival on Saturday October 18 at the Cedar Cultural Ceter. For reservations, call 612 338 2674, or visit

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bibliography on Men and Masculininty

Dear friends and colleagues,

I hope you will be interested to hear that The Men's Bibliography has just been updated. As you may know, The Men's Bibliography is a comprehensive online bibliography of writing on men, masculinities, gender, and sexualities. It includes works focused on men and gender, as well as a wide variety of related works on gender, sexualities, and other issues. You can find it at:

In this nineteenth edition of the bibliography, I have added a further 2,810 references, bringing the total books and articles listed to about 22,400. I have also added new sections, for example on violence prevention, feminist activism and gender policy (in the "Men, Feminism, and Gender Equality" section), alternative sexual cultures including polyamory, children's exposure to pornography and other sexual media, and domestic violence and family law.

The Men's Bibliography is free and for public use. You are most welcome to make use of the bibliography, to add links to the web site from your own web sites, and to send in details of your academic publications to be added to the bibliography. Also feel free to circulate this announcement.

I hope that you will find The Men's Bibliography a useful resource for your work and involvements.

Can I also remind you of the website XYonline, which includes over 160 articles on men, masculinities, and sexualities. You can find this at: This includes a comprehensive list of web links on men and gender. (XY is currently being redesigned, meaning that I've delayed adding a number of new articles and links to the site.)

Apologies for any cross-posting of this notice.

Best wishes,

michael flood.
15 October 2008

Twin Cities 5th Arab Film Festival

Mizna Presents:
The Twin Cities 5th Arab Film Festival
October 16-19, 2008
The Heights Theatre
3951 Central Avenue Northeast, Minneapolis
Cost: $5 student/low income $8 general admission
Festival Passes available $40 advanced (online) $55 at door

As the only Arab film festival in the Upper Midwest, Mizna's Fifth Arab Film Festival is becoming a cultural feature of the region. This year's event will run from 16th to 19th October, 2008 at the historic Heights Theatre in Minneapolis. Over 20 feature films, experimental shorts, and documentaries will be given public screening in morning, afternoon, and evening sessions. Themes explored include immigration and exile, war and peace, religion and sexuality and most films will receive their Minnesota or US premiere. Many screenings will be followed by a discussion with panels of international Arab filmmakers and academics. The festival will also include public receptions which will provide a gathering point for the community to dialogue on issues related to art, life, and the Arab condition in the US and abroad.

Mizna's Arab Film Festival was designed to meet two basic needs: to introduce authentic Arab and Muslim culture to the American public, and to offer the Arab-Muslim communities in the US a genuine forum where complex, even sensitive issues can be freely and safely discussed.

The Arab-Muslim world is the most embattled region in the world and its peoples are the most scrutinized - even vilified - people on the planet. How do Arab films reflect this situation? How is cinematographic production affected by the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Lebanon? How do Arab filmmakers deal with the issues of immigration, gender equality, terrorism, political prisoners and other burning issues? Does cinema provide a refuge from the painful reality, or does it provide a safe ground to confront it? Mizna's Fifth Arab Film Festival might not provide the answers for these questions, but it hopes to initiate the discussion.

Some special events include:
• Thursday October 16th: El Ayel/ A Muslim Childhood by Moumen Smihi
followed by a catered reception.
• Friday October 17th: Slingshot Hip-Hop and A Jihad for Love. The
first explores a vibrant Hip-Hop scene in occupied Palestine and the
second explores the issue of homosexuality in the Muslim world.
Slingshot Hip-Hop's director Jackie Selloum will be present for a
post-screening discussion, and Palestinian Hip-Hop band DAM will give
a performance on the fringe of the festival at the Cedar Cultural
Centre on Saturday night.
• Saturday October 18th: Meeting Resistance by Molly Bingham and Steve
Cox; a fascinating documentary on the Iraqi resistance to US
occupation, followed by a discussion with the directors. Adieu Méres
by Mohammed Ismail explores the mass immigration of Jews from Morocco
to Israel in 1960.
• Sunday October 19th: Jerusalem: The East side Story is among the
first films to document life for the Arab population of Jerusalem
under Israeli occupation. Arab Cinema: The State of Things closes the
festival with director Nasser-Eddine Benalia leading the discussion on
the state of things of cinematographic production in the Arab world.
• Also on Sunday, October 19th, Detroit native Rola Nashef will be
speaking after the showing of her film, Detroit Unleaded. It is a
fictional look at Detroit's Arab population and the world of gas
station ownership.


Mizna is an Arab American organization that provides a forum for promoting Arab culture and gives voice to Arabs through literature, art, and community events. Founded in 1998, Mizna publishes the only journal of Arab American literature in the United States. In addition to the literary publication, Mizna works with the local community to facilitate Arab artistic expression through cultural classes, invited national and international Arab writers and artists, and local community forums to encourage the development of Arab American artistic expression.

Visit our website at Film festival website:

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

At the "U": *"Native American Oral Tradition: The Stories and Storytellers"*


Tuesday, October 21, 12:15 p.m.

Ted Mann Concert Hall, West Bank Campus

*"Native American Oral Tradition: The Stories and Storytellers"*

/to be presented by /

*DR. SCOTT MOMADAY*, Pulitzer Price winning author and artist

The attached flyer describes the lecture fully. Also, large
commemorative posters have been widely distributed across campus to mark
this lecture, which is free and open to the public.

Seating is available on a first-come first-served basis; the hall opens
at 11 a.m.

Additional information about the Graduate School's Guy Stanton Ford
Lectureship is available on the web at:


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Barack & Curtis: Manhood, Power and Respect

From the director who brought us Beyond Beats and Rhymes - Byron Hurt

I am proud to be a part of the Black Masculinity Project, a project of the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). Like many other filmmakers who applied for this, I was required to submit to them three ideas for a short documentary (10 minutes or less) that examined various aspects of black masculinity. Of the three ideas I had, NBPC chose the one that was actually a last minute idea.

The idea for Barack & Curtis came to me the night before NBPC's deadline. I conceived the short doc just as Barack Obama was emerging as a presidential front-runner. I thought, "Why not create a short doc that discussed Barack Obama's masculinity in a way I had not yet seen." I wanted to make something that was topical, clever, fresh, unique, and off the beaten path. A political junkie, I was intrigued by Obama's rise to political rock stardom. The more I watched Obama stumping on the campaign trail, the more I found his cool presentation of manhood interesting and refreshing. On the surface, Obama's manhood appeared to be the polar opposite of the stereotypical images of black masculinity we've come to expect from hip-hop and popular culture.

When I tell people about Barack & Curtis, most people's first reaction is laughter. Or, they'll say, "I know who Barack is, but who's Curtis?" After I explain who "Curtis" is and what the piece is about, people generally say, "Wow, now that sounds interesting. I can't wait to see it!"

"Curtis" is rapper/mogul Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent. Yeah, I know what you're thinking. Why would I compare/contrast the masculinity of Barack Obama, an "upstanding" statesman-like presidential candidate, with 50 Cent, a "lowly" gangsta rapper, right? Well, because Barack Obama is THE MAN right now, who is shattering so many myths about black masculinity, and because 50 Cent, who was just named Forbes Magazine's top-earning rapper, currently embodies gangsta hip-hop masculinity like no other. Both are successful Black men. Both are rock stars. Both are admired and feared. I thought that juxtaposing the two in a short doc would make for historic level conversations.

I'm very happy with the final product, but I have to admit, I wish I could have made a much longer piece. I interviewed a lot of heavyweights who really know politics, gender, and hip-hop. Unfortunately, because the online piece had to be limited to 9 minutes and 58 seconds, I couldn't include them all. The piece you will see in October merely scratches the surface, and is a subject worthy of more time and attention.

The Black Masculinity Project and Barack & Curtis are scheduled to premiere online the first week of October. I want you to see some of the material that hit the cutting room floor, so I will release some of my favorite interviews and clips leading up to its launch. The first one starts this week.

I hope you'll watch Barack & Curtis online and then forward everywhere. Help spread the word by posting it to your blogs, social networking sites, websites, and listservs. Talk about it with your friends, co-workers, and family.

One final note: Barack & Curtis is in no way intended to create a negative association between Barack Obama and 50 Cent. Anyone who would suggest that mis-understands what my piece is all about. Furthermore, anyone who uses Barack & Curtis to smear Barack Obama in any way, is either ignorant, or morally bankrupt. In no way do I want to damage Barack Obama's historic presidential campaign. In no way am I suggesting that Barack Obama is down with G-Unit or is a gangsta rapper cleverly disguised as a presidential candidate. Neither is Barack & Curtis intended to glorify 50 Cent. Instead, the piece is my attempt to humanize 50 Cent, examine two very different Black men who express their masculinity in two very different ways, and who took two very different paths to achieve manhood, power, and respect.

In the end, I hope Barack & Curtis spreads all over the world over the Internet, igniting a powerful online conversation about Barack Obama, 50 Cent, and the range of black masculinity in between.

God bless,

B. Hurt

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Nissan Commercial

Just got shocked from this AD while I was browsing for cars:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lots of links [random samples of Rachel's work]:

I started teaching a new "Intro to Video" class at IFP MN last night. I have two Mac students in it, which got me thinking that I could/should share some of my work with you all too. Here's goes:


- Sample Reel of MOSTLY RAP/HIP-HOP

- Video projection (shown here with "scratch" track) of TRACKS with Tish Jones [for show at the Walker]

- Video projection (shown here with "scratch" track) of PINK LADIES with Moira Pirsch [for show at the Walker]

- Digital story (trailer for funding a larger doc) of breaking the cycle: the Story of Steven Glaze

- Experimental digital shorts [blog series]: ghostbox #1: killer cancer cells

- Short doc of IF I COULD HEAR MY MOTHER PRAY: a performance ethnography of Black motherhood

- Excerpt of (non-distributed version of) ESTILO HIP HOP

- Excerpt of STILLWATER POETRY [imprisoned intellectuals] documentary (work-in-progress)

- Excerpt of NOBODY KNOWS MY NAME [about women in hip-hop]

- Excerpt of FREESTYLE: THE ART OF RHYME [role: videographer/co-editor]

- Promotional short for event I co-founded B-GIRL BE: A CELEBRATION OF WOMEN IN HIP-HOP

- Video projection (looping reel) for B-Girl Be: A B-Girl Is...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Event Write Up

Going Home Ain’t Always Easy: Southern (Dis)Comfort and the Politics of Performing History”: A Lecture by E. Patrick Johnson, Northwestern University

On Sunday, September 28, 2008, The Mahmoud El-Kati Distinguished Lectureship in American Studies honored its first guest of the year in the Weyerhauser Boardroom at Macalester College. Professor E. Patrick Johnson, Department Chair of Performance Studies, based his lecture on his book “Sweet Tea: An Oral History of Black Gay Men in the South.” Professor Johnson’s work brings a group silenced both by Southern Culture and Black Machismo to the center of the conversation of sexuality.

Johnson was very deliberate in his method of using oral history to document the lives of his interviewees. He interviewed over 70 men, all from various Southern states, to start a conversation about life as gay individuals. The men he interviewed were as young as 19 and as old as 93. Some of the men were openly gay, bisexual, transgendered, many married to women, and even more married to the church. These men were preachers, drag queens, business men, socialites, and choir teachers. The men interviewed ranged from economically poor to economically wealthy. Some men spoke anonymously while others were more than happy to give both their first and last name. Johnson recounted how many men chose pseudonyms based on the name of the street they grew up on and the name of their first pet. Most importantly, regardless of their name, class, or career, all of these men were overlooked in many conversations about black sexuality. Johnson, although practicing critical ethnography, allowed the men to tell their stories their way and without fear of their voice being usurped in an expository manner. Johnson, a gay black male from the South, wrote this book to enter black gay men into the discourse of race, region and sexuality.

While attending Johnson’s talk, I employed a feminist lens to flush out correlations between the men in Johnson’s book and the theory we use in class. Johnson discusses how many gay black men from the South suffer from “simultaneous oppressions” Many black gay men are bound by black respectability. However, black respectability is synonymous with heteronormativity and Black Machismo. A black man is supposed to be a pimp, a player, a womanizer, and the protector of the race. However, gay black men are seen as effeminate, thus, they are viewed as weak sissies and oppressed because they are too much like women. This allowed Johnson to make a very huge critique of sexism as well as homophobia found in the black community. Johnson discussed how many people equate the gay black male to bringing down the race because they are working with white people to oppress black individuals. Johnsons makes this argument based on the once common belief that being gay is a white man’s issue. Therefore, these black gay men are not seen as black because cannot love the race if they love another man. Johnsons goes on to detail how Southern black life is so intertwined with the black church. Many of the men he interviewed cannot reconcile being gay and also being physically apart of the church. Therefore, these men either believe they can pray their gayness away, they sit in church and endure homophobia, they go to a more gay friendly church, or they withdraw from the physical space of church altogether. Religion plays a major role in the lives of many Southern black gay men. The struggle between loving oneself, loving god, and legitimizing one’s Blackness creates a life of contradictions for many of the men Johnson’s talks about. Many men know who they are while others struggle everyday with accepting themselves based on finding acceptance from their communities.

One man in particular, Chas/Chastity, lives his life as a woman everyday except on Sunday when he attends church. While interviewing Chastity, Johnsons felt uncomfortable. Johnsons did not want to be seen with Chastity because he feared his reputation would somehow be ruined. All his life, Johnson tried to be the best of everything to make up for the fact he was gay. Although he is out to his family, he also became a victim of black respectability which keeps many of these men silenced. However, this allowed Johnsons to examine his own positionality. Johnson, who is privileged because he was the first person from his town to receive a PHD, realized he had to account for his own privilege and his own biases during his project. The conversations with these men allowed him to do so, therefore, he approached his work with the intention to document these men’s stories and not to expose them or misrepresent their subcultures.

The best thing about the talk was the level of honesty and sincerity Johnson maintained. He has a one man live show in order to allow these stories to reach a broader audience. He performs their characters to help end homophobia by portraying black gay men as human beings deserving of love. He also performs his characters to help anyone struggling with their sexuality based on a culture which silences black gay men. Johnson said he is donating the stories of these men to an archive so that they will no longer be silenced in history.

Twin Cities Breast Cancer 3Day

What: The 3Day- A three day event to raise awareness and donations for Breast Cancer, sponsored by and benefiting the Susan G. Komen foundation. Participants each raise at least $2300 and walk 60 miles around the Twin Cities over the course of the weekend, returning to a base camp each night. Volunteer crew members also work for these three days on many different teams to keep the event and camp running smoothly.
When: September 18-21st
Where: The walk travels throughout the Twin Cities, the camp is in Woodbury (a suburb of Minneapolis)

Almost four thousand people participated in the Twin Cities Breast Cancer 3Day this year, including my 21-year-old sister Hannah and I. Although we weren’t walking in the event, we are planning on walking in the event together next year and we were crew members on the Camp Logistics team this year! Camp Logistics duties are based in manual labor and include setting up hundreds of chairs and tables around the camp, but our main duty was hauling huge trash bags to the dumpsters and making sure the trash bins were empty and available. Our team was led by a woman and made up of 15 people, only three of them men. This ratio is common at the 3Day, an event that is very woman-positive and empowering, an event that benefits a cancer that affects mostly women, an event where everything possible is pink, including the signs, the yoga mats for stretching tired muscles and the sea of thousands of small tents that each walker and crew member sleep in. The 3Day celebrates women’s power, their lives and their achievements, but male crew members are still able to approach women who are successfully doing heavy lifting, rob them of their agency and make assumptions about their physical ability based on their gender by admonishing them for attempting tasks that are “too hard for you, sweetie.” Even my female crew captain, who had spent the year preparing and planning to lead us, allowed the few males on our team to freely and openly undermine her experience and authority and direct their dominant-male version of our labor. I spent a lot of my downtime on this event talking with my sister and interpreting the event through a feminist lens, and became convinced of the complete masculinization of manual labor watching my fellow female team members become equally frustrated and keep silent about it. I saw them engage in catty behavior, trash talking each other (literally while pitching full garbage bags into huge green dumpsters) because so-and-so wasn’t pulling their weight or was trying to be overbearing, but ignoring the gendered power plays. This event focuses on preserving women’s inherent female characteristics, their breasts!, while enforcing gender stereotypes and rewarding the few male participants for feeling comfortable wearing the requisite pink flare. The aggressive behavior of the men on my team made me feel uncomfortable expressing my opinion about the best way to delegate tasks and lifting folding chairs became a space to prove physical worth and ability. As a woman trying to enter a field dominated by men, if not in numbers but in behavior and tradition, I couldn’t help but get angry when the few men who walked in the event or who were on the Dining Services or Camp Services teams were celebrated for their willingness and bravery to enter a woman-dominated field. This contrast is especially important given the physical nature of the event, and the mental and physical strength and endurance that some women uncover during their 60-mile journey is incredible and inspiring. I just wish I had been able to support their experience with similar strength by standing up to my male cohorts and formulated my feminist-lens thoughts into effective articulations to challenge the norm of masculine power and dominance amid the sea of pink.

The first picture is of the whole team and our vehicles, the second picture is of me in the fake mustache some of us donned to celebrate "Spaghetti Dinner Night." Only one or two of the women on the team participated in this.
Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign: Bushville

Encampment and Occupation on Thursday, August 28, 2008

On August 28, four days before the Republican National Convention convened, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign set up tents at the Harriet Island Regional Park. The group’s national director, Cheri Honkala describes the group as the largest multiracial poor people’s movement in the country. Their goals are to increase the visibility of poor people’s struggles and to eliminate the multiple layers of oppression that poor people are subjected to on behalf of the government, including but not limited to racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, ageism, nationality and government-defined “legality”. A group of about 30 members set up camp “Bushville” (a historical allusion to “Hoovervilles”) and peacefully and quietly occupied the area until police notified them that they would be forced to leave the park at closing time, 11 PM.

The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and their allies called for others to peacefully and respectfully join them at Harriet Island in support of their goals and against the police threats. I went with a group of allies to provide solidarity, to be witnesses and to simply be extra bodies of support if needed. When we arrived around 10:50 PM, there were around 50 police on bikes on the lawn near the camp. The police and park security had rudely turned the lights off and activated the sprinkler system, causing discomfort and fear among the campers, especially among the young children. After introducing ourselves to the Campaign members, we asked what they needed from us, and we were instructed to move tables, coolers, electronics and other things away from the near-by police.

A few minutes after 11 PM, the bike police started to move in on the encampment. Everyone who was not officially with the Poor Peoples Campaign was asked to move aside and non-violently be witness to the first of many large-scale, RNC-related police actions taken throughout the week. The Poor People’s Campaign tried to negotiate with the police, but unfortunately the police were not sympathetic and were definitely not in the mood for negotiations. The unnecessarily large group of bike police surrounded the encampment while facing outwards and attempting to intimidate observers.

Soon after the bike cops surrounded the encampment, a group of what appeared to be grown men dressed in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes entered the park and stood in an intimidating formation. When we realized that these were in fact fully armed riot police and that there were more police arriving by the minute, our group, along with many other witnesses felt it was time to leave. Unfortunately, we had to make the decision to leave for our own safety, even though some of us wanted to stay and provide peaceful solidarity in case the police started to exert physical force against the campers. On our way out, we passed two S.W.A.T. members who were overlooking the lawn where “Bushville” was set up. They both held semi-automatic rifles with their fingers resting on the triggers and stared at our group as we exited the park. We were lucky enough to avoid detention as we left, while other less fortunate activists were pulled over in their cars or detained while walking.

The police eventually arrested a few of the Poor People’s Campaign’s leaders and dispersed the rest of the group by forcefully threatening more arrests. This obscene show of force against a small group of peaceful, anti-poverty protesters by 200 fully armed police was quite indicative of how the rest of the week would unfold.

Analyzing this event through my white male, feminist lens presents dangers of misrepresentation, co-optation and essentialization. I simply intend to provide an understanding of the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign that praises these organizers and activists for their anti-poverty work that encompasses and acknowledges intersections and many third wave feminist issues.

It appears that based on race, gender and class among other aspects of identity, the Poor People’s Campaign was one of the most diverse groups protesting the Republican National Convention. While the Poor People’s Campaign does not explicitly define itself as a feminist group, their activism against poverty and exploitative capitalism and their struggles for visibility, justice and equality are encompassed by more recent models of intersectional and positionally-conscious feminism. Even if the campaign does not identify with or feel included in feminism, as far as opposing the intensely anti-feminist force that is mainstream American politics through their intersectional analysis of state power and repression demonstrates a revolutionary critique similar to intersectional, “third world” feminist theories.

The Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign attempts to bring poor people’s struggles to the attention of our government and society, which involves understanding and addressing the North American legacies and institutionalization of oppressions. In its essence, this approach engages many of the analytical tactics theorized by, employed by and encompasses within diverse “third world” and “women of color” positionally-conscious feminist theory.

Take Back Labor Day

The event I attended was the Take Back Labor Day concert sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (and Miller as it appeared) on Harriet Island on Sept. 1st (which also happened to be my birthday). The concert also coincided with the RNC making it not only an artistic event but also an activist one. The concert wasn't directly related to feminist issues, but because of its emphasis on Labor Day and because of its anti-RNC attitude, I feel like it was an event that addressed important issues for women, even if not directly.
I showed up to the event slightly late due to ridiculous amounts of bike traffic in downtown and the hordes of riot police directing people in all directions. I attended the event with my male roommate and one of the first things that happened was that my roommate was told that he wasn't allowed to bring in his messenger bag. No one had anything to say about my over-sized "purse" which I found interesting. I guess it was just one of those things that made me notice the gender roles that are kind of just forced on us without much thought.
The performers I saw at the concert were all what I (as a non hiphop listener) would call hiphop, specifically Mos Def, Atmosphere and Pharcyde. Between the sets video clips were shown, most of which were fairly explicitly against the RNC and Republican politics. Issues were addressed such as equal rights for all workers and the importance of unions.
For the most part, I found that the performers treated women fairly, which for me as someone who primarily hears hiphop in the Top40 radio sense, the lack of mention of "bitches" and "hos" was rather refreshing. The last group, though, performed in front of a montage of their videos and footage of them that seemed to be from the 90s. These videos showed images of the women generally referred to as "bitches" and "hos" and displayed them in a way that I found "negative". So, despite the fact that the bitches and hos were not directly referenced in the music, the fact that they were still displayed in the traditional woman as object to be viewed manner made me uncomfortable. I remember thinking to myself at the concert that I was uncomfortable with these images. I didn't feel comfortable, however, with my group of male friends, objecting to the images. My reaction I think says something about I guess the state of our society. The fact that we see things we object to, but do not confront the discomfort for fear of being seen as "a crazy feminist" or just "hysterical" saddens me. Also interesting to me in retrospect, is the fact that none of the males in my group seemed to even notice the images...or at least it didn't stop them from bobbing along to the music.

Some Truth at the RNC

Date: September 2008

Sponsor: RNC Protest(s)

Location: Downtown St. Paul

In a People’s March t-shirt and blue jeans, with shades and hoop earrings hanging just below a head of black short, spiky hair, a brown Latina women joined our class on the lawn of the Capital.

And when taking a tall, confidant stature that seemed to come so natural, she began to speak about the politics, media, and community that make up her life…

With a calm yet firm tone, one without doubt, this person, this woman, first spoke of her activist work during Hurricane Katrina’s harsh call for a reality check. “There is something different about seeing bodies,” she said when trying to describe her reaction to damages done to the already poor conditions of the area. And the lack of national response during that time, response from those currently in office (including Senator McCain and Senator Obama), reinforced her own politics, ones that almost uproot those of past and present.

According to her, they are not democratic, but elitist. Only certain people with distinguishable attributes, like being heterosexual, male, and educated, are able to get their name on presidential voting ballots. And for this to happen, some have to be silenced. They are hushed by…the American public majority or even their own communities; more importantly, they are censored, silenced, by media including national and local radio stations, news programs, and newspapers and magazines. The “media white-out,” as she called it, put a kind of price tag on people where the wealthy elitists that are invested in media outputs are calling out the directions of to camera crews and journalists.

Her politics, for example, have neither been broadcasted nor invited to any national debates despite having a legal right to. Her politics that call for a multi-racial and multi-generational collaboration to make change; for universal health care; for livable wages; for an end to the war; for LGBTQQ human rights; for adopting Human Rights; for decreasing college student debt; for dismantling the Prison Industrial Complex and abandoning the death penalty; for farmers support due to massive loss of land; and more.  So, she decided to run for office.

The running mate of the Green Party’s Cynthia McKinney, Rosa Clemente is the first Latina women ever elected to run for office.  She is a mother, a wife, a daughter, an activist, a politician, a manager, a woman, a Latina, etc. And she looks like me.

Tapas Series: Media Representations and the Presidential Election

As one of the facilitators for this event, I was a little nervous about how people would interpret the topic and where the conversation would go. When my partner and I were brainstorming about what kind of programming we wanted to do for Tapas, we knew that we wanted to do something with the election, but we weren't sure what exactly. We gathered our inspiration from the discourse surrounding the depiction of Barack Obama featured on the cover of the New Yorker magazine this summer. I have always found this image very provocative because of its context—or lack thereof. On the one hand, the image is placed on the cover of a prestigious literary magazine with the expectation that everyone who sees the image understands it to be parodying the sensationalist and often false representations of Barack Obama by the media. Yet at the same time, the magazine is a media institution in and of itself, that, by placing this image on the cover, portrays and encourages these stereotypes and misconceptions when readers glance at the cover, or when non-readers do so while looking for their preferred publication of choice. These ideas as well as many other creative and inspiring ideas were brought up during the discussion. Michelle Obama's role in the cartoon was also brought up. Someone mentioned that while the connections being drawn to Obama as a terrorist were somewhat expected due to the way he is stereotyped and accused by some, her depiction as a “black power militant” came from out of left field. We then discussed how in being paired with Barack as a “Muslim terrorist,” her depiction as a Black Panther conflates the entire Black Power movement as a form of terrorism. Someone also drew connections between the depiction of Michelle and Angela Davis, arguably the most iconic figure of the movement. The representation of Sarah Palin was also discussed. In almost all of the cartoons of her, it is her body that is the focus, first and foremost. Many of the participants discussed the paradox of disliking Palin for her views, while also being aware of the sexism within these cartoons that allows her to be represented solely by her body. It was great to facilitate this discussion – I was very impressed with what my peers shared and the quality of their analysis.

Dakota Land Reclamation

Starting on the second day of the RNC (Sept. 2nd) members of the Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires) of the Dakota Oyate reoccupied sacred land around coldwater spring in Minneapolis. The land is abandoned property of the Department Of The Interior - Bureau of Mines and has been sitting unused for around 10 years. Large ugly and rotted buildings are nestled amid sacred and beautiful Dakota Land. The area is extremely important to Dakota religion and spirituality. After moving into the area folks began to erect several tipi's and a sweat lodge, a small building that houses ceremonies. They also lit a sacred fire, which one of the Warriors instructed me to "defend with your life". The police responded quickly but the Dakota received a permit to conduct ceremonies for the 4 days, so some breathing space was won. I spent lots of time at Coldwater, including sleeping one night there in a tent. The atmosphere was incredible there. I am not a spiritual person at all but the vibes there were incredibly good. The days before and during the RNC had been incredibly emotional, and physically trying and violent; at Coldwater I was refreshed and calmed. A friend who had been extremely badly injured by national guardsmen even received some traditional medicine and healing which worked wonders on their body and mind. Folks had been aware that there was a possibility that the Dakota would want help in defending the space through blockades and other tactics, but in the end they ended up having an extremely positive press conference to highlight the issues, after which elders retired to the sweat lodge to passively await arrest. They wanted to send the message that in reality the land was theirs and they would refuse to leave; there is a history of extreme violence in the Twin Cities against indigenous people involved in confrontations with the police and the hope was to avoid an ass-kicking. The Dakota ended up leaving the day after their permit expired, with the promise that "they would be back". The hope is that the absurdity of having unused, illegally stolen land in the hands of the government and not in the hands of its rightful caretakers can be resolved without too much of a fight. I feel strongly about issues of de-colonization and anti-occupation, and make no mistake, this is occupied territory stolen from the Dakota and other indigenous peoples. Camp Coldwater was an empowering and healing experience amid the chaos, violence, and anger of the RNC and I'm grateful i had the opportunity to be a part of it.

Dykes Do Drag

Event: Dykes Do Drag
Where: Bryant Lake Bowl
When: September 17, 2008

Rakemag describes Dykes Do Drag as “a queer, post-modern, performance art, cabaret revue variety show” which is probably a better description than I could give. The event was essentially a series of songs and dances performed by queer identifying people in various costumes. The show ended with a hilarious skit involving John and Cindy McCain, Sarah Palin and her children.
Dykes Do Drag was my first drag show and I attended in a pink wig and too much gold jewelry. What I loved most about Dykes Do Drag was how easy it was to see gender as a performance and how well it was performed. The show took my little knowledge of gender theory, particularly Judith Butler's belief that gender is a performance imposed by heteronormative culture, and placed it in a form where I could experience it firsthand. I went to the show primarily to see my Beyond the Binary teacher performing as “Esme Rodriguez” and was surprised by what a completely different person she was, more sexual and feminine than I had ever imagined Teresa could be.
As a woman I find the fact that I have the freedom to perform my femininity as well as my masculinity whenever and however I want extremely empowering and watching others do that was a great experience. I saw those who participated in Dykes Do Drag as activists and artists using their representations of gender to make a statement. Underneath the silliness, pasties, and stripteases I also saw people of different ages and races who identified as both women and gender queer taking the opportunity to destroy the binary by asserting their own presence and ideas on stage. Often Drag shows aren't really seen as activist spaces and I think Dykes Do Drag was an ideal example of how activism can happen anywhere.
By the end of the show I didn't know who was what gender, if any gender at all and I did'nt care. At the end everything was an illusion.

Event Write Up

Event Title: "Going Home Ain't Always Easy: Southern (Dis)Comfort and the Politics of Performing History”: A Lecture by Professor E. Patrick Johnson, Northwestern University
Date: Sept. 28, 4:30-6 pm, Weyerhauser Boardroom, Macalester College
Sponsor: The Mahmoud El-Kati Distinguished Lectureship in American Studies

The El-Kati lectureship was established to honor Professor El-Kati's career as a lecturer, writer and commentator on the African American experience, and E. Patrick Johnson spoke about an often silenced African American experience: that of black gay men in the Southern United States. His lecture was mainly about the process of writing his book, “Sweet Tea”, which is an oral history of black gay men in the South.
He interviewed 70 men for the project, and traveled all over the Southern region of the U.S., speaking with men who were out, men who were in marriages with women, men who ranged in occupation from preacher to drag queen, men who ranged in age from 19-93, and many more. He addressed the topic of oral history methodology and the importance of understanding your positionality and having a clearly defined ethics when working with living people (as opposed to archives).
Interviewing these men, many of whom were not out to their communities, put them at risk and he had to be thoughtful about what he included in his book and how he maintained the privacy of the men. Being a black gay male Southerner himself, he reflected on the access this gave him to the population he wanted to interview, but also how this challenged him personally. He told an anecdote about going to his hometown of Hickory, North Carolina to interview a MTF transgender person named Chas/Chastity, who lived Mon-Sat as a woman and then dressed as a man on Sundays in order to sing in the church choir. Walking around publicly with Chastity, he found himself uncomfortable to be seen with her, and wondered what that would mean for his own reputation in the town. This incident allowed him to reflect on biases he wasn’t aware he had, and to approach the work with even greater sensitivity and awareness.
The real joy of Johnson’s lecture was that he is also an amazing theatrical performer, and has turned the book into a one-man show where he performs some of the men’s interviews as monologues. He performed Chastity’s story for us in the middle of his lecture. He visited my American Studies class the next day, so I heard two more men’s stories as well. His ability to capture the men’s voices and characters was remarkable. Chastity’s story was about self-acceptance and love, and what it means to live life as you were truly meant to live it. The audience in Weyerhauser was captivated, and it was clear that the men’s stories are powerful both in the book and on stage. He told us that his reason for writing was to create an archive of voices that have been silenced, to help homophobic people understand the humanity of queer people, and to provide an affirmation and community for gay black men who are struggling with their identities. His lecture and performance were revealing and powerful.

The Ripple Effect

Ripple Effect: Beyond the Convention, Beyond Partisanship 
September 2, 2008
State Capitol Lawn

Before arriving at the capitol building, I had no idea what I would witness (aside from a crowd of people and a sea of police). I anticipated seeing Dead Prez, partly because I was curious how the audience and the legions of cops would react to the duo. M-1 and don’t write catchy lyrics for people to sing along with absentmindedly; phrases like, “I throw a molotov cocktail at the precinct, you know how we think” (Police State) and, “they schools can’t teach us shit... all my high school teachers can suck my dick/ tellin’ me white man lies, straight bullshit” (They Schools) are sure to get some attention. Because I was listening to Davey D and Rosa Clemente speak while Dead Prez was performing, I wasn’t able to hear which songs were on the set list; I can imagine that virtually all of their anthems would’ve been a source of tension for the security officers, SWAT teams, and groups of police though. 

Even though I completely support activist artists, I question how effective the message of more politicized lyricists is. Dead Prez’ audience is much more limited than that of Lil’ Wayne or Nelly because radio stations and other commercialized media outlets are rarely interested in disseminating a radical message. (The crowd at the capitol wasn’t small by any means, but the number of people would’ve increased tenfold if Snoop Dogg had been a performer.) Even stations aiming toward increased activism have to play what is popular in order to occasionally circulate progressive information. Davey D explained that rap stations can play extremely explicit and profane songs, as long as a few choice words (or syllables of words) are edited out. (This certainly won’t change the meaning of the song much; when I hear “ that ..ssy,” it’s pretty obvious what the lyrics are.) Performers can talk about drugs, violence, drunkenness, and sex as much as they want to, but as soon as radical politics or reformist messages are mentioned, the number of spins greatly diminishes. There is tangible pressure on artists to produce what will play, and that often leaves no room for creative input. I wonder if there is some sort of compromise between the politicized and the popularized. Is an artist a sell-out if he/she wants to get airtime on a well-known station? What is the line between what is acceptable in the media and what is blasphemous or “dangerous” (dangerous to the white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, anyway)? These are questions that I will continue to ask myself, whether analyzing music, art, advertising, news, or other publications. 

Event Write-up

This event focused on media representations of presidential candidates during the election. After everyone introduced each other and answered either an awkward, deep or surface-level question, we were asked to do a free write. The free write wanted us to acknowledge our identities and explain how the media misunderstands them. Several important points were raised, such as one participant’s identification as a feminist and how she felt her feminist position being threatened by equating Sarah Palin with feminists. Whiteness was another important issue that was brought up during this free write. One participant expressed outrage at the usage of “Main Street” and equated it with middle class White America. Another participant had a problem with the way Jews were being represented in the media. Overall, these free-writes displayed how the media is homogenizing different identities (ie. The female vote. The black women’s vote, etc).

Afterwards, we were given political cartoons to analyze. We analyzed both our immediate reaction to the cartoon, intended audience, commentaries that inspired the cartoon and whether they were adequate portrayals of the subjects depicted. Through these analyses, I discovered that many archaic representations of race, sexuality, class, gender, and nationality were being recycled. One of the most egregious cartoons involved a waffle package in the style of Aunt Jemima products featuring Barack Obama. Through this cartoon, Barack’s blackness and otherness is amplified. The Aunt Jemima image itself implies servititude and degradation based `purely on skin color. Though conservatives (this was sold at the Conservative Voter’s Convention) would probably argue that it’s just a joke, blatant racism should never be taken lightly. Other images showed different stereotypes such as age being equated with senility, Muslims as terrorists and women as purely sex objects.

Overall, it was a very educational experience and it helped both my articulation and analysis skills. In addition, I was also disturbed by the recycled, deeply offensive images used thus far during election year.

Event Write Up: Dykes Do Drag

On Thursday, September 18th, I spent a fantastic evening at the Dykes Do Drag show at Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis. From a feminist perspective I found this show exciting, challenging, and a whole lot of fun.
Of the many aspects of this show the one that stood out to me most was how it pushed me to go beyond classifying people. This show featured many different musical numbers where people of various sex, gender, race and attire or lack thereof danced, sang, acted and even impersonated Sarah Palin. Through these numbers, not only did the performers entertain, but they played with our minds. They played with sex, gender, sexuality, race, beauty standards, and yes, even blow up dolls.
What challenged me personally was the fact that through performance and through this playing with categories and standards, the usual classifications became impossible. Man/woman, gay/straight, white/person of color, sexy/ugly - all these dichotomies were widened, twisted, queered or just tossed out. This was difficult for myself as a viewer because although I always am trying to push myself to see beyond boundaries and to look through a feminist, anti-racist, queer-friendly lens, society often gets the better of me.
I found myself wondering during initial performances: is that flamboyant drag queen a female or a male underneath her costume? Is this person in a club supposed to be a gay man or a straight woman? It is precisely the fact that I could not find easy answers that made this event so appealing from a feminist perspective. It was as though someone were screaming at me in a fun and entertaining way "Stop it with the boxes!"
And I did. By the end I was no longer struggling to put people into categories based on sex, gender, sexuality or race. I just let them be and sang along, enjoying the show.

The Colored Museum

The Colored Museum
September 26th, 2008

Just last weekend I had the pleasure of entering a theater for the first time in a year. As the cast was fully comprised of Black/African American students, I found myself constantly being reminded that this great event was happening — and then after I ran into the director himself: Mr. Harry Waters Jr, I resolved to attend.

The first thing that I noticed was the program. I am quite attracted to these as they embody all the long hours spent to convey the intention of the presentation... it really seems that everyone who touched this production was thanked — this really felt like a community show. I knew the cast, I knew the staff… but I came in without knowing the premise: “join us in exploring our contradictions”.

I guess that the next striking feature of this production was the gender-bending that kept occurring (men acting as women, or men acting as drag queens). It was relieving for me to see POCs portrayed as queer — although I could still detect the humor that was derived from the knowledge that the actor is straight. Furthermore, the order in which different portrayals of the Black/African-American experience was important:

First we flew on a slave-plane… this tragic humor was concluded at the “off-boarding” — slaves exited on a conveyor belt, bound and sullen. We then moved on to issues of hair texture, examining how the fro and straight styles are defined while speaking to the difficultly of individual Black/African-American women on deciding on which to support. Embrace culture and rock the fro, or tone it down and wear it straight? Mmm…

The next piece dealt with portrayals of Black/African-Americans in the popular media — promoting booze, tobacco, but always staying “fabulous”… smile-click!-smile-click! The next scene featured a soldier permanently influenced by the savagery of war — the lighting was arranged such that his shadows created angelic wings; and he described the ‘merciful’ acts of murder he committed with maniacal joy as he felt that he was releasing his fellow soldiers from an indescribable, and secret, pain.

One of the scenes addressed many inter-family conflicts — and religion was yet again emphasized as central to the character’s emotional foundation. The scene addressed the treatment “smart” Black/African-American women face, alongside the pressures that drive that very same treatment… the young man comes home after a long day under ‘the man’, frustrated at his prospects and resentful of any other hopes.

Lastly, I wanted to end with the fabulous La-La — a performer, she has re-invented herself multiple times and left herself with ‘no history’… another scene addressed this flight from historical associations where a corporately-dressed man beat his former Temptations/Black Music loving self, only to find that his past was inescapable.

… after I watched the show, I found myself filled with pride that a cast of 6 could pull this off… and then I felt even better knowing that each show would open people’s eyes at the contradictory messages society sends to communities of color in the U.S.


EVENT: Davey D. – How one man can change my perspective and make me think about my past!

I am not interested in American Politics but at the same time there is no way that I will not follow the main events and know more about the president, vice president and how politics change in United States. I am international student and my adventure in Macalester and US will be not more than 4- 5 years but I know more about what is going on in the country than many of the around 300 million people living in Continental US. My story does influence that – I have been raised in a country where we were using my countries currency, American dollars and Deutsche marks. After year 2000, we switched to mainly using the new Euro Currency – the Euro. Using the dollars make you to feel entitled knowing more about the number one military superpower in the world and to know more about the culture and political decisions.
Looking ten years ago, my sister decided to attend American high school and I did follow her 2 years later. This is based not only on the influence of the American culture across the Atlantic but mainly because we wanted to become more knowledgeable and to study in the fancy universities that we were seeing in media. Learning and discussing American literature and history, I was exposed to MTV and other media. I don’t mean only Backstreet Boys and Take That, but I mean DMX and 2PAC that were being very cool. Many friends seeing all these ladies men on the screen decided to wear their clothes. Maybe all of us didn’t want to read more about the history of Hip-Hop culture, about the Graphiti, break dancing and the clothing that came from the prohibition of having a belt in jail. Watching MTV you learn a lot, not only about the men’s “Dream world” but what is cool. Growing up and meeting the American Hip-Hop culture and ideas was more like exploration that made me think very negative about the representation and story plots of the artists.
This is maybe why I was enthusiastic when we went to the RNC and we had the chance of meeting Davey D. His story made me think in a different way for the hip-hop and our discussions from class took another level. He emphasized how does radio stations are driven by money incentives and how their goal is to play certain amount of time a song and what are the tricks to make the song more popular. It appeared that labels are successful in their choice and they can make a certain song very popular using the radio stations. My perspective was changed as I figured out that the radio station is trying to shape people’s music taste and not only but the radio itself is very influential. So whenever I hear 20 times per day Kid Rock’s “Summertime” song and the melody stuck in my head, it is not always that people love the song but it is about how much money the label company has given to the radio in order to play the song. In the last year I haven’t listen as much radio because of my music library that has expanded a lot in the last 8years and of course because of the less time I spent in a car and the influence of YouTube. There are many factors that can substitute the traditional radio and I have figured out that most of the time the commercial on the radio are just ridiculous. Davey D knows that many people would listen to his radio station but at the same time he understands the importance of other ways to approach people. Davey D has been selected to be in the top 10 most influential people in the country when it comes to dealing with Hip-Hop and politics[1] voted by The Source Magazine. At the same time he does not focus only on the radio approach but he does use his FNV Newsletter to reach more than 100 thousand people which explains a lot about his importance. As he said on the RNC convention, it is a lot of responsibility as when he says to people that they should go somewhere or join an event, people follow him and trust him.
Where is the Hip-Hop in everything that I mentioned? As we discussed in class, Hip- Hop is a way to express yourself, to show who you are. There is something magical in talking on the microphone, you feel that your voice is stronger, you start believing more in yourself. According to Davey D, Hip-Hop is a way to express your ideas and to reach other people by creating music. New Hip-Hop is not only for gangs and killings but about salaries, equal opportunities and politics. World changes fast and Davey D realizes that as we can follow his career starting in 1977 in Bronx and continuing in working for different radios, co-founding coalition and founding a radio station.
Davey D. told us a lot about how radios work and that everything is focused on money. I was very angry hearing the story about a radio DJ that got fired after he got beaten up by one of the hip-hop “stars”. The radio proved Davey’s point that money is everything in this business.
I am happy that I was able to see the Hip-Hop culture in a different light and to think about how my stereotype about Hip-Hop culture is wrong. At the same time knowing more about how radios work made me think more about trusting more my music library and listening less radio while in the car. Thanks to the iPod my options for DJ’ing are almost unlimited.

Here I am including the first 2PAC song I heard that represents the best the men's dream world. The video seems blurry as you are in a dream and I do believe that the director had these emphasize as well.

Ripple Effect - Capitol Hill

It's been overdone at this point, but I've been unable to make it to another event that I remember enough about. So, heeeere we go:

On September 2nd (2008), I went to the St. Paul capitol with Rebecca to the Ripple Effect concert. We were there from 4-6, but we didn't find the class until right after Davey D and Rosa Clemente had left. :( During our search, however, we walked all around and took in pretty much everything else at the event.
Substance ( was the lead organization putting on Ripple Effect, though there were plenty of other groups sponsoring and supporting it. This is the description on their website: "Ripple Effect will be Substance’s first step in a series of efforts to manifest a united intergenerational front. These events are aimed at embracing the core values of the environmental and social justice movements, with a collective understanding that the solutions to these problems will require us to break down issue and generational barriers." (

On the main stage, I saw performances from Dead Prez and Michael Franti, and there was a speech by Will Steger (though I was away from the stage at that time, exploring). There was a smaller stage set up on the right, where the Sustainable Living Roadshow was performing, speeches were given, and music was played. In addition, there were booths set up all around with art, information, products, and they were also taking donations and volunteers. Some of the sponsors/collaborators with booths were Code Pink, OXFAM, Planned Parenthood, EXCO, SDS, WAMM, Thrifty Hipster, and lots of others that I can't remember. In addition...there was a big tent set up selling food - you could get your organic/eco-friendly/green cheeseburgers and hot dogs for something like $6 each. There was a clothesline with free art clothing hanging on it that anyone could take, and what looked like a meditation or prayer circle on the grass in front of the main stage.

It was an interesting space, and I certainly saw many aspects of the mission present. It looked as though there were many generations of activists present - from those involved, potentially, in the initial SDS movement, and other civil rights movement work, to college-aged people. If this was to be an intergenerational event, though, I certainly did not see much in the musical programming that was aimed to please all generations present. That's not to say that middle-aged and older people cannot get down with some Dead Prez (and I certainly saw a few older ladies dancing around to their set), but what about older artists...maybe some artists of that era.

Though there was fairly good representation of many age groups, I didn't see a similar diversity of race, ethnicity, and class (which was less apparent). In fact, I'd say it was largely a white, middle-class space. There were a few people of color in the audience, but I seriously only saw a few. If this event is supposed to be uniting environmental and social justice movements, why are many not represented evenly? What is keeping them from access? Is the event framed in a way that is accessible, or even worth the time of some people - some who have things to worry about like working to survive provide for families - who can't miss a day of work for an event. Or, if that's not the case at all, was there publicity in communities of color? What about transportation to the location? It was a simple busride to the capitol from Macalester's campus, and could even have been walked in an hour or less. But, if it takes an hour or more to get there by bus, is it worth is to some? I'm not sure if these are all relevant questions, but I didn't see their goal met in terms of bringing together people from different movements. So, I naturally wonder why that is.

Another thing I noticed, speaking of race, is that the artists that I saw were mostly people of color. So, what is up with that dynamic of a mostly white crowd, with a political Hip-Hop group like Dead Prez performing in front of them? What about their (the audience's) point of access to the material? Or their privilege in hearing it?

I saw a somewhat even balance of men and women in attendance. As far as programming, there weren't any female artists that I saw, and certainly the headliner, Michael Franti (and the secret guests, Rage Against the Machine) was male. Sha Cage, a local spoken word artists and activist, did MC the event, though, which was great. She's amazing. I don't know if she performed - as that probably would have been at the beginning or throughout, and I only saw her on stage once or twice. If I had to gender the space, I would say male. This was partly due to the music, and the voices and actual presence of the artists performing, but also because of the male officers that were surrounding the area. I don't know that any of the police and riot cops I saw were female. But, just the presence of police, potentially violent, with weapons and surveillance was really threatening and seemed like the state “flexing its muscles,” in a very masculine attempt to scare us/show us it was powerful.

HRC Day - Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak's Proclamation

Whereas, the City of Minneapolis is a diverse population of people, cultures, languages and religions; and

Whereas, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community has established itself as a strong and vital component of the social, economic, and political activities of the community; and

Whereas, the Human Rights Campaign is dedicated to securing full civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, and seeking responsible federal policies for fighting AIDS, employment non-discrimination and hate crimes legislation; and

Whereas, the Human Rights Campaign and its thousands of supporters are working to enhance the quality of life of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community through active political involvement and in the ongoing fight for civil rights, HIV/AIDS funding and women's health issues; and

Now, Therefore, I, R.T. Rybak, Mayor of the City of Minneapolis, do hereby proclaim September 13th, 2008 as HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN DAY and encourage all citizens to observe and participate in this important event. I also challenge all Minnesotans to take action to work and speak out on behalf of equal rights for all citizens the other 364 days of the coming year!

-Signature of R.T. Rybak-

----I have always wondered what would happen if these proclamations were found in the public sphere instead of only within the Programs for these types of events ... it should be duly noted that the mayor of St. Paul, Chris Coleman, also signed a nearly identical proclamation which is displayed on the next page in the HRC Program.

Human Rights Campaign Gala Dinner

September 13th, 2008
Minneapolis Convention Center

Although there were many sponsors, the most notable are those “Local Sponsors” that earned a 100% rating on the 2009 Corporate Equality Index:
3M, Carlson Hotels, Faegre & Benson LLP, Supervalu, Accenture, Deloitte, Merrill Lynch, Target, Cargill, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, RKM&C LLP, and Wells Fargo.

This was my fourth time attending the HRC Gala dinner. The Human Rights Campaign works on equality for GLBT folks nationally and uses these dinners as donor events.

Their current initiatives deal with amplifying voices of faith, supporting GLBT patriots, combating discrimination, advancing legislation, mobilizing the GLBT community, and electing fair-minded leaders. This year’s dinner had an exceptionally strong political tone as the “Year to Win” campaign borrowed heavily from Obama’s “change” platform.

Those who spoke at the event included HRC President Joe Solmonese; he has become an increasingly public face for the organization, which champions “angelic troublemakers”. He has appeared on prime-time television with prominent interviewers — to raise awareness for GLBT issues. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken also spoke to voice their support for the democratic campaign.

Ms. Klobuchar charged the audience by telling [the republicans] to “Read My Lipstick!”. As this event was meant as much to entertain as to raise funds — I found this to be a call out for the women in the audience who have seen this election drop Mrs. Clinton and focus back towards the men.

Another issue I recognized was that both of the politicians addressing the guests were known for their comedy — it reminded me of how many people of color are not taken seriously day-to-day, and how we are often forced to enter the mainstream through entertainment rather than intellectualism or accomplishment.

Furthermore, it was overwhelmingly clear that HRC depends more heavily on large contributions (through what is called “The Federal Club”) than on small donations — this led me to wonder how this high-value sponsorship model skews the priorities of the HRC way from the ‘average’ income GLBT person. It does not take a long time to realize that priorities can change radically with income increases — but how else is a national organization to gain enough support to challenge the establishment? With that said, HRC does to a phenomenal job at fundraising — they are constantly sending emails, calling around holidays, and soliciting where GLBT folk hang out. At least someone’s doing something!

Overall, I had a really great time dining and listening to hundreds of my community members — to see such a large crowd, nicely dressed, and Know that you are “In” — was well worth my time. As was said during the dinner, a strong community must be created so that we can pool together our energies to combat institutional inequality... the only problem I saw was the polarization political parties, dems = good / republicans = bad. There are gay republicans: The Log Cabin Republicans; community cannot be both exclusionary and effective at the same time.

One more interesting thing that happened was that one of the award recipients did not provide personnel to accept their award at the dinner -- I think it would be safe to say that few others knew the significance of the absence of an acceptance speech -- this organization's leaders were calling for more open recognition of the "T" in GLBT. Recently, work on passing non-discrimination legislation saw the exclusion of transgender folk. Like Leslie Feinberg pointed out in our readings -- the transgender warriors in our communities broaden everyone's possibilities -- and they will continue to fight to be included.

Thanks for reading.

RNC Protest

RNC Protest
Location: Downtown Saint Paul, MN

Although the Republican National Committee happened a few weeks ago, it was an important experience for myself and other first years who had just arrived on campus a few days before. From anarchists to war veterans to college students, thousands of protesters marched the streets outside the Republican National Convention. Different races, sexualities, genders, nationalities/ethnicities, and socio-economic classes were present. Most were protesting the war and bashing McCain and Bush, while coming up with witty chants and phrases. One of my favorite chants was one that bashed Fox News and demanded peace. 
Powerful images were strewn about the protest. A couple of people dragged "bodies" of dead soldiers and politicians through the streets and there were free speech pens, globes, and peace signs galore. Although I did not agree with some of the displays people had, I think that many of these images made good points about the war's destruction of life and the need for change. I also noticed many gay rights activists marching for equality. However, beyond Code Pink present at the event, I felt as if there were not as many people protesting the need for women's rights and equality of the sexes. From my perspective, most of the protesters at the RNC were peaceful and respectful towards the police officers and fellow protesters present.
The media was a powerful presence at the this protest. Many were filming the militant anarchists and loud "angry" college students. Later on the television, I saw footage of angry rioters slashing tires and acting reckless. The media became a powerful tool, that warped the true sense of the protest and turned into something ugly, crazy, and intimidating. I saw first hand, how the media could take an event's message and completely alter it to suit its own personal agenda and goal. I found this quite disheartening, but it personally helped me look at media sources in a new light. 
I feel that this RNC protest was an important event to start school with and it really changed a lot of my cynical views I had on the government and the war on "terror". Participating in an activist event really empowered me and I can only feel more optimistic about America's future. This was a great way to organize a group of people to voice opinions and get thoughts across.