Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why Charlottesville: A Look at U.S. Nationality and White Masculinity

Currently, almost everyone in the U.S. has been feeling the resonances of the white nationalist marches in Charlottesville, VA. In Introduction to Ethnic Studies, my students have been feeling them too. Many of my students were shocked, angry, and struggling to process why such a hateful event would take place within our borders. However, as a queer person of color with a working-class background, I had to tell them that I myself was not surprised.

As a person raised within the backdrop of multicultural education and colorblindness—where children are taught that the color of a person’s skin does not matter and that not seeing race ensures seeing each other as humans instead—I can see why many cannot fathom how our current moment of white nationalist revival came to be. We have been taught to view each other as equals. We have been taught that everyone living in the U.S. has the chance to succeed despite their difficult backgrounds and struggles early in life. We are continuously reminded that the U.S. is a democratic nation that values freedom, liberty, and justice. But we are not taught that this democracy was built on the backs of racialized and subjugated others—the racial chattel slavery of Africans, the genocide of Native Americans, U.S. colonization of the Philippines, the exclusion of Chinese and Japanese immigrants, and the exploitation of Mexican labor. And now, with Islamophobia, xenophobia, anti-blackness, and Zionism peaking, we should not be surprised with the election (and retention) of Donald Trump and the (now) visible white supremacists in our midst. Continue reading

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On Homeland‘s Carrie Mathison, Mental Illness, & the “Ugly Cry”

Carrie Mathison Homeland feminist mental illness

It was in my couples’ counselor’s office, after a breakup, where I first realized I identified with Carrie on Homeland. The therapist was smart, Buddhist, queer, and clearly of the opinion we should have broken up much earlier. Even though he had told us both he would only see us as a couple and not alone (because we fought over him) he had agreed to see me solo once to debrief.  We wound up talking about Homeland.

Carrie Mathison is not a beloved character. The trolls hate her, especially what they refer to as her “ugly cry.” When Carrie cries, it is a mix of anguish and outrage; she does not get doe-eyed, while a tear gently rolls down her cheek.  Her face twists; her lips quiver; her voice cracks… she embodies what the artist Louise Bourgeois once said about her emotions, “they are disproportionate to my size.”  Carrie is played by Claire Danes, formerly of My So Called Life. Her character on Homeland is a CIA agent, a single mother, and bipolar.  What I love about the portrayal of mental illness on this show is that it does not separate her gifts from her demons; it does not lock a part of her in a box and label it crazy. While it causes pain to her and those she loves, it is Carrie’s mania that sometimes allows her to find the truth.

I’m not a spy but I might have the skillset—a combination of passion, paranoia, and a propensity for relentless obsession. When I want to find something out, I usually do. Driven by both heart and humiliation, I can usually tell you what all my significant exes are up to, no matter how many ways they block me. These days, I mostly temper these impulses in my personal life, but reading the news can feel like an invitation to uncover the secrets of a Russian spy movie. I have to make myself turn it off and watch something soothing before sleep. Homeland decidedly does not fit this bill, but, like Carrie, I don’t always do what’s good for me. This was driven home recently, by season 6, episode 7, when Carrie’s young daughter is taken away by Child Services because she is seen as being in imminent danger. This is, of course, a triggering fear for any parent, but for me, it felt disproportionately personal. Like Carrie, I’m also a single mom (although I’m lucky to have a great co-parent). Like Carrie, I also reside in Brooklyn.  Also like Carrie, I have been diagnosed with bipolar illness.  Continue reading

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SAD Lamp: A Comic

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Best Literary Sex: If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin

BEST LITERARY SEX is a new Weird Sister series paying homage to the hottest, most memorable sex scenes in our favorite books.

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I couldn’t have been more than twelve or so when I first got my hands on If Beale Street Could Talk, James Baldwin’s gut-punching 1974 novel about Tish and Fonny, young lovers struggling to fight a racist and corrupt justice system in 1970s New York. It had been placed in the mahogany bookshelf in the living room, right above the double rows of Encyclopedia Britannica. I remember flipping through it, scanning the pages until my eyes caught the passage about Fonny’s “sex stiffening and beginning to rage against the cloth of his pants.” In an instant, I had stumbled upon my first literary sex scene. I’ve come across a few since those days but, my gosh, there’s nothing quite like the first time. Continue reading

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Hard Month: A Comic

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From The Conditions of Our Togetherness, a comic book appearing serially, here on Weird Sister.

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Support Wendy’s Subway in Memory of Carolyn Bush

Two years ago today, Weird Sister had our Launch Party at Wendy’s Subway, a non-profit library and writing space in Brooklyn.

Carolyn Bush was one of of the co-founders of Wendy’s Subway and she would have been 26 years old last week.

You can read more about Carolyn here. You can support the legacy she helped create by going here or here.

<3

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An Election! Special! Comic!

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From The Conditions of Our Togetherness, a comic book appearing serially, here on Weird Sister.

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Rah! Rah! Roundup

rahrahroundup-1024x372New podcasts we’re obsessed with include Get It Right and Black Joy Mixtape.

The art of losing is hard to master.

If women wrote men the way men write women. 

Thank your lucky stars for the internet: it’s a list of fully funded MFA programs.

The 2016 Belladonna* auction is now openContinue reading

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Pulse Nightclub and the Queer, Brown Space

os-orlando-pride-stand-united-with-pulse-shooting-victims

Image via The Orlando Sentinel

Space, As in Room, Pt. 1

I tell her that if there is a horror like this that she must run.

If we are away from each other–I at the bar–she at the table–she cannot look for me. She must, instead, find the exit and run.

I cannot sleep because I do not want her to die.

 

Space, As in Room, Pt. 2

Queered spaces, especially when brown, are brick and moral stances. A room when kissing and dancing are acts of activism. We speak of these political outcomes first even though they are secondary. The main purpose for these spaces are for moments to reclaim a completeness; to access one’s humanity because every other place abstracts your identity magnifying the whitest, straightest, or wealthiest of learned postures.

Simply put these rooms are where people go to be people.

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Poets & Educators Stand with Orlando

Poets and educators are organizing in response to the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

Poets 4 Orlando poetry reading for Orlando

 

Poets are gathering tonight, Tuesday June 14th, from 6–9 PM, in NYC’s Strawberry Fields Memorial in Central Park for a vigil honoring the victims.

From the event’s Facebook page:

“This crime was committed in a nightclub. Let’s bring some of that magical quality into our own VIGIL for those we never met but always knew.

PLEASE COME AND BRING YOUR SPIRIT: We want to hear your voice, and want America to recognize this for what it is.

A HATE crime, the largest to hit our community in modern times.”

For those of us who teach, educators are compiling a comprehensive list of resources for addressing the Orlando shooting in the classroom. The #PulseOrlandoSyllabus includes relevant books, articles, poems, videos and more. You can read the syllabus, and add your resources, here.

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