Like many of you, this week we at WEIRD SISTER have found it difficult to think about much else besides the non-indictment of Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, and the many protests that erupted in response. So, we’re devoting this week’s Rah! Rah! Roundup to links to resources for anti-racist feminists and allies. As a white feminist, I’m compiling these resources in the spirit of the anti-racist philosophy that it is the job of white people, not people of color, to educate white people about racism. Please feel free to share additional resources in the comments!
Feminism Is for Everybody: Passionate Politics (book by bell hooks)
A great place to start. In her usual highly accessible, conceptually complex prose, hooks organizes her chapters around specific topics (e.g., “Feminist Class Struggle,” “Women at Work,” “Ending Violence”) that usually take up intersectional issues in feminism. The book is available as a free PDF here, and from South End Press here. (For the record, it is the opinion of the WEIRD SISTER editors that bell hooks deserves your money!) There’s another e-option, too: the book was originally published in 2000, but the Kindle edition from Routledge was just released in October 2014.
Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches (book by Audre Lorde)
Many of the essays from the transformative Sister Outsider speak to the need to use difference–and the feelings of guilt, fear, and anger linked to difference–in order to fight racism and sexism through activist work and in our everyday lives. When we read Sister Outsider for a feminist book club that included several WEIRD SISTER contributors, many of us felt dismayed by the fact that we had never been assigned to read it in our undergraduate English and creative writing MFA programs. Let’s make sure this book gets shared and taught and talked about for a very long time. You can start with these excerpts available online:
“Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power” | “The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism” | “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House” | “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference” | “Poetry is Not a Luxury”
Last night, I was on the C train on my way to a meeting of feminist poets, standing facing an MTA poster that first went up a couple years ago, announcing the return of the Poetry in Motion program. “Many of you felt parting was not such sweet sorrow,” reads the poster, but whenever I see it, I wonder, Did people really write or call the MTA clamoring for poetry? I then thought about how easy it is to run into a poet on the subway or on the streets of Brooklyn, and figured that it was possible that I lived in a city where people were hungry for more poems to read on their commutes. Still, I was skeptical.
After the meeting, I came home, scrolled my feed, and saw an article reporting that the MTA’s new courtesy campaign announcements would target “man spreaders.” Man spreaders! I thought to myself. “Man spreaders!!” I said aloud and then posted on Facebook along with the article, delighted by the elegant ridiculousness of the term. I felt a wave of relief go through my body, a cultural-linguistic tingle similar to what I’d felt the first time I’d heard the term “mansplaining.” Oh, there’s a word for that. And then suddenly many separate incidents, many men, rushed forth from memory to cluster around the term. Man purse (or murse), Man sandals (or mandals), and man nanny (or manny) had only ever made me laugh or roll my eyes, but a term like “man spreaders” does something different.
Besides sounding vaguely like a personal assistant who will spread Nutella on toast for you when you ring a little bell, “man spreaders” more importantly offers a succinct, clever, easily-rolled-off-the tongue way to name those guys on trains who spread their legs over three seats while those around them stand hunched over by the weight of three bags. #NotAllMen are spreaders, and not all spreaders are men, but on an average day on the train, the person sitting with his legs splayed is usually a man, and the person standing holding three bags is usually a woman. (The reasons for those three bags are for another post, but from one bag lady to some others, it’s true.)
bell hooks and Laverne Cox talk at The New School
bell hooks is not a fan of Orange Is the New Black. But she, like everyone else, loves her some Laverne Cox. The two sat down for a conversation as part of hooks’ recent residency at The New School, poised on either side of a coffee table like a Black feminist yin and yang: Laverne’s long blonde weave and red-bottoms, bell’s uniquely braided short hair and flat sandals. They agreed and didn’t agree. They acknowledged their varied histories and perspectives. They talked identity and love. They talked labels and risk. They did and didn’t cater to the patriarchal gaze.
Here are some moments when I shouted YASSS and NAWW during their talk. Continue reading