Monday, November 28, 2016

"What Now?" Part 1: Let's Go Shopping!

"There are people who have money and people who are rich." -- Coco Chanel

In this post-election Christmas season of non-stop shopping, Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales and endless pop culture distractions, there are simple effective ways to use your money to make your voice heard politically. Because buying things -- whether you're shopping for a blouse at Lord & Taylor or eating a hamburger at McDonalds -- is a political act.

If you are anti alt-right, anti-white supremacy, anti white nationalism, anti-hate or anti-Trump, here are a few suggestions on how to put your money where your politics are.

1.  #GrabYourWallet

This campaign, initiated by Shannon Coulter and Sue Atencio, has a pretty straightforward missive: If you'd like to hit the Trumps where it hurts them the most, boycott the retailers that carry their merchandise.  Their comprehensive list includes contact information to retailers, so you can call and/or email the reasons why you won't be shopping there.  Because if people won't buy, they won't sell.

Frankly, if I see something I really like at Nordstrom's, I can usually go online and find it someplace else at a fraction of the cost. This ain't the 80s. We have the internet. So there's that.

2.  Donate to anti-hate groups in a hateful person's name.



Are you related to any Trump supporters who vote Republican no matter who's on the ticket? Do you know any bigots? Is your co-worker a racist?  Take a tip from John Oliver, host of Last Week Tonight and donate to an anti-hate group in their name.  What a wonderful Christmas present for that uncle that hates gay people or that white supremacist cousin you grew up with that just joined the Klan.

Here's John Oliver's short list:

Planned Parenthood
Center for Reproductive Rights
National Resources Defense Council
International Refugee Assistance Project
NAACP Legal Defense Fund
The Trevor Project
Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund

3.   RageDonate

I love this one.  It takes quotes from Trump and matches it with the appropriate charity in a revolving, ever spinning, never-ending roulette of hate speech. With one click, you give $10 and your rage subsides -- until he makes another inflammatory racist remark.

BONUS: Buycott

This is an app that let's you vote with your wallet by scanning barcodes while you shop. With one swipe, you can trace a product's corporate family tree and make a more informed consumer decision. And yes, it's free.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Supermoon Whitelash

Waiting for the supermoon was enough of a minor distraction to pull me out of my post-election doldrums. Then I saw this.





Former Reaganite and Trump anger translator Jeffrey Lord says Democrats started the Klu Klux Klan.  Understanding the truth behind this statement requires much more nuance than a hamfisted shill for Donald Trump is capable of, at least on camera. I followed the breadcrumbs to where this line originated. As usual, I expected nothing and I was completely disappointed.

When Bishop E.W. Jackson -- lawyer, staunch Republican, conservative political pundit, former radio talk show host and ex-marine, amongst other things -- was a nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia in 2012, he released a video through his organization S.T.A.N.D. (Staying True to America's National Destiny) to push an agenda called Exodus Now

His goal? To convince black people to leave the Democratic party. What motivated all this? The Democrat's support of gay marriage at the 2012 convention.





Bishop Jackson says that Black people should leave the Democratic party because Democrats are the ones who started the KKK. In the wake of this claim, Virginia State Senator Stephen Martin repeated it -- adding that Democrats also created Planned Parenthood. When Senator Martin realized that there is no evidence to support his claim regarding Planned Parenthood (or the Klan), he said he misspoke. By then, the misinformation was out there, parading itself as the truth, and the alt-right was off to the races, embracing this statement as a call to action.

During the most recent election cycle, the ads imploring an ethnic mass exodus from the Democratic party have been nonstop -- from Republicans who declare themselves "the party of Lincoln", no less.  Now, making a statement like "The Democratic party started the Klan!" is the gigantic turdbomb of epic proportions that any neo-con can use to dead-end a political discussion. And no one wants to dismantle it. 

A simple fact check and a brief history lesson proves that this statement is not entirely true.  

Political parties evolve over time.  In the 19th century, they simply didn't exist as we know them today. Instead of identifying everything and everyone as Republican or Democrat, it's much more helpful to see where the shift in white supremacy takes place, and take it from there. Why? Because each party is made up of people who think a certain way and that's what shapes the party's beliefs and defines its platform -- not the name of the party itself.  Over time, the white supremacists, racists and bigots have shifted from one party to another.   That's the American way. 
 
As a Southerner and an African-American woman that's two generations removed from slavery, the question I ask constantly is this: Which one of you are white supremacists and what party are you affiliated with now? Political parties are not stagnant, fixed, immovable. As white supremacists change directions and affiliations, the parties are redefined. What was liberal is now conservative, and vice versa. 

Yes -- during the 19th century, Democrats were much more racist than Republicans.  Were Klan members Democrats? In all likelihood, yes -- but the Democratic party didn't start the KKK.  Then the Civil Rights Movement happened, polarizing Southern Christians against the Democratic party. When African-Americans gained the right to vote and became Democrats, those white supremacist Southern Christian became Republicans. In this regard, Republicans weren't a force for civil rights. For the Dixie-crats who joined their ranks, they were a refuge from it.  Those KKK Democrats are Republicans now -- and celebrating their win in The White House.



For days after the election, I fielded phone calls and texts and DMs and IMs from friends near and far, offering support, asylum and solid advice.  I got a text from my German sibling in Berlin that made me very happy.  I've chatted with lots of musicians who say they're not working or associating with anyone who voted for Trump.  One friend couldn't stop crying.  Another didn't know what to do about her Republican relatives.  Because Thanksgiving.

No one wants to spend the holidays with parents who voted for a bigoted, racist white supremacist.  No one wants to buy Christmas presents for anyone who put the alt-right in The White House.  No one wants to spend any quality time with someone who refuses to acknowledge that by campaigning on hate and fear, Trump created this climate of
violence and open hostility against people of color, women, the disabled and LGBTQs.  This is what we're left with: everyone getting bullied, even children (it's become a disturbing trend); women getting groped when they least expect it; African-American college students, harassed; and yes, murder.




Like a monkey gleefully flinging it's own excrement, way too many white people are spewing all kinds of racial epithets in every direction and smearing their ignorance all over everything with a fervor that is nothing short of stultifying. A friend in his 50s told me that he didn't recognize his high school friends anymore. He couldn't believe the things they were saying. When I hung up the phone, I remembered that his ex-wife was Jewish. His daughters -- both in college -- were at risk. One of them was in a march somewhere on the west coast and some guy hit her in the head with a rock.

He felt helpless, scared.  "How do you know who the good guys are?" he asked me.  Welcome to my black world, I must have said. Or something like that. And then I laughed.

"But she's my Mom," a gay friend whispered tearfully.

"Does she know who Mike Pence is? Does she realize what she's done?" I said flatly. 

"Yeah," he said weakly.  "She keeps going on about how Trump is going to bring morality back..." And then his voice trailed off.  He's a musical theater performer. His husband is a musician. They've got Obamacare.  They've got a great life. And it's over.

The moon hasn't been this close to the earth since 1948 -- when African-Americans were at the mercy of home-grown terrorism by the Klan (all over the country, not just the South) and the federal government did nothing to stop them.  There'll be other supermoons that will make you press pause and look up and wax poetic, but it won't be this close again until 2034 -- and God only knows what this country will be like when that happens.  We won't be where we were in 1948 -- but where are we going? 

Hopefully, you did something momentous on Sunday night.  (If you didn't, tonight is your night.) MPB and I had a mutton chop at Keen's and ate like it's 1889. Then we went for a walk in the moonlight and this depression rose and floated away from me like smoke. By the time I got home, something had shifted. 

As this new reality sets in and the climate of hate refuses to go away, it'll be interesting to see and hear what your favorite artist has to say about any of this in 2017.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

...that Clinton/Trump double standard, though...




Just when I think, no one is saying it so I'll say it -- somebody says it. Beautifully.  Kudos to this guy for summing up this election cycle so succinctly.

Michelle Bachman says God "raised up" Trump to be the Republican nominee, and I think she's right. Because of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton will be our next president -- and because of the Republican senators and congressmen who care more about the GOP than jobs or healthcare reform or anything else that concerns the rest of us, the Democrats will probably take the Senate and the House. 




Monday, October 10, 2016

Happy *Rape, Murder, Pillage, Enslave* Indigenous People's Day!



The need to celebrate Columbus Day seems to hinge somewhat precariously on your (emotional/physical/spiritual) proximity to Italian-American culture. Not surprisingly, San Francisco has the oldest Columbus Day celebration and New York City has the biggest.  Once I read what he actually did -- from his own journals, no less! -- I had no more of an urge to celebrate Columbus' life or "accomplishments" than Adolph Hitler. 

If you think that Columbus deserves a holiday, then so does Stalin. So does Atilla the Hun.  Can you imagine? A parade and a paid day off to celebrate Hitler?

Here's some must read stuff. 

  • 7 Myths and Atrocities of Christopher Columbus That Will Make You Cringe
    Here's the one that freaked me out: After several voyages and raping and pillaging, Columbus and his men grew increasingly depraved. When he was replaced as governor of Hispaniola and recalled back to Spain in 1500, he wrote in a casual tone of how he provided sex slaves to his men, some of whom were small children as young as 9, for a high price. Death and Taxes called Columbus “the pimp of the New World.”

  • How badly did Christopher Columbus mistreat the indigenous people he encountered in The New World?
    Here's yet another great reason why Columbus shouldn't be celebrated: Widespread rapes of both women and girls.

    Spanish accounts describe how they preferred raping the 10 year olds because they were "tighter."

    Women and girls to rape were handed out as rewards to soldiers for a job well done. Columbus also ordered the rape of females in front of family members, daughters in front of the father for example, to break resistance and spread trauma.

    Columbus in his own accounts described how he personally raped a "cannibal girl." In his accounts, he convinced himself the girl enjoyed being raped.

  • You Are Still Being Lied To: Howard Zinn's "Columbus and Western Civilization"
    Here's an exerpt: In the standard accounts of Columbus what is emphasized again and again is his religious feeling, his desire to convert the natives to Christianity, his reverence for the Bible. Yes, he was concerned about God. But more about Gold. Just one additional letter. His was a limited alphabet. Yes, all over the island of Hispaniola, where he, his brothers, his men, spent most of their time, he erected crosses. But also, all over the island, they built gallows—340 of them by the year 1500. Crosses and gallows—that deadly historic juxtaposition. 

Here's the good news: there are 16 states and counting!) that don't celebrate Columbus Day unofficially. The states Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, Vermont and South Dakota do not celebrate it at all. Iowa and Nebraska proclaim the day but don't celebrate it as an official holiday (paid day off, post office closed).

Eventually, this holiday will be phased out, state by state -- and just as it took years to create a national holiday for Martin Luther King Jr, it will be way too easy to look back and see who will remain forever on on the wrong side of history. 

Sunday, October 09, 2016

New York Comic Con 2016!

Here's a few shots from this year's comic con, wherein my niece Fatso comes along to goof off and take pictures of me, pretending to be Darth Vader.

Enjoy!





















Monday, October 03, 2016

My Fall Bucket List: The NYC Edition


This list is a mere slice of the fun I'll be having this fall.
  1.  New York Comic Con! It's like prom for nerds, so it's only appropriate that I take my niece Fatso, a black STEM girl of epic proportions that looks like a sub-Saharan African supermodel.  (There's got to be a really funny joke in there somewhere.)  We go every year, just about. Together, we will meander our way through the Javits and take a lot of pictures.  As usual, my blackness will be my costume.

  2. Diane Arbus: In The Beginning at The Met/Breuer  Her images are so iconic at this point that a lot of contemporary photography echoes her work -- when they're not flat out imitating it.  Here's my chance to see some of her earliest photographs. 

    And yes, I saw her mammoth retrospective at The Met some years ago.  For a long time afterwards -- too long, really -- I daydreamed about those children frozen in stiff black and white portraits with their blurry twisted faces, like a visual stammer that bounced against an audible one somewhere in the recesses of time and memory and randomness, and I wondered whatever happened to them, and that made me wonder what could have been.

  3. Luke Cage, Birth of a Nation and Insecure. Enough said.
  4. The Pumpkin Flotilla at the Central Park Conservancy Who knows? I might make one this year.
  5. Seedless ThomCord grapes are better than candy. Wild caught salmon skin is better than bacon.
  6.  Juice Press is turning me into a vegan.

  7.  Steely Dan's Beacon Theater Residency in October -- they've got 10 dates, and most of them are themed (October 16th is Aja!)
  8. Manhattan Vintage  This annual pilgrimage must be taken with BFFs who love vintage as much as I do, so we can all flip out over the cool stuff we find, whether we can afford it or not.  Lately, I'm a little giddier than usual because I ca fit into more and more of the incredibly dope old cool stuff in my closet.
  9. Byron Lars Beauty Mark Tackles Size & Inclusion in Fashion  I didn't miss Byron Lars' runway show during Fashion Week in September (I took Fatso but she didn't like it) and I 'm not going to miss this, either -- it's a panel discussion that includes: Liz Black (Journalist-Refinery 29) Michaela Angela Davis (Cultural Critic-CNN & Creator MADFree), Byron Lars (Byron Lars Beauty Mark), Allison McGevna (Editorial Director - Hello Beautiful) and Lynne Ronin (CEO-Nation Design).

  10. ETHEL (and friends) at The Met It'll be nice to lose myself in their take on classical music with MPB -- and since Fatso plays the cello, I'll probably take her, too.