CFW’s 2012 Year in Review

2012 was a big year of blogging for me.  I branched out in my publishing by partnering with a few amazing blogs, and my readership has grown tremendously.  In 2012, Change From Within had approximately 59,000 page views, and the blog had 59 new posts, some short and (hopefully) pithy, and some long and more complex.

There were a few posts from years past that continue to garner huge views on the blog.  In case you missed those, check them out!

Redskins, Sambos, and Whities: Racism in Sports Mascots
Speak American: Multilingualism and the English-Only Movement
It’s Not Just Rap – Misogyny in Music

As we head into 2013, though, it’s time to take stock of the 10 most widely-read pieces of 2012 in case you missed any the first time around.

love-is-a-verb-300x25910.  In October, I had the incredible pleasure of serving as the officiant of my close friend’s wedding.  After the wedding, I posted the message I shared at the wedding.  Coming in at number 10 is that message, Love: Endlessly Selfless and Powerfully Selfish.

alonzoashley9. Unfortunately, my former home of Denver, CO has a serious problem with police brutality.  In July, I attended a rally against police brutality that commemorated the death of Alonzo Ashley, a young Black man who was killed by police at the Denver Zoo.  The piece that came afterward encouraged White people to begin to consider the ways that our relationships with police (on the whole) are vastly different from the relationships of communities of Color.  Coming in at number 9 is Talking Privilege: Waking White People Up to Police Brutality.

FL Tray George Zimmerman smiling 2012 3-238. One of the more important stories of 2012 was the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin at the hands of George Zimmerman.  In my piece entitled I am George Zimmerman, I encouraged White folks to understand the ways that everyone who is socialized in our system of White Supremacy is taught to see Black men of any age as the dangerous other.  If we want to prevent future murders like that of Trayvon Martin (or Jordan Russell Davis), we have to understand the ways that each of us are trained to fear Black men, and then we must work to uproot that socialization.

Chick-fil-A-logo7. Sometimes I just have to rant a little, which is what the piece that comes in at number 7 felt like.  After their CEO spouted virulently anti-gay hate speech, activists targeted Chick-fil-a for boycotts and protests.  Those on the right claimed that such activists were attacking his freedom of speech.  In Chick-fil-a: Censorship or Freedom of Speech?, I lay out just how silly that argument actually is.

IMG_0046-203x3006. One of the best ways to share intimacy with your partner, whether this is a long-time partner or a short-term hook up, is to take steps to ensure that your sexual relationship is healthy and driven by sexy consent.  One way to do that is through a Yes, No, Maybe Chart.  My Valentines’s piece laid out just how to use one to ensure your sex is healthy, fun, and fulfilling.  Coming in at number 6 is, This Valentine’s Day Try a Yes, No, Maybe Chart.

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Django Unchained: Listen to Black Voices

django-unchained-movie-poster-teaserI recently saw Django Unchained, and I loved it.  I had a feeling that I would because I love most everything Quentin Tarantino releases, but I was definitely not disappointed.  I also found it to be an important film because I understood it to have a pretty critical, anti-racist message that was well-researched and thought provoking considering that it is a major Hollywood release.  Now, let’s be clear.  This is Hollywood, so it’s not going to be THAT groundbreaking, but I thought it did a good job.

Things I enjoyed:

  1. Tarantino is known for putting extensive research into his work, and the film did a good job of showing some of the horrors of slavery, particularly considering that a majority of the audience for this film are likely to be White Men, folks who need to understand better the realities of what our people did to Black people in the institution that made the U.S. the economic powerhouse it is today.  Everything from the treatment of runaway slaves to the collars and masks slaves had to wear to the “hot box” to mandingo fighting is important for White folks to understand when we so commonly say to Black folks, “Why can’t you just get over it?”  Well, White folks, please consider watching the film in its entirety and not covering your eyes when a slave is torn apart by dogs or when one slave is forced to beat another to death and then think for just a little while about how if that were seared into your people’s collective conscious as just two of innumerable unspeakable acts if you’d be able to “just get over it.”
  2. It pokes great fun at the myth of White supremacy.  For those who’ve seen it, the scene with the KKK riders and their hoods = comedic genius.
  3. The acting was fantastic.  Thank you, casting director, for that.
  4. It features authentic White allies (though there is important and ample criticism of Shultz as a Christ figure and as the lead when the true lead should be Django).  So often White folks don’t have examples in popular culture or in our history books of White people acting as allies.  Though I was troubled by Schultz saying that he wouldn’t free Django until he had served a purpose, he goes on to be an anti-racist White ally!
  5. It displays the culpability of poor Whites in the system of slavery and White supremacy.  So often White folks will say, “Well, my family never owned a slave.”  The genius of the system of White supremacy and slavery is that poor whites were and are pitted against those that should be their allies, poor people of Color, because they are given modicums of power over people of Color.  By buying into that system, Whites were and are culpable, even if we “never owned slaves.”
  6. It’s great fun to watch as a freed slave enacts vengeance on the system of White supremacy through utter destruction of but one plantation and its White inhabitants.

All that being said, the first thing that I thought upon leaving the theater is, “I wonder what Black critics are saying about this?”  I say that because privilege conceals itself from those who possess it, and I, as a White person, am unlikely to think about all of the ways that a film about slavery is problematic when written, directed, and produced through the lens of a White man.

Thus, I immediately headed over to The Root where I found a fantastic piece that tackles some of the complexities of Django.  You see, in moments like this, it is not so important what I as a White Man think of this film.  Instead, we need to listen to Black voices as they discuss the merits of this apparently anti-racist film that was created by a White man.

Thus, I REALLY REALLY REALLY hope that all of my readers will read “‘Django Unchained:’ A Post-Racial Epic?” by Hillary Crosley.  A few of the highlights:

Herein lies the crux of the problem that many have, and probably will have, with Django Unchained:While it deals with race, the film’s mere existence is not necessarily a commentary on how far we’ve come in terms of race relations in America, which some viewers might expect from a film about slavery in 2012. At its heart, Django is a spaghetti western, and the film, written and directed by Tarantino, showcases his wild sensibilities as he imagines America’s slaving days through the narrative of a black man.

Let’s all agree up front that a film about a newly freed slave enacting revenge on those who abused him and his wife can seem problematic when the director is a white man. There is no way around this…

Ultimately, Django featured several cruel traditions that were likely historically correct — it’s not hard to imagine that blacks were branded with an “r” if they ran away, that some were torn apart by animals or that Mandingo fights had black men fighting to the death — but that doesn’t make them any easier to watch.

Enough of that.  Just go read the piece!!!

And lastly, let’s be clear.  This film is a big budget Hollywood fantasy about Slavery written by a White man.  So, in the words of Davey D, “I say use this excitement around Django and the hype machine that director Quentin Tarantino has around him to turn folks onto other projects they may have overlooked, forgotten about, or not seen at all.”  So yes, please go see the movies that he recommends in his post “4 Movies You Should See and Know About Before You See Django That Deal w/ Rebellion.”

——-

UPDATE!

I just read one of the better reviews I have read on Django over at IndyWire.  Check out Tanya Steele’s “Tarantino’s Candy (Slavery in the White Male Imagination).”

And make sure to check out Darnell Moore’s piece “Django Unchained, or, What was So Damn Funny Anyway?

Perhaps the single best piece I’ve read on Django Unchained: “Django Unchained: A Critical Conversation Between Two Friends.

Turning to Self Care in Times of Trial

Whenever those around me are experiencing hard times or are hurting, I am the first to ask them what they are doing to practice self care.  However, when it comes to actually practicing self care, I am pretty terrible.  I don’t exactly practice what I preach.

Well, in the last week or two, I have been struggling.  Between the loneliness of being in a new city, a bunch of online blogger drama, tragedies in the lives of those I love, tragedies nationally and internationally, and struggles with my own personal demons, I should be doing more to take care of myself.  But, in true Jamie fashion, I just smile and push on.

In college, one of my mentors and close friends committed suicide.  I was devastated, and I struggled with depression for many months.  The funny thing, though, is that almost no one knew.  I was a public figure on campus (student government, lots of clubs, all that silly jazz), so I just sighed heavily and put on a fake smile before leaving my room every day.  Then I came home and cried myself to sleep.  If it weren’t for a few close friends and one professor, all of whom forced me to focus on taking care of myself, I don’t think I would have survived that time in my life.

Though I am not quite THAT bad about self care these days, I haven’t improved much.  About two months ago, I let a close friend know that I was struggling with some intense feelings of loss and sadness.  She helped me check in with myself about why, and she encouraged me to practice some self care.  And I did.  For about a day.

Last night I was talking to her on the phone, and she asked how I was doing with the heaviness I shared a few months back.  My response, “I honestly haven’t been dealing.  I am just so busy.  It’s there in the background, and I should probably do more about it, but right now, I am just trying to get settled into my new city and trying to invest in my partnership.”  Her response: “Jamie, take care of yourself.”

Then this morning I saw this piece at Everyday Feminism, an amazing blogging community that you should definitely be following.  In it, Melissa Fabello reminds us who work for justice that it can be really heavy work that drains our bodies and our souls, and she offers a few suggestions for self care.

Between these two reminders and my partners’ almost daily reminders to practice a little bit of the self love, I think it’s time I do so.  As I sat down to blog today, my busy-minded self shouted, “You need to get on that piece about how only using the Lisak & Miller study to talk about perpetrators of sexual violence is dangerous!”  And from another corner, I heard a shout of, “That promo video for your corporate consulting is not done yet.”  And, “Don’t you need to work on the content for that upcoming keynote?”  Endless.  That voice is powerful, the voice inside of me that says, “Self care is unimportant.  Stay busy.  Then it won’t hurt.”

But today, if not for me then for my partner, my dog, my friends and family members that rely on me and love me, I am taking a few minutes to focus on self care.

When I entered a comprehensive training to become an advocate for survivors of sexual assault, I showed up on the first day with a box of tissues.  I had heard about the program, and I knew there would be a lot of crying.  On the first day, though, there were no tears.  Instead, we were given an amazing assignment.  We were to create a “Self Care Plan.”  We had to create some sort of list of things we would do to practice self care as we went through the advocacy training program.  We were told that some items should be small, easily accomplished in a moment or with a few minutes time.  “Think deep breaths,” we were told.  Other items in the plan should be longer-lasting, along the lines of taking 15 minutes, half an hour, or a whole evening to ourselves.

After completing the assignment, I had a self care plan hanging in my bedroom and in my office for a few years.  For the last two or three, though, I haven’t had one.  Today that changes.

Below is my Self Care Plan, excluding a few of the more personal items, to give you a few ideas as you create your own Self Care Plan.

Quick Action Self Care

1.  Close my eyes, breathe deeply, and focus on clearing my mind.36487_118770518167624_2480645_n
2.  Look through a few of the photos of those I love.
3.  Cuddle with Chloe (my dog) for a few minutes.
4.  Do a few Yoga back stretches
5.  Put on any of the following songs:

6.  Scream.  Loud.
7. Dance.  Preferably to Robyn.
8. Rub Chloe’s velvet ears.
9. Hug Chickadee Longbottom (the stuffed animal I’ve had since I was little)
10. Think clearly about at least one of those wonderful people that love you very much.

Self Care That Takes a Little Longer

1.  Meditate for 15 minutes.
2.  Go for a run with Chloe.
3.  Ride your bike hard.
4.  Listen to a whole bunch of the songs from ^^THAT^^ list.
5.  Turn the music up REALLY loud and allow yourself to cry for a while.

Shaun Tan's "The Red Tree"

Shaun Tan’s “The Red Tree”

6.  Write.
7.  Read “The Red Tree” by Shaun Tan
8. Read some of “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White.
9.  Spend some time throwing on your wheel.
10. Read a few items from the “Self Care Box” (a box of letters from people who love me).
11. Call S, N, B, J, E, K, or S.  Or call all of them.
12.  Work in your garden.
13.  Make an elaborate meal for someone you love.

These are just a few of the things I need to be doing more often in my life.  What suggestions do you have for self care?  What songs do you listen to?  What movies do you watch?

Whatever they are, please take some time this week for self care.  You need it.  We all do.

Baby It’s Cold Outside: A Rapey, Sexual Pressure-Filled Holiday Staple

For as long as I can remember, my favorite Christmas song has always been “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”  I especially love the version from “Elf.”

elf-zooey-deschanel

It has always been such a part of my holiday tradition that I never really thought about it critically.  That is until I was training to be a sexual assault survivor’s advocate.  An article we read about sexual pressure and consent happened to fall right after Thanksgiving, when I usually start listening to terrible Christmas music.  After reading the article, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” came on, and I was shocked!

My realization: This is a song about a sleazy, rapey dude sexually pressuring a woman into staying!!!!!

I mean, LOOK!

Dude is literally grabbing her by the arm and stealing her coat and hat from her!

I am definitely not the first to notice this.  Salon had a great piece from Salon titled, “Is ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ a Date-Rape Anthem?

Well, after reading this piece whereby Rob Delaney attempts to have a dialogue with Katy Perry in “Last Friday Night,” I thought it was time I had a chat with the duo of “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

Alright, y’all, it’s time we had a conversation…

    • I really can’t stay
    • And girl, if you need to go, you go on ahead and be clear about that.  He needs to listen.
    • I’ve got to go away
    • This evening has been
    • So very nice
    • My mother will start to worry
    • And does she know where you are?  Does anyone? Because Dude is getting a little handsy.
    • My father will be pacing the floor
    • So really I’d better scurry
    • Well maybe just a half a drink more
    • Okay, that’s cool. Thank you for communicating clearly. You always have the right to change your mind, give or withdraw consent.
    • The neighbors might think
    • Hey now, if slut shaming is the issue, don’t worry. What needs to go into your decision is whether you want to stay and get a little frisky. If the neighbors wanna talk, f*ck them.
    • Say, what’s in this drink
  • Baby it’s cold outside
  • No . . . No . . . Your response now is, “Oh, okay.  Well, I would love for you to stay, but if you have to go, let me call you a cab. Or I can give you a ride home!”
  • Baby it’s cold outside
  • Been hoping that you’d drop in
  • I’ll hold your hands, they’re just like ice
  • Beautiful, what’s your hurry
  • Dude, she said she needs to go. It’s not a hurrying issue.
  • Listen to the fireplace roar
  • Beautiful, please don’t hurry
  • Again with the “hurry!” There shouldn’t have to be any convincing! If she’s DTF, she’s DTF.  If she wants to go, enough with the pressure!
  • Put some music on while I pour
  • Baby, it’s bad out there
  • Dude, you need to talk to your neighbors. Sounds like they could use to hear from the folks at HollaBack.
  • No cabs to be had out there

WOAH!!!! HOLD THE GODDAMN PHONE!!!  Dude, did you put something in her drink?  And your response to her questioning what you put in her drink is to say she can’t get a cab???  Ma’am, if that drink tastes funny, toss it the f*uck out.  We need to call you a cab! Right now!!!

    • I wish I knew how
    • To break the spell
    • That is not a spell!  This is not Harry Potter!  That’s a drug called Rohyphenol, and this sh*t is serious!
    • I ought to say no, no, no, sir
    • At least I’m gonna say that I tried
    • As you should!  You did try!  You said no!  You said you needed to leave!  And now he’s gone and put something in your drink!!
    • I really can’t stay
    • Ahh, but it’s cold outside
    • I simply must go
    • The answer is no
    • This welcome has been
    • So nice and warm
    • My sister will be suspicious
    • My brother will be there at the door
    • My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious
    • Well maybe just a half a drink more
    • At this point, I just have to question your ability to make this decision. If you want another drink, that’s your prerogative, but considering there’s a question about your last drink, are you in a state to be able to consent to anything, even a half a drink?
    • I’ve got to go home
    • Say, lend me your coat
    • You’ve really been grand
    • But don’t you see
    • There’s bound to be talk tomorrow
    • At least there will be plenty implied
    • Again, if this is about slut shaming, you go on ahead and do what you want, but it seems to be that this decision would be made under great duress.
    • really can’t stay
    • Ahh, but it’s cold outside
    • It’s cold out there
    • Well…..I really shouldn’t…alright
    • Ahh, do that again….
  • Your eyes are like starlight
  • I’ll take your hat, your hair looks swell
  • Did she ask you to take her hat?  She’s concerned there’s something in her drink, and you’re taking her hat!? I think it’s time to call the cops.
  • Mind if I move closer
  • What’s the sense in hurting my pride?
  • See, now you’re using guilt to pressure her.  Who gives a f*ck about your pride!?
  • Baby don’t hold out
  • Ahh, but it’s cold outside
  • Baby, it’s cold outside
  • Ooh darling, it’s cold outside
  • Okay, I am only going to say this one time.  She said no.  You know what no means, right?  Yeah, it means NO.
  • I’m lucky that you dropped in
  • Look out the window at that storm
  • Man, your lips look delicious
  • You’re just creepy at this point.
  • Waves upon a tropical shore
  • Gosh your lips are delicious
  • Wait, did you just steal a kiss?  I didn’t hear any consent, and everything she’s been saying tells me that she’s not ready for that.
  • Never such a blizzard before
  • Oh, baby, you’ll freeze out there
  • It’s up to your knees out there
  • I thrill when you touch my hand
  • How can you do this thing to me?
  • Think of my life long sorrow
  • If you caught pneumonia and died
  • QUIT GUILTING HER!  What, are you going to use “blue balls” next?
  • Get over that hold out
  • So you’ve stopped the sly convincing, and now you’re just demanding she get over her desire to leave?  Dude, you are a bad person!
  • Ahh, but it’s cold outside
  • Brr its cold…
  • Cant you stay awhile longer baby
  • Make it worth your while baby

At this point, I can’t help but wonder if we need some bystander intervention. Ma’am, you’ve been taking about things in your drink, and after resisting OVER and OVER and OVER, dude didn’t listen. He needs to understand that wearing down a woman’s will is not an acceptable way to achieve “consent.” That is not, in fact, consent. Enough!